Marvel Phase 4 Ends With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been ... interesting. Without question, it has contained the most content of any of the previous phases, containing six films and seven television series thus far, with "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" just around the corner as well. We have been operating under the impression that Phase 4 really had no tangible end in sight, as so many projects have been announced for the future. However, we now have some clarity on the shape of Phase 4, because we now know its endpoint.

During the Marvel Studios panel at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige announced that "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," set to be released in theaters on November 11, 2022, will mark the end of this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The wonkiest and most bloated section of the Hollywood behemoth will conclude with a sequel to possibly the series' most beloved film after the tragic passing of the star Chadwick Boseman, to whom "Wakanda Forever" will most certainly be dedicated.

How will we look back at Phase 4?

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" starsĀ Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Winston Duke as M'Baku, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams / Ironheart, and Michaela Coel in a currently undisclosed role. We're not sure who will be taking over the mantle of Black Panther, but the character of T'Challa will not be recast.

Having said that, announcing that "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," which is being helmed by the first film's director Ryan Coogler, will end this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe creates a lot more questions than it answers. The previous three phases all felt like they were ramping up to something. Phase 1 has "TheĀ Avengers," bringing together the characters from these various films together in a way that had not really been done before. Phase 2 furthered all those characters' journeys, introduced some new heroes, and brought them all together again for "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Phase 3 obviously capped off the Infinity Saga story with "Avengers: Endgame," which not only ended that phase but the first era of the MCU overall.

What does ending with "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" signify? The dramatic thrust of this phase has been rather unclear. We have no overarching war or major villain we have been teasing (though Kang the Conqueror is on the way). The multiverse has been the only through line, but even that has not been utilized to its fullest extent outside of having fun cameos and crossovers. Are we just moving to a new phase because we have gotten sick of the one we are currently in? Perhaps "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" will act as a fitting conclusion to it, but maybe they just want to move onto the next thing. We shall see this fall.