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Marvel and the Master Plan of Multiversal Madness

So let’s talk about what happened this past weekend at San Diego. I had expected Marvel to do their thing in Hall H, show some trailers for upcoming shows/movies, maybe announce a couple of things, get some actors to talk for a bit, and then flee, saving everything else for Disney‘s own convention, D23, which is supposed to happen in September.

Instead, they dropped this on us:

And that’s just Phase 5. They also announced Phase 6 for God’s sake. The whole Multiverse Saga. So let’s chat for a minute. Or ten.

Final movie in Phase 4 is Wakanda Forever. And they ended the presentation with that trailer, but we’ll hit that next because we’re going in order of release date for the sake of sanity. But I have to show you this: Baaba Maal showed up to kick off the Black Panther presentation.

Baaba Maal is a singer from Senegal who was featured on the soundtrack for the first Black Panther movie. I originally encountered him on the Passion Sources compilation album that Peter Gabriel released as a companion to his soundtrack, Passion: Music for The Last Temptation of Christ. Maal is, as you are certainly aware now if you weren’t already, fantastic.

So here’s that incredible trailer.

It’s pretty obvious why they let that close out the presentation. Nobody wants to follow Angela Bassett. Nobody.

Now, also in Phase 4, there is the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which is this year…but before that for Halloween, there’s the Untitled Maybe Probably Werewolf by Night Halloween Special” as well. That’s starring Gael García Bernal and is the directorial debut of Michael Giacchino, who’s probably best known to our lot as the composer behind the film scores for The Incredibles and THE Batman. It doesn’t appear this was mentioned but my understanding is that it’s already finished production. Maybe they’re giving the FX teams enough time to finish it up so they’re going to push it till next year? Hahahayeahunlikely.

They showed footage from Quantumania, with Jonathan Majors as Kang, Bill Murray as…uncertain, and apparently MODOK as himself. Now…you may be tempted to wonder just what in the hell is a size-changing guy supposed to do against Kang the Conqueror. If you’d like to know the possibilities, just Google “Green Arrow Atom Darkseid.” It’s similar to a trick that was performed in Civil War but on steroids. So Ant-Man 3 is your Valentine’s Day movie of choice for next year.

Some footage from Secret Invasion was shown. This is the show where Skrulls (presumably the bad kind) have infiltrated Earth and replaced key people…at some point in the past. At least, based on the comics version…that’s what the show is. When this was done in the comics it was at the end of a long line of Skrull stories in which they didn’t infiltrate very much, which was weird, because shape-changing. But it also had the benefit of decades of stories as a backdrop, whereas in the MCU, Skrulls have been known about (we think) by humans since the 1990s. I’m predicting one character who has died will be revealed to have been a Skrull and the real one will return. Just please: not Natasha. That one was perfect. Leave it alone. That’s in the spring–first Disney+ show of next year.

That time the Fantastic Four convinced Skrulls to be cows. It’s a long story.

In May, the third James Gunn Guardians of the Galaxy hits. While he’s said that this is the last film starring this group of Guardians, he did mention (and maybe it was this past weekend, not sure, that brain cell died) that just because something is ending doesn’t mean everybody’s going to die. Although if anybody kicks the bucket it might be Drax just because Bautista seems to be done with the role. But hey, we’re getting Cosmo the Dog. A trailer was shown. It would be nice if they’d start putting this stuff online. Again, maybe before D23 to re-kindle some hype.

Then Echo gets her own series, the arsekicker who was introduced in Hawkeye last year. I’ve seen her powers referenced a number of places…and they’re similar to the Taskmaster. She can watch and repeat back the fighting styles of others. I assumed they hadn’t put an emphasis on that because Taskmaster appeared in Black Widow pretty close to Echo making her debut. In Hawkeye she was mostly a badass hand-to-hand combatant whose prosthetic leg was used to great effect. So much so that I guarantee you kids with prosthetic limbs all over the world suddenly wanted to sign up for martial arts classes after watching that. Which is awesome. That show hits next summer. Apart from the date, I don’t think much else was discussed. We’re no doubt getting more Wilson Fisk and very likely some Daredevil…I would love it if we could get some Cage in there.

They gave a summer release date for Loki Season 2…and there’s no telling what’s going to happen in that show. It’s in production even as we speak, over in the UK.

The Marvels is in July and I think reshoots for it have wrapped up. And I also think this is the first time we’ve introduced a character in their own MCU TV show only for them to immediately show up as a lead in a feature. That’s Ms. Marvel, of course. And if you haven’t watched the show, you must. Iman Vellani is the most “born to play the role” casting since Robert Downey Jr.

Blade starts shooting in October for a November 2023 release. The question is where is Mahershala Ali’s Blade going to show up before then, if anywhere? The Halloween special is an obvious possibility, but any of the street level shows would work as well. If we could get a cameo in for Snipes and Kristofferson I would be most pleased.

Next, Ironheart. That was her debuting in the Wakanda Forever trailer. And I just want to get this off my chest: I hate the name Ironheart. It’s not a superhero, it’s a romance novel set in the Scottish highlands about a blacksmith and his estranged love. Blech. Almost anything would be better. Okay, anyway, that’s next fall.

The Agatha Harkness show changed its name from House of Harkness to Coven of Chaos. Which makes me think it’s not going to be a home advice show hosted by Kathryn Hahn in character. Which is a damn shame. I have no idea what it’s about at this point. My hope, though, is that Hahn wouldn’t reprise the role if the material sucked. Anyway, that’s the last thing we may get in 2023.

The long-rumored new Daredevil series hits in spring 2024. Born Again. It’s clocking in at eighteen episodes. That, as far as I know, is all being called the first season. Love that they’re bringing him back into the fold and hope this will open the door for the rest of the Netflix corner of the MCU to get reinstated. Except for Danny Rand. He had his chance.

Oh HELL yes.

They also announced something I have been anxiously waiting for: a date for the fourth Captain America movie and the first to star Anthony Mackie as Cap. I really want this because I hope the MCU embraces the fact that time marches on and they will need to pass the mantle, since they can never seem to do so in the comics. It’s called New World Order, and it’s being co-written by the creator/scribe of the Falcon/Winter Soldier TV show. That’s May 2024. Granted, I also want this to come out so that the heads of racist assholes will explode. Something else to look forward to.

Phase 6 is mostly empty, with a ton of open slots. You’ve got Fantastic Four in November 2024, then Avengers: Secret Wars and Avengers: The Kang Dynasty in May and November 2025 respectively. That is a lot of ground to cover when you have Kang as your supposed big bad, when everyone thinks Fantastic Four guarantees Doom, and you’ve got some throughline of wacky artifacts happening in Phase 4. There is a ton of moving parts in play.

That’s not even counting their ongoing issues with FX folks, which they need to get straightened out.

I do also want to make mention of the Secret Wars film that’s closing out the entire Multiverse Saga. Marvel Comics, because it can’t come up with original titles, has two series called Secret Wars. One was in 1984 and had a cosmic being building a world from bits and pieces then throwing characters onto it so they would fight. If you’re thinking that sounds like a pretty shallow concept and could be something somebody came up with just to sell toys…well, you’re right. But they also used Secret Wars as the title for their massive “mash the Ultimate and regular Marvel Universes together” event back in 2015. The main difference between the two series is that “Secret Wars” made sense as a title for the first one, not so much for the second. (See also: Inferno.)

The Brothers Russo had said that they would come back to the MCU for Secret Wars, but they could have been kidding, frankly. And since this is the Multiverse Saga, this is more than likely the 2015 version they’re drawing from. Also, in Multiverse of Meh, they introduced the concept of multiversal incursions, which was a big thing in the comic storyline. But here’s hoping they can make it all work. The good news is that anything can happen between now and November 2025 while at the same time it’ll be here before we know it.

Whew. Now with that all coming out of San Diego…what the hell is coming out at D23?