Following the events of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, the Marvel Cinematic Universe entered uncharted territory. For years, the franchise has been steadily building toward a showdown with Thanos, connecting everything to the ongoing Infinity Saga. Now, in Phase Four of the MCU, things are a bit different. They feel less connected than the lead-up to Infinity War and Endgame, but that was always going to be the case, given that the franchise was heading into a new era. But there has always been a plan in place.
During an appearance on the Spoiler Special podcast from Empire, Marvel Studios production and development head Richie Palmer explained that Phase Four has all been a "reaction" to the events of Endgame. The characters are all still grieving and dealing with the ideas of loss and consequences.
"Phase Four is all a reaction – and I don't mean on our part as filmmakers, I mean the characters," Palmer explained. "It's a reaction to the trauma of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. We're still feeling those effects in these movies years later."
There isn't a character dealing with grief quite like Wanda Maximoff, who has been a central figure in Phase Four so far. Her journey has made her a villain at times, while others dealing with loss have had different reactions.
"It's also something we spoke to Elizabeth Olsen about every step of the way, that for her, Wanda's full journey is leading to a moment of accountability. And we think she's gotten there," Palmer said. "I also saw a meme the other day, it was comparing her to Peter Parker. 'What happens when you lose everything?' You know, some people handle it differently than others. Peter Parker dove into the persona of Spider-Man at the end of No Way Home, he's completely let the Spider-Man persona take over as a response to his loss and his trauma. For Peter, of course, being Spider-Man means going and being the biggest hero of all time."
"Wanda's version was leaning solely into being the Scarlet Witch, which what we found out from Agatha and the Darkhold, through Wanda's self-discovery, that that's the opposite: [she becomes] the worst villain of all time, the destroyer of worlds," he continued. "She's aware now, 'Oh, I'm supposed to be this god. I've always known this kinda, under the surface, but it's now been told to me. Now, my way of dealing with my loss and trauma is just going full-in to what I am, which is the Scarlet Witch, so I'm going to be that.' Of course, in our movie, she's like, 'I don't want to be that, I want to go be with my kids. So leave me alone, but I'm just letting you know that I am the Scarlet Witch, so don't mess with me.'"
As Phase Four of the MCU continues, these themes and ideas will start to form a clearer shape and direction. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness already planted the seeds for Secret Wars, a story that could easily connect to the concepts of consequences and regret.
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