key takeaways

How Marvel’s New TV Triad Will Shape the MCU’s Next Phase

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki have each revealed major characters and developments that will shape Phase 4 of the MCU in ways both big and small. Photo-Illustration: Vulture. Photos: Marvel Studios

The first season of Disney+’s Loki ended this week, kicking off a conversation that swirls around the end of every Disney+ show: What does this tell us about Marvel’s upcoming movies and shows? MCU films and series have become so intertwined that a stone thrown into the water in one project always sends ripples into another. With Disney+’s Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye scheduled for later this year and She-Hulk and Secret Invasion hitting the service in 2022, the Marvel Television Universe (MTU?) feels like it’s in sort of a halftime, with the speculative animated anthology series What If …? helping mark time between major MCU developments. This pause gives us a chance to consider everything that happened on WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki, and the impact these shows will have on upcoming films like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and more. The timelines may have split at the end of Loki, but everything is still connected in the world of the MCU. Let’s talk about how these shows are shaping Phase 4 of the MCU by reviewing some of the key takeaways from each series.


Photo: Marvel Studios

Everything is chaos
The season finale of Loki fractured the Sacred Timeline, which is an event that will be about as essential to Phase 4 of the MCU as Infinity Stones were to Phase 3. At the very least, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home will have to deal with Sylvie’s decision to kill “He Who Remains.” It’s right there in the title of the former, and the very construct of multiple Lokis across multiple timelines feels like it could help explain how Alfred Molina is playing Doctor Octopus again in the latter. It’s also something that will surely drive the just-announced second season of Loki, too. And could all these alternate branches even be reflected in the upcoming animated What If …? On paper, that seems like just another imaginary alternate-universe show, but those alternate universes just became a bit less imaginary, right?

He Who Remains
The season finale of Loki revealed that “He Who Remains” was the man behind the TVA, introducing an entire new audience to the brilliance of Jonathan Majors, who had already been confirmed to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as Kang the Conqueror. Now, was he actually Kang in the finale of Loki (he’s never called that, even if he does use the word “conqueror”), or did the splitting of the Sacred Timeline create the all-powerful and more vengeful Kang that will be seen in future projects? And he will be seen. The only question is how big Kang will be in Phase 4. Will he be a villain in just one movie and another season of Loki? Feels doubtful. What about the next Thor movie, given how much he’s now tied to a former resident of Asgard? Or could he be even bigger, affecting projects like Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings? Could he be the new Thanos?!?!

Where is Loki?
Exactly when and where Loki finds himself at the end of season one is up for debate. Did Sylvie push him into an alternate timeline in which his old buddy Mobius has no idea who he is, or has the Sacred Timeline been forever altered? Here’s an important question for the impact of Loki the show: Is one of the most beloved characters in the history of the MCU now exclusively a TV one? There’s never been a Thor movie without Loki, and it’s unclear if Thor: Love and Thunder takes place before or after the next season of Loki. Where and when we will see this beloved character again is up in the air.


Photo: Marvel Studios

Wanda is practicing dark magic
The dark arts have been a major part of the Marvel Comics world for generations, but the first Disney+ Marvel show finally incorporated them into this universe. (Doctor Strange’s “magic” is more energy manipulation than traditional spells.) One of the main arcs of WandaVision was Wanda Maximoff truly becoming the Scarlet Witch, all the way down to the iconic outfit. Elizabeth Olsen has been confirmed to play a key role in the next Doctor Strange movie (set for March 25, 2022), so it’s important to remember how she ends WandaVision, leafing through a book of dark magic. Does this mean she will be that film’s villain?

Vision is alive … sorta
At the end of the battle between Vision and White Vision, the “nice” Vision raised the concept of the ship of Theseus, asking if either of them could be called the true Vision before basically downloading the memories of Vision’s life into this largely empty shell. The White Vision flew off into the sky, but the truth is that there is a form of Vision out there, one who may not yet have the big heart of the Vision that Wanda loved, though it could be growing. When will we see this Vision 2.0 again?

Monica Rambeau is ready to be a hero
In a sense, WandaVision was an origin story for another MCU hero. The daughter of the late Maria Rambeau and a former member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Monica developed her own powers in Wanda’s Hex before basically being given an assignment by a Skrull in the finale’s mid-credits scene. Teyonah Parris has been confirmed for Captain Marvel 2.

S.W.O.R.D. is the new S.H.I.E.L.D.
Everyone who knows the MCU knows S.H.I.E.L.D., but WandaVision brought S.W.O.R.D. into the film and television universe, and we almost certainly haven’t seen the last of the X-Files branch of the superhero Powers That Be.

Wiccan and Speed are out there
At the end of WandaVision, Wanda heard the screams of her sons, Billy and Tommy, and she rushed off to save them from whatever void they’re in after Wanda’s Hex spell was undone. It’s a pretty safe bet that she does, given that Billy and Tommy are actually Wiccan and Speed, two of the members of the Young Avengers, a project that has been in development in the MCU.

Agatha Harkness is also out there
There’s simply no way that viewers have seen the last of Kathryn Hahn’s Emmy-nominated work as Agatha Harkness. The only question is when the powerful witch will reappear. Don’t forget one of her last lines to Wanda in the series finale: “You’re going to need me.” That sounds like a promise.

The X-Men are out there, possibly?
So, that technically wasn’t Evan Peters playing Quicksilver in Westview, but the casting decision still feels important. The fracturing of timelines at the end of Loki further suggests that characters from the X-Men universe could easily find their way into the MCU. Could we even see Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in an MCU movie? Jackman is hinting at exactly that.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Photo: Marvel Studios

Sam Wilson is Captain America
The main dramatic purpose of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was to reveal how Sam Wilson would finally take up the shield of Steve Rogers and become the true Captain America. Captain America is gone, long live Captain America. At the end of the series, the title screen even changed to represent this fact, and Anthony Mackie is going to play Cap in a fourth movie (and probably beyond). The whole series was basically a six-episode connective tissue from the end of Endgame to whenever we see this new Captain America again.

We haven’t seen the last of U.S. Agent and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced viewers to U.S. Agent John Walker’s failed version of Captain America, who was approached by the mysterious Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who pulled a similar trick with a post-credits cameo in Black Widow (which was originally supposed to come out before Falcon). There is no way that viewers have seen the last of these two. The only question is exactly when these rule-benders will cause trouble for the more noble heroes of the MCU.

Bucky Barnes is getting better
While his partner in crime ended up becoming Captain America, the personal growth of the Winter Soldier on this show feels essential to the next time he pops up in the MCU. And there will be a next time. People love Sebastian Stan’s take on this conflicted former villain. Could he even return in another Marvel TV series? What about just The Winter Soldier? Who wouldn’t watch that? It hasn’t really been ruled out, and it could include …

The Power Broker is a familiar face
TFATWS revealed that a famous villain from the comic books known as the Power Broker was actually Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), who was pardoned by the U.S. government and left in a position where she could do some serious damage. Unless someone stops her in a future MCU project, of course.

Another Young Avenger!
Even more quietly than on WandaVision, the second Disney+ Marvel show introduced another member of the Young Avengers in its second episode. In that episode, Sam Wilson goes to meet Isaiah Bradley, who is with his grandson Elijah, who just so happens to be the Young Avenger who will be named Patriot.

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How Marvel’s New TV Triad Will Shape the MCU’s Next Phase