It’s been over a decade since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was started by Jon Favreau’s Iron Man (2008) starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Amidst speculations of failure and being over-ambitious, Kevin Feige conceived the idea of an inter-connected universe that later became one of the most successful and popular franchises of all time. Having started with the big three: Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, the MCU is now in its fourth phase after a staggering 23 movies. After establishing a solid foundation with these three iconic characters, the MCU is now expanding its catalog with exciting new characters who will lead the Avengers in the near future. However, the much-awaited Phase 4 is still being inspired by earlier storylines from the initial days of the MCU. Despite moving towards new stories, the legacy left by the earlier characters can still be felt.
1. Captain America as a symbol
First introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers became a symbol of everything that represented an ideal America. From just a guy with an unbreakable shield to becoming the leader of the Avengers, Captain America quickly became one of the most beloved characters of the MCU. After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers retired and passed the mantle to Sam Wilson aka the Falcon. As Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes will team up in the upcoming The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the thematic importance of Captain America as a symbol runs throughout the series. With U.S. Agent set to appear in the show, upholding the significance of Captain America’s ideals have never been more crucial.
2. Iron Man’s tech falling into wrong hands
Right from the beginning, Tony Stark’s ultra-futuristic tech has been eyed by many to possess. From Obadiah Stane to Justin Hammer, acquiring Iron Man’s armors and his technology has been the central plot of the three Iron Man movies that were released. Though it’s a shame that we couldn’t see a fourth Iron Man movie depicting the widely acclaimed Armor Wars storyline, Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes is now tasked with protecting the legacy of Tony Stark in the upcoming Armor Wars series.
3. The return of evil Loki
While our heroes battled numerous villains when the MCU was beginning to shape into an inter-connected universe, the first major threat that forced the heroes to unite was the God of Mischief, Loki. In The Avengers (2012), Loki threatened to wipe out Earth with his army of Chitauris. In later movies, Loki gradually chose to redeem himself as he ultimately sacrificed himself to save Thor from Thanos. Though that ended the story of the God of Mischief, Avengers: Endgame gave another chance to Loki with a time-heist gone wrong. With Tom Hiddleston reprising his role in the upcoming Loki series, Phase 4 will once again have the cunning and diabolical God of Mischief back in action.
4. Gods and their realms
In the MCU it was established that the universe has nine realms. While a few realms are dangerous and home to sinister beings, the remaining are guarded by the Asgardians from Asgard. After the destruction of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok, the existence of the remaining realms including Midgard (Earth) now lies in peril. However, the upcoming Eternals movie will once again bring back literal gods and their duties towards preserving the nine realms. Though the Eternals are blessed with immensely long lives and unfathomable powers, they rarely interfere in the events that happen on Earth. But with the threat of the Deviants once again arising, the duty of the Gods to protect their realms will be re-visited.
5. A powerful villain who brings death and destruction
Despite having a few memorable villains, no one was able to truly terrify the mightiest heroes like Thanos. In his quest to collect all the Infinity Stones, the Mad Titan became a harbinger of death and destruction. In the comics, the Mad Titan courted Lady Death, and to win her affection he left a trail of death and carnage throughout the universe. Though we never witnessed Lady Death in the movies, the themes of death and destruction were a central part of Thanos’ conquest. Continuing the same theme, Thor: Love and Thunder will introduce another powerful antagonist who has killed gods: Gorr the God Butcher. With Christian Bale set to portray the role of Gorr, this powerful villain will be a handful for Thor, Jane Foster’s Goddess of Thunder, Valkyrie, and hopefully Lady Sif.