Why many Marvel fans disliked Phase 4 of the MCU

Phase 4 of the MCU has wrapped up with the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and February next year will kickstart Phase 5 with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. An important question is yet to be answered, which is: Why did many Marvel fans dislike Phase 4 of the MCU?

Phase 4 is also mockingly called “Phase Bore” by many fans owing to its mostly uninteresting (and unconnected) storylines as well as its rather new heroes. Phase 4 was also very dark and gloomy in its storytelling choices, from killing characters to changing the status quo.

Why many Marvel fans disliked Phase 4 of the MCU
Original Phase Four Line-Up (image via Marvel Studios)

This was also the phase where Marvel began pumping out content almost every month, thanks to Disney+. This content did not only include movies but also miniseries, television series, and specials.

Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.


Why did Phase 4 get so much heat?

Quantity-over-quality approach

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in Black Widow (image via Marvel Studios)
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in Black Widow (image via Marvel Studios)

Ever heard of the term “Marvel fatigue”? Yes, that’s right, many fans have had issues with Marvel’s approach to releasing content during Phase 4, which placed more emphasis on quantity rather than quality. This approach led to rushed production and scripts. Fortunately, it appears that Marvel has learned from this mistake, as it delayed the release of Avengers: Secret Wars from November 2025 to May 2026.


Diversity taking precedence over story

The Eternals in Eternals Promo Art (image via Marvel Studios)
The Eternals in Eternals Promo Art (image via Marvel Studios)

Diversity is a good thing, but diversity that overshadows or hampers the narrative is not. There should be a story behind each character regardless of race, creed, or gender.

Phase 4 introduced a slew of new characters from different races and genders such as Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Kate Bishop, Namor, and more. However, except for Namor and Kate Bishop, Marvel failed to make them interesting from a narrative standpoint.

One notable example is Eternals, which was at the forefront of this problem. Two of the members, Ajak and Makkari, who are male in the comics, were gender-bent and Gilgamesh and Kingo were made Asian. There was ultimately no point in this, as these characters made no mark or were heavily underutilized in the narrative in different ways and hence appeared to be there only for the sake of diversity.


Audience segmentation

She-Hulk in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (image via Marvel Studios)
She-Hulk in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (image via Marvel Studios)

Earlier on, during the Infinity Saga, Marvel films were made with a broad audience in mind, but in Phase 4 a new approach was taken.

Certain shows were made with a specific audience in mind and this undoubtedly resulted in the broader audience becoming alienated.

For example, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was a legal and adult comedy aimed towards a particular audience, and Mrs. Marvel was a quirky, Disney Channel-esque show for viewers of that kind of content.


Poor quality or unfinished and rushed VFX

Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Jake Lockley/Moon Knight in Moon Knight (image via Marvel Studios)
Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Jake Lockley/Moon Knight in Moon Knight (image via Marvel Studios)

If you have seen all the titles of Phase 4, you would have noticed at least one particular thing about it: Unfinished visual effects. There have been reports of VFX workers, claiming frustration at the number of projects being pumped out and last-minute reshoots and changes causing a bunch of problems for their team.

In addition to that, the CEO during the tenure of Phase 4, Bob Chapek reportedly carried out various cost-cutting measures which ended up affecting the VFX department heavily.


Inconsistency of Multiverse rules

He Who Remains in Loki (season 1) (image via Marvel Studios)
He Who Remains in Loki (season 1) (image via Marvel Studios)

Phases 4, 5, and 6 are collectively known as the Multiverse Saga and it deals with the concept of the multiverse which was teased in the Infinity Saga. Kang the Conqueror is poised to be the main antagonist with Loki spirit Quantumania focusing on him.

As exciting as it sounds, the MCU has unfortunately done a poor job of explaining it to the audience, notably when it comes to the concept of Variants.

Tobey Maguire, Tom Holland, and Andrew Garfield as their versions of Peter Parker in a poster for Spider-Man: No Way Home (image via Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios)
Tobey Maguire, Tom Holland, and Andrew Garfield as their versions of Peter Parker in a poster for Spider-Man: No Way Home (image via Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios)

Spider-Man: No Way Home featured three Peter Parkers, who were completely different in appearance, played by different actors while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness depicted three Stephen Stranges and two Wanda Maximoffs, who had the same appearance, played by the same actor.

Producer Richie Palmer justified this by saying that it was a filmmaking decision. He appeared on the Empire Spoiler Special podcast and said:

“I think the truth is, we had a two-hour movie to tell the story, and we have Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen, who are literally two of the great actors of our time, let alone superhero movies, and we weren’t going to squander them.”

He continued:

“I will say, if we went to any more of those universes like Paint Universe, I think as you get further and further away from… should we say the Sacred Timeline? As we get further and further away from 616, our base universe of the MCU, I think there’s room for even the most stalwart characters, like a Steve Rogers, to maybe not look like Chris Evans.”

Concluding his statement he mentioned:

“I think there is room as you move further away from the main timeline, from the main universe. But, I think it depends on the character, it depends on the actor, it depends on, frankly, the medium we’re telling the story. So, all of the above, but I like that question.”


Lack of a connective tissue

Kate Bishop/Hawkeye and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Hawkeye (image via Marvel Studios)
Kate Bishop/Hawkeye and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Hawkeye (image via Marvel Studios)

Another prominent complaint about Phase 4 was that all the projects felt disconnected. It seemed as if some stories were primarily grounded in their own world and ignored the wider happenings of the universe. Furthermore, major events in the previous phase such as Thanos’ Snap were either outright ignored or barely mentioned.

For example, Moon Knight did not address any other event related to another hero in the MCU. Mrs. Marvel or any other project does not address the floating head sticking out of the earth from Eternals and so on.

What was special about the Infinity Saga was that even though some projects, such as the Ant-Man spirit Spider-Man films felt less important to the wider story, they still included important elements with regard to relationships, plotlines, and more. For example, the relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker and the Quantum Realm’s role in the Ant-Man film information Avengers: Endgame.


Do you think there are other reasons why many Marvel fans disliked Phase 4? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section down below.

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Edited by Adelle Fernandes


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