Avengers 4 may currently be the most mysterious Marvel project to date, but the real mystery is what's going to happen afterward. The fourth Avengers film will close out Phase 3 and a saga that has been in the works since 2008. Everything in the MCU has been building toward these final movies, leaving the question of what exactly should fans expect once the dust settles? With no answers coming anytime soon, it was always assumed that this new period of films would be labeled Phase 4, continuing the naming trend separating the different stages of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That name has always been unofficial, more of a convenient shorthand when referring to post-Phase 3. Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige recently admitted as much. Talking with our own Eric Eisenberg, Feige said this:
Feige: Truthfully, other than knowing that we're going to work with Sony on another Spiderman film for that year, and that James [Gunn] is committed to continuing with the Guardians at some point; it's all about Phase 3. It's all about -- I don't even know if it will be called Phase 4. Things will be very different after 2019, after May of 2019.
Eisenberg: Is that specifically because -- obviously you have been building this entire time towards Infinity. So this is kind of the end of an era, on a certain level?
"Very different" is vague enough to mean plenty of different things, but in this instance, it seems to refer to the actual name of Phase 4. Marvel might retire the "Phase" naming scheme after Phase 3 concludes in 2019, further signaling that what's coming next is, in Feige's own words, "very different" from the MCU viewers have grown used to over the past (by then) 22 films.
Changing the name of Phase 4 is a really, really good idea for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it signals a change in the MCU. The name Phase 4 carries the feeling of continuation, the MCU chugging along much like it always does. Did you enjoy Phases 1-3? Well, now here's the next one. Considering that one of the biggest (and valid) criticisms of the MCU is that its catalog of films aren't diverse enough from each other, enforcing the idea that things are staying the same might not be a great idea.
One of the things that people seem to be loving about Phase 3 is how inspired and different each film is so far. (That and having terrific casts). For example, Thor: Ragnarok has a unique spirit and humor that makes it immediately stand out from previous Thor films and other superhero movies (from what we can tell by the trailer). It isn't the most watched Disney trailer ever for nothing. It makes sense to steer hard in a new direction Phase 4, and a new name is the first step to that. A new name only helps to further establish that sense of a fresh change.
Another reason that ditching Phase 4 is a good idea is that Phase 4 doesn't sound nearly as impressive as Phase 1-3. Those first three Phases together tell one long epic story. For all those fans that became invested with Iron Man and have seen every single MCU film since this is the culmination of years worth of storytelling. All that time following the adventures of Captain America or Star-Lord becomes less special when you learn that it's back to the usual status quo with another set of Phases to get through.
Abandoning the Phases also helps to set the different sagas of the MCU apart. Let's assume that Marvel manages to make movies for the next decade. It's much easier to differentiate between these different sagas if they have different names. If they stick with Phases, even the most hardcore of fans will have trouble keeping track of what happens in Phase 4 versus Phase 8. Plus, who's going to get excited for Phase 11 or however long these movies last? No one wants to feel like these movies are dragging on with no end in sight. At least this way, a new name gives the illusion that there's an ending. Or a new beginning.
Giving Marvel's grand experiment a new name is beyond simple, but it makes a difference in the long run by bringing renewed excitement for even more movies, because even these Marvel movies can eventually go stale.