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10 Biggest Missed Opportunities In MCU Phase 5 Already


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Summary

  • The missed opportunities in MCU Phase 5, including Secret Invasion and The Marvels, could have been better served with slight tweaks and more cohesive storytelling.
  • The underwhelming debut of Kang the Conqueror and the absence of a proper send-off for Loki and Thor highlight some shortcomings in Phase 5.
  • The lack of an Avengers movie in Phase 5 has made the team-up feel disjointed and threatens the future of the franchise as casual audiences start to lose interest.

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The MCU‘s Phase 5 is now half complete, with the last year bringing many highs, extreme lows, and plenty of missed opportunities. Being in the middle of MCU Phase 5 entails being in the center of the Multiverse Saga as a whole, with time ticking on the opportunity to start tying together wider narratives. Between MCU Phases 4 and 5, more Marvel characters have been introduced than ever before, and while Marvel has done a fine job adapting many stories for the big screen, there were a few stories that could have been better served.

While it can all seem obvious with the benefit of hindsight, some of the MCU’s missed opportunities can be particularly irksome when slight tweaks might have made all the difference. Unfortunately for Marvel, 2023 broke some unfavorable records, including its biggest-ever cinematic flop and worst-rated MCU show. While a handful of confirmed titles promise to end MCU Phase 6 with a bang, the likelihood that it will fully remedy the missed opportunities of MCU Phase 5 grows increasingly slim.

Related

Everything We Know About MCU Phase 6 Now: Story, Villain & More

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 6 will be the culmination of the Multiverse Saga, and here is everything we know about it.

10 Secret Invasion Didn’t Use The Comics’ Most Successful Elements

Secret Invasion (June 2023) Was Unrecognizable

The tagline for Secret Invasion,Who do you trust?” was steeped in irony after it turned out that the MCU lied about the scope of the miniseries. The aftermath of Secret Invasion‘s ill-fated run on Disney Plus resulted in vindication for all those who claimed that it should have been a movie. The incredibly consequential comic book run featured a who’s-who of Marvel characters, including the X-Men, Avengers, Illuminati, and Thunderbolts. The MCU’s Secret Invasion, meanwhile, featured Nick Fury on a one-man mission.

Instead of a sprawling espionage series featuring Marvel’s biggest players, Secret Invasion was largely inconsequential beyond the death of Maria Hill and the revelation that Rhodey has been a Skrull impostor “for a long time.” Fury’s baffling insistence that he should be the one to face Gravik and to not involve any superheroes was also a lie. Instead, he sicked Super-Skrull G’iah on Gravik while he high-tailed it back to SABER and abandoned the now even more imperiled Skrulls once again.

9 The Marvels & Secret Invasion Didn’t Fully Link Together Story-Wise

The Marvels (November 2023) Ignored Secret Invasion Despite Starring Fury

Monica Rambeau, Carol Danvers, and Kamala Khan join forces in The Marvels

The Marvels

Release Date
November 10, 2023

Director
Nia DaCosta

Runtime
105 Minutes

The inconsequential conclusion of Secret Invasion was compounded by the subsequent release of The Marvels, in which the events that just transpired on Earth weren’t so much as mentioned. The inexplicable absence of Fury’s wife, Varra, was incredibly difficult to ignore, as she was last seen insisting on coming with him to space in Secret Invasion. While Marvel struggles to justify watching its series to keep abreast of the wider MCU lore, it didn’t do itself any favors by featuring next to no links to Secret Invasion despite featuring Fury in a starring role.

8 Steven Yeun Is No Longer Playing Sentry In Thunderbolts

Steven Yeun Broke Away From Thunderbolts (July 2025) In January

Marvel Comics' Bob Reynolds aka the Sentry.

Stephen Yeun is a valuable addition to any project at the moment, and the rumor that he had been cast as Sentry stoked anticipation for the upcoming MCU project significantly. Sadly, it was confirmed in early 2024 that Yeun is no longer involved in the project – most likely owing to delays spurred by the SAG-AFTRA strikes. His casting as Sentry was met with widespread approval, though now Marvel will have to rely on the star power of the current cast and a potentially re-cast Sentry.

7 Kang Wasn’t Very Threatening After All

Kang Was Defeated In Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania (February 2023)

Kang holds his broken wrist tech in Quantumania

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was the movie that kicked off MCU Phase 5, only to fumble the ball. Criticisms of the movie were leveled at its tonal inconsistency, gratuitous CGI, and a plot that saw the Multiverse Saga’s arch-villain and supposedly Thanos-level threat bested by one of the Avengers’ least threatening members. With very little mention of Kang the Conqueror until that point, it fell to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to establish why Kang should be feared. Instead, it saw him ostensibly killed in a fistfight.

6 Loki Never Got To Say Goodbye To Thor

Loki Bid Farewell In Loki Season 2 (October 2023)

Tom Hiddleston As Loki Saying His Final Goodbye To Mobius And Sylvie In The Loki Season 2 Finale

Loki

Release Date
June 11, 2021

Seasons
2

Story By
Michael Waldron

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Loki is officially no longer a part of the main MCU timeline, as he is instead holding it together. His farewell to his TVA friends in the Loki season 2 finale was both poignant and definitive, with Tom Hiddleston treating season 2 as his last hurrah as Loki. Yet the notable absence of Thor throughout Loki’s adventures in the TVA carries an excruciating sting and magnifies hopes that he will return in a future project. Otherwise, it’s hard to stomach how his mastery of time-slipping didn’t facilitate a final goodbye to his brother before assuming his glorious purpose.

5 Tiamut Could Have At Least Been Seen From Space In The Marvels

Tiamut’s Huge Corpse Appeared In Eternals (November 2021)

The dead Celestial Tiamut sticks partially out of the Earth in Eternals

Eternals

Release Date
November 5, 2021

Director
Chloé Zhao

Cast
Angelina Jolie , Lia McHugh , Haaz Sleiman , Salma Hayek Pinault , Dong-seok Ma , Zain Al Rafeea , Harish Patel , Richard Madden , Brian Tyree Henry , Jashaun St. John , Lauren Ridloff , Kit Harington , Kumail Nanjiani , Ozer Ercan

Runtime
157 minutes

The MCU’s apparent wish to brush Eternals under the rug following its lukewarm performance is made more apparent with every installment that doesn’t mention the giant Celestial in the Indian Ocean. A throwaway mention in She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is barely enough to convey the impact that Tiamut’s gargantuan calcified corpse would have had on the world. One glaring impact is that it would easily be visible from space, yet The Marvels sidestepped the opportunity to throw this particular detail into the shots of Earth, even as a simple acknowledgment that Eternals is still canon.

4 The Council Of Kangs Could Have Been Played By Different Actors

Jonathan Majors Played Every Kang Variant In Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania (February 2023)

Now that Jonathan Majors has been dropped, the MCU is at a crucial crossroads. Kang’s underwhelming debut has spurred rumors that Marvel may wish to pivot from Kang as the Multiverse Saga’s big bad; but with no confirmation, it is presumed that Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is going ahead as planned. If that is the case, then Marvel could have made its job easier by following its own pre-established rules on variants.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania quickly established the fact that the true threat of Kang the Conqueror stems from the countless Kang variants that have banded together as the Council of Kangs. Except, unlike Loki variants who took on myriad forms – including an alligator – Kang’s variants were all played by Jonathan Majors. While Marvel is no stranger to a quiet re-cast (nor is it universe-breaking), it’s hard to ignore how much more explicable a re-cast Kang would be if any of the variants that appeared in this scene were played by anyone else.

3 Echo Could Have Been More R-Rated

Echo (January 2024) Wasn’t Very Violent

Bloody Kingpin in Marvel's Echo

Marvel’s Echo

Release Date
January 9, 2024

Cast
Chaske Spencer , Zahn McClarnon , Graham Greene , Alaqua Cox , Cody Lightning , Charlie Cox , Tantoo Cardinal , Devery Jacobs , Vincent D’Onofrio

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+ , Hulu

Like it or not, the prospect of Deadpool 3 being the first R-rated MCU movie has stoked much excitement. The novelty of featuring the gratuitous violence for which the Merc’ with a Mouth is known in an otherwise largely family-friendly franchise is a novelty that shows Marvel isn’t afraid of getting its hands dirty. Yet Echo, which is the first-ever MCU installment to receive the TV equivalent of an R-rating, was ultimately tame. The brutality of Kingpin may have still been capably conveyed, but it’s safe to say that it could have gone further.

2 Greater Focus Should Have Been Given To Cassie And Kamala

Cassie Lang Appeared In Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania (February 2023) And Kamala Khan Appeared In The Marvels (November 2023)

Kathryn Newton as Cassie, Iman Vellani as Kamala and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate in Young Avengers Exclusive header

While the MCU seems to be gearing up for a Young Avengers movie by gathering up all of the team’s main players, they are still playing second-fiddle to their veteran counterparts. While Cassie Lang and Kamala Khan had their fair share of the spotlight in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and The Marvels, respectively, time is running out for Marvel to depict these characters as heroes that don’t require support from their more experienced predecessors. As it stands, there’s no telling when these characters will take center stage before the Young Avengers movie throws them in at the deep end.

1 Phase 5 Should Have Included An Avengers Movie

The Avengers Haven’t Been Seen Together Since Avengers: Endgame (April 2019)

One of the riskier moves that Marvel has made with MCU Phases 4 and 5 is not featuring an Avengers movie. As a result, the presumed stars of the climactic team-up feel more disjointed than ever, with The Marvels being the closest the MCU has gotten to a team-up movie since Avengers: Endgame and failing to draw crowds. Avengers movies used to help punctuate each MCU phase – but now it’s hard to keep track of where and why a phase has moved on.

With the recent string of flops threatening the future of the MCU, it could have certainly stood to gain from featuring an Avengers-scale movie to help bolster the coffers. Instead, as casual audiences start to lose interest, an Avengers movie in MCU Phase 6 is threatened by the possibility that moviegoers won’t know or care about its main stars. Finally, given that older characters like Thor are nearing MCU retirement, the pressure to give them a proper send-off is stronger than ever, for which an Avengers movie has been proven to be the best stage.

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