'Black Widow' closes a chapter as Marvel looks ahead to a new phase

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Scarlett Johansson stars successful  'Black Widow,' arsenic  Marvel transitions into its adjacent  phase.

(CNN)Black Widow, determination over. Shang-Chi, Eternals and (for the 3rd time) Fantastic Four, travel connected down.

The pandemic juggled the merchandise calendar, but Marvel Studios returns to theaters with its pop-culture credentials firmly intact, having launched a trio of buzzworthy bid featuring different Avengers-connected characters -- "WandaVision," "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and presently "Loki" -- for Disney+, its genitor company's streaming service.

After "Black Widow's" assault connected the container office, what's known arsenic Phase 4 of Marvel's meticulously planned lineup of movies is destined to beryllium tested. That's not lone due to the fact that of uncertainty astir the movie-going acquisition broadly but besides the workplace post-"Avengers: Endgame," relying connected a premix of caller and returning heroes.

    Marvel's adjacent 2 movies, notably, are based connected lesser-known characters introduced successful the 1970s: "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," astir the martial-arts warrior with a storied lineage; and "Eternals," artist-writer Jack Kirby's instauration (which was coolly received astatine the time) astir a squad of immortals who support Earth.

      At this point, cipher with a consciousness of box-office past is betting against Marvel's chances. With "Guardians of the Galaxy," the institution demonstrated its quality to people with much obscure comic-book titles. Disney+, moreover, has offered a level to fortify its transportation to audiences and make worldly that volition heighten and broaden its cinematic universe, underscored by plans for a 4th "Captain America" movie utilizing the "Falcon" series arsenic a springboard and "Black Widow's" recognition sequence.

      Still, unproven characters ever airs a spot much of a risk, and the 2 films owed successful the adjacent 4 months volition beryllium followed by a dependable watercourse of sequels: In bid of the company's merchandise plans, Spider-Man successful December 2021; Doctor Strange, Thor, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel successful 2022; and Ant-Man and the Wasp and Guardians of the Galaxy successful 2023.

      In the eyes of galore Marvel fans (including this one), possibly the top accidental presented to Marvel going guardant hinges connected taking thing aged and making it caller again -- oregon rather, getting it close aft disappointing adaptations.

      Fantastic Four made its debut 60 years agone and is celebrated arsenic the comic publication that set the large Marvel renaissance nether Stan Lee and Jack Kirby successful motion. But Marvel Comics sold the movie rights during a play of fiscal accent (along with those to X-Men), and those properties coiled up successful the hands of 20th Century Fox, which produced a lightly regarded 2005 Fantastic Four movie (and a sequel), past tried to reboot the full happening successful 2015.

      Disney acquired Fox's amusement assets 2 years ago, and has already announced a Fantastic Four revival, a rubric with a precise agelong scope that, on with X-Men, seemingly creates a big of possibilities to excite longtime Marvel fans.

      As 1 of the archetypal movie Avengers, saying goodbye to Black Widow and its prima Scarlett Johansson (actually introduced arsenic the quality successful "Iron Man 2" much than a decennary ago) does so look similar closing a section of Marvel's world-shattering tally implicit the past 13 years.

      With overmuch of the archetypal squad having moved on, it's a somewhat antithetic Marvel now, and a agelong mode backmost to erstwhile the institution gradually assembled the pieces of "Avengers," an audacious gamble astatine the time.

        Back successful 2019, which feels similar ages ago, Marvel Studios main Kevin Feige explained the post-"Endgame" strategy arsenic being "about the new," from introducing characters to featuring established ones successful unexpected ways.

        As the climactic conflict successful "Endgame" made clear, the formed has grown considerably since Marvel's cinematic beginnings. For that crushed and others, the institution inactive looks plentifulness almighty arsenic it marches into this adjacent phase.

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