The Year in Marvel: How 2021 Shook Up the Multiverse and What’s Next in the MCU

The Year in Marvel: How 2021 Shook Up the Multiverse and What’s Next in the MCU

By Elysee Johnson

As we enter 2022, there’s no better time to look back on the madness of the past year in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the start of Phase 4.

As 2021 draws to a close, there’s no better time than to look back on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the early stages of Phase 4. © Collage: IMAGO/Prod.DB & Prod.DB & Prod. DB & Cinema Publishers Collection

No one can deny that the MCU has had a pretty huge – albeit trippy – 2021.

And for those who aren’t die-hard Marvel fans, it’s easy to get confused by all the movies, TV shows, and mayhem of the multiverse.

Marvel kicked off Phase 4 of its cinematic universe this year with the series premiere of WandaVision.

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The show set the tone for how crazy things have gotten and continue to get since the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019).

While this new phase of the MCU won’t be complete until 2023, the end of the year is a great time to look back on how it all came together – and the details that remain.

Loki and Wanda’s choices will cause future problems

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany (l.) reprized their roles as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch and Vision in WandaVision, while Tom Hiddleston returned as Loki in the series of the same name.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany (l.) reprized their roles as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch and Vision in WandaVision, while Tom Hiddleston returned as Loki in the series of the same name. © Collage: IMAGO/Prod.DB & Collection of cinema editors

Disney+ has featured plenty of Marvel series this year, from Hawkeye to WandaVision to Loki.

The premise of the last two was surprisingly similar and really shook things up.

Unable to deal with her grief, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett With magically creates an alternate reality where she and her deceased love Vision live the life they’ve always dreamed of.

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However, the series ends with the revelation that Wanda has also trapped innocent people in the fictional world she created, which drives the former Avenger into hiding.

Meanwhile, the Loki series has spent quite a bit of time explaining that in the MCU everyone has a different variant.

And when one person steps out of line, it disrupts the whole timeline.

The epic Marvel series finale introduced a very important character, The One Who Remains – who happens to be an alternate version of one of the MCU’s greatest villains, Kang the Conqueror.

Loki’s variant, Sylvie, kills the One Who Remains after explicitly warning them both that her death would lead to a Multiverse War.

Wanda and Loki’s decisions will continue to play out as Phase 4 progresses, as Kang is now free and Wanda’s powers are even greater than before.

New Heroes Emerge After Avengers Endgame Sacrifice

Gemma Chan (right) and Richard Madden play on-screen lovers Sersi and Ikaris in Marvel's Eternals.

Gemma Chan (right) and Richard Madden play on-screen lovers Sersi and Ikaris in Marvel’s Eternals. © Imago/Prod.Db

The MCU Phase 4 has done a good job of introducing new characters and storylines in 2021.

And if Black Widow has proven anything this year, it’s that a female-led Marvel movie can break box office records, too.

Yet one movie in particular that was highly anticipated ended up being a disappointment: Eternals.

After the events of Endgame, the Eternals—a group of celestial beings living inconspicuously on Earth—emerge to save the planet from their former counterparts, the Deviants.

While the movie didn’t leave a big impression on Marvel fans, it did give viewers some additions to the family and something to look forward to.

With new characters with intriguing powers now part of the MCU, it will be interesting to see how they interact with more notable heroes like Spider-man and The Hulk, for example.

Plus, Angeline Jolie, who played Thena in the movie, is now officially part of the MCU, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Additionally, other newcomers such as Shang-Chi from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings were also introduced this year and have already been teased to aid the remaining Avengers in the future.

All in all, after the loss of Iron Man and Black Widow in Endgame, it was about time Marvel brought some new faces to the big and small screens.

What if…? teases how vast and deadly the multiverse is

In the What If...? animated series, Doctor Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, becomes the evil version of himself, Strange Supreme.

In the What If…? animated series, Doctor Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, becomes the evil version of himself, Strange Supreme. © imago/Cinema Publishers Collection

What if…? is arguably the most poignant and daring television series Marvel has attempted so far.

The animated show debuted in August and was narrated by Jeffrey Wright as the peculiar alien character The Watcher. The series expertly showcased fan-favorite Marvel characters living in alternate timelines of the Multiverse.

However, no one’s story was more important than Doctor Strange’s.

The animated series saw the former Guardian of the Time Stone Ark take a different path, which led to the birth of his evil counterpart, Strange Supreme.

Judging by the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home – the follow-up film released in December – Strange Supreme will apparently escape the multiverse.

Although What if….? took a while to find its footing, it proved to be very vital to the MCU.

Spider-Man and Dr. Strange Accidentally Driven Phase 4 Insanity

Tom Holland (left) and Benedict Cumberbatch portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Tom Holland (left) and Benedict Cumberbatch portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home. © Imago/Prod.Db

The last Marvel movie of 2021 was probably the biggest.

It features Tom Holland’s turn as Peter Parker, whose identity as Spider-Man is revealed. Soon after, Spidey’s life turns into a mess.

Still, asking Doctor Strange for help only makes things worse, as the two accidentally alter the Multiverse.

This is precisely what will lead to more chaos in the MCU, as shown in the trailer for 2022’s upcoming film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Apparently, the almighty wizard will still be dealing with the consequences of his mistake.

And don’t forget: the preview also showed the Master of Mystical Arts facing the evil variant of himself.

So it seems that Spider-Man and Doctor Strange are largely responsible for what will happen in future movies and shows as Phase 4 continues and the MCU expands into 2022.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/Prod.DB & Prod.DB & Prod.DB & Cinema Publishers Collection

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