The Infinity Saga is over, but Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still obsessed with the Infinity Stones. It may not have been Marvel Studios' original intention, but Phase 2 saw them start to truly integrate the incredibly powerful gems into the MCU storyline. The Tesseract and Loki's staff were retrofitted into becoming the Space and Mind Stone, respectively, with Thor: The Dark World introducing the Aether aka Reality Stone and Guardians of the Galaxy featuring the Orb aka Power Stone.
Phase 3 concluded the story of the Infinity Stones, with the Time Stone debuting in Doctor Strange and the Soul Stone saved for Avengers: Infinity War. All of this was done so that Thanos could arrive in the latter and begin acquiring them for himself. He used them to snap away half of all life across the universe and then reduced them to atoms at the start of Avengers: Endgame. The 22nd MCU movie concluded with the main MCU timeline not having any more Infinity Stones. Marvel Studios has since tried to convey how Phase 4 will be very different from the last 11 years of the MCU - but the end of the Infinity Saga doesn't mean they are moving on from the Infinity Stones.
Marvel Studios has confirmed five movies for Phase 4 and now has eight shows for Disney+ after the recent announcements of Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk. At first glance, the slate is fascinating and features a lot of new characters and ideas. Characters like Shang-Chi and the Eternals are set to be introduced, while mantles will be passed along thanks to Falcon and Kate Bishop. But, a closer inspection of the titles in a post-Endgame world shows that the Infinity Stones will still be an essential piece to what comes next in Phase 4.
One immediate example of this is Black Widow. Marvel's decision to allow Scarlett Johansson to be the lead of her own movie comes in the aftermath of Black Widow dying in Avengers: Endgame. She sacrificed her life so that Hawkeye could acquire the Soul Stone and help bring everyone who was snapped back to life. But, her sacrifice for the Infinity Stone also means that Black Widow has to be a prequel in some form. Additionally, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be heavily tied to what happened to the Infinity Stones in Endgame. Strange will no longer have his most powerful artifact and could leave Earth - and this entire reality - vulnerable to more threats. The stakes will be raised, too, as there will be no more do-overs and time loops.
Strange isn't the only one tied to an Infinity Stone in his movie, though, as Scarlet Witch's entire story for Phase 4 will be linked to them. It has been theorized that she will lose her grasp on reality as a result of the trauma she's gone through, which involved killing Vision, the love of her life, only to see Thanos use the Infinity Stones to reverse this and kill him again. Of course, both Vision and Scarlet Witch have their powers from the Infinity Stones, too. With Wanda likely altering reality in WandaVision, there could be a lot to explore.
And speaking of alternate realities, that's precisely where two more Disney+ shows, What If...? and Loki, come into play. Whether it's explicitly referenced or not, the basis of What If's premise lends itself to comparisons with the Reality Stone. And, since they are doing one episode about each MCU movie, there will undoubtedly be ties to the Infinity Stones along the way. As for Loki, it has been confirmed that it follows the 2012 version from a branched reality in Endgame. He will use the Space Stone throughout the series, and rumor has it he will finish it off jumping into Thor: Love and Thunder.
All in all, seven Phase 4 properties could have massive connections to the Infinity Stones. This isn't inherently bad for the MCU, however, as it continues to show that they will be important for the franchise's future. They were obviously integral to the Infinity Saga - the Tesseract alone was in 10 movies - and now Marvel is going to continue using them as building blocks for what comes next in the MCU.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022