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The marvelous women leading the MCU’s Phase 4 and beyond

By Jim Bea Sampaga Published Mar 30, 2022 2:06 pm

International Women’s Month highlights the history, achievements and progress of women during March every year, but every day, we are surrounded by powerful and inspiring women in our daily lives, career, education, and even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The MCU is heavily dominated by men. The original six Avengers only had one woman in the team with Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson. The Guardians of the Galaxy has one, two or three women in the team, depending on the movie. Shoutout to Zoe Saldaña, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff’s Gamora, Nebula and Mantis, respectfully.

In the Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018), we saw Evangeline Lilly portray Hope Van Dyne taking the mantle of The Wasp to headline the movie alongside Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man. It wasn’t until Captain Marvel (2019) that we saw a solo women-led MCU superhero film with Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.

The MCU is currently in its Phase 4 of releases and, so far, it is the franchise’s most diverse phase yet. Marvel Studios are including more women, ethnicities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ representation in its releases. We are only one year into Phase 4 but we still have more TV shows and movies coming our way.

March is International Women’s Month. To celebrate this occasion, here’s a rundown of the nine women in 2021’s Phase 4 that will take us deeper and beyond in the MCU!

SPOILERS: Information on Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is included in this article. Read at your own risk.

Wanda Maximoff

As the leading character in the TV show WandaVision, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) showed the MCU how powerful of a witch she truly is.

Wanda has the power to manipulate reality and people’s perceptions within a certain enclosed perimeter called the Hex in the small town of Westview. She even managed to recreate the now-dead sentient android Vision (Paul Bettany) and create twin sons Tommy and Billy within the Hex.

Born with the powerful Chaos Magic and experimented on with the cosmic Mind Stone, Wanda is declared the Scarlet Witch. To echo its significance, fellow powerful witch Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) said the Scarlet Witch’s powers exceed that of the Mystic Art’s Sorcerer Supreme.

Wanda, who manipulated space, reality, matter and time within the Hex, is set to appear alongside Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the upcoming May film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. With powers that surpass even the Mystic Art’s Sorcerer Supreme, Wanda is set to bring us along to the vast craziness of the MCU’s multiverse and beyond.

Monica Rambeau

She was just a little girl in Captain Marvel but now, she’s all grown up helping Wanda in WandaVision.

Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) is a captain at S.W.O.R.D., an extra-terrestrial and extra-dimensional protection government agency founded by her late-mother Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel’s best friend.

In a mission to help Wanda and save the people in Westview, Monica passed through the Hex barrier multiples times which altered her DNA giving her superhuman powers such as spectral vision and physical phasing. She is the first Black woman superpowered hero in the MCU.

In the final episode of WandaVision, it’s confirmed that Monica still has connections to the Skrulls, an alien species that her family helped in Captain Marvel. The Skrulls are now believed to be working under the direct orders of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as seen in the post-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).

Now that Monica is a superpowered individual directly connected to Captain Marvel, we are set to see more of her in the upcoming 2023 Captain Marvel 2 film The Marvels. Another TV series titled Secret Invasion is set to premiere this year. The plot will follow Fury and the Skrulls’ secret project.

With Monica’s connection to the Skrulls, Captain Marvel and an extra-terrestrial protection government agency, we are definitely going to see more of her in the upcoming MCU releases.

Sylvie

The TV series Loki heavily explored the concept of the multiverse and the variants of a person in each multiverse. One of the Loki variants in the show is a female variant of Loki who renamed herself Sylvie Laufeydottir (Sophia Di Martino).

Sylvie was a young girl when the Time Variance Authority (TVA) took her to reset her timeline in order to contain them from unleashing an all-out multiversal war. She managed to escape and live off the grid while constantly running away from the TVA. As she lived in apocalypse timelines to hide from them, Sylvie managed to hatch a grand plan to take down the TVA and kill its creator.

As the show progressed, Sylvie was able to meet TVA’s head creator He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) with the help of Loki (Tom Hiddleston). She followed through with her plan and killed He Who Remains which ultimately led to the breaking out of the multiverse.

With the multiverse unleashed, only time will tell when exactly the multiversal war will happen in the MCU. Loki is returning for a second season and as one of the main characters, Sylvie will take us deep into the multiverse she broke free.

Agent Sharon Carter

The last time we saw Agent Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), she betrayed the CIA to help Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his team in Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Branded an enemy of the United States, Sharon went on the run and established herself in Madripoor where she eventually reunited with Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes in the TV show The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

She became successful during the Blip, amassing her wealth as an art hustler in Madripoor. Sharon helped Sam and Bucky defeat the Flag Smashers and in return, Sam got her pardoned which allowed her to reenter the United States and have her old position back in the CIA.

But she didn’t tell Sam and Bucky that she’s actually the Power Broker, the ruler of Madripoor’s criminal scene with her massive collection of weapons available for sale. Armed with insider knowledge into the US government’s weapons, technology and secrets, the Power Broker is ready to re-open her business and serve clients beyond Madripoor which sets her up as one of the villains we will see in the future of the MCU. 

Xu Xialing

Marvel Studios finally premiered its first Asian-American superhero film: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2010). One of the highlights of the film is Shang-Chi’s (Simu Liu) younger sister Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang).

When Shang-Chi didn’t return home after being sent on a mission, Xialing ran away from their father’s home. She moved to Macau and established her own illegal underground fight ring that is streamed and gambled on the dark web.

Shang-Chi, Xialing, his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) and the rest of the Ta Lo villagers defeated the soul-sucking creature Dweller-in-Darkness but lost their father and Ten Rings leader Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung) in the process. Xialing, who told Shang-Chi she’s cleaning their father’s compound, is now the new leader of Ten Rings.

Ten Rings is a powerful secretive global terrorist organization that was behind the abduction of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Iron Man (2008). With Xialing its new leader, it sets her up as one of the future villains or anti-heroes and big players of the MCU.

Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine

Also known as Val, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is part of an unknown organization recruiting superpowered and highly skilled individuals to do clientele missions.

She was first introduced in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier having recruited the disgraced second Captain America and former high-ranking soldier John Walker (Wyatt Russell). She gave him a new name: U.S. Agent.

In an appearance in Black Widow (2021), Val visited Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Natasha’s adopted sister. The former Black Widow had previous jobs with Val but this time she was called to assassinate Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) which led to her appearance in the TV series Hawkeye.

There is not much information regarding Val so far but with her recruitment of John Walker and Yelena Belova, it’s clear that Marvel Studios has big plans for her character in the MCU.

Kate Bishop

During the Battle of New York where the Avengers fought Loki’s Chitauri army, a young Kate Bishop was almost hurt by a Chitauri inside her Manhattan penthouse but Hawkeye was able to save her.

As a witness and survivor of Hawkeye’s heroic actions, Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) grew up to love archery and calls herself the world’s greatest archer.

In the TV series Hawkeye, Kate and Clint partnered together to take down New York City crime syndicate, Tracksuit Mafia. Kate also managed to defeat Kingpin and have her secretive mother Eleanor Bishop arrested.

Clint, appreciative of Kate’s help, invited her to join his family for Christmas Day. The final episode of Hawkeye shows the two archers burning Clint’s Ronin suit, signaling the end of the dark chapter in his life.

Moreover, Kate began joking about superhero names she can don such as Lady Hawk, Hawk Ever, Hawk Shot and Lady Arrow.

In the comics, Kate takes over the mantle of Hawkeye. In the MCU, fans can feel that Clint is ready to retire and be with family. This opens the opportunity for Kate to don the Hawkeye title in the future of the MCU.

Captain Carter

In another universe, Steve didn’t receive the serum but Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) did.

In the TV animated series What If…?, the first episode explores Peggy as Captain Carter. During World War II, she infiltrated HYDRA bases in Europe alongside Steve who operates the HYDRA Stomper, a suit of armor built by Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper).

Captain Carter’s universe has similarities with the original Captain America timeline in the MCU. However, instead of dunking a missile plane into the ocean like Captain America, Captain Carter had to enter the Tesseract’s portal to push a tentacle-alien creature from escaping and galloping on the entirety of Europe.

Just like Steve, Peggy also became a woman lost in time. When Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. were experimenting on the Tesseract in the universe’s present time, they reopened the portal and Peggy came out as if she just finished slaying the creature. Fury broke the news that the war is over, they won and those events happened almost 70 years ago.

Captain Carter was recruited by multiversal observer The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) to defeat Ultron (Ross Marquand), who now has the infinity stones and the ability to travel and destroy planets across the multiverse.

The series finale also showed the HYDRA Stomper still intact in her universe’s present-day, teasing that Steve might still be alive.

In the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, one of its movie posters shows a reflection of Captain Carter’s shield, the same vibranium shield we know of except it’s representing the U.K. flag.

Captain Carter is no stranger to the multiverse. We may see more of her in the upcoming installment of Doctor Strange and the recently announced season 2 of What If…?.

Thena

The warrior Thena (Angelina Jolie) is one of the ten Eternals created and sent by the Celestials to Earth on a mission to eradicate Deviants and start the Emergence, the birth of a Celestial from a seed planted deep in the planet’s core.

In the 2021 film of the same name, Eternals are immortals who have helped Celestials destroy countless planets to rebirth a Celestial.

Before beginning a new mission, their memories are erased to give them a new start. However, with the vast amount of memories Thena has accumulated, something had gone wrong when the Celestial Arishem the Judge reset her.

Thena is shown suffering from Mahd Wy’ry, a condition that affects her memories, enabling her to remember her past missions on the destruction of other planets. The condition also triggers her to go into a trance-like state making her dangerous to the people around her.

After successfully stopping the Emergence of Tiamut, the other half of the Eternals remained on Earth to live their lives within humans. Thena and fellow Eternals Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) and Druig (Barry Koeghan) went to space to find other Eternals and tell them the truth behind their missions. But when they lost contact with their members left on Earth, Thena realized Arishem took them away.

As the new leader of Eternals, Thena is set to find and rescue them with the help of Eros/Starfox (Harry Styles), a fellow Eternal and brother of Thanos.

Arishem will be back to judge Earth if they are worthy enough to stop the Emergence. Thena will definitely be there to lead, protect and save the Earth’s future from the Celestials in the MCU.

Upcoming leading women of 2022’s MCU releases

Latin American superhero America Chavez (Xochitl) is set to debut in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6, 2022. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) is also back in the film.

In Jun. 8, 2022, Ms. Marvel is debuting as a TV series on Disney Plus. Its main character, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), is also set to appear in the second Captain Marvel film.

Thor’s ex-lover Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is back for the fourth installment of the god of thunder Thor: Love and Thunder set to premiere on July 8, 2022. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is also in the film as the new ruler of Asgard.

Shuri (Leticia Wright), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) will be back in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever scheduled to premiere in November of this year.