Marvel's Comic-Con Panel Was a Reminder of What Made the Studio Great

We saw Black Panther deliver a gut-wrenching trailer, Bill Murray enter the MCU, and the announcement of two Avengers flicks. Has Marvel really lost its oomph?
IMAGE KEVIN WINTER / GETTY IMAGES

Ibet the past few months have been a blast for Kevin Feige. Since Spider-Man: No Way Home debuted this past December, a particularly loud corner of Marvel fans have taken a strange pleasure in dunking on the studio's current slate of the films, which, until Saturday night, lacked a clear Thanos-level threat. From She-Hulk's slightly questionable CGI work, to a few jokes that didn't quite land in Thor: Love and Thunder, you had the feeling that Feige was gearing up to take back the reigns on his very expensive ship.

What better place to do it than in Comic-Con's famous Hall H—in front of a batshit crowd going coo-coo for superhero puffs—during Marvel's first trip to the event in three years? Feige took the stage early Saturday night, where he delivered a whopping amount of announcements and footage, as expected. I'll get to that, since the next three years (at least!) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe took shape last night. You know what was more surprising, even more than the news of another set of back to back Avengers flicks? After criticism that MCU outings have been increasingly impersonal, Saturday's panel was full of people who very clearly give a shit. You had the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever cast huddling after the film's trailer debuted, tearing up. The Hall H crowd softening, all at once, upon sight of baby Rocket Racoon, damn near afraid of the gut-punch Guardians of the Galaxy has in store. Don't even get me started on the way Jonathan Majors worked the crowd when he graced the stage.

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As I waited in line to get into the venue, I heard a couple other journalists forecasting that Feige would show up and deliver news on "the things we already know about," which seemed to be the sentiment from the Marvel fandom, too. Feige knew better than to make the night one big Disney+ showcase. But sure, there was some of that. We got a fresh looks at August's She-Hulk, which went heavy on the Hulk training montage and what seems to be a cameo from Charlie Cox's Daredevil. Speaking of, Feige announced that the long-rumored Daredevil: Born Again will debut in spring 2023, running at a wild number of 18 episodes. The night also included a look at the Samuel L. Jackson-starring Secret Invasion, which set up a conspiracy thriller that gave major The Winter Soldier vibes. As Feige kinda-sorta winked to when he introduced the Secret Invasion trailer, it's nice to see the MCU switch its tone away from zingers and slapstick antics for at least one project.

Likely the biggest sigh of relief from fans came when the Marvel boss laid out the parameters of Phases 4, 5, and 6. At last, we have an idea of where the MCU's "reset," as Feige put it, is going. Phase 4 will end with November's Wakanda Forever, Phase 5 will close out with the anti-Avengers adventure, The Thunderbolts, and Phase 6 will kick off with Fantastic Four and end with Avengers: Secret Wars. By the way, Phases 4 through 6 are now officially called "The Multiverse Saga." Notably missing from the panel were any insights to the studio's handling of X-Men-related projects, aside from the X-Men '97 animated series. Guess the studio tossing Logan and Deadpool on Disney+ this week was a red herring. Past the X-Men, there was no Spidey news, either. Sorry, Tommy H.

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We need to get to the main event, don't we? The movies. Marvel debuted a trippy first trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp, due out for February 17. By the looks of the clip, the Ant-Man family will be trapped in the Quantum Realm, where they'll eventually face the big bad of the Multiverse Saga, Majors's Kang the Conquerer. Bill Murray is also in this movie! He showed up in the trailer. Who knew. For a release the following May (that's 2023), Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 dropped a trailer, which shows a beefy-looking Groot and baby Rocket. Nearly the full cast took the stage, seeming pretty decisive that Volume 3 would be the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the MCU.

And a little over midway through the panel, Feige dropped what's arguably the biggest news to come from the convention: two new Avengers jams. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty will hit theaters on May 2, 2025, and Avengers: Secret Wars will debut soon after, on November 7, 2025.

The best moment of the night, however, goes to the brilliant team behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Director Ryan Coogler told a heartbreaking story about the last time he was at Comic-Con, which was to promote Black Panther. When Coogler showed the trailer to another packed Hall H crowd, he said that the late Chadwick Boseman gripped his shoulder so hard in excitement that he could barely lift his arm after. Watching the reception to Wakanda Forever's presentation at Comic-Con, Coogler said he could feel Boseman's hand again. All of this isn't even mentioning the first trailer for Wakanda Forever, a sentimental tw0 minutes that includes first looks at Tenoch Huerta's Namor and Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams. The footage is beautifully reminiscent of the awe and sheer genre invention that made Black Panther a Best Picture nominee. You get the feeling that they'll pull it off again.

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When you're in a place like Hall H, a Roman coliseum stuffed inside a convention center, you remember that—more often than not—the Internet is just the Internet. Naysayers are loud. So are the stans. Marvel will continue to put out stories that'll delight and madden both crowds. For now, this moment? Judging by the deafening chants from Hall H, the tears, the cheers, hugs and all, Marvel is going to be just fine.

FromEsquire US

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