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Ant-Man 3 Kicks Off Phase 5 (But Some MCU Fans Still Don't Know Phase 4 Ended)

Marvel Studios is the theme park that keeps expanding, but fans just don't know what part of the ride they're on. 

To make things easier to digest (from both a creative and spectator perspective), Marvel architect Kevin Feige has divided up his cinematic universe into several Phases. Each Phase typically introduces brand new characters, expands on existing ones, and features a narrative arc for the larger cinematic universe, with the Phase wrapping up with a major event or sense of finality.

Some fans, however, are surprised to learn that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already kicked off Phase 5. With the release of "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," the MCU officially entered its fifth Phase, starting a new chapter in the larger Multiverse Saga. The problem for fans, both hardcore and casual, is that they're unaware Phase 4 wrapped up with 2022's "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." "Is Phase 4 over?" asked Reddit user u/NeoNoireWerewolf in a thread discussing the "Ant-Man" threequel's reviews. "I honestly couldn't tell since it seemed like it didn't build to anything. Seems like a season finale with no climax."

Ryan Coogler's "Wakanda Forever" may have been an intimate, heavy-hitting story for those in Wakanda, but its events didn't seem to have larger consequences for the MCU as a whole. "What's setting apart these phases?" asked another Marvel fan, pointing out that Phase 4 didn't end with a bang. "Phase 1-3 were set apart by the 'Avengers' movies. It just seems arbitrary now." With Phase 4 seemingly over with little to no fanfare, MCU fans are debating what impact Phase 5 will have on the franchise.

Marvel fans are struggling to see the vision for Phase 5

While previous Marvel Phases did end with "Avengers" films, audiences shouldn't expect a team-up film until 2025's "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty," which will be a part of Phase Six. This prospect is certainly worrisome to fans, who are unclear about the direction the franchise is going in. Phase 1 to 3 ended with a clear indication of what was next with the MCU, and that doesn't seem to be the case with Phase 4 wrapping up with no sense of finality or conclusion. "It doesn't feel like [this phase] is building to anything. At least Thanos and the Infinity Stones [were] sprinkled throughout to show an escalation," said one fan on Reddit.

Kang (Jonathan Majors), who is the franchise's brand-new big bad, was first introduced as a variant in the Disney+ series "Loki," with "Quantumania" set to be his major debut as a villain. While Majors doesn't want his time-traveling menace to be compared to Thanos, it's hard for fans to not see how Marvel wants to replicate the success they had with the Titan. User u/Alexexy says that Phase 4 and the third "Ant-Man" are building up to "The Kang Dynasty" but "the threads are really bare at the moment."

While many are legitimately hopeful that the MCU will find a solid direction with Phase 5, others are more pessimistic, suggesting that Phase 3, which featured "Black Panther," "Infinity War," and "Endgame," was lightning in a bottle. "It was so good that I think it just scrambled everyone's perception of what the MCU really was," wrote u/ShadyIntentions. "Every other phase besides that one has been either below average or average in my opinion."