5 Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Changed FOREVER By Marvel Studios' Phase 4 Stories In 2021

After a quiet 2020, it's been a huge year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2021. Now, we take a closer look at 5 characters who have been forever changed by the way their stories unfolded this year...

Even Marvel Studios wasn't mighty enough to overcome the pandemic in 2020, meaning the MCU ended up taking a year off. It returned in a big way in 2021, though, with multiple movies and TV shows that have kicked Phase 4 off in style. We met a lot of new characters over the past 12 months, not to mention some returning fan-favourites who went through significant changes. 

Now, we're taking a closer look at the heroes who will, quite simply, never be the same again after a bonkers 365 days for the MCU. Evolution is a natural part of the journey these characters go on, but with these stories, the stage has been set for something entirely new moving forward. 

From WandaVision to Spider-Man: No Way Home, these beloved icons have a completely new status quo that opens the door to some bold new stories. Here, we break down what happened to them and what could be next as we head deeper into Phase 4.

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5. The Vision

You probably expected to see Wanda Maximoff here now she's the Scarlet Witch, but until Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is released, we don't really know what that means. Clearly, big changes are afoot for the Avenger, but The Vision went through a major transformation.

Following the reveal that the android who lived in Westview had been created through Wanda's Chaos Magic, we learned that the actual Vision has been disassembled (and reassembled) by S.W.O.R.D. The new White Vision was fully under the organisation's control, without any of the memories or emotions that made him worthy of lifting Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. 

After clashing with Westview's Vision, the original's memories were restored, but he took off and hasn't been seen since. If Marvel Studios is following the comic books, this Vision probably has no emotions, and that means the MCU now has a very different synthezoid out there. We're betting on him returning in Armor Wars, but The Vision we all know is unlikely to ever return.

4. Bucky Barnes

Again, the obvious choice would have been to put Sam Wilson here. After all, he's become the MCU's new Captain America, and wielding that shield carries a lot of expectations and pressure. 

We're undeniably excited to see where his story goes next, but Bucky Barnes arguably went through the biggest evolution over the course of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Bucky was finally able to put his past as that HYDRA assassin behind him, and while the show rushed through him making amends in the finale, that's now something Steve Rogers' best friend can finally move past.

Bucky has also formed a close friendship and bond with Sam, no doubt meaning he'll be part of Captain America 4. The character's future is looking brighter than ever, and without the shadow of HYDRA and The Winter Solider looming over him, Bucky can become a hero in his own right.

3. The Watcher

We may have only met Jeffrey Wright's Watcher for the first time in What If...? this year, but the character went through a major evolution over the course of the Disney+ series. Those changes are likely to be felt heading into both season 2 and future live-action stories, and now The Watcher has broken his oath, we're bound to see him make his presence felt in the MCU before long.

Heck, he even tore his way through the Multiverse itself in a battle with Infinity Ultron, and we're sure Marvel Studios already has plans to give Wright the chance to play this character in live-action.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, and Loki season 2 should provide ample opportunities for this, though we'd like to see the Fantastic Four reboot explore The Watcher's relationship with Marvel's First Family. Big things are definitely coming. 

2. Loki

The God of Mischief died at the hands of Thanos in the opening few minutes of Avengers: Infinity War, and Loki quickly established that this remains canon. However, the Loki who escaped when Earth's Mightiest Heroes travelled back in time to 2012 was the lead in this series, though it was quickly established that everything we thought we knew about this "Variant" was wrong.

After learning of his future and (sort of) going through the same redemptive story arc, Loki fell in love (with a female Variant of himself), found friendship, and arguably become a true hero. 

He was even willing to put aside his quest for vengeance and control in order to get a happy ending with Sylvie, but ended up in a different timeline for his troubles. Needless to say, the stage has been set for a very different Loki to inhabit the MCU, and we cannot wait to see where his story goes next.

1. Spider-Man

Who is Peter Parker? After the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the world has no memory of Peter or who's beneath Spider-Man's mask. With that, the stage has been set for a comic accurate portrayal of the web-slinger in the MCU as an outsider not trusted by his fellow heroes or the public.

That's exciting, as if the fact that he no longer has Stark Industries technology backing him up when he swings into action. Peter is alone in New York City, and it would make sense for J. Jonah Jameson to send the Scorpion, Spider-Slayers or both after the webbed "menace" in order to unmask him, especially as secret identities aren't exactly a thing in this shared world. 

Spider-Man's role in the MCU has been totally transformed, and regardless of when that fourth movie is released, it's clearly going to be a Spidey adventure like no other. 

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