Every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has at least one big plot twist. Phase Four has raised the stakes of those twists with Ikaris emerging as a bad guy in Eternals and two other Peter Parkers showing up to help Tom Holland’s Spidey in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Some twists have been disappointing, like the reveal of Taskmaster’s identity in Black Widow.
From the revelation that Wanda Maximoff is the main villain of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to the revelation that the title character in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a killer to the true meaning of the title Thor: Love and Thunder, Phase Four has been full of great twists.
6 Black Widow – The Taskmaster Is Dreykov’s Daughter
Identity reveal twists only work if the secret identity has already been established. The Winter Soldier’s mask comes off and it’s Steve Rogers’ best friend, or Peter Parker goes to pick up his homecoming date and the Vulture opens the door. Black Widow’s villain reveal doesn’t land because the identity isn’t set up earlier in the movie. When it’s time to reveal who the Taskmaster is, viewers don’t recognize the face under the mask.
It’s Antonia, Dreykov’s daughter, who was involved in a near-fatal explosion caused by Natasha. Dreykov brought her back to life with technology that allows her to mimic superpowers. The other big twist in Black Widow is the pheromone lock, which is just absurd.
5 Eternals – Ikaris Is Evil
Eternals is one of the most polarizing movies that Marvel Studios has released. But it has a doozy of a twist that’s totally unpredictable even if it’s somewhat derivative. Richard Madden is so effortlessly charming that the audience inherently trusts him, so it arrives as a genuine shock when Ikaris turns out to be a bad guy.
The “evil Superman” trope has been overused in recent movies and TV shows. It was seen in The Boys, Brightburn, and Invincible, among others. This premise has been used so much in the past few years that Eternals feels less subversive than it should.
4 Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – Shang-Chi Carried Out A Hit On His Father’s Behalf
Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu, better known as the real Mandarin, is the latest in a long line of bad dads in the MCU. The movie’s present-day narrative is a fast-paced martial arts actioner, but its flashbacks unravel a cerebral, intimate family drama. Shang-Chi abandoned his family and fled to America after his mom was killed and his dad took a dark turn.
When it was hinted that Wenwu ordered Shang-Chi on a hit, a cop-out twist that he didn’t actually go through with the hit seemed likely to preserve the traditions of a clear-cut protagonist. But, as it turns out, he actually did it. He confesses to Katy that he’s a killer. This twist added some depth to his character. Much like western antihero Shane, Shang-Chi has to live with a killing.
3 Thor: Love And Thunder – The Title Refers To A New Superhero Duo
When Taika Waititi announced that Thor: Love and Thunder would be a romantic comedy bringing back Natalie Portman as the God of Thunder’s old flame Jane Foster, Marvel fans expected the titular “love” to be between Thor and Jane. Throughout the movie, they do rekindle their romance, but that romance doesn’t last, as Jane ultimately sacrifices herself to save the children of Asgard. By the end of the movie, the title Love and Thunder takes on a whole new meaning.
At the gates of Eternity, Gorr the God Butcher drains his lifeforce to bring his daughter Love back from the dead. With his last breath, Gorr asks Thor to look after her and Thor agrees. So, although he lost his girlfriend, Thor finds a new purpose in life as an adoptive father. As it turns out, “Love and Thunder” is the name of a new superhero duo.
2 Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – Wanda Is The Villain
When America Chavez arrives in the Earth-616 universe at the beginning of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Strange determines that she needs the help of a witch and heads to Wanda Maximoff’s apple orchard. This seems to set up a typical Avengers team-up, but the movie quickly takes a dark turn when Strange deduces that Wanda herself is the witch pursuing America.
Having been corrupted by the Darkhold, Wanda emerges as the main antagonist of the movie. Sam Raimi presents Wanda as a full-blown horror villain. The director doesn’t hold back on the brutality. Throughout Multiverse of Madness, Wanda murders the sorcerers at Kamar-Taj and brings them back to life just to torture them, massacres the Illuminati of Earth-838, and terrifies her own sons.
1 Spider-Man: No Way Home – The Other Peter Parkers Show Up
Despite Marvel consistently denying their involvement and leaving them out of all the marketing materials, audiences went into Spider-Man: No Way Home expecting to see the multiversal return of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Men. And when they made their inevitable appearance about halfway through the movie, it didn’t disappoint.
The other Peter Parkers show up at the perfect moment to provide Tom Holland’s Spidey with timely advice following his failure to save Aunt May from the wrath of the Green Goblin. The on-screen team-up of the three cinematic Spider-Men was pure fan service, but it worked beautifully.