MCU: The Most Popular Marvel Movies on Disney+ Offers a Good Sign for Phase 4

The Marvel Cinematic Universe might be on a hiatus right now, given the delay of Black Widow until November 2020. However, rest assured, true believers, the MCU will be back in a big way in the next few years. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has already announced a line-up consisting of interconnected films and Disney+ shows.

But a new analysis reveals which movies Disney+ subscribers are most interested in. And the results could bode well for what Marvel Studios has planned for the upcoming Phase 4 slate.

Benedict Cumberbatch at a 'Doctor Strange' screening
Benedict Cumberbatch at a ‘Doctor Strange’ screening | Matthew Eisman/WireImage

Marvel enters fresh territory with Phase 4

With the original Avengers line-up either already out or heading for the exit, the MCU needs to do a bit of resetting to remain sustainable. After all, the franchise took more than 20 films to build to the universe-ending stakes of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. After all that devastation, audiences and their favorite heroes need a breather.

Thankfully, now the last two Avengers films have brought all the heroes together. So it won’t take much for them to cross paths or team up again in a future film. With Fox now under Disney ownership, it’s only a matter of time before another iconic Marvel supervillain — such as Doctor Doom or Galactus — poses an Avengers-level threat.

In the meantime, Phase 4 of the MCU is determined to build up its existing heroes and, once again, expand the world to include a few new additions. Characters like Shang-Chi, the Eternals, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk will all join the MCU in the next few years. But several key characters will need to take leadership roles to hold the franchise together.

The most popular Marvel content says a lot

One of the most important heroes going forward will be Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The character played a critical role in helping Earth’s Mightiest Heroes triumph over Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. So Marvel Studios will be relieved to know the Sorcerer Supreme is among the most popular heroes on Disney+ right now.

According to the new report by Soaphub— which ranks by average monthly search volume — 2016’s Doctor Strange is actually the third most popular Marvel movie currently on Disney+. That film, directed by Scott Derrickson, introduced the character into the MCU. And the upcoming sequel — 2021’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — will reportedly make a major impact on the MCU’s future.

Only Iron Man and Avengers: Endgame — which has a significant lead — are more popular than Doctor Strange. As far as MCU heroes, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) remains on top, followed by Doctor Strange himself. Then, Vision (Paul Bettany) sits in third, a good sign of fan interest given his role in Disney+ series WandaVision. Likewise, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) — another future lead of a Disney+ series — is easily the most popular villain.

But Ant-Man, Hulk, and Hawkeye aren’t getting much support

On the other side of things, several key Marvel characters who are set for big returns in the next few years are far less popular. Despite appearing in Avengers: Endgame, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) hasn’t gotten much of a boost. In a way, that makes sense, as his solo series is the MCU’s least successful. But it isn’t a good sign for excitement over the upcoming Ant-Man 3.

Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are also some of the least searched-for heroes in the MCU. The upcoming Disney+ series Hawkeye is expected to see Renner transition out of the MCU. And Ruffalo is reportedly close to securing a role in She-Hulk. Beyond those shows, fans don’t know where those heroes may show up in the MCU if they do at all.