If Marvel had stuck to its original Phase 1 plan, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) would have looked very different in Phase 4 and Phase 5. The Phase 1 plan consisted of movies such as Ant-Man, Black Panther, Captain America, Cloak & Dagger, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Power Pack, Shang-Chi, and The Avengers. While The Avengers was always the ultimate goal, the original plan diverged significantly from what we know today.
One significant change would be the introduction of Kang the Conqueror. In the current timeline, Kang was introduced in Loki season 1 and played a central role in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, setting up the Avengers’ future showdown with him in Phase 6. However, if Ant-Man’s story had started in Phase 1, it is likely that his story arc would have already concluded by now. This would have opened the door for other heroes, such as Iron Man or the Young Avengers, to take on Kang’s role.
Another major change would be the timing of Iron Man’s movie franchise. If Iron Man had been left out of Phase 1, his solo movies would not have concluded as early as they did. Instead, Iron Man 3 could have been a Phase 4 or Phase 5 installment, allowing him to maintain a strong presence in the MCU leading into the fight with Kang. In this alternate timeline, Iron Man could have been the current face of the MCU.
Captain America’s legacy would still shape the MCU, but Iron Man may not be viewed in the same way. Instead, it might be Hank Pym’s Ant-Man or Doctor Strange who cast a shadow over the Multiverse Saga. Shang-Chi’s story could have already concluded by Phase 4, depending on its success. The success of Avengers in Phase 1 may have also affected the creation of shows like Hawkeye and Nick Fury, as their characters would have already had their time in the spotlight during Phase 1.
Finally, the MCU would have needed to introduce new heroes for its Multiverse Saga Avengers team-up. Characters like Ant-Man, Black Panther, Shang-Chi, and Doctor Strange were chosen to lead new franchises in Phase 3 and Phase 4. However, in this alternate timeline, these characters would already be on their way out of the MCU. This would have required Marvel to bring in new characters like Nova, Ka-Zar, and Quasar to fill the void left by the departing heroes.
Overall, if Marvel had followed its original Phase 1 plan, the MCU would have had a different lineup of heroes and potentially a different outcome for the Multiverse Saga. Iron Man may have continued as the face of the MCU, and other heroes like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange could have played larger roles in the overarching narrative.