It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each
Characters created by: by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, David Mack, Joe Quesada, Devin Grayson, J.G. Jones, John Romita Sr., Matt Fraction and David Aja
Returning characters: Clint Barton, Laura Barton, Yelena Belova, Wilson Fisk1, Cooper, Lila, and Nathaniel Barton
Episode four: “Partners, Am I Right?”
Director: Bert & Bertie2
Writers: Erin Cancino & Heather Quinn
US Release Date: December 8, 2021
Summary: Barton defuses the situation after Eleanor and Duquesne recognize him as an Avenger. Eleanor asks him to keep Bishop out of his investigation and later contacts an unknown person to inform them of the situation.
With the help of his wife Laura, Barton secretly recovers his sword and discovers that Duquesne is the CEO of Sloan Limited, a shell corporation that launders money for the Tracksuit Mafia, while Bishop deduces that Barton was Ronin. Barton locates Kazi and asks him to talk Lopez out of her vendetta against Ronin while Bishop enlists a group of LARPers in retrieving Barton’s trick arrows.
Afterwards, Laura informs Barton that the watch the Tracksuit Mafia stole is sending out tracking signals from an apartment building. Barton and Bishop go to retrieve it, but find it in Lopez’s apartment, where she also keeps notes on Barton and his family. Lopez attacks Bishop while Barton is ambushed by a masked assassin.
A fight ensues between the four combatants, with Bishop injuring Lopez, forcing her to retreat, while Barton unmasks his assailant, Yelena Belova, who also escapes. Barton decides that he cannot keep putting Bishop in danger and breaks off their partnership.
MCU Connections: Clint is seen drinking out of a coffee mug that says “Thanos was right”. That same phrase appeared as graffiti on a urinal in the first episode. Romanoff’s death scene is shown from Avengers: Endgame.
Music: The song playing in the background when Kate is being fitted for an outfit by the Larpers is “Bells, Bells, Bells” from the 1980 Star Wars Christmas Album “Christmas in the Stars”, performed by Anthony Daniels in character as C-3PO.
The musical theme of Romanoff’s death scene from Avengers: Endgame can be heard twice. First when Clint tells Kate about his best shot, and later when he wants to pull Kate up after she fell from the roof. Yelena Belova’s theme from Black Widow is played when she takes off her mask.
Episode five: Ronin
Director: Bert & Bertie
Writers: Jenna Noel Frazier
US Release Date: December 15, 2021
Summary: In 2018, Yelena Belova and Black Widow agent Sonya subdue a woman named Annie in her house who has been helping deprogramming Black Widows after being freed from General Dreykov in 2016. Belova soon becomes a victim of the Blip and re-emerges in 2023, hoping to talk with Natasha Romanoff, but eventually learns her death.
In 2024, Kate Bishop informs her mother Eleanor, about her fiancée Jack Duquesne’s shell corporation Sloan Limited, which leads into his arrest.
Bishop finds Belova waiting for her in her apartment, where she learns that Belova was sent to New York City to kill Clint Barton. After recovering in Grills’ apartment, Barton goes to a memorial of the Avengers, apologizing to Romanoff. He puts on the Ronin suit and challenges Maya Lopez to a fight, trying to convince her to stop her vendetta against him and pursuing his family. He is rescued by Bishop while Lopez suspects Kazi Kazimierzcak knows more information about the Bishop Christmas Party event.
The next day, Belova informs Bishop that she was hired by Eleanor to kill Barton and that Eleanor is working with Lopez’s “uncle”, whom Barton identifies as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin
Changes from the Comics: Eleanor is revealed to be alive as a vampire while working as Madame Masque’s silent partner instead of the Kingpin.
MCU Connections: We see Belova continuing to help deprogram women from the Red Room as seen in Black Widow as well as her hunting Barton from the post-credits scene from that movie. This is also the second time we see the Blip from the point of view of someone who disappeared, the first being Monica Rambeau in Wandavision.
Yelena makes her favorite childhood dish of Mac N’ Cheese from Black Widow for herself and Kate. Yelena mentions she wants to see the “new and improved” Statue of Liberty, a reference to the landmark’s redesign that now includes a gigantic Captain America shield which will be seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home.3
Music: The Sacrifice theme from Avengers: Endgame (2019) is heard when Clint looks at the memorial and speaks to Natasha. Yelena Belova’s theme from Black Widow (2021) is also heard throughout the episode.
Episode six: So This is Christmas
Director: Rhys Thomas
Writers: Jonathan Igla & Elisa Climent
US Release Date: December 22, 2021
Summary: As Eleanor meets with Kingpin to break off their partnership, Barton and Bishop watch a recording of them and learn that Eleanor killed Armand and framed Duquesne. On Christmas Eve, Barton and Bishop attend Eleanor’s holiday party, where Bishop confronts her mother and learns her father owed money to Kingpin, leading to Eleanor working with him.
Kazi attempts to assassinate Eleanor on Kingpin’s orders, but targets Barton instead. Barton enlists help from Grills, the LARPers, and Duquesne to evacuate the party before rejoining Bishop to defeat the Tracksuit Mafia. After Lopez incapacitates Kazi, Bishop attempts to look for Eleanor while Barton is confronted by Belova, who demands the truth of Natasha Romanoff’s death. They fight, but he reminds her of his friendship with Romanoff and her sacrifice to save the entire universe. Belova spares him and leaves.
Kingpin tries to stop Eleanor from escaping, but Bishop arrives and incapacitates him with Barton’s trick arrows. Afterwards, Eleanor is arrested by the police for Armand’s murder. Kingpin escapes, but is confronted by Lopez as a gunshot is heard. The next day, Barton returns to his family with Bishop and Lucky, returns the watch to Laura, and burns the Ronin suit.
Changes from the Comics: The back of Laura’s watch has a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo and the number 19. In the comics, Bobbi Morse (a.k.a Mockingbird) was S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 19. She was at one point married to Clint Barton. Bobbi Morse was played by Adrianne Palicki on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Easter Eggs: The final scene between Lopez and Fisk comes from Daredevil (1998) #15
MCU Connections: During their fight, Kate steals one of Wilson Fisk’s cufflinks which matches the design of the ones Fisk took from his abusive father seen in Daredevil.
Music: This episode features both Yelena Belova’s theme and Natasha Romanoff’s theme from Black Widow, composed by Lorne Balfe.
My take: First of all, I could watch Steinfeld and Pugh discuss Mac N’ Cheese all day. It was also cool to see the Swordsman in action
Next: Spider-Man: No Way Home