A round-up of library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase Four movies (so far)

Phase four, round one, of our own Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians!

We are continuing this summer with our Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians. I’ve written a lot about library scenes in various Marvel movies on this site, so I am finally going back through all the Marvel movies, this time in phase order, and making sure I’ve watched, reviewed, and analyzed them all for any library, archives, and reel librarian scenes. So please join me as I wind my librarian way through the MCU! Browse the Phase One round-up, here for the Phase Two round-up, and here for the Phase Three round-up. Phase Four commences the Multiverse Saga.

And because Phase Four introduces TV series and is considerably larger than previous phases, I am splitting Phase Four into two separate posts, a post for the Phase Four movies, and another post for the Phase Four TV series. Let’s start with the Phase Four movies, shall we?

*POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERTS*

Black Widow (2021)

No official library scene, but there is an interesting private library in this movie that I want to highlight.

Black Widow is the sole stand-alone movie for Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Set in 2016, it continues after the main plot of Captain America: Civil War. We also get introduced to Natasha’s sister, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), her father-figure, Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian (David Harbour), and her mother-figure,  Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz).

Halfway through the film, Natasha, Yelena, and Alexei arrive at Melina’s home in the country. Although there is no official library in this movie, we do see the extensive private library that lines the inside of Melina’s home — which makes sense, as Melina is a brilliant scientist.

While standing in front of a bookcase, Natasha has a heart-to-heart with Melina, and they discuss Natasha’s birth mother. Natasha spies a photo album on one of the shelves, and the album is full of (staged) family photos from their time in the U.S.

Melina: I’ve always found it best not to look into the past.

Natasha: Then why did you save this?

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

This is the first Asian-led movie of the MCU — definitely overdue! In this movie, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) confronts his past while getting drawn back into the Ten Rings organization. Benedict Wong reprises his role as fan favorite Wong (“I always bet on Asian!”), and Ben Kingsley reprises his role from Iron Man 3 (2013). Tony Leung anchors the movie with his multi-layered portrayal of Wenwu, the leader of the Ten Rings.

Wong is back in the library!

We finally get to see Wong back in a library, which I am still assuming is the Kamar-Taj Library, which happens in a mid-credits scene after Wong comes through a portal to take Shang-Chi and Katy (Awkwafina) back to Kamar-Taj. We also get to see holograms of Captain Marvel and Bruce Banner joining in as they study the Ten Rings. This is also when we get to hear Wong say, “They don’t match any artifacts from our codex,” a line that made me geek out into a deep dive in my first impressions post of the movie.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Wenwu’s private library

Although not an official library, I did want to mention that we get to see another private library in this movie — or perhaps best described as a personal archives?

At 3 minutes into the movie, we get our first glimpse of Wenwu in his office and private library, and everything looks tidy and organized.

Wenwu’s private library looks neat and tidy at first

Cut to 50 minutes into the movie, and Wenwu’s private library is spilling everywhere and very messy, which reflects the state of his mind and obsession to set free the spirit of his beloved dead wife. He explains that “I was sitting here, deep in my research,” while he shows Shang-Chi and Katy the clues and maps he has gathered for Ta Lo, the mythical land his wife came from.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

And 30 minutes after that scene, we see Wenwu again in his library, and he has another vision of his wife. This sets in motion the final battle between Wenwu and his son Shang-Chi in Ta Lo.

In this private library, Wenwu continues his obsession over his dead wife
In his private library, Wenwu continues his obsession over his dead wife

You can read additional details here in this prior post:

First impressions: Wong’s cameos in ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ (2021)

Eternals (2021)

Upon rewatching Eternals, I’m going to argue that it includes an archive. Hear me out!

In this movie, we meet the Eternals, immortal beings with superpowers who arrived on Earth thousands of years ago. Created by the Celestials, the Eternals (Salma Hayek as Ajak; Gemma Chan as Sersi; Angelina Jolie as Thena; Richard Madden as Ikaris; Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo; Lia McHugh as Sprite; Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos; Lauren Ridloff as Makkari; Barry Keoghan as Druig; and Don Lee as Gilgamesh) reunite to battle the Deviants.

At one hour into the movie, Sersi is communicating with the Celestial being called Arishem.

Sersi: Why don’t I remember any of this?

Arishem: Because your memories are erased and reset after each emergence. They are stored here.

Sersi: Why do you keep them? [the memory crystals]

Arishem: I keep them in order to study the Deviants. I created the Deviants, Sersi, for the same purpose I created you.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

That wide shot of the wall of memory crystals was included in the original trailer, and at that point, it looked like a forest to me. Watching this movie, this shot serves to visually emphasize how many times these Eternals have been reset. Their memories have been “stored,” as Arishem puts it, but you could use the word “archived.” And what a vast archives collection it is!

And here’s a quick bit about how at 1 hour and 30 minutes into the movie, the Celestials revisit their ship, and find Makkari waiting for them. Phastos exclaims, “Is that a sarcophagus in my lab?!” I mused that you could think of the contents of that room — a jumble of books, paintings, statues, a throne, and yes, a sarcophagus — as like an archives of human existence on Earth? But ultimately, it’s really just a junk room, disorganized and complete with junk food wrappers! One man’s junk is another man’s treasure… 😉

Makkari's junk room
Makkari’s junk room

Makkari’s junk room also reminded me of the “Room of Requirement” from the Harry Potter series… any other impressions? Please comment and share!

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

In this movie, we see the aftermath from the ending of Spider-Man: Far From Home, when Mysterio exposed Spider-Man’s identity. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) then goes to Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to try and fix everything, but the spell goes wrong and causes the Multiverse to split, which brings back villains and past versions of Spider-Man.

Wong (Benedict Wong) also shows up for a brief cameo at the beginning of the movie, long enough to warn Peter and Doctor Strange about the spell… that they then immediately cast after he leaves. Here was my “first impressions” tweet after I first watched the movie at our regional drive-in:

At 57 minutes into the movie, we follow Spider-Man’s leaps through dimensions of reality, with different locations flashing onscreen for seconds. At first glance, I thought there was a clip of bookcases, or perhaps shelves of a bookstore in a local mall. Upon a second look, and a closer pause, it turned out to be shelves at a clothing store, with what looks like purses on an end-cap. (I’m including this non-library aside to demonstrate that yes, I have been thorough in my rewatching of every MCU movie and TV series! 😉 ) See the screenshot below:

Spider-Man leaps through a clothing store, not a library or a bookstore
Spider-Man leaps through a clothing store, not a library or a bookstore

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

In this movie, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), along with multiverse versions of himself, battles Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in order to protect America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a teenager with the power to punch through the multiverse.

Benedict Wong returns as beloved reel librarian (and Sorceror Supreme!) Wong, and has several action scenes. The movie’s plot of good versus evil is embodied within two books: the Book of Vishanti and the Darkhold.

You can read additional details here in this prior post:

First impressions: 18 thoughts and questions I had about Wong while watching ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

No library scene.

In this movie, directed by Taika Waititi, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) returns to the MCU, this time as the Mighty Thor! There’s more to the movie — like Christian Bale starring as Gorr the God Butcher in a completely different movie within this movie (sarcasm alert) — but Jane as the Mighty Thor is the main reason to see this movie, in my opinion.

I was able to catch Thor: Love and Thunder at the drive-in. Although there is no library scene, a few books are key factors:

  1. Dr. Jane Foster’s book called The Foster Theory gets a closeup onscreen
  2. Jane reads up on Mjolnir in a couple of Norse mythology books, which leads her to New Asgard, where she becomes the Mighty Thor.

As this online article explains:

Well, as we come to find in “Love and Thunder,” Jane finally managed to take all of her findings and turn them into a book titled “The Foster Theory” which is referenced several times in the film. The notes that Thor recovered for Jane help to craft this book and turn Jane into a world-renowned scientist, offering a bit more richness to her character arc. It truly filled in some gaps that existed ever since Jane disappeared following the events of “Thor: The Dark World.”

Ryan Scott, “The Coolest Easter Eggs In Thor: Love And Thunder,” SlashFilm.com, 8 July 2022

And this article sums up the importance of how and why Mjolnir communicated to Jane through those mythology books:

With Jane sick with stage four cancer, Mjolnir communicated with her telepathically, leading her to scour the books on Viking mythology. This led Jane to New Asgard, where the broken pieces of Mjolnir were held. […] Jane’s arrival in New Asgard woke up Mjolnir, allowing it to reform to transform Jane into Mighty Thor. It was waiting for Jane all along, somehow sensing her hopelessness and knowing that she was struggling with her cancer diagnosis.

Mae Abdulbaki, “Why Mjolnir Chose Jane As The New Thor,” ScreenRant.com, 7 July 2022

Phase Four movies yet to be released:

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Nov. 2022)

Last month, Marvel provided updates about Phase Four and revealed more detailed plans for Phase Five and Phase Six. They announced that the final movie in Phase Four would be Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which will be released this fall. The other upcoming movies, including Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (currently scheduled for Feb. 2023), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (currently scheduled for May 2023), The Marvels (currently scheduled for July 2023), and Blade (currently scheduled for Oct. 2023), among others, will be part of Phase Five. Fantastic Four (currently scheduled for Nov. 2024) will be included in Phase Six.

Since this post is going live before Phase Four finishes, I will revisit the completed Phase Four at a later date. Until then…

The Avengers will return…

… in our next regular post!  We will continue our Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians for Phase Four TV series in the next post. Stay tuned!

Keeping score

PHASE ONE:

  • 6 movies
  • 2/6 library or archives scenes (The Incredible Hulk – university library, Thor – public library)
  • 0/6 reel librarian sightings

PHASE TWO:

  • 6 movies
  • 1/6 library or archives scenes (Thor: The Dark World – college library)
  • 0/6 reel librarian sightings

PHASE THREE:

  • 11 movies
  • 3/11 library or archives scenes (Doctor Strange – Kamar-Taj library, Spider-Man: Homecoming – school library, Captain Marvel – U.S. Air Force archives)
  • 3/11 reel librarian sightings (Doctor StrangeAvengers: Infinity WarAvengers: Endgame – all Wong!)

Note: Except for Doctor Strange, the movies in this phase either included a library or archives but had no corresponding librarian or archivist, or vice versa, with a reel librarian never seen in a library.

Phase Four (thus far):

  • 6 movies (thus far)
  • 2/6 library or archives scenes (Eternals – archives, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Kamar-Taj Library)
  • 3/6 reel librarian sightings (Wong in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)

OVERALL (THUS FAR):

  • 29 movies
  • 8/29 library or archives scenes
  • 6/29 reel librarian sightings

Sources used

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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