It’s no secret that the Marvel Cinematic Universe looks a lot different after Avengers: Endgame, particularly now that we know who’s still alive and who won’t be active — alive or otherwise — in the immediate future.
With “Phase 3” of the MCU officially set to conclude in a few months with Spider-Man: Far From Home, there have been some clues as to where the studio plans to go now that its “Infinity Saga” is in the rearview mirror. From films and television series in the works to possibilities drawn from Marvel Comics history and the events of Endgame, here’s where the MCU might be headed in the wake of its biggest battle so far.
(Note: There will be discussion of movie plot points here — including key events in Avengers: Endgame — so consider this a spoiler warning if you’re not caught up with the MCU.)
Movies on the books
Marvel Studios currently has just one film officially scheduled after Endgame, July 5’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, with at least six more films in various stages of development or casting that are not yet on the calendar.
Looking down the road, casting is well underway for Black Widow, a solo feature that will bring back Scarlett Johansson as Marvel’s eponymous super-spy. The film will be set before the events of Endgame due to the character’s fate in that film, and explore some of her early adventures — possibly in the years before she joined Nick Fury’s “Avengers Initiative.”
Sequels are also in development for Black Panther and Doctor Strange, and after a controversial departure, James Gunn is back behind the camera for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The lineup of team members for the latter could be changed quite a bit, given the events of Endgame. Whether we will indeed see “Asgardians of the Galaxy” in their next adventure also remains to be seen.
Also among the new characters joining the MCU after Endgame will be a wide array of heroes and villains in The Eternals, based on characters from legendary comic creator Jack Kirby’s series of the same name, as well as the titular martial arts hero of Shang-Chi.
Confirmed TV series
The launch of Disney’s streaming service Disney Plus also sends a host of MCU characters to the small screen.
Among the shows announced so far are Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki, WandaVision (featuring Wanda Maximoff and Vision), and Hawkeye. Each of the shows will feature the MCU actors reprising their roles.
Details are scarce regarding each of the series, but the events of Endgame had a profound effect on each of the projects. Falcon inheriting Captain America’s shield in Endgame is expected to shape his team-up series with Winter Soldier, which already has a director and is expected to bring back several characters from Captain America: Civil War.
The WandaVision series is in a particularly intriguing place, given Vision’s absence from Endgame and uncertain future in the MCU. Elizabeth Olsen, who played Maximoff in the MCU, has hinted that the series could be set in the 1950s — which would require some time-travel elements or other form of reality-bending plot devices, given the characters’ MCU timeline.
While Endgame created some big questions surrounding those projects, it also appeared to set the stage for Loki’s solo series, with the trickster seemingly escaping his fate in Infinity War due to the Avengers’ journey through their own timeline. The series will reportedly feature Loki influencing events throughout human history, which tracks well with what we last saw of him in Endgame.
As for Hawkeye, that series will reportedly follow Clint Barton as he trains his protégé, although it’s uncertain whether the mantle will go to his daughter or some other, unidentified young hero.
What we’ve seen
Along with the events of Endgame itself, previews of Spider-Man: Far From Home also offered up a few bits of information to glean about the MCU’s future.
In one clip, it’s suggested that the events of Endgame sparked the creation of a multiverse of parallel worlds in the MCU — each with their own heroes and villains. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in the film, Mysterio, claims to be from one of those alternate Earths, but it remains to be seen whether his claims prove true.
Conspicuously absent from early Phase 4 conversations were the MCU’s trio of founding heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor.
Captain America actor Chris Evans has all but confirmed that his character’s decision to shed his shield and uniform at the conclusion of Endgame will stick, and offered a fond farewell to the character on social media near the end of filming. Evans’ contract reportedly doesn’t extend beyond Endgame, and the actor expressed an interest in putting his hero days behind him.
Officially wrapped on Avengers 4. It was an emotional day to say the least. Playing this role over the last 8 years has been an honor. To everyone in front of the camera, behind the camera, and in the audience, thank you for the memories! Eternally grateful.
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) October 4, 2018
Robert Downey Jr. is in a similar situation with his Tony Stark role; his last Iron Man solo movie has been in the rearview mirror for years now and Endgame was the last featured role he was obligated to play in the MCU. His fate in Endgame does appear to be final, but Marvel Comics has featured more than a few different characters donning Iron Man’s armor, so the passing of that armored mantle could indeed happen.
Conversely, Chris Hemsworth doesn’t seem to be planning an exit from his portrayal of Thor and indicated he’d like to return for another solo movie after his current contract expires. The success of Thor: Ragnarok and his prominent role in Infinity War and Endgame make it seem like he’s just hitting his stride as the character, so we could see more of Thor post-Endgame. At the very least, a cameo in the Loki series seems likely.
As for other Marvel characters rumored to be in Marvel’s future after Endgame, reports continue to circulate that Blade might be getting back to his vampire-hunting ways at some point in the future. Former Blade franchise actor Wesley Snipes said he had meetings with Marvel about reprising the role, but rumors indicate that the studio is intending to have him pass the torch to a younger star.
Also rumored to be in the post-Endgame conversation is Starhawk — portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — and his crew of Ravagers, which includes Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), and Mainframe (voiced by Miley Cyrus). Given that they were the team originally known as the Guardians of the Galaxy in Marvel Comics history, and that Gunn has indicated his desire to see more of them in future films, there’s a distinct possibility that they could have a bigger role in the MCU going forward.
What it all (probably) means
First and foremost, to the surprise of no one, death is never the last word for Marvel’s heroes (and villains).
Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Wanda Maximoff, Vision, Falcon, Winter Soldier, and Loki are all set to appear in upcoming projects after “dying” in Infinity War, after all. Some of them will be appearing in stories set before Infinity War and Endgame, while others will see their sagas continue courtesy of some creative manipulation of the MCU timeline.
Marvel also appears to be continuing its development of new cosmic and street-level characters, with The Eternals and the Guardians of the Galaxy representing the former, and Shang-Chi and Black Widow representing the latter.
The world of The Eternals is a particularly robust universe populated by a wide range of colorful characters. As such, that film could open up yet another corner of the Marvel Comics vault to explore, in much the same way Guardians of the Galaxy did for cosmic characters and settings, and Thor did for the Asgardian pantheon.
The departure of Evans and Downey Jr. shakes up the Avengers status quo quite a bit, but the emergence of Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange — and the studio’s focus on their respective supporting casts and locations — suggests they could become the new focus of the MCU going forward.
The list of characters pivoting from the movie world to streaming video on Disney Plus also offers some indication of who won’t be getting solo movies anytime soon. Characters like Falcon, Winter Soldier, Vision, and Wanda Maximoff seem poised to play supporting roles on the big screen for the foreseeable future while expanding their profile on the small screen.
The next Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home, hits theaters July 5.
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