May 2008 seems like a long time ago doesn’t it?
…Even more so when I take the time to think about the twenty MCU movies that we have been treated to in that time and the two that are still to come before Marvel wrap up Phase Three. Those two movies are of course; Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. But what comes next? The end of Phase Three is arguably more important than any of the others due to this likely being the end of the road for original cast of heroes bar a few exceptions. So what does the future hold for the MCU? What are the plans for Phase Four? Let’s delve into it…
As always, spoilers ahead for all the first twenty MCU films.
I’m going to start this with what we already know, Spider-Man: Far From Home will be the first MCU movie in Phase Four, and I think this speaks volumes. There’s an argument to be made that Iron Man was the face of the MCU for the first three phases, and the order of releases reflect this. The first movie of Phase One and the movie that kicked everything off? Iron Man. The first movie of Phase Two after the massive success of Avengers: Assemble? Iron Man 3. The first movie of the highly anticipated Phase Three? Okay fair enough it was Captain America: Civil War, which of course featured Iron Man as the co-lead. It’s no accident that Spidey has been placed in this role, going forward it looks highly likely that your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man will be the new face of the MCU. And I think that makes a lot of sense. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has charmed audiences around the world and in my opinion (And most people’s I would think) is the best version of the web crawler we have had to date and let’s not forget that Spider-Man has always been a household name. Add to that Tom Holland is only 22 years old so if he wishes to, could carry the franchise for many years to come.
What about Tony Stark and co though? As with all the original Avengers, it comes down to what happens in Endgame. It was no coincidence that come the end of Infinity War, all the new heroes had faded away after Thanos’ snap and we were left with the original line-up surviving. My first thought was always that these original Avengers will need to sacrifice themselves in some way to bring back the others, which would of course kick off a whole new cast of main stays going forward. But will Marvel be brave enough to kill off Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow? No, not in my opinion anyway. There is already news of a Black Widow solo movie so she is all but safe and with the huge success of Thor: Ragnarok, I would think they would be wanting to keep hold of both Thor and The Hulk for the time being, even if they don’t include them in the future Avengers titles. Our two leaders though; Iron Man and Captain America are no doubt in danger. There isn’t much sign of either Robert Downey Jr or Chris Evans coming back to reprise their roles any time soon with the latter even writing an emotional farewell on social media. How much of this is for certain and how much is misdirect is yet to be seen. Either way, I do not see Iron Man or Captain America being the faces of the MCU after Endgame.
So who will? I have already suggested Spider-Man but the web slinger will need a team behind him and the first candidate is a no brainer for me, and that is Black Panther. Since T’Challa’s first appearance in Civil War, Marvel have done an incredible job at making him feel important and really have the weight that a King should carry. When I think of any big Marvel event cross-over comic I’ve read, I think of the King of Wakanda, whenever Black Panther has been involved he always felt like one of the most important characters on the page, no matter what the story and I really think that is what the Marvel are aiming for in the MCU. And if the box office numbers are anything to go by then I’d say; so far, so good!
So looking to the future, we have Spidey and Panther as our faces of the future. I think its safe to throw in some more of the heroes that got dusted in Infinity War, especially the likes of Doctor Strange, Scarlett Witch, Vision (Not dusted but still), Falcon and maybe even Winter Soldier… Who could even take the reins as Captain America but that’s probably a whole different story for a different time! That isn’t a bad line-up if you ask me! But to really round-up the team, I think you need to add the newest hero to Marvels roster; Captain Marvel. We already know that she will be playing a large part in Endgame and assuming that her solo movie is a success, it’s a safe bet to assume that she will take that Thor/Guardians role in this “New Avengers”, opening doors to for Marvel to be able to tell their intergalactic stories.
Intergalactic style stories definitely feel like a big focus going forward. Marvel has slowly been introducing more and more of this over the years, testing the waters with Thor, then introducing us to The Guardians of The Galaxy, Thanos and his Black Order and now Captain Marvel. I don’t believe this is likely to slow down any time soon, in fact I suspect that they will delve even deeper into outer space story lines as Kevin Feige (Our lord & saviour, praise be onto him) has mentioned many times that he has a keen interest in all of this, and definitely sees it as the direction the MCU will head in. The confirmation that Marvel are working on an Eternals movie undoubtedly plays into this theory and if The Eternals is a roaring success then expect more announcements along the same lines to follow.
I recently did my predictions for Captain Marvel and my most ballsy prediction was that one of the Avengers will be an undercover Skrull, go back to my predictions to read more. If this is the case, then it would have to set up Secret Invasion, which a big event in the comics where the Skrulls try to invade earth by shape shifting into different Marvel heroes and replacing them without anybody being any the wiser. The story in the comics was a little hit & miss but in the hands of Feige and co, I believe this could be an incredibly fun story to tell and a great plot that could carry through to multiple movies over Phase Four, maybe culminating in Avengers: Secret Invasion being the final film of the phase.
Okay before I finish, lets address the giant pink elephant in the room shall we? The X-Men… Last year we got the news that Disney had bought out Twentieth Century Fox, meaning that finally the X-Men, Fantastic 4 and any characters associated with those franchises were coming home. This of course started massive amounts of speculation as to how they are all going to be used in the MCU. I may disappoint some people here but I genuinely don’t believe we will see the X-Men in Phase Four, other than maybe a cheeky end credit scene in the final Phase Four movie. I think Marvel plan a lot of their stories in advance meaning that the majority of the next phase is likely already planned out and adding the X-Men would likely be a headache they don’t need. Also it would probably be a smart move to give audiences a break from the X-Men for a while so that when they come back and get re-casted for Phase Five, fans are excited to see them again and will hopefully stop asking for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine! (Logan was a perfect end to his story!! Leave it there!).
The Fantastic 4 on the other hand… Given that there are obviously only four main characters to introduce here (Villains aside), I think this is where we first get some newly acquired characters from Fox. They could even slowly introduce them over separate movies and bring them together later down the line. Adding Reed Richards to the MCU seems like a logical starting point as he can easily fill the role of a Tony Stark or Bruce Banner as the genius scientist. I also can’t help but think that Marvel will want to restore some good will to their first family as soon as possible, as previous incarnations from Fox have been nothing short of an embarrassment. Besides, this has to happen in Phase Four so that we can all refer to it as The Fantastic Phase 4… I’ll get my coat.
I really could go forever but I’ll leave it there. Just talking and speculating where they could go from here has got me so excited for what’s to come. We may be losing some big hitters and some legends but that doesn’t mean the future isn’t bright over at Marvel.