Recently, the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, said that they have some ideas for what the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe might look like after Avengers 4 in May 2019. It may be a world without phases, he said, but the one thing he did know was that it was “gonna be very, very different.” Different how? Below are some suggestions for what new directions the MCU might go into next, some educated guesses given what they’ve done so far. So what might be in store for – well let’s just call it – Phase 4?
10) Black Widow
The one has been a long time in coming, so much so that Phase 4 almost feels too late to finally give Natasha the solo spotlight. Almost. If Marvel really wants to change things up, they can make a Black Widow movie that’s in the mold of The Bourne Identity series, a gritty, realistic spy story with lots of live-action fight choreography, stunt work and car chases as Natasha tries to outrun her past, and as inferred in both The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, what a past she does have. Can a spy with so much red in her ledger be the hero she wants to be, or was being an Avenger ever only a dream?
Realizing that there’s already been a pretty successful Blade trilogy on the big screen, it’s now been almost 12 years since the Daywalker was last in pictures. But wait, might Blade be better suited for the more adult oriented small screen MCU on Netflix? Not necessarily. What we might lose in blood and guts, we could be able to make up for in a big, action-packed monster movie akin to the upcoming Universal production of The Mummy, the first in a proposed series of films based on the classic horror films the studio produced in the 1930s and 40s. Doctor Strange and the appearance of Ghost Rider on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. only scratched the surface in terms of Marvel’s supernatural offerings, which could further be exploited by introducing characters like Mobius the Living Vampire, Man-Thing, and Werewolf By Night through the re-establishing a central, well-known character like Blade.
8) West Coast Avengers
Who knows what condition the Avengers will be in once the dust of Infinity War clears, but perhaps circumstances will dictate the requirement of two officially sanctioned Avengers teams. In the comics, the left coast super-team was led by Hawkeye, which in the case of the movies would allow Marvel to spin-off Jeremy Renner’s archer while still giving him a team dynamic to play off of. Mockingbird was also a member, and while she’s not married to Hawkeye in the MCU, it would be a great way to get Adrianne Palicki back into the mix. War Machine was also a part of that first West Coast team, and while we’re at it, we can also introduce Wonder Man and Tigra formally to the movie universe. We may get Nathan Fillion into the MCU yet!
7) Infinity Watch
What happens to the Infinity Stones after Infinity War? Interesting question. In the comic books, after the events of Infinity Gauntlet, which, presumably, Infinity War is at least partially based on, the gems were separated and given to six guardians who called themselves the Infinity Watch. It’s team members included Adam Warlock, Gamora, and Drax the Destroyer, and since two out of three of those people already have a team, maybe an all-star team of MCU players can be brought together to protect the Infinity Stones are defeating Thanos, a group brought together by the mysterious “new” character Warlock, who we’ve been teased about for some time now.
What’s the point of introducing the Nova Corps in Guardians of the Galaxy if you’re not going to introduce the superhero Nova down the road in his own solo film? In the comics, Richard Ryder is given the power and uniform of the Nova Corps by a dying Rhomann Dey, the character played by John C. Reilly in Guardians, but that probably seems a little too Green Lantern for comfort. Instead, perhaps in the wake of Infinity War, the Nova Corps might consider it worth their while to bring an Earthling into the fold, especially now with the Earth seeming to be the figurative centre of the universe as home to more than a couple of Infinity gems. Maybe Marvel can do what DC could not, make a compelling movie out of the adventures of a human space cop.
Again it’s unclear what’s going to happen to the Avengers after Avengers 4, perhaps there won’t even be an Avengers afterward. Perhaps we’ll need a new superteam to assist in world security and keep the Earth safe from alien invaders, evil robots and other larger than life threats. The world needs the Thunderbolts! Songbird, Meteorite, Atlas, MACH-1, Techno, and their leader, the mysterious Citizen V. The Thunderbolts are welcomed as new heroes, but surprise, they have a secret: they’re really the super-villains the Masters of Evil, and they have a plan to earn the world’s trust and betray it to the highest bidder!
4) Falcon/Captain America
Chris Evans’ future in the MCU is in doubt after Avengers 4. In fact we’ve already seen Steve Rogers give up the mantle of Captain America as seen at the end of Civil War, so there may be a void that needs to filled, and Cap’s good friend Sam Wilson could be the one to fill it. (Hey, it worked in the comics!) Anthony Mackie has proved himself a very capable supporting player for Marvel with appearances in Captain America, The Avengers, and Ant-Man, and what a great way to expand the film unit’s dedication to increased diversity and representation by passing the shield to Sam, Cap’s friend and a fellow soldier who’s perhaps a bit more able to navigate the cynical modern world than Steve Rogers ever could.
3) Young Avengers
Since we’re on the idea of an Avengers-less world, here’s another potential substitute in mind, and one that will appeal to our youth obsessed culture. In a world without Avengers, suppose a time traveller came to our present to recruit the next generation of heroes: the decedent of a super soldier, a powerful sorcerer, a shapeshifter, a speedster, and a highly skilled archer. Plus, if they play the timing right, then Cassie Lang will be old enough to embiggen herself just like her dad. And look at this way, Tony Stark is already in the mentoring business in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, so why not let all the Avengers give a new team of young heroes the benefit of their experience, and the chance to learn from their mistakes?
Since the release of The Avengers in 2012, fans have been wanting to see a solo Hulk movie featuring Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, and the closest we’ve gotten is a Hulk team-up with Thor in this fall’s Thor: Ragnarok. But if we’re to have a Hulk movie, must it be Banner that’s the main character? For instance, wouldn’t it be interesting to see Thunderbolt Ross, after his cynicism and intractability on the Sakovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War, have to deal with becoming the Red Hulk? If that’s no good, then why not She-Hulk? Surely there’s room in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for another powerful female hero, and it let’s Marvel do something different with the Hulk that the first two standalone Hulk movies could not.
1) Fantastic Four
If Spider-Man: Homecoming is a smash success, then this will be the next hill for Marvel to conquer. There’s no way that 20th Century Fox is going to roll the dice on another reboot, at least not on their own, so the only question is what kind of deal are they going to want from Marvel to share, if not outright return, the rights for Fantastic Four? As for Marvel, they’ve taken not having the rights for this franchise rather personally, all but erasing the team from comic book stands despite the its place as the book that launched Marvel’s Silver Age winning streak in 1961. As for a rights reversion, how likely will this work out, and can you think of a better time for the Fantastic Four to return than Phase (Fantastic) 4?