For boring marketing reasons, the current era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) won’t officially “endgame” until this summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. So what does the next era look like? Not just Phase 4 of the MCU leading up to Avengers 5 (and yes, there will be an Avengers 5), but the next 10-to-12 years of MCU movies that will likely conclude with Avengers 7: Endgame Harder.
Movies we know we’re getting
Despite the hoopla over “OMG, what’s Marvel going to do now?!?!” we actually have a pretty good idea what movies we’ll see sometime before 2032. The next slate of Marvel movies already looks jam-packed with at least Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, Doctor Strange 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Thor 4. We might get Ant-Man 3, and we’ll probably see Spider-Man 3: Really Far From Home, Like, So Far sooner than later. Marvel’s also developing new standalone franchises for Black Widow and Eternals. All of this before Avengers 5.
Phase 5 will likely headline with Black Panther 3, Captain Marvel 3, Doctor Strange 3, Guardians Vol. 4, and, because Chris Hemsworth just signed a deal for like a billion more MCU movies, we’ll almost certainly see Thor 5. I’m pretty sure Marvel will a find a way to squeeze in another Spider-Man, too. Assuming they take off in Phase 4, we’ll get Black Widow 2 and Eternals 2. Thanks to the horrors of naked unrestrained capitalism, there’s also a very good chance Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox studios means new X-Men movies will be in full swing by Avengers 6. Honestly, after 19 years of meh X-Men movies, I’m too exhausted to even speculate about another 15 years. I’m just going to go ahead and skip X-Men for this article. Sorry, fans.
Of course, all of this speculation makes a pretty big assumption that the rumors are true and TV series about Sam Wilson’s Captain America, Hawkeye, Vision, and Scarlet Witch are indeed headed for Disney+, the new streaming service, sometime in the near future. I’m sure any of these projects could easily turn into another movie franchise at any given moment. In Phase 6, that’s where things get a little tricky. Avengers 7 will probably pass the torch from a Captain Marvel- and Black Panther-led Avengers team to a new generation of heroes. I’m sure we’ll be introduced to most of them throughout Phase 6 but I’m kind of scratching my head about their identities. Which leads me to my next point…
Characters we know we’ll see, and new characters we should see
As I mentioned, greed can sometimes work out well for nerds. Disney now owns Fox studios, which means reboots of X-Men and Fantastic Four in the MCU. An Eternals movie is also in the works but, full disclosure, I know next to nothing about them. It seems like another attempt by Marvel to flip a lesser known comic book into a gazillion dollar franchise. Also, do folks not remember or just not care that Adam Warlock’s possibly going to be in Guardians Vol. 3?
My pet peeve with articles discussing potential future Marvel movies is the authors tend to just recommend their favorite comic book superheroes who don’t have movies yet. That’s all fun and dandy, but the reality is each MCU movie needs to “fill a slot.” For example, Captain America was the MCU’s Superman-type before Captain Marvel came long. Iron Man was the genius billionaire with gadgets superhero. Thor is the warrior superhero. Doctor Strange brings the fantasy elements. Guardians of the Galaxy are the edgy anti-heroes. Spider-Man is the more street-level superhero… You get the idea. So who are superheroes that I wouldn’t just like to see, but will bring a whole new corner of the MCU along with them?
Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel, a teenage Pakistani-American polymorph with superhuman strength, would be a nifty way explore the MCU’s immigrant communities. Not only does Ms. Marvel bring a totally original setting to a superhero movie, but it is pretty mystifying that the MCU has avoided a sci-fi adventure film starring a teenage girl for this long. I mean, it’s not like I can think of a half-dozen YA sci-fi franchises that made billions at the box office in the past few years just off the top of my head. All of this combined with her comic book history with Captain Marvel makes it easy to see how she can fit into Avengers as the next doe-eyed newcomer after Tom Holland’s Spider-Man grows up.
Next up are Silver Sable and the Wild Pack as the MCU’s all-women superhero team movie. With DC’s Birds of Prey in 2020 and rumors about other all-women superhero team-up movies in development, I’m pretty sure you understand why the MCU could use the Wild Pack. I’d go with platinum mercenary Silver Sable and remix her Dirty Dozen-riff on supervillain hunters because anti-hero team movies generally have a problem. Guardians of the Galaxy and DC’s Suicide Squad spend a lot more time talking about how bad their anti-heroes are but rarely show us. Silver Sable is much more of a Punisher-type, and it’s easy to picture a Wild Pack line-up like Domino, Black Cat, and maybe Maria Hill as the square of the group dishing some morally ambiguous justice on a bunch of baddies.
Before we get to my big shocker, I also just want to mention She-Hulk. Avengers: Endgame made a pretty solid case for the giant green lawyer when Cardigan Hulk stole a lot of his scenes. The MCU needs a Hulk. It just does, in one form or another. If Mark Ruffalo is done, the MCU has already proven audiences react well to a smart, articulate green rage monster. Alright, here it goes…
Marvel should introduce Fantastic Four, with Doctor Doom as the big baddie for the next MCU era in Black Panther 2
Okay, stay with me…
I desperately need to see a new version of Fantastic Four in the MCU. I’m just not sure they should get their own franchise quite yet. Black Panther has futuristic elements that would be perfect to introduce Fantastic Four, characters who have always leaned a little more toward hard sci-fi than traditional superheroes. It’d even be a nice bit of comics-to-screen poetry, as Black Panther was originally introduced in Fantastic Four comics. The real advantage in introducing them in Black Panther 2 is the film is set to explore the previously hidden nation of Wakanda’s grand introduction to the world. The fact that Black Panther isn’t just a superhero but also an international leader means it’ll make a whole lot of sense if he enlists Fantastic Four’s help to take on Dr. Doom, a super-genius wizard and fascist overlord of Marvel’s fictional nation Latveria.
Despite Avengers: Endgame retroactively dubbing Thanos the main villain for the first era of the MCU, it’d be nice if Marvel’s next big baddie has a real presence. Initially, I went along with a lot of comic book nerds rooting for the planet-eater Galactus, another Fantastic Four villain, but Ryan actually helped convince me Galactus is more of a big set-piece villain who’s maybe better as a one-off. It’s hard to imagine the villainous motivation “I’m hungry” stretched over the next 20 MCU movies. Dr. Doom, however, fits anywhere in the MCU. He’s the type of villain who works well on any scale. A villain like Galactus is simply too big for a Spider-Man or Ms. Marvel movie. Dr. Doom’s still enormously engaging whether his schemes exploit Ms. Marvel’s small immigrant community in New Jersey, or he baits Galactus into fighting Carol Danvers for the fate of an entire solar system in Captain Marvel 3.
What I really, really don’t want to see happen
In the spirit of the internet, time for some negativity! Yay!
Look… I love the MCU but there’s every chance in the world it can massively screw up. I’m already nervous that Doctor Strange and Ant-Man, whose solo movies are the only MCU flicks I straight-up don’t like, will have too much involvement in the next saga. Another major concern is that a new version of Wolverine will become a fan-favorite that I hate; however, as I mentioned, I’m going to sit on my X-Men thoughts for the time being.
Right now, the MCU movies I’m really worried about are Thor 4, Thor 5, Thor 6, and however many more Thor movies they make.
Thor is in a tough spot because the MCU didn’t really get him 100% right until Thor: Ragnarok, his fifth movie appearance. It seems cruel to wrap up his franchise just as it started really working. Except, I loved the idea in Avengers: Endgame: they didn’t get rid of Thor entirely, they just quasi-retired him to be part of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s ensemble. There’s a lot of speculation that Valkyrie will lead Thor 4, after she assumed leadership of New Asgard in Endgame. Sadly, I have a feeling Thor 4 will still find a way to focus on Odinson.
Now that the MCU has built the most lucrative film brand ever, I just really hope that doesn’t happen. Valkyrie leading Thor 4 is a move that Marvel can afford to make. If anything, it’ll be a pretty good indication where the next era of the MCU is headed.