Spoiler Warning: Don’t read if you have yet to see “Avengers: Infinity War.”
The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may appear bleak after “Avengers: Infinity War,” but there’s still plenty to expect from the franchise going forward.
It’s not bleak in terms of interest: Audiences are coming out in droves for the movie. But the ending leaves the fate of many characters up in the air, and the characters spared face an uncertain road ahead.
That doesn’t mean there’s no hope left, however. With “Captain Marvel” and an “Infinity War” sequel coming next May, and “Black Panther” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” sequels already planned, the MCU shows no signs of slowing down.
Marvel’s comic books provide a glimpse into the MCU’s possibilities going forward, and Disney’s acquisition of Fox assets could potentially mean the arrival of characters we have yet to see in the MCU.
Business Insider evaluates the future of the MCU post-“Infinity War” below:
The original Avengers may finally be reunited.
After the Thanos snap wipes out half of humanity, the original Avengers are spared (we don’t know about Hawkeye, but we assume he didn’t vanish if the other original members are safe). Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye are long overdue for an epic reunion, and the ending of “Infinity War” seems to set that up for its sequel next year.
Maybe Clint Barton will return — just not as Hawkeye.
Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye sits out of “Infinity War” because after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” he took a deal with the government to be on house arrest to protect his family. In the comic books, after “Civil War,” Hawkeye dons the guise of Ronin, which is a Japanese term for a lone warrior. The events of “Infinity War” could force Barton out of isolation, just under a new name.
The characters who disappeared will most likely return.
Not all of the Avengers were spared, and many – including Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy – vanished into dust. But the 1991 comic “The Infinity Gauntlet” that “Infinity War” is loosely based on provides a glimmer of hope. Thanos wipes out half of humanity in that as well, but things are restored back to normal in the end. Plus, as mentioned, Black Panther and Spider-Man, as well as the Guardians, already have sequels scheduled for the years to come.
Captain Marvel is coming.
The after-credits scene of “Infinity War” teases the arrival of Captain Marvel, who will be played by Brie Larson in a solo movie in March before appearing in the “Infinity War” sequel. Nick Fury signals her before he vanishes, which means she’ll play an important role in the MCU’s future and in defeating Thanos once and for all.
We still don’t know the title of the fourth “Avengers” movie, but it supposedly spoils “Infinity War.”
The title for next year’s fourth “Avengers” movie reportedly spoils “Infinity War.” We have no idea what it is yet, but fans online have their own guesses. Whatever it is, we assume it might tease an end of sorts for this generation of the MCU.
The MCU beyond 2019 is less certain — but we know Marvel has release dates set until 2022.
The next MCU movies will be “Ant-Man and the Wasp” this July, “Captain Marvel” in March, and the “Infinity War” sequel next May. Beyond that, we know a “Spider-Man: Homecoming” sequel is apparently coming in 2019 and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in 2020. Marvel has release dates set for May, July, and November in both 2020 and 2021, and February, May, and July in 2022 – we just don’t know what exactly those movies are yet. Judging by the massive success of “Black Panther,” we can probably expect a sequel to that at some point, as well as a “Doctor Strange” sequel and, depending on how well “Captain Marvel” does, a sequel to that.
Original characters may be phased out.
Veteran actors in the MCU like Chris Evans have already signalled that they are ready to depart from the franchise. Evans has hinted strongly that he is ready to retire from playing Captain America after the fourth “Avengers” movie next year.
Maybe Captain America (or others) will die.
It wouldn’t be completely absurd for Cap to die in the “Infinity War” sequel. After Evans made those comments about leaving the franchise, there were assumptions that he could even die in “Infinity War.” In the comic books, Cap is assassinated following the events of “Civil War,” and other characters – like Iron Man, Hulk, and Hawkeye – have all perished at one point (and all have been resurrected).
The future of the MCU belongs to a new generation.
The MCU has introduced plenty of new characters in recent years that could carry the franchise forward if the original actors/characters take their leave. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel are all new to the franchise and will probably stick around for years to come. Supporting characters like Sebastian Stan’s Bucky and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon could stick around, too, and become more prominent.
Familiar faces could even take on familiar roles.
There’s reason to believe that some roles in the MCU could be passed on to other characters. The comic books have done this in recent years, too. Bucky takes on the role of Captain America after Steve Rogers dies in the comics (Falcon recently did, as well). Can you imagine Sebastian Stan in the Cap uniform pictured here?
There’s even a character recently introduced in the comics called Ironheart, a black teenage genius named Riri Williams. Perhaps Letitia Wright’s Shuri, the genius sister of Black Panther, could inhabit this role in the future (here’s hoping her and Iron Man finally meet in the next “Avengers” movie).
This could set up a new Avengers team.
The comic books have laid groundwork for the Avengers to be restructured in various capacities, and we could see something like that in the future of the MCU.
In 2005, the original Avengers team disbanded in a storyline called “Avengers: Disassembled.” A new Avengers team, appropriately called The New Avengers, formed that included original member Cap and Iron Man, as well as Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, Wolverine, Sentry, and Ronin.
After the comic version of “Civil War,” the team regroups to include characters considered to be fugitives, such as Bucky (as Cap), Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Ronin, and Spider-Woman.
Even now, a more “traditional” team is being introduced, with some fan-favourite “Infinity War” characters such as Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange, as well as Captain Marvel.
That doesn’t mean all the original members would disappear forever.
There’s still reportedly a Black Widow movie in the works, and Marvel is in the process of considering directors. Whether the character survives the “Infinity War” sequel is up in the air, but either way, her long-overdue solo movie could be set in her mysterious past when she was a KGB spy.
And it’s hard to believe that the MCU would never bring back such fan-favourite characters like Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Similar to the new “Star Wars” movies, maybe we could see them return in future “event” films like “Infinity War,” and bridge the gap between new and old generations.
In short, there are plenty of comic book storylines the MCU still hasn’t touched.
A lot of the MCU has been inspired by the comic books (and here are 12 of them to read if you love the MCU). “Captain America: Civil War” is loosely based on Marvel’s “Civil War” comic event; Hulk’s storyline in “Thor: Ragnarok” is inspired by “Planet Hulk;” and “Infinity War” is inspired by “The Infinity Gauntlet.”
It makes sense that Marvel Studios would continue to look to the comics for inspiration, especially as the franchise begins to move in a new direction.
With Captain Marvel being brought into the universe, it could even set up a storyline loosely inspired by the recent “Civil War II,” in which Captain Marvel and Iron Man debate the morality of targeting criminals before they have committed a crime.
And don’t forget about that Disney/Fox deal.
Disney (which owns Marvel) announced in December it would buy Fox’s film studio and many of its TV assets. That means the Fox-owned X-Men and Fantastic Four could eventually make their way to the MCU once the deal is finalised. Nothing concrete has been revealed yet, but the potential is there, and would open up plenty of new story possibilities for the MCU – if Marvel wants to take that chance, that is.
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