I’m still not really over just how emotionally draining and impactful AVENGERS: ENDGAME was. The film was the culmination of 11 years of breathtaking storytelling, and it delivered on every note we as fans could have hoped for. But when the dust settles at the end of ENDGAME, where does that leave the Marvel Cinematic Universe? What does the MCU’s future hold in store for us?

The MCU could go in many directions; the possibilities are seemingly endless. Relatively speaking, Marvel Studios have only scratched the surface of where they could take their multi-billion-dollar franchise. So, in the interest of speculation, let’s discuss the potential for the MCU’s future.

I’m not covering the Fox properties that Disney recently bought. Kevin Feige himself has clearly stated that we’re not seeing any FF or X-Men stuff for quite some time, so we’re not talking about that. Also, spoilers for AVENGERS: ENDGAME lie ahead. So, if you (somehow) haven’t seen the film yet, go away and do so, then come back and read on.

The MCU’s Future: Passing the Torch

With Tony gone, Thor off galivanting with the Guardians and Steve retired, it’s time for some fresh blood to take over and guide the MCU’s future. Already, the three key players are Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel. Though Strange had a slow start, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR worked wonders to heighten his credibility as a power player. Black Panther’s influence spread far beyond the realms of the MCU and into the real world, so he’ll undoubtedly be important moving forward. Captain Marvel is Captain Marvel. She’s too badass to ignore.

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The Big Three. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I have high hopes for Sam Wilson and Spider-Man, too. Presently, both characters find themselves in a sort of protégé role. They’re both ripe for some strong character work and leading positions in the MCU’s future. Whether or not Sony allows it for Spidey, we’ll just have to wait and see. I also hope to see many of the other background characters, like Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, earn a stronger prominence in the MCU’s future.

The Asgardians of the Galaxy

To quickly jump over to the cosmic side of things, there’s a lot in store for the Guardians of the Galaxy. Or, as Thor aptly calls them at the end of ENDGAME, the Asgardians of the Galaxy. Primarily, I’m curious to see how the cast and crew play with Thor and Quill’s relationship. Thor has sort of reconciled his guilt and grief, while Quill should still be ripe with it, considering his failures on Titan. I’d like to see this angle of their relationship explored, and see these two form something of a brotherly bond.

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Thor looking epic during the climactic final battle in AVENGERS: ENDGAME. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I’m also eager to see more character work for Nebula. She excelled in ENDGAME, and as part of the MCU’s future, I want to see more from her. Considering she’s now officially with the Guardians, there’s plenty of room for her to form a proper familial relationship with the rest of the team.

We certainly can’t forget what director James Gunn set up at the end of the second GUARDIANS film. It’s practically assured that Adam Warlock will make an appearance. We’ll have to wait and see whether he’s a friend or foe, but introducing a character like Warlock opens many doors for the MCU’s future. The same can be said for characters like Nova and the Eternals, the latter of which is rumored to have a film in the works.

The MCU’s Future: Make Way for the Women of Marvel

Again, Captain Marvel is an obvious choice. Aside from her, though, Scarlet Witch is another key player. Were it not for Thanos pulling a cheap move in the final battle during ENDGAME, she would have likely killed him. She needs to be explored more. Valkyrie also needs some love. With Thor leaving her in charge of New Asgard, a lot of things could go down under her leadership. In terms of characters not yet introduced to the MCU, I’d really like to see Spider-Woman or She-Hulk show up. Given how complex these two superheroines are, they’d be well-worth exploring anew.

What really needs to eventually happen is an A-FORCE movie. The A-FORCE comic focused on a large ensemble of female Marvel heroes joining together to form their own supergroup. We got a glimpse of what an A-FORCE film or series could be like during ENDGAME’s climactic final battle. A full movie like that would be very ambitious and send a strong message.

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Cover to A-FORCE #1. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The MCU’s Future: Who’s the Next Big Bad?

Thanos was the be-all and end-all of the bad guys in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for 11 years. But with him gone, a void has been left in the MCU that needs filling. Delivering another big bad could prove to be a hefty challenge for Marvel Studios. Introducing a character like Annihilus might be a good place to start, though. In terms of building up the cosmic side of the MCU, Annihilus brings a palpable threat to the whole universe. The real trick would be making sure the character doesn’t fall flat since he’s typically depicted as a destruction-crazed, alien psychopath.

Given how much ENDGAME deals with time travel, Kang the Conqueror is another obvious choice. This time-traveling maniac is one of the Avengers’ oldest enemies in the comics. Goofy as his appearance may be, his power set is unique enough that it could present some fun storytelling options.

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Kang the Conqueror. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Also, would it kill Marvel and Sony to introduce Norman Osborn already? Or, better yet, why don’t they start properly building up the Sinister Six? Neither of these would make for great fun on the big screen and would help elevate Spidey’s prominence in the MCU. Otherwise, I’ll be patiently awaiting the Red Skull’s return to Earth. Trust me, it’s going to happen.

What Can Disney+ Add to the MCU’s Future?

With the recent announcement of Disney’s new streaming service, so too came the announcement of several upcoming Marvel shows. So far, we’re apparently getting shows for Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wanda and Vision, Hawkeye, and an animated “What if?” series.

Given the ending to ENDGAME, I suspect that Falcon/Winter Soldier show might turn into a Cap and Winter Soldier show. Like, they’ll officially change the title and everything (though that may conflict with the film of the same name). If anything, the show will likely revolve around Sam growing into the role of Captain America, with Bucky helping him out.

I have no clue how a Wanda and Vision show would work. Vision is still dead by the end of ENDGAME. I assume the show would have something to do with bringing the android back. Furthermore, though, this show should definitely focus more on Wanda. If Marvel Studios were going to build to a HOUSE OF M film as part of the MCU’s future, this would be the place to start.

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Who else got pumped when she showed up in AVENGERS: ENDGAME? Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I have a lot of questions about this Loki show. In the proper MCU, Loki’s still dead. But if I’ve got the time travel rules from ENDGAME down correctly, he’s still roaming around in an alternate reality. I wonder if his show will expand upon this, or perhaps explore the now-dead Loki’s life. Either way, it’ll be fun to see Tom Hiddleston back in the saddle as the God of Mischief.

Further Integration Between the Films and the Shows

While we’re on the topic of the MCU TV shows, many fans have found connections between the movies and shows lacking since the first season of DAREDEVIL. While the shows tend to reference the films every once in a while, the films have completely failed to reciprocate. AVENGERS: ENDGAME marks the very first time the films reference the shows, with James D’Arcy from AGENT CARTER reprising his role as Jarvis in the film.

We need more connections like these. Even subtle hints of the shows in the films would do. Why doesn’t Spider-Man off-hand chat about all the things happening in Hell’s Kitchen? He’s right there, after all. Honestly, any of the heroes in New York should be chatting about that stuff.

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Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Hulu’s RUNAWAYS series sees the main cast making a ton of noise in California. I’m surprised the Avengers haven’t caught wind of any of that. The same could be said for the events in season 1 of CLOAK AND DAGGER on Freeform. The latter show referenced LUKE CAGE in its first season, and that’s the kind of interconnectedness we need to see more often, both between the shows themselves and with the films.

What Stories to Tell in the MCU’s Future

Whether it’s short-term or long-term, the MCU has more than a few options in terms of storytelling.

For me, I want to see Marvel Studios start building towards SECRET INVASION. I still peg the Skrulls, introduced in CAPTAIN MARVEL, as evil; I think they’re playing the long con. They could eventually secretly invade Earth and wreak havoc in the nasty ways they tend to do in the comics. Afterward, should Marvel throw Norman Osborn into the mix, then you’ve got a perfect recipe for the epic SIEGE event? This story sees Osborn, acting as the head of SHIELD (rebranded as HAMMER), trying to take over Asgard (which was, at the time, floating loosely above Oklahoma). Maybe they can substitute someone else in for Osborn. I just really want to see SIEGE!

With all this Fox crap now in the air, everyone’s screaming about a SECRET WARS movie, which I think is a terrible idea. If you thought INFINITY WAR felt bloated, an old-fashioned SECRET WARS film would likely turn into a shit show. Honestly, if a SECRET WARS movie was to happen, I ‘d want to see one based off of Jonathan Hickman’s SECRET WARS from 2015. That sounds more sensible and manageable. Plus, that’s another kind of epic-scale story that could have a slow, methodic build-up with an extraordinary payoff.

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It could happen. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The MCU’s Future is Bright Indeed

Truthfully, I haven’t the slightest clue where the MCU will go next. I don’t think anyone rightfully does. ENDGAME purposefully ends without hinting at anything regarding the MCU’s future (which I’m in agreement with). However, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate and theorize. Stuff like that is always fun. And, besides, I think I’ve got more than a few sounds ideas here. Though the MCU’s future might be unclear for now, that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about it. SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME might be a good place to start, especially considering a lot of the things the new trailer hints at. The film might open more than a few doors for the MCU’s future.

There’s no doubt we’ll all be patiently waiting to see what comes next in the MCU. Marvel Studios haven’t fucked it up yet, and I don’t think they will any time soon. Here’s to the next decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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