There’s plenty to speculate about when it comes to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What’s the actual title of The Avengers 4? Will *that* Infinity War ending stick? Who survives it all? But now Marvel has us looking ahead even farther. Disney CEO Bob Iger has teased that Marvel is prepping an entirely new franchise for after the current Avengers saga wraps.
Naturally, we have a few ideas as far as what Marvel team the MCU will spotlight next. Scroll down to read our theories and let us know what you think in the comments below.
This one is a fairly safe bet, given that Kevin Feige has already confirmed that Marvel is exploring the possibility of an Eternals movie in Phase 4 and beyond. Not to mention the fact that fans have already met the most famous Eternal of them all – Thanos. The Mad Titan was conspicuously tight-lipped in Infinity War about what happened to the rest of his people. Did he slaughter them all, or are the Eternals in hiding on other worlds, waiting for their moment to return to the wider universe?
An Eternals movie would gave Marvel the chance to debut a whole new lineup of super-powered heroes, including Ikaris and Sersei. The series could even use Infinity War as a launching point, revealing that the surviving Eternals are eager to make up for the damage caused by Thanos.
The Nova Corps
Along with the Eternals, the Nova Corps was another franchise teased by Feige back in April. We’ve already encountered the Nova Corps in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, which depicted these characters more as blue collar space cops than the powerful cosmic warriors they are in the comics. Once again, Infinity War could serve as the catalyst for transforming the Nova Corps from background players to a major force in the MCU.
Infinity War alluded to Thanos’ destruction of Xandar and the Nova Corps. That leaves the Marvel Universe unprotected and no one to wield the vast power that is the Nova Force. That’s the cue for Earthling heroes like Richard Ryder and Sam Alexander to rise up. There have been some great comics featuring these characters struggling to carry the torch for the once mighty Nova Corps, and we think that premise could make for a great movie franchise.
Much has been made about the MCU shifting away from the original Avengers lineup and focusing on a new generation of heroes. Even if those characters killed by Thanos are resurrected in Avengers 4, the lineup of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is bound to look much different a few years from now.
But what if Marvel chooses to shift away from the Avengers entirely in Phase 4? One option is to focus on the Champions instead. While the classic incarnation of that team included heroes like Black Widow, Hercules and Iceman, we’re thinking of the modern version that focuses on younger teen heroes like Ms. Marvel, the Miles Morales Spider-Man, Nova, Ironheart and the time-displaced Cyclops. None of these characters are actually established yet in the MCU, but the build-up to the Champions could be one of the driving forces of Phase 4 in the same way the Avengers was for Phase 1. Maybe the time has come for a younger generation of heroes to take the lead.
The Infinity Watch was a team formed by Adam Warlock in the aftermath of the Infinity Gauntlet crossover. The idea being that Warlock needed a group of powerful heroes who could each protect one of the Infinity Stones so that the power of the Infinity Gauntlet would never be abused again. It’s not hard to see why the MCU might have need of such a team after The Avengers 4.
The fact that Warlock himself will likely be debuting in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (although he has not been confirmed for the film yet, director James Gunn has hinted that the character will show up) leaves the door open for Marvel to switch focus from the Guardians to the Infinity Watch in the years to come. The movie could feature the classic comic book lineup (which included Drax, Gamora, Pip the Troll and Moondragon), or it could borrow a page from Marvel’s short-lived Annihilators series and draw in other cosmic heavy-hitters like Beta Ray Bill and Silver Surfer.
It would be especially interesting to see Thanos become a member of this team as he did in the comics. We’ve seen the character at his worst in Infinity War, but what happens if he tries to play the hero for a change?
Around the time of the original Civil War crossover, Marvel Comics introduced the Illuminati as a group of superhero power players who had secretly been influencing the course of the Marvel Universe for years. That group included Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Professor X, Black Bolt and Namor. Later incarnations also added characters like Black Panther, Beast and a reluctant Captain America.
Basically, an Illuminatii movie allows Marvel to continue spotlighting some of its biggest A-Listers while telling a very different sort of story. The Illluminati comics are always about how these heroes pave the road to hell with their good intentions as they conspire to achieve what they see as the greater good. In the comics, the Illuminati originally formed in response to the events of the Kree/Skrull War, but Infinity War could just as easily be the catalyst in the MCU.
Originally, The Ultimates was the version of the Avengers that existed in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe (basically a streamlined, modernized version of the traditional Marvel Universe). But when Marvel folded the Ultimate Universe in 2015, the “Ultimates” name was re-purposed for something else entirely. Now the Ultimates are a team of traditional Marvel heroes (including Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Blue Marvel, Spectrum and Miss America Chavez) who protect Earth from cosmic threats.
Again, it’s not hard to see how the Ultimates could fit into the larger Phase 4 road map. Infinity War was another reminder for Earth’s heroes that there’s a much larger universe out there and new threats to face. We could see the Avengers evolving into the Ultimates and working to safeguard the planet from external threats. And if an Ultimates movie paves the way for other groups like S.W.O.R.D. (S.H.I.E.L.D.’s sister agency) or Alpha Flight to join the MCU, so much the better.
Honorable Mention – The Fox Heroes
The simplest explanation is often the right one, and it’s entirely possible that the new team franchise Iger was teasing is the X-Men or Fantastic Four. Both properties are in the process of transferring from Fox to Disney, though the deal isn’t exactly finalized yet. With any luck, we’ll see both of these teams begin to take on a prominent role in the MCU in the years to come. But hopefully not at the expense of some of the other teams on this list.