Avengers: Infinity War was touted as the culmination of the Thanos storyline, but really the true culmination of the saga that began with 2008’s Iron Man would be Avengers 4. The movie, which arrives next year, will also end the phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Actors like Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk) and so on have been in the MCU from the beginning, and will likely retire from the cinematic universe after Avengers 4 as their contract ends. Chris Evans has even said explicitly that he is stepping away from his well-loved character.
What comes after Avengers 4? Regardless of what happens in the movie — whether the old guard dies or stays alive and retires — it is almost certain that they will give up the duties of saving the world and leave the responsibility to the new-age superheroes like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and others. But the question here is not just what happens to the Avengers (though that is important too, and we will revisit it later), but to MCU as well.
Only Spider-Man: Far From Home is confirmed for release in post-phase 3 MCU. It comes just a couple of months after Avengers. Sequels to Black Panther and Doctor Strange have also been announced (with Ryan Coogler returning to direct), while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, which was supposed to release in 2020, is currently on hold. A Black Widow movie was also announced.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that they have plans for at least 20 more movies after Avengers 4, but what is happening right now does not inspire confidence. Marvel has been remarkably uncommunicative about future plans. It may be because they do not want to spoil Avengers 4, or maybe the Disney’s acquisition of Fox does not allow them to reveal the plans.
Let’s face it: heroes like Thor and Iron Man and others are still the soul of the MCU and the reason why millions turn up to watch these movies. Black Panther is the exception here, in that its box office performance was unprecedentedly good for a solo movie and the first film in a franchise.
Still, replacing the old guard will not be easy. The most sensible way to move forward is the New Avengers. In comics, the New Avengers consists of superheroes like Spider-Man, Carol Danvers (then Ms Marvel and now Captain Marvel), The Thing, Wolverine and so on. Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and others could be added to the roster. More superheroes could be introduced to flesh out the MCU.
With Fox getting under the ever-expanding Disney umbrella, the MCU will have X-Men and Fantastic Four characters, so using The Thing and Wolverine should not be a problem (the bigger problem would be getting Hugh Jackman again to play the role of Wolverine). X-Men and Avengers could be pitted against one another to give something like a new Civil War. Or there could be a multiverse, where Avengers and X-Men and Fantastic Four operate in their own universes.
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The New Avengers could fight against somebody like Galactus, who eats planets to sustain his life-force. While Thanos is powerful, he is still just a being. Galactus is a cosmic entity like, say, Mistress Death. Perhaps some of the older superheroes could join the universe again later to join the fight the new threat à la The Dark Knight Returns in cameos. The possibilities are endless and exciting.
What do you think will happen to MCU after Avengers 4? The movie arrives on May 3, 2019.
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