*Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame are below! If you’re part of the .01% of the people who have not seen it yet, you have been warned! (And what’s your problem?!)*
Time-and-time-again, Marvel tops themselves. Nobody thought The Avengers could be topped until they experienced The Winter Soldier…followed by Guardians of the Galaxy…followed by Captain America: Civil War…followed by Thor: Ragnarok…
Well, you get the idea.
With Avengers: Endgame being such a massive, crowd-pleasing success, everyone is back to the usual–wondering how Marvel could possibly top this one. How could they develop such an amazing grand finale and create a new film even remotely close to this scale?
Even though a finale like this may never be replicated by Marvel, they are now entering a new era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe–one that has never seemed so bright.
Distinguishing Between the Two Eras
Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige has made it very clear that a big difference in the MCU was coming following Endgame. There have been many theories on what he meant by this. After seeing the film, it is pretty obvious.
Before Endgame, we have followed the timeline of the main universe (Earth-616). After Endgame, it looks like we’ll be exploring the multiverse and even alternate timelines.
This could be huge for the MCU moving forward. Instead of focusing on every movie trying to connect, they can focus on telling stand-alone stories (one-shots) inside one of these universes, as well as introduce new threats and heroes that we have yet to see. If Marvel is planning on doing anything like this, it has a way to go; however, the seeds for them have already been planted.
In the new Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer, we learn that one of the snaps in Infinity War and Endgame (i.e., Thanos, Hulk, or Iron Man) tore a hole in our dimension, allowing Mysterio to spill over into ours. Assuming Mysterio was telling the truth, this opens the door to countless of possibilities for the future of the MCU.
So what could possibly come next?
Bringing in Sony’s Villain-verse
Spider-Man just isn’t Spider-Man without his villains. When Sony announced they were making their own villain shared universe, fans were confused and angry. “You can’t have Venom without Spider-Man!” Looking back, it seems like this universe may in fact be a part of the MCU’s multiverse.
If this pans out to be true, it would be a near genius move on Sony’s part.
Not only would it be a financial home-run, but it would allow for Spider-Man’s classic foes to have on-screen development and backstory before their face-off. Never before have two, already established franchises merged so unexpectedly and added so much depth to each other in the process.
It would finally give Sony’s villainverse a reason for existence.
While this may seem like a stretch to some people, it surprisingly matches up very well with producer Amy Pascal’s quote in an interview a couple summers ago:
“First, there is Spider-Man happily in the place where he’s supposed to be, which is in the Marvel Universe. I think everything comes from that. This is the signpost, the tentpole, the signature, and…the other movies that Sony’s going to make, in their relationship to this [MCU] Spider-Man, take place in this [separate Sony] world. Although you’re not going to see them in the Marvel Universe, it’s the same reality.”
Introducing the (Rebooted) X-Men
Even though the Fantastic Four may be an easy fit into the MCU, the X-Men are anything but that.
The X-Men and the mutants’ origins started decades ago. How on Earth could the writers at Marvel convince us that so many mutants have existed for this long without even a hint of their existence? The answer is they can’t.
With the Multiverse now in play, they don’t even have to try. All they need to do is bring the X-Men in from another dimension. That’s it. The X-Men are in the MCU with no questions asked.
Maybe they came through at the same time Mysterio did; maybe they’ll come through during some future event; maybe our universe will slip into theirs. Who knows! It’s never been more convenient for the X-Men’s arrival.
Much Greater Threats
With all of the space and time meddling that took place in Infinity War and Endgame, it’s entirely possible bigger threats than Thanos will arise.
Fans could talk for days about villains like Doctor Doom who can now enter the universe by use of the multiverse. (Admit it, the big, cosmic baddies are a lot more interesting to speculate over anyway.) Some people think that planet-eating Galactus will be the next big bad after Thanos, as it allows for the universe to explore its cosmic side with characters like Nova and Silver Surfer.
Others think Kang the Conqueror, a time-traveling villain, will have seen what the Avengers have done to the timeline and try to either get his revenge or maybe even reset the timeline all-together.
There have also been hints at the Living Tribunal, Eternals, and other celestials being present in the MCU. The possibilities here are endless.
Perhaps the most interesting of the possibilities, one-shots allows Marvel to take a break from the inter-connectivity of their universe, and tell a more contained story. Movies like ‘Logan’ which would never have been possible in the MCU prior, are now a real possibility.
One-shots are movies set outside of the universe, but feature known characters from said universe to tell a story that couldn’t be told within it. DC is exploring this form of storytelling this fall with their ‘Joker’ movie which is already on track to be a big success.
Even though Marvel is releasing a ‘What If’ series on Disney+, seeing major comic book storylines on the big screen is something every comic book fan dreams. Who wouldn’t want a true Age of Ultron adaptation, a Civil War II, an Annihilation, a Secret Wars, a Skrull Invasion, or even an alternate take on a previous MCU film in which the villain wins?
Marvel has the chance to take some major risks with one-shots, let’s just hope that they have the balls to utilize it.
The Bright Future of the MCU
For the first time in a long time, Marvel’s future seems completely fresh and unpredictable. They have the freedom to basically do whatever they want.
No longer are they bound to telling one, over-arching story. Marvel has the chance to bring in completely new heroes and teams, to merge franchises, to put out heroes against greater threats, and to tell unique stories.
Above all, however, Marvel has the chance to turn the MCU into something 10x the size, and 10x as deep as it currently stands today. Never before has their future seemed so bright and our expectations so high.