MCU Phase Next: Beyond What We Know

Last week, we talked about the stuff (both film and television) Disney had announced for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they also announced plenty of "Untitled" movies. They've got their slots reserved, but if they know what goes in them, they're not telling. So it's time to dream a little. Part prediction, part wish list, what would this blogger expect or want from the next 20 MCU movies?

Sequels? Well, sure. If you're a hero in the MCU who's gotten a stand-alone film, then by all means, get to #3. I'm sure Spider-Man can find a third title with the word "Home" in it (Home Fires? No Place Like Home?). Ant-Man's record isn't the most stellar, but with Cassie all grown up, Ant-Man and Giant-Girl almost seems a given. Captain Marvel's second film should be the Kree-Skrull War taking place in the 90s. Hard to say if Eternals or Shang-Chi will be sequel-worthy, but if Guardians was, anything is possible. And besides, a lot of Marvel movies to date have boosted the potential of their sequels by making them team-up movies. We've had Cap and Black Widow, Cap/Iron Man, Thor and Hulk, even Spider-Man and Iron Man. No reason the tradition couldn't continue to keep some of these characters in play beyond their best-before date.

A possible Big Bad. A question on everyone's lips is what will be the next big threat to the MCU. Before Endgame did the time travel thing, I was very much in the Kang camp. He's a major Avengers villain that can put a wide canvas into play: History itself! Well, all is not lost, since Endgame only really went back to the interior of other movies (destinations not at all practical going forward into the next decade). Kang putting the MCU under threat might mean we could see Marvel's cowboy stars, or the world of 2099, or who else was active during World War II... Think about it. Captain Marvel takes place in the 90s. The Black Widow movie is probably set in the past. What's to say Shang-Chi isn't going full-on 70s martial arts craze and actually SET in the 70s? The Eternals could take place in the time of Atlantis for all we know. If Kang is the Big Bad, then not only does he allow heroes from different time frames to interact, but he opens up the door to more. Like the Invaders (especially now that the name "Human Torch" isn't stuck behind a rights issue), a 70s Power Man and Iron Fist (if the Netflix shows no longer count), Devil Dinosaur (I could die happy), or yes, Spider-Man 2099. You could then have an MCU unmoored from a contemporary setting, bigger and richer, but still a cohesive whole (so long as you didn't cause problems with time travel as described in Endgame). But is Kang more of an Act 1 Loki, or can he be a third act Thanos? And are there even any Avengers post-Endgame that warrant bringing in an Avengers villain? One addition to the MCU might offer better options...
The Fantastic Four. Look, I know the brand has been tainted by several bad films, but I really do think if you slap "MCU" on it, even people disappointed by the other efforts will flock to it as the FF "done right". And with the FF comes a LOT of epic-scale villainy. They had the best epic villains! When I heard the basic plot of the last FF film, I thought there was great potential in setting up a trilogy. Dive into the Negative Zone, fight Annihilus with Doom as a friend. FF2, Doom shows his hand. FF3, he summons Galactus, steals the Surfer's power, all that good stuff. Doctor Doom is the best supervillain of all time, if done right, which he hasn't been. Galactus lacks personality, but he's good for a movie, which would introduce Heralds to the MCU, and then we're just one Sub-Mariner away from the original Defenders making it to the MCU (and those underwater earthquakes in Endgame could be a sign that Namor is around now, and he is ALSO a link to the Invaders I proposed above). The FF's rogues gallery is full of other high-concept threats that would fuel or furnish a film. The Incredibles already did the Mole Man, but I'm thinking about Psycho-Man, Hate-Monger, the Super-Skrull, Molecule Man, Puppet Master, Counter-Earth, the Frightful Four, etc.

What about the X-Men, Siskoid? Well, we've had a lot of X-Men films, one still to be released, and that's if I'm not including Deadpool 3 AKA X-Force. I think the MCU should wait longer to introduce them because they really do head a popular franchise (even if I'm not a big fan of most of the films). Might be your big third act opener. You might spend a dozen films teasing the x-gene, I dunno. Meanwhile, you can keep doing mutant projects that don't seem to belong in the MCU. Deadpool can even comment on it. When you do bring them in, it should be with a take we haven't seen yet, and that's complicated in and of itself at this point.

New Avengers? With the surviving Avengers getting TV projects, one wonders if they're being given closure, or if their profile is being raised for future films. I rather think the former. Why tell Falcon and Bucky's story on the streaming service rather than in Captain America 4? No, it must mean they don't have a movie to go back to. Can you even make more Avengers films with what you've got left? Who would be its big stars? Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man and the Wasp? Maybe. Or are the big guys going to be replaced? A new Iron Man is easy enough to pull off (note how War Machine isn't going to television). He could be Rhodey, the kid from Iron Man 3, or (personal favorite pick) Panther's sister Shuri. Valkyrie could take Thor's place (he's still active, but I can't believe that would work for the next 10 years), or Hercules might do the trick. We ARE closer to a Defenders franchise than an Avengers one, aren't we? If that brand hasn't been sunk by Marvel Netflix, of course. An idea by one of my podcasting buddies I kind of like is doing a Young Avengers series of films, which would put Cassie Lang in a team with the new Hawkeye and other young heroes (and Monica Rambeau? Spider-Man?) trying to live up to the legacy of their forebears. Kang was even their key villain in the comics.
Who else? Some great characters to give movies to would include She-Hulk (no rights problems maybe? and you only need Bruce to show up for the blood transfusion, then you're off), Spider-Woman Jessica Drew, Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan (Young Avenger?), Captain Britain, Black Knight, Dazzler (for a completely different sort of movie), Alpha Flight, Machine Man, even Moon Knight (since the DCEU isn't doing right by Batman, lol). Bring back Blade and introduce other horror characters? Not really Disney's deal, even if I'd enjoy a Son of Satan movie, probably. The Thunderbolts have been mentioned by fans, but I'm not sure enough villains have survived the past 22 films for a Suicide Squad concept to be pulled off. Easiest to spin out of the MCU as is? Warlock might come out of Guardians vol.3 looking like a potable hero. Nova could be a riff on Green Lantern, possibly to rebuild the decimated Corps (and Richard Ryder could easily be one of those Young Avengers too).

The Second Saga.
If the first Saga basically redid the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, what story might they be trying to adapt in the next films? With Skrulls now in the mix, some have said Secret Invasion. Please no. The twists inherent in that thing would just be irritating in the film franchise. One story that seems more likely is Secret Wars. Rightly famous as the first big crossover event, it had a god-like entity called the Beyonder bring heroes and villains (and Galactus, see above) to a makeshift planet and fight it out to see if Good or Evil (or Hunger) was the better philosophy. What makes me think they might do it (not as an Endgame, but earlier on à la Civil War) is that they used the word "beyond" in their promotion for Phase 4. Innocuous coincidence? Or foreshadowing the Beyonder? Look for a light in a dark sky commenting on the action in the end credits to confirm this, and for at least SOME of the characters involved in the original series to appear in upcoming films. They already used a couple of the visuals in Endgame, with characters who will not be available for Phase 4, which is another confirmation for me. So long as they don't do Secret Wars 2 as is, I think it would be a diverting tent pole event.

But what do YOU expect or want from Phases 4-6 of the MCU? If you had your way? Don't hold back!


tomg said...

This might be a little out there, but I was thinking the Night Shift would make an interesting group to build a franchise around. In the comics, Shroud led them and was tricking them into doing good while most of the group thought they were being villains. Shroud, Werewolf-by-Night, Tatterdemalion, Dansen Macabre, Gypsy Moth, Brothers Grimm, etc. All are unknown to the casual comic book reader, but.. well.. why not? Put them up against the Serpent Society.

I think a good Power Pack movie could be made for the all ages crowd.

And in my head I can hear the glorious sounds of the Dazzler OST. Or if she is not strong enough to carry the title on her own, introduce another character in it to share the spotlight like Spiderwoman (or the 70s versions of Luke Cage/Iron Fist you mentioned above)

Siskoid said...

I hesitated on Power Pack because the kids would grow up too quickly if they went to sequels, but that would just be a different take where we would see them grow up before our eyes.


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