Where Are The MCU’s New Avengers?

This is a nagging question that many have had ever since Avengers: Endgame. At the end of the film, after the Avengers and company defeated Thanos, the superhero team was effectively finished. Tony Stark/Iron Man and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow were dead, Steve Rogers/Captain America went back in time and returned as Joe Biden, Bruce Banner/Hulk was maimed, Thor left for space to pursue adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Clint Barton/Hawkeye went back to retirement in order to spend time with his family. While this was a fitting way to close the chapters on these heroes, their departures left a void that has yet to be filled by another team.

This has not happened so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). After the Avengers split up, which was not the first time since they first broke up in Captain America: Civil War, no one came forward to continue the team. This feels irresponsible since there are still threats going on in the world and beyond, so there is still a need for the Avengers. Also, part of the reason why Thanos was triumphant in Avengers: Infinity War was because the team no longer existed. You would think the surviving heroes in Avengers: Endgame would have at least given thought to continuing the team to face any future threats.

In the Marvel Comics, whenever there were a lot of vacancies in the Avengers, there would be a huge rush of heroes to fill the void of the departed Avengers to form a new roster for the team. The first time this happened with the Avengers actually was very early in the comic book’s run with issue number 16, where the OG Avengers Iron Man, Giant-Man, the Wasp and Thor left the team. This left only Captain America, who was the first recruit, to form a new team of Avengers with Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Hawkeye. Over time, heroes came and went as the make up of the tesm radically changed.

What is unusual about the MCU is that post-Endgame various superheroes operating solo in the films and TV shows often claim to be an Avenger, yet they are not part of an active team. We saw Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Falcon and to some extent, Hawkeye doing this in their solo films/TV shows. If there was an actual team of Avengers in the MCU after Avengers: Endgame think of how quickly the calamities would have ended for the heroes in their individual films and TV shows. Now it seems as if history is repeating itself as Kang has emerged as the next high-level threat following Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, although in Ant-Man’s defense, he believes that Kang has been killed. But we know better.

Why hasn’t there been a new roster of MCU Avengers, yet? It boils down to two reasons: Resources and leadership. With Tony Stark gone, there wasn’t anyone who could effectively bankroll the team. Sure, there is his wife, Pepper Potts, but as we saw in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Stark’s company landed in hot water with the authorities because of their drones that were used by Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home. So, the company is probably not in the best financial shape to provide resources for an Avengers team. Once Iron Man and Captain America were written out of the MCU, there has been a lack of leadership in the MCU. Unlike that issue of Avengers #16, there is no Captain America or some equivalent to lead the way and put together a new roster.

Of course, this will change fairly soon with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. It’s clear that a new team of MCU Avengers will emerge to face a threat that no solo hero can handle, namely Kang or Doctor Doom. This may start to happen with next year’s Captain America: New World Order, as the new Capain America/Sam Wilson, who has no super-soldier serum, is forced to create a new team of Avengers. The Thunderbolts could also serve as a catalyst for a new roster of Avengers. Made up of mercenaries, the Thunderbolts in their debut film will probably operate in a less-than-noble manner and prompt the creation of a new Avengers team for the MCU. It’s too bad the MCU version of the Thunderbolts could not more closely match the original comic book counterpart, but to keep the true nature of the team under wraps would be impossible for fans and the “surprise” reveal would lack the same impact as the end of Thunderbolts #1.

There have been recent rumors that the new Captain America would not lead the new Avengers and Spider-Man would do so instead. That is hard to believe for real-world reasons in that the Spider-Man film rights are held by Sony Pictures and it is unlikely that Marvel Studios would have the leader of the Avengers be a character they don’t own the rights to. It will be interesting to see who else will lead the team if not Captain America.

An interesting development that the MCU could do is have the Young Avengers become the de facto Avengers, at least briefly. We have seen many of the Young Avengers members like Kate Bishop, America Chavez, Patriot, and Stature appear in the MCU. Perhaps they will be the new Avengers led by Sam Wilson, or the team could be made up of the following: Captain America, the Hulk, She-Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Shang-Chi, all three of the Marvels, and some members of the Eternals and even the Thunderbolts.

Part of the fun right now is speculating over who will be in the new lineup of MCU Avengers. The waiting for the revelation will be worth it as soon as the new team in the films rallies with the iconic battle cry “Avengers Assemble!”.

Questions About The Future Of The MCU

The aftermath of Marvel Studios’ announcement of their upcoming films and TV shows at last weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con is still ongoing. All the complaints about Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have been vanquished as fans now contemplate Phase Five and Six,which will start early next year.

Although the reaction to the new MCU projects has been positive, many questions did come up about the films and TV shows or rather what was not announced. Observers pointed out there were gaps in the official release schedule for the upcoming phases, especially with Phase Six. In that phase only three films were announced (Fantastic Four, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and Avengers: Secret Wars), but there were slots for eight more releases. So, what could they be? Let’s examine further…

Where are the Mutants?

The mutant characters in the X-Men and other assorted X-teams were particularly absent during the Comic-Con announcement. Ever since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox and its film properties in 2019, which included the film rights to X-Men, fans have been anxious to see Marvel Studios’ take on the mutants. And some are becoming impatient. But given the many mutant-related films and TV shows over the last few years, it is for the best that the mutants be given a rest to build up demand and recharge the creative energy of those who would bring about more live-action mutant films and TV shows. Marvel Studios played it smart with drip, drip, drip Easter eggs and references to the mutants in the MCU. In last year’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, part of the action took place in the fictional country of Madripoor, a location well known as Wolverine’s incognito stomping grounds. It has been heavily implied in WandaVision, that Wanda Maximoff was a mutant. Professor Xavier, founder of the X-Men, turned up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, albeit this was an alternate variant. In the most recent MCU TV show, Ms. Marvel, it was revealed at the end that the title character was a mutant, though that word was not actually used.

It has been reported that Ryan Reynolds, who plays Deadpool, will reprise the role in a Deadpool 3 film for Marvel Studios, and it has been rumored the film will be part of Phase Five. Whenever the film comes out, it is bound to be a hit and increase demand for more X-Men-related films.

Secret Wars and Followups

Perhaps the mutant superhero team will be one of those unannounced films in Phase Six. One possible clue was the recent announcement that the director of Avengers: The Kang Dynasty would not be Joe and Anthony Russo but instead the director of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Destin Daniel Cretton. It was expected that the Russo Brothers, who directed the last two Avengers films to great success, were the go-to guys for future Avengers films. But in the past, they’ve expressed a desire to do their own take of the X-Men. Perhaps, they were offered their dream assignment and this will be announced at the D23 Expo in September. Or the X-Men won’t turn up until Phase Seven. It was reported earlier this week that Disney cannot recast the X-Men until 2025 and Marvel Studios will probably want to run out the clock until then before even starting work on the MCU version of the mutant superheroes. At this point it’s anyone’s guess.

Once Cretton was announced as the director of the next Avengers film, people began wondering who would helm Avengers: Secret Wars. It could go to the Russo Brothers, but that seems unlikely, given the possibility they could be busy with the mutants. Then again they could be tapped to direct Avengers: Secret Wars if it turns out the film will actually be a two-part saga. The original Secret Wars mini-series in 2015 was a sprawling epic that will be difficult to pull off with just one film. It could turn out that the story of Avengers: Secret Wars will have to be continued into Phase Seven, which could be called the Battleworld Saga. During Secret Wars, various patches of reality were merged into a world created by Doctor Doom. The Phase Seven films could explore these separate realities before coming to a concluding epic film.

Getting back to the director of the sixth Avengers film, if the Russos don’t direct it then another possibilty is Jon Watts, the director of the MCU Spider-Man trilogy of films. The concludng film of the trilogy, Spider-Man: No Way Home, was one of the most succesful films of all time and its head-spinning plotline about multiversal variants and characters from different film franchises meeting each other was well directed by Watts. This makes him an obvious contender for an Avengers film dealing with characters from alternate universes meeting and battling each other. This could be the reason why Watts left the Fantastic Four reboot he was supposed to direct. His success with Spider-Man: No Way Home demonstrated he had the skills to take on an even more epic film.

Putting aside speculating about directors and mutants, let’s ponder what other MCU offerings are coming up. It was a surprise that the previously announced Armor Wars TV mini-series was not part of the announcements at Comic-Con, yet Marvel Studios insist that mini-series will still be made. It is possible Armor Wars will be part of Phase Six.

It has also been reported that a TV series based upon Wonder Man will be produced and if so Wonder Man can be part of Phase Six. Other live-action TV series could include second seasons for Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and maybe a third season of Loki that could coincide with the upcoming Avengers films.

As for other films, a no-brainer would be a second Shang-Chi film, as well as a third Doctor Strange film. After all the last Doctor Strange film ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and was strongly tied to the Multiverse Saga. There are rumors that Marvel Studios is considering a followup to Eternals, but since that film had a mixed reaction what is more likely is that some of its characters will be important players in other films, perhaps one about the cosmic superhero Nova. Supposedly, Marvel Studios is developing a Nova film, which could not only feature the Eternals, but tie-in with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course, this depends on how the third and final Guardians of the Galaxy film concludes.

The Spider-Man Wild Card

Given the humongous success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, a new trilogy about the MCU Spider-Man should be a given. Yet, nothing has been announced. As many know, Marvel Studios does not have the film rights to Spider-Man and Spider-Man films were never made part of Marvel Studios’ big announcements. They just pop up and a spot on the crowded MCU schedule is found for them. Expect the same thing to happen with Phase Five and Six.

The big question with future MCU Spider-Man films is will Jon Watts return to direct them? If not him then who else can direct a Spider-Man film? Marvel Studios cannot make that decision because that will be up to Sony Pictures, which holds the film rights to Marvel’s most popular character. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on more Spider-Man films, Sony is obsessed with mining other Spider-Man-related properties. The problem is that what they have planned does not sound promising aside from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. So, fans will have to wait and see what Sony decides.

No matter how this all ends up with Phase Five and Six of the MCU, fans will end up happy, upset or somewhere in between. Either way, there will be something for everyone.

José Soto