Marvel is the undisputed king of superhero movies, building a movieverse that has been leading to next year’s Avengers film, Infinity War. In this film, the Avengers are expected to finally face Thanos, when he makes his big move to retrieve the Infinity Stones. While we wait with anticipation for the culmination of a decade of storytelling, one cannot help but wonder where Marvel could go next.
To Infinity And Beyond
The aftermath of Infinity War has almost limitless possibilities, with no small thanks to the power the Infinity Stones possess. For those who may be unfamiliar with stones, there are six in existence that when used individually grant specific powers such as control of time, power, and reality. However, when combined and housed in the Infinity Gauntlet, the wielder is virtually an all-powerful God. The stones could be a huge reset button on the established universe for both the heroes and villains. It would be great to see the stones used to reintroduce major villains that have either been underutilized or were a misfire.
The Red Skull is a villain who comes to mind who could be a huge player in Phase 4 and beyond. An iconic Captain America foe, he could make Hydra a powerhouse almost reflective of the current status quo in the comics. The Mandarin, Leader, and AIM are other villains that could be saved from obscurity. AIM has been largely neglected since Iron Man 3 and could use some revitalization to match Hydra for the title of the undisputed big bad organization. MODOK anyone?
Building A Legacy
Marvel is facing an issue with many of the actor’s contracts due to expire after Infinity War. Phase 4 would be the perfect time to introduce legacy heroes like Kate Bishop, Miles Morales, She-Hulk and Beta Rey Bill. Speaking of legacy heroes, Marvel missed an opportunity in Captain America: Civil War to have Bucky take over the shield from Captain America. It might be the right time after Infinity War promote Bucky to Captain America. This could make some great storytelling by having a Bucky on a road to redemption for his past acts, carrying the weight of the shield and all that is represents.
Marvel already has several movies in the pipeline that have been announced like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and even a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel. There is also Ant-Man & Wasp, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and a 4th Avengers slated for release. It’s safe to say that some of the big name properties like Doctor Strange and Thor will also likely get some sequels. Phase 4 could be a good time to save the main Avengers characters for the sidelines or special occasions and build up these other characters. Lesson known characters, while not household names, have a lot of lore to add to the universe. Black Panther can explore the importance of Vibranium and explore the history of Wakanda, and Captain Marvel can bring the Kree into the MCU in a larger role.With the success of Wonder Woman, Marvel could focus on developing more female-centric movies. Aside from Captain Marvel, there are no other planned female movies. A Black Widow movie could provide an excellent spy thriller, and it’s a movie that has been clamored for since her introduction in Iron Man 2. She-Hulk and Spider-Woman also have a lot of potential, particularly the latter with her connection to Hydra.
A dark horse and fairly new character that deserves a place within the MCU, particularly with reference to current social issues, is Kamala Khan. Kamala is the current Ms. Marvel, a young Muslim girl and an Inhuman who has been a fan of superheroes all of her life. Her comic series is extremely popular thanks to the way it portrays the Muslim culture. This could be a fun and upbeat superhero movie, much like Spider-Man, tackling a range of complete social justice issues and educating viewers about the Muslim culture. It would also fit with the status of Marvel’s push of the Inhuman characters.
A Not So Bright Future
The focus of the MCU so far has generally been earth based and cosmic, Marvel is yet to fully utilize the horror and mystical side of the universe. Exceptions are Doctor Strange and Thor but these stories have been relatively vague on the occult. Phase 4 would be a great time to bring horror heroes Blade, Ghost Rider, and Man Thing. These movies could also lead a more gruesome and dark tone, something that Marvel has been criticized for not using in the past. It could also be a great way for Johnny Blaze’s Ghost Rider to get a much-needed clean slate. Phase 1 and 2 stayed relatively grounded while Phase 3 has gone more cosmic, it only makes sense that horror and darkness befall Phase 4. Mephisto or Dracula would make an excellent big bad while giving magical characters like Thor and Doctor Strange the spotlight.
Spider-Man’s addition to the MCU has raised hope and optimism for deals to be struck with other studios. Marvel may struggle to continue making good movies without access to some key characters who’re owned by other studios. Namor is in a ridiculous rights entanglement, as are the Fantastic Four. After the last few FF movies, people definitely want them back in safe and MARVELous hands. Imagine the possibilities of these properties in the MCU. It would be amazing that if at the end of Infinity War we get a post-credits scene of darkness with a metallic voiceover predicting dark days ahead for the Marvel Heroes, to slowly pan out and reveal the face of Dr. Doom holding the Cosmic Cube. With rumours of yet another Fantastic Four movie on the horizon, this seems like this could be difficult. Although, it would seem unlikely that Disney isn’t working hard to arrange some sort of agreement with Fox, regardless of the consistent denial.Marvel certainly isn’t limited when it comes to stories. However, there is one particular story that could easily work as the foundation for Phase 4, Dark Reign. For those unfamiliar with the comics, Norman Osborn was credited as saving earth after a Skull invasion where he was granted control of S.H.I.E.L.D. Using his power, he criminalized many heroes and enlisted various villains to form his Dark Avengers and capture the renegade heroes. This story could see the heroes of the MCU in their darkest and most brutal phases yet. This could easily translate to the Netflix and ABC shows like Daredevil and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, Agents of H.A.M.M.E.R easily works. The introduction of Spidey to the MCU makes it only inevitable until Normie enters the fray. It would be good to see Norman outside of his Goblin persona.Marvel has been tight-lipped about the future of their universe after Infinity War. One thing is certain, they have no intention of slowing down and it is almost guaranteed that they have many more movies planned that are yet to be announced.
What are some things you would like to see in Phase 4? Let us know in the comments.