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The MCU’s Secret Societies and How Phase 4 Points to SECRET WARS

The MCU is rapidly introducing multiple secret societies, communities, and kingdoms, each with a powerful army or collective of fighters. The latest additions to this growing trend comes with Ms. Marvel‘s ClanDestine and Thor: Love and Thunder‘s Omnipotence City. But what does it all mean? Well, of course, we have a theory about the next phase of the MCU and it’s one that could change the franchise forever. We think the MCU is heading into Secret Wars in Phase 4. But first, let’s look at the secret societies that exist within the sprawling superhero series and how they might signal a massive war is coming.

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Ever Secret Society, Organization, and Kingdom the MCU Has Introduced So Far

Wakanda

Marvel Studios

The earliest example of a secret society that we saw in the MCU was Asgard. While that seems to have been a template for these secret locales, it no longer exists in the same way. So where do we go from there? The most obvious place is Wakanda. T’Challa’s homeworld is not only an advanced Techno Jungle; it’s also a militarized base of operations. It has the potential to defend itself on a massive scale. Basically, Wakanda could be a major player in any intergalactic, cosmic, or universal war that might be coming. In the comics, Wakanda already established itself as a stronghold against extraterrestrial attacks too. So they’re ready should the MCU dive into Secret Wars.

The Secretive Enclave of Ta-Lo 
Marvel Studios

Shang-Chi introduced us to Ta-Lo. The new MCU location originated in 1980’s Thor #310. It was recontextualized here from the home of the Xian aliens to the enigmatic and hidden homeland of Shang-Chi’s mother. This was the first big hint that phase four of the MCU could be heading towards Secret Wars. Organized as both a collective and army, the community hides huge dangerous secrets—in the form of monsters and dragons—that could also be used as weapons. Not just that but they have unique fighting skills and can harness supernatural powers. Ta-Lo is only able to be visited by those who know the way. It essentially acts as its own pocket dimension—which it was in the comics—perfect for a potential MCU Secret Wars Phase 4 story.

Kamar-Taj and the Mystic Arts
Marvel Studios

Another key example of an MCU secret society is Kamar-Taj, where the Masters of the Mystic Arts train. The secret locale has a ton of powerful people ready to protect or attack whenever they’re needed. Speaking of the mystic arts, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness saw the Scarlet Witch visit the infamous Mount Wundagore. In the comics, the scenic locale houses the High Evolutionary’s secret scientific base, filled with mutated humanoid animals known as New Men. While we didn’t see that in the film, it introduced the secret location and the unseen magical creatures that live there.

The Cosmic Secrets of the Eternals
Marvel Studios

Eternals also definitely fit the MCU secret society bill. The reclusive beings in the movie lived a secluded life. They can only interfere with the human world if the Deviants are causing problems. Both groups are wildly powerful and have lived without wider human knowledge… until now. Eternals was also the first place we got a hint at the bigger cosmic war we could see coming to the MCU. The introduction of the Celestials set the stage, and the Arishem’s judgment of Earth promised an epic conflict. We’d definetly expect to see these superpowered groups should Secret Wars come to the MCU.

Doctor Strange’s Mount Wundagore
Marvel Studios

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness saw the Scarlet Witch visit the infamous Mount Wundagore. In the comics, the scenic locale houses the High Evolutionary’s secret scientific base, filled with mutated humanoid animals known as New Men. While we didn’t see that in the film, it introduced the secret location and the never before seen magical creatures that live there.

Moon Knight and the Ennead 
Marvel Studios

While Moon Knight introduced two new heroes to the MCU, its relevance in this piece comes down to the gods they embody. The MCU’s Ennead works as a secret society on Earth through a collective of humans who are the avatars that represent the gods in the mortal world. This makes them a really interesting addition to the secret societies of the MCU. They’re perhaps the most secretive and elite of all with only nine members. So though Steven and Layla are the most prominent avatars of the Ennead, their fellow avatars on Earth could become a large part of the future of the franchise.

Earth-838 and the Illuminati 
Marvel Studios

Sure, they didn’t last past the end of the movie, but we had to include the MCU’s lluminati. The most infamous of Marvel Comics’ secret societies, the fact that the Illuminati exist at all in the MCU is worth noting. That they were from a different dimension adds even more relevance in this piece as the recent comics’ Secret Wars was a cross-dimensional event. Either way, the fact that in one universe a team of superheroes created an ultra-secretive society to protect the world hints that in other MCU universes that could happen again. Especially as our universe’s Stephen Strange knows that an alt-version of himself founded it…

Ms. Marvel, the Noor, and the ClanDestine
Marvel Studios

Marvel’s newest hero continues this tradition too. In the Disney+ Ms. Marvel series the creators reimagined her powers. They’re no longer connected to the Inhumans—another comic book secret society—but instead a new MCU group. As Najma reveals, Kamala is part of a long line of extradimensional visitors labeled Djinn, known amongst themselves as ClanDestines. Just like most of our other entries here, they’re not only part of a secret society but also a culture cut off from the rest of the world. In the case of the ClanDestine that’s the Noor Dimension, a world behind a veil which gives Kamala and her family their powers. 

Thor: Love and Thunder and Omnipotence City (Spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder)
Marvel Studios

In case you hadn’t already noticed a theme here, Thor: Love and Thunder also introduces a powerful new world hidden from mortal eyes. This time it comes in the form of Omnipotence City. While gods have been a part of the MCU from its outset—thanks, Thor—we’re now delving into the wider deity pantheons. Omnipotence City is home to Zeus and his godly council. The location is so secretive that Zeus actually tries to trap Thor and his comrades there forever to protect it. Alas, as the mid-credits stinger showed us, Zeus is not happy that they didn’t comply—and tried to kill him. You can expect to see that conflict and Omnipotence City likely come into play again soon. 

Other MCU Organizations That Fit the Bill

Marvel Studios

The MCU has actually seeded secret societies and organizations since Phase One. S.H.I.E.L.D. launched the Avengers Initiative and Captain America: The First Avenger introduced us to HYDRA. Each of these organizations has shaped the stories and heroes within it. And yes, throughout their histories they’ve been incredibly militarized and ready to partake in any warlike activities at the drop of a hat. Far From Home seemingly introduced, and WandaVision fleshed out the next evolution of the MCU secret organization, with S.W.O.R.D. It’s a space-set protection agency, with deep connections to the Skrulls. While the Skrulls don’t have a locale, their lack of a home planet is deeply connected to their conflict and they are another secretive sect with immense power and abilities.

Next up is the TVA. While they might not seem like as much of an obvious military power as the rest, they are an unknowable organization with a huge amount of power in the multiverse. If Secret Wars does occur in the MCU in Phase 4, it’s likely we’d see the TVA brought in to either protect, attack, or erase certain parts of the multiverse.

At the beginning of this piece we referenced the Ten Rings. While they’re now run by Shang-Chi’s badass sister Xialing, they’ve been in the MCU since Iron Man. That makes them an influential and long-running secret org that could have a big part to play going forward. That’s especially likely now that Xialing has her super crew to help her. But while Wenwu ran them as a solely nefarious organization, we think Xialing might have a little more nuance to her criminal dealings. They may turn up as both allies and antagonists going into the battles to come.

Some Places and People That Might Not Be Canon But Should Be Mentioned

Marvel Studios

While it’s unclear whether the Jeph Loeb era of Marvel TV is canon, those shows did seed multiple secret societies that could come into play. The clearest and most terrible was the Inhumans. The moon-dwelling superfolks are one of the Marvel Universe’s most well known secret societies. We also got to visit K’un-Lun in Iron Fist. Plus, there was the Hand in Daredevil and the Pride on Runaways. Although they may well have been retired from the MCU at this point, we’ve already seen Feige and co. reimagine pieces from these shows like the Darkhold. So don’t feel surprised if when the war begins we get some slightly familiar faces.

Rumors About Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Marvel Comics

As reported by CBR, Production Weekly ran an exciting (unconfirmed) plot description of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Both Wakanda and Atlantis are hidden civilizations with advanced technology and increased militaristic abilities that decided to separate themselves from the rest of the world for their own safety, and in a way, out of fear. Wakanda feared that their technology would be abused. Atlantis feared that surface dwellers would come and desecrate the mythical city just as they did so many years ago. And yet their fears escalate even further when these two once-hidden nations clash with each other. Wakanda and Atlantis have a shockingly intertwined history. Wakanda is the only county in the world with access to vibranium. However, rumors of its power spread throughout the world, and Namor’s human father was sent searching for this rare material in Antarctica…

This fits with the comic history of both places. The inclusion of Namor makes a lot of sense as he’s a common Wakandan ally and antagonist. But it’s the description of both locales as “hidden civilizations with advanced technology and increased militaristic abilities” that is most interesting here. It once again plays into the notion of multiple organized nations ready and able to fight. Both are also secret societies that disconnected from the outside world for years. Those aren’t the only secret locations the MCU hints at, though. The final line of the description hints at another famed hidden community in the Marvel Universe: the Savage Land. Most well known for its connection to the X-Men, the Savage Land is in the Antarctic and known as one of the few places on Earth where you can find Vibranium. And it sounds like we’re headed there.

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How These Secret Societies Point Phase Four of the MCU Toward Secret Wars

Marvel Comics

Secret Wars has been in conversation since we really started to see the multiverse in the MCU. The 2015 series took the multiple worlds of Marvel Comics, combining them in the so-called Battleworld. Though it was essentially a way for them to bring the Ultimate Universe, Marvel 2099, and more to the main continuity, it was also an epic line-wide crossover event which pitted the biggest heroes and villains against each other in a battle for multiversal survival. So with the Multiverse headed to the MCU in Phase 4, thinking of Secret Wars only makes sense. But the MCU doesn’t have multiple battling universes to set up Battleworld. Instead the MCU has many secretive societies, nations, and organizations who could easily be pitted against each other as the multiversal madness begins.

What Is Battleworld?

Marvel Comics

In case you haven’t read the awesome nine-issue main series from Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić—or its many many spinoffs and tie-in books—here’s a primer on Battleworld. It’s essentially one world made up of different universes and storylines. It’s particularly interesting in the MCU because not only can they introduce a battle between all the nations and organizations we’ve mentioned, but it’s also a way to bring in any other Marvel live-action property they want. If they follow Battleworld rules, we could see them bring in multiple versions of the same character. That could be a lot of fun and could satiate fans’ hopes for different universe heroes.

How Secret Wars Could Change the MCU

Sony Pictures

Well, let us count the ways. The first and most obvious is by setting up a huge multiversal battle featuring all the many realms, universes, and heroes we know from the MCU. Then we get to the potential of introducing other heroes from Fox, Sony, and Marvel TV properties. There’s also the matter of mutants. If Secret Wars sees heroes from around the Marvel Universe team up against or with multiversal additions to the MCU, there’s no reason why the MCU can’t introduce the X-Men.

Aside from those broader strokes, there are some direct character beats we can expect. Doctor Doom as God Emperor Doom is the primary antagonist of Secret Wars. He also fits into the recent trend of secret societies and nations with his homeworld of Latveria. With the Fantastic Four headed to the MCU, seeing Doom soon would make a lot of sense. Long Live Latveria!

One of the other resounding takeaways from Secret Wars was the introduction of Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales, to the main Marvel Universe. Fans have been desperate for Miles to arrive in the MCU for years and Secret Wars would be the perfect way to introduce him in Phase 4. Not as a friend of Peter’s or new student. But as a hero in his own right.

The MCU is in a transitional phase, so anything is possible. But our odds are on the blockbuster franchise taking on Secret Wars sooner rather than later. And we are ready! MCU Secret Wars, here we come.

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Featured Image: Marvel Comics/Alex Ross

Originally published September 13, 2021.

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