The MCU's Biggest Outstanding Questions and Theories - Nerdist
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The MCU’s Biggest Outstanding Questions and Theories

It didn’t take long for Phase Four of the MCU to totally upend the entire franchise. From Chaos Magic and infinite dimensions to Sacred Timelines and Celestials, the new era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has added countless more mysteries to a world already full of them. There are so many it can be hard to keep track of them all. So we did it for you. These are the MCU’s biggest phase four questions right now, along with the theories that could explain them.

NOTE: We’ve posted a spoiler warning before the biggest questions from Spider-Man: No Way Home.

How Will the World React to Its New Iron Man, Ironheart?
Ironheart Riri Williams holding iron mask
Marvel Comics

Tony Stark is gone, but his technology isn’t. Soon a new hero will take his place. Instead of a new Iron Man though, we’re getting an Ironheart. Young Riri Williams (played by Dominique Thorne) will soon pick up the very important mantle from the Avenger who launched the MCU. How will the world react to a young Black girl taking Tony’s place? How will she get his technology in the first place? Will Pepper Potts stand in her way? Or make it possible for Ironheart to take flight? We’ll get many answers to these questions with the character’s very own Disney+ show. Marvel has not yet announced a release date for Ironheart. But Riri Williams a.k.a Ironheart will make her first MCU appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

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What Ultimately Happened to Steve Rogers after Avengers: Endgame? Will We See the Ex-Captain America Return to the MCU?

With Chris Evans gone from the MCU, and Steve Rogers a very, very old man, this doesn’t seem like much of a mystery. But Avengers: Endgame and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier didn’t give us definitive answers to one of the biggest MCU questions still unanswered. “Steve’s gone” doesn’t mean much in a comic book multiverse. Especially when his own dimension has developed time travel. Is Steve Rogers living on the Moon? Or is the one-time Captain America dead? Until someone tells us specifically what happened to him we’re going to wonder.

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What’s Next for the New Captain America, Sam Wilson, and His Best Bud Bucky Barnes?
Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie as Bucky and Sam on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Marvel

In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, The US government thought it could replace Steve Rogers with an unhinged facsimile. That didn’t work. John Walker, a.k.a. US Agent, didn’t hold the title of Captain America very long. Now Sam Wilson carries—or rather flies—that iconic shield. He announced himself to the world with a touching speech. But what role will Sam Wilson’s Captain America have going forward? Steve Rogers was a founding member of the Avengers and their leader. Will Sam also take on those responsibilities? And what does Bucky Barnes’ future look like in the MCU now that he’s finally put his Winter Soldier years behind him? What moniker will he even go by now that he’s ready to truly move on with his life?

So far, we know we will see Sam Wilson return to our screens in Captain America 4. But where will Bucky Barnes appear next in the MCU? For now, Bucky Barnes’ future remains a mystery.

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How Many Hulks Can the World Handle?

She-Hulk is coming to the MCU with her own series. Shang-Chi‘s Abomination is already back. Bruce Banner has reverted to his human body, but he can almost certainly still Hulk out. And Black Widow might have laid the foundation for General Ross to become his comic counterpart Red Hulk. That’s, count them, four possible Hulks in the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now. Normally we’d say the more Hulks the merrier, but just how many giant rage monsters can one world safely contain? With so many around, something will have to break. Or in this case smash.

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Where Will Thor’s MCU Future Take Him, Now That He’s on a New Path?
Chris Hemsworth's Thor talks to Valkyrie at the end of Avengers: Endgame
Marvel

It’s time for Thor to be who he is rather than who he’s supposed to be. At least, that’s what Thor said the last time we saw him, at the end of Avengers: Endgame. But what exactly does that mean? Where will his new journey take him? How long will Thor remain a member of the Asgardians of the Galaxy? How will Jane Foster end up not only back in his life but with his powers? What exactly does the future hold for the former King of Asgard? And how will an original Avenger fit into a very different group? The only thing we seem to know for sure about his future is that Sad Thor is gone. He ditched all the beer and went to the gym to work out his problems.

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What Will Happen With Star-Lord and Alternate 2015 Gamora?
Chris Pratt's Quill stares at Zoe Saldana's Gamora in Avengers: Endgame
Marvel

The Gamora that knew and loved Peter Quill is gone. She died on Vormir as Thanos’ sacrifice for the Soul Stone. The Gamora who exists in the world now leapt forward in time from 2015 to the present. She never experienced any of the events that Peter shared with the other Gamora. Will their love transcend across time? Or is that relationship gone like the Gamora who helped save the galaxy multiple times? Before we can find out how their story ends though, Star-Lord has to actually find her. Alternate Gamora disappeared after the Mad Titan’s defeat in Avengers: Endgame. We will just have to wait and see if Star-Lord and Gamora rekindle a romance, friendship, or any kind of relationship at all.

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How Will The Snap Change Rocket and the Other Guardians?

Rocket was the only core Guardian spared from the Snap. (Nebula also survived.) Just as he feared in Infinity War, he lost a lot. That didn’t stop him from working to help others though. He joined the remaining Avengers to protect Earth. How different will he be now though that his old crew is back? Less reckless and more cautious? How will that alter the dynamics of the group? And how will the others adjust to a changed Rocket? How will being dusted change them too? Especially Drax, now that the man ultimately responsible for killing his wife and daughter is gone. What will motivate him going forward? Also, how will Nebula get along with Alternate Gamora? And how will the group deal with the coming Adam Warlock? The Guardians are back, but they’re likely to be very different. The galaxy still needs saving all the same though.

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Why Does Monica Rambeau Have a Problem With Carol Danvers?

WandaVision turned Monica Rambeau into a superhero. It also made clear she has major issues with her late mother’s best friend, Carol Danvers. Why? What happened between them? Does Monica feel like Captain Marvel abandoned her best friend? Abandoned Earth? Or does she think Carol Danvers caused her mother’s cancer? Once we know what the problem is between them, we’ll still need to know how that tension might be resolved. As well as what role might newcomer Ms. Marvel herself, Kamala Khan, will play in reuniting the two? She’s not only getting her own series at Disney+, she’ll be in the second Captain Marvel movie, The Marvels.

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Why Is Nick Fury Creating a Space Base for S.W.O.R.D.?

The ultimate spy is currently doing his work out in the open. The open vastness of space. A Spider-Man: Far From Home end-credits scene showed Nick Fury overseeing the construction of a massive space station. It appeared to be part of S.W.O.R.D.’s mission. But after WandaVision the future of the agency is in doubt. Whatever that galactic base is, Nick Fury wouldn’t let Skrulls run around Earth impersonating him if this orbiting behemoth wasn’t of great importance. And Marvel wouldn’t have teased it unless it will be needed eventually. But why exactly will it be necessary and when? And is it possible S.W.O.R.D. and this station will ultimately lead to Sentinels joining the MCU?

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Who Is Really a Skrull?

Captain Marvel introduced Skrulls to the MCU. In a surprise twist, they ended up being good guys. They helped save the day in that movie and also in Far From Home. They also arrived on the scene in WandaVision‘s finale working for Nick Fury. Skrulls are Earth’s allies. At least the ones we’ve met so far. Will others be less friendly? And have we already met some of them? Just how many characters have been secret Skrulls this whole time? How many imposters will we meet in the future? And what role will they play on the Disney+ series Secret Invasion?

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What Will Wanda Learn from the Darkhold?

Wanda’s mere existence terrified Agatha Harkness. With good reason. The Scarlet Witch can create matter from nothing. Now Wanda is now learning the secrets of Chaos Magic from the Darkhold. That won’t make Agatha feel any better. (Well, Agatha would be worried if she wasn’t currently enslaved in her own mind in Westview.) What will the Darkhold teach Wanda? How does it connect to the multiverse and the next Doctor Strange movie? Where are Wanda’s sons Tommy and Bill calling her from? Is the Vision she created in Westview also there? Just how powerful will Wanda become? Will Agatha’s fears prove prescient? And will Wanda ultimately need her former foe’s help like Agatha said Wanda would?

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Where Did White Vision Go?
White Vision looks at his hand on WandaVision
Marvel

While one Vision might be living/trapped in a different dimension, Earth still has a version of the sentient robot flying around. After Westview Vision unlocked White Vision’s memories, White Vision took off into the unknown like the Ship of Theseus leaving port in a fog. Where did he go? What is he looking for? When will he return and why? With so many new threats on the horizon, an apathetic Vision might not be much help. But a Vision returning from a journey of self-discovery could be very valuable.

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Who Are WandaVision‘s Mysterious Unseen Figures?

The MCU’s trip to Westview included two characters only mentioned but never seen or identified. The first was FBI Agent Jimmy Wu’s missing witness. The second was Monica Rambeau’s unseen aerospace engineer. Why reference them if they weren’t important? Even the smallest moments or lines of dialogue can have huge ramifications for the future of the franchise. Is Wu’s witness related to the next Ant-Man movie? Was the aerospace engineer the start of the Fantastic Four‘s introduction to the MCU? Was it Victor von Doom or Reed Richards? Or will these two mystery figures prove to be nothing more than minor plot points we spent way too much time thinking about?

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How Will Doctor Strange Protect Reality When an Infinite Number of Them Exist?

As he told Tony Stark in Infinity War, Stephen Strange protects Earth’s reality. Not an easy job under the best of circumstances. Now the introduction of an infinite multiverse to the MCU will make it infinitely harder. It’s also not a great sign that his next film, a horror movie, is called Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. And it’s definitely not good that an evil version of himself could destroy everything. Between countless threats, an evil Doctor Strange, and a Scarlet Witch studying the darkest of magic, strange terrors await the Sorcerer Supreme.

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What if What If… is More Than Just a “What If?”

Disney+ gave fans a glimpse at events and heroes that could have been in the MCU with the animated What If…? The show’s series of hypotheticals were supposed to serve as an entertaining, low-stakes way to enjoy the franchise. But what if What If…? was so much more? Could the series’ revelations and alternate realities prove to be massively important to the future of the franchise? Is the show’s Strange Supreme the same evil version of Doctor Strange seen in the Multiverse of Madness trailer? With the multiverse about to blow wide open, everything that happened on the series might end up being far more significant to the events in the MCU than we first realized.

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Who Will Take Up the Mantle of Black Panther in Wakanda Forever?

It feels empty speculating about the fictional future of Wakanda. The unimaginable loss of Chadwick Boseman is the only thing that really matters. But a second Black Panther film is coming, and someone will take T’Challa’s place as his nation’s leader. How will they be chosen? How will they live up to his legacy while shaping their own? We don’t envy the character or the actor tasked with doing so. The memory of their late ruler will always weigh heavily on Wakanda, the same way Chadwick Boseman’s always will over the MCU.

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What Other Secrets Does the Quantum Realm Hold?

Loki‘s He Who Remains (played by Jonathan Majors) lived in the Citadel beyond time. That nebulous region looked a lot like the Quantum Realm. Meanwhile, the third Ant-Man movie is titled Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. And Majors will star as its main villain, Kang the Conqueror. He’s one of He Who Remains’ most dangerous Variants. (And the most likely winner of the Multiversal War that Sylvie launched.) What other secrets does this small dimension with big implications hold beyond what we already know? The answers could have huge ramifications for every single aspect of the MCU.

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Who Controls the TVA Now?

He Who Remains is dead. Sylvie killed him and started a new Multiversal War in the process. But He Who Remains did not win this time around like he expected. One of his Variants emerged victorious. And that winner’s very public visage now adorns the TVA in this new iteration of the Sacred Timeline. Which Variant is it though? Kang the Conqueror? Immortus? Or another version of the character? What does all of this mean for Owen Wilson’s Mobius? Loki and Sylvie? And where is Judge Renslayer going and why? The new ruler of the TVA will loom large over everything, every person, and every timeline in the MCU going forward. And maybe also going backwards.

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When and How Will the Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and the X-Men Join the MCU?

Once Disney bought Fox Entertainment it no longer became a question of “if” Marvel Comics’ other famous super characters will join the MCU. It became a matter of “when.” But we still don’t know “how” they’ll get involved either. Will it be thanks to the multiverse? The Scarlet Witch’s mutant-creating Hex? The new Sacred Timeline? Or will we find out lots of other super people have secretly been living in the MCU this whole time? Could a new character like Moon Knight bring in other characters when his show debuts?

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What’s the MCU’s Next Big Crossover Event?

For all of the many movies and shows Disney has on its schedule, nary a single Avengers or even Civil War style film is on it. For a franchise that made crossover events with all of its heroes a huge part of its first three phases, it’s not clear if Phase 4 will have any of them. But when Earth’s mightiest heroes do inevitably come together again, what terrible threat will unite them? What other famous villains await? And what will they all be fighting over?

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What Will Become of the Ten Rings Under Xialing?
Xialing sits on her throne as the new leader of the Ten Rings at the end of Shang-Chi
Marvel

Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s Xu-Wenwu was one of the MCU’s best villains, but his thousand-year reign is over. He sacrificed himself to save his son and Earth. But while he’s gone, his Ten Rings organization remains under the leadership of his formidable daughter Xialing. What does she have planned for the group that still has influence around the globe? And was it the former Black Widows, seen working for Xialing’s underground fight club, the ones training in the courtyard at the end? How powerful will she and her Ten Rings be with that force of deadly women under her rule?

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Who or What Is Shang-Chi’s Rings Sending a Beacon To?

Those ancient rings have many secrets left to unveil, like exactly where they came from and why they’re so powerful. But the post-credits scene where Wong, Captain Marvel, and (a human-again) Bruce Banner couldn’t identify their origins also revealed the rings are sending out a beacon. To whom, where, and why? Is it calling for help? If so, to help with what and against which enemy? The ageless Eternals? The Avengers? Or a coming threat they will face?

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What Will the Remaining Eternals Do Now?

Now that the Eternals know the truth behind their creation, what role will they play in the coming MCU events? Some are still on Earth. Will they join the Avengers in protecting Earth? Meanwhile, others are traveling the cosmos to find their fellow Eternals brethren. What success will they have? Will they find friends or enemies? And how much will Thanos’ brother Eros factor into their future?

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Who Will Join Blade and Dane Whitman in Fighting Supernatural Forces?

The Avengers are great at handling the “big three” of androids, aliens, and wizards. But Mahershala Ali’s Blade is the hero you’ll want when it comes to vampires and other supernatural forces. He has yet to appear on screen in the MCU, but we did hear him at the end of Eternals. He showed up right before Kit Harington’s Dane Whitman was about to pick up his family’s ancestral sword and become the Black Knight. Who else will join them on their quest? And where will these previously unseen monsters come from?

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What Will Happen after Arishem the Celestial Judges Earth?

The Eternals killed a Celestial to save one world and its people. Will Arishem deem that a justified sacrifice? Or will the Eternals’ memories of Earth put the planet in mortal peril yet again? No matter his ruling, there are sure to be deadly consequences for messing with such powerful forces. What will they be and what will it take to answer them?

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Who is Working With Sharon Carter, the Power Broker?

Peggy Carter’s niece, former loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon, did well for herself after the US branded her a traitor for helping Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson in Civil War. She went to Madripoor, an underworld haven, and became the Power Broker. Just because her homeland absolved her of any wrongdoing doesn’t mean she’s giving up her title as a criminal bigwig though. But while we now know her secret identity and intentions, we don’t know who she called at the end of the show. Who is Sharon Carter working with and what do both of them ultimately want?

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What Other Super Groups Could Join the MCU?

The MCU has laid the foundation to create its own version of the Young Avengers. Iron Heart, Kate Bishop, Kamala Khan, Tommy and Billy, Cassie Lang, and more MCU characters whose comic book counterparts joined the upstart group could form a formidable team of youngsters on screen. Meanwhile, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is recruiting members for what might very well be the MCU’s Dark Avengers. Contessa already landed John Walker as US Agent. She has (had?) Florence Pugh’s Yelena on the payroll. Who else will she sign to her team of deadly “heroes?” Also, will Baron Zemo get involved in the super group game by forming the Thunderbolts? And exactly what is Wong doing with his growing assortment of heroes and villains?

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What is Contessa’s Connection to Kingpin?
Florence Pugh and Julia Louis Dreyfus in the Black Widow post-credits scene.
Marvel

Kingpin wanted Hawkeye dead and had Contessa hire Yelena to kill him. Clint managed to convince the black widow he didn’t kill Natasha and survived. But we still don’t know the nature of Contessa and Kingpin’s business relationship. Is she an independent contractor hired by powerful people to handle their problems? Was she actually his superior? Or did she work for him? There’s little we know about two immensely powerful new figures in the MCU. (Including whether or not Vincent D’Onofrio is actually playing the same version of the character from Netflix’s Daredevil or a Variant within the MCU.)

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Is Kingpin Actually Dead?
Vincent D'Nofrio's Kingpin looks at Maya's gun on Hawkeye
Marvel

Characters “die” in the MCU all the time only to show up later. Bucky Barnes, Vision, and countless others have returned to the franchise after being declared/thought/presented as dead. If Marvel wanted us to think that Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, who had just joined the MCU proper, definitively died at the hands of Maya, they would have shown it. Instead the Hawkeye finale panned away and gave us a flash. Not exactly a clear answer. Especially for a super-powered character like Wilson Fisk who brushed aside an arrow in the chest. It’s not obvious whether or not Marvel even knows the answer right now. But at the very least the franchise gave itself plenty of ways to explain an eventual return for the character. Could he have another showdown with Matt Murdoch? Or reappear in Maya’s own spinoff showEcho?

Note: The following contains major spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

What Is Peter Parker’s MCU Future After No Way Home?
A still from Spider-Man: No Way Home shows Peter Parker in his Spider-Suit and Spider pose. What is Spider-Man's MCU future?
Sony Pictures

Peter Parker saved the day again! This time thanks to an assist from Peter Parker and Peter Parker. But now no one in the MCU world remembers (Tom Holland’s) Peter Parker. Spider-Man has complete and total anonymity, just not the way he wanted. He also has a low-tech suit, a shabby apartment, and zero friends and family. So what does Spider-Man’s future look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Can he still be an Avenger? Will anyone ever remember him? More importantly, does he even have a future in the MCU, at all? Or is Tom Holland’s time with Disney over completely? Could he also be done with Sony too? If so, does that mean Ned won’t become a sorcerer?

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What Does a Symbiote in the MCU Mean for Both the Venom and Spider-Man Films?
Tom Hardy looks shocked on his couch after Venom punched him in the nose in let There Be Carnage
Sony Pictures

After a shocking end-credits scene in Let There Be Carnage, Venom and Eddie Brock only appeared briefly in the MCU, during a No Way Home mid-credits scene. They learned a lot about this parallel world during their short stay, but it’s the little piece of Venom they left behind in it that could have big ramifications for the MCU. A symbiote is now a part of this world. And as Venom himself knows, they aren’t always friendly. Especially those that grow from pieces of him, like Carnage. Does this mean we could see Tom Hardy’s Eddie in the MCU again? Or one of his Variants? Is this also a sign Disney and Sony can continue working together to keep Spider-Man a part of the MCU?

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Who Could Host the MCU’s Venom?
Venom growling
Sony Pictures

A symbiote can’t just run amok in the MCU on its own. It needs a host. If this world has its own Eddie Brock variant, be they played by Tom Hardy or someone else, it could be him again. (What’s Topher Grace up to these days?) If not, that symbiote piece will need to find a different host. Who could it be? Which characters might prove compatible with it? Depending on the home it finds, this symbiote could be an ally or an enemy to Earth’s mightiest heroes.

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This post was originally published November 15, 2021.

Featured Image: Marvel

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