With Avengers: Endgame fast approaching, it will mark the end of the grand 22 chapter saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we have known it. Of course, the MCU will continue on. But will “Phase 4” actually be a new and even grander ten-year arc, encompassing many films? Or is Kevin Feige going to pull away from that kind of storytelling for the foreseeable future?
Truthfully, until Endgame comes out, we won’t really know what the future holds for the MCU. But a case can be made for pulling back on a single, large story that spans multiple films. Instead, we think that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would benefit from exploring its history. Some of Marvel’s upcoming films will no doubt be contemporary, like the inevitable sequels to Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel. But just as Captain Marvel explored the ’90s, we think the MCU going forward would be even cooler if it explored different time periods. Not only the past, but also into the far future. And a lot of their upcoming films give them the perfect opportunity to do just that.
The long-awaited Scarlett Johansson Black Widow film is set to begin filming this year, for release in 2020. Rumors abound that it’ll be a prequel, set years before we met Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2. However, what if it goes back longer than that? In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha’s birth year is given as 1984, and in Stalingrad. But what if that’s not exactly true?
In the comics, the Black Widow is older than she looks. When she was child she was recruited into the KGB’s Red Room training program. There, they gave her biotech implants that made her body resist aging. This means her SHIELD birth date could be a forgery. She could have been operating as a Soviet asset during the height of the Cold War. An Atomic Blonde-style, Cold War-era adventure starring the Black Widow could be amazing, and explore an unknown chapter of the MCU.
In the pages of Jack Kirby’s comics, the immortal race known as the Eternals was created by the god-like Celestials some 500,000 years ago. That means there is not a period in history where these guys were not around, influencing events. An Eternals film could give us a glimpse into not just the years preceding Captain America: The First Avenger, but also the entirety of Earth’s history in the MCU. These characters are the inspiration behind the gods of Greek mythology, and an Eternals franchise has the potential to give fans the definitive backstory of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3000
The current iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy have become beloved and iconic. But the original comics version took place a thousand years in the future. The original Guardians were Yondu, Starhawk, Aleta Ogord, Charlie-27, Mainframe, and Krugarr, and they appeared in cameo form at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The team came together to pay their respects to the deceased Yondu. But what if this group of Ravagers are actually from the future? It would be interesting to see a Guardians 3000 spin-off film, which explores the future of the MCU, maybe dropping hints as to what became of the universe’s most beloved heroes.
Ant-Man and the Wasp 3
Marvel loves to give all their solo characters trilogies, so we expect Ant-Man to get a third installment at some point. And of course we expect Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly to return to their respective roles. But it would also be cool to see a third Ant-Man film explore some of the adventures of the original Ant-Man and Wasp team, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Either by digital de-aging Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer, or recasting even younger actors, it would be amazing to see these two have adventures in the ’80s. Who knows, maybe the even fought against KGB agent Natasha Romanoff?
The Fantastic Four
This one is a ways off since Disney only just acquired Fox. But sooner or later, Marvel’s “First Family” is coming. While a Fantastic Four sequel (or television series on Disney+) could be set in any era, we think it should take place in the ’60s. More than any other Marvel comic, the 1960s were the FF’s heyday. This is because of their amazing 100 issue run by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The ’60s is a totally unexplored part of MCU history. It would be fascinating to see the original Marvel super team during the “Atomic Age”. And we could see how Reed Richards’ technological advancements ultimately led to the MCU we know and love.
Images: Marvel Comics / Marvel Studios