After the massive success of Avengers: Endgame, the Russo Brothers announced they were stepping away from the MCU for a while. They have many new projects in the planning stages to keep them busy, like the upcoming Netflix spy thriller with Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling.
But in a recent interview, they dropped some nuggets about what an eventual return to the MCU might look like for them. And once again, the Marvel Comics classic Secret Wars was name dropped. It seems that this story is the Russo’s true Marvel endgame (pun intended).
While talking with BroBible (via IGN), the Russos explained the reason why they would like to potentially adapt Secret Wars into a big-screen event. Joe Russo admitted to being obsessed by “the scale of getting all of the heroes together” when he first read the comic book as a kid. And seeing that come to life might be too exciting a prospect to pass up.
Joe elaborated, saying “I also like the idea of villains having to team up with heroes. [Anthony] and I like complicated relationships between heroes and villains, we like villains who believe they’re heroes in their own stories, so it’s all sort of built into this notion of Secret Wars. To execute something on the scale of Infinity War was directly related to the dream of Secret Wars, which is even larger in scale.”
Anthony Russo added his two cents, saying “It would be the biggest movie you could possibly imagine — the ambition of it is even bigger than the ambition of the Infinity Saga.”
A Tale of Two Battleworlds
An adaptation of Secret Wars—either the 1984 original mini-series or its 2015 sequel/reboot—has the potential to dwarf even the epic scale of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. The original series had all the major Marvel heroes and their arch villains transported by an omnipotent being called the Beyonder into a fabricated planet named “Battleworld.” There, they fought each other in an effort to show which side was right: the good guys or the bad guys.
It was a pretty simplistic premise, but it was extremely novel in 1984 for readers to see all the heroes and villains together in one epic story. Some major Marvel universe moments happened here, like the introduction of Spider-Man’s alien black suit (which would become Venom) and the evolution of Magneto from outright villain into anti-hero. It preceded DC Comics’ mega crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths by a full year, although Crisis would have bigger repercussions for that publisher overall.
At first, there was just a quasi-forgettable sequel in 1986: Secret Wars II. But in 2015, writer Jonathan Hickman took the original concept to a new level. In his new version of Battleworld, the planet was a combination of different alternate realities seen in Marvel Comics over the decades. They were all separated into various kingdoms. All of them were ruled by God Emperor Victor Von Doom, who now had Beyonder-like powers.
This scenario allowed every version of Marvel characters to exist side-by-side, and wound up being Marvel’s most epic event series ever.
Secret Wars: Classic taste, or “New and Improved?”
So, if/when the Russos take a crack at Secret Wars. what will it look like? For starters, we think Secret Wars is at least 8-10 years away. Marvel Studios is going to build up to this, just as they built up to The Infinity Saga. This is not a story you rush into.
Part of that build-up is to properly introduce the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to the MCU. Doctor Doom is a major character in Secret Wars (both versions), as are the mutants. This will be the ultimate event Marvel fans have been waiting for, so don’t be shocked if this isn’t a mere two parter but a full-on trilogy.
Another important factor to remember is this: the concept of alternate timelines and realities was only briefly teased in Endgame. This concept will have to be explored much further in other films and TV shows for Secret Wars to really work. But with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, WandaVision, and the animated What If? show, we think Marvel Studios is laying the groundwork for doing exactly that.
For how this could all work, one only has to look at how the MCU adapted epic stories of the past. Kevin Feige was never too precious about how the movies adhered to the original comics. He picked and chose which important elements from the comics to use. Some, like Captain America: The Winder Soldier, stick really close to the source material. Others, like Infinity War, only keep to the broad strokes.
When Secret Wars does arrive, expect much of the same thing. It will likely contain elements from both versions of the comic. From the original comic, we could see Magneto evolve into more of a hero, and maybe introduce Spidey’s black costume. But we think that the combination of multiple universes and timelines into a single Battleworld from Hickman’s 2015 series is almost certainly going to be the main inspiration. It should be noted that the Russo brothers really seem to like writer Jonathan Hickman’s ideas, and incorporated many of his characters into Infinity War and Endgame.
There is another important reason as to why Secret Wars would be the ultimate MCU event film. And that’s because by combining multiple universes together, it allows (by the time this is released), some long gone heroes to make triumphant returns. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson could all return as their respective characters. It wouldn’t invalidate their endings, as they wouldn’t exactly the versions we knew. It’s the “having your cake and eating it too scenario,” but I doubt many fans would complain. Most of those actors are going to need some time away from their iconic characters before a return would even seem enticing.
We live in an ever-changing pop culture landscape, so it’s possible Secret Wars might not end up happening. And if it does, it might not be with the Russos at the helm. But we’d wager that it will happen. And when it does, it will make Cap picking up Thor’s hammer and saying “Avengers Assemble” seem quaint in comparison.
Featured Image: Marvel Comics