Are the original Avengers returning? Is Doctor Doom set to replace Kang as the “Big Bad” of the Multiverse Saga? And just what the heck is going on with the Blade reboot starring Mahershala Ali? Variety ran a story about the troubles Marvel Studios is having post-Avengers: Endgame, and in particular, post-pandemic. While Marvel has still had tremendous box office success, the glut of series and movies has made the MCU daunting for the casual fan. We’ll break down each of the big reveals from the Variety article, and what these reveals might mean for the future of the MCU as a whole. We should note, we’re focusing on what this means for future films and series here and not any behind-the-scenes drama.
Are the Original Avengers Making an MCU Comeback?
According to the report, there have been talks to bring back the original Avengers back for a film. This would include Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, both of whom were killed off in Avengers: Endgame. While the Variety pieces used the word “revive,” we would be shocked if they literally resurrected the versions who died. It’s far more likely we’ll meet their Multiversal variants in Avengers: Secret Wars, which would mean that they’d still be played by Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson.
Putting on our Nerdstradamus cap on, we think Avengers: Secret Wars, while loosely based on the 2015 comic, will at least feature a Battleworld made of various mashed-up realities and timelines. That puts every character, dead or alive, back on the table. So yes, that means the original Avengers are reunited—in a way. And also probably teamed up with the likes of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and maybe Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. If they ever wanted a real “victory lap” film, likely before Secret Wars reboots everything, something like this might be the only way to come close to the success of Endgame. It’s not something even the most cynical person who grew up with Marvel films would ever miss. And we’d bet it was always the plan too.
Is the MCU Replacing Kang with Doctor Doom as the Multiverse Saga’s Main Villain?
And now, there’s the Kang problem. Between Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Loki, everything was gearing up to have Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror be the main villain of Phases 5 and 6. But then, all of Major’s personal and legal troubles began (which the Variety article details). It all leaves the MCU in a pickle. How do you make Avengers: The Kang Dynasty with possibly no Kang? The article suggests that at a recent Marvel Studios Palm Springs retreat, executives discussed backup plans, including pivoting to another comic book adversary, probably Doctor Doom.
Victor von Doom is one of Marvel’s greatest villains. Heck, he’s one of the entire comic book medium’s greatest villains. So a pivot toward the megalomaniacal ruler of Latveria makes sense. Also, as will all things MCU, the answers lie in the comics. In the 2015 Secret Wars series, Doom essentially steals the god-like power of the omnipotent Beyonder. It could be that Doom usurps Kang’s role and power in the story in a similar way. The Kang Dynasty could become The Doom Dynasty, and there’s ample Marvel Comics precedent for that. While the original report suggests the upcoming end of Loki forces Marvel to have Kang as the primary antagonist, we bet they have an out planned.
What Is Happening with the MCU Version of Blade?
So what about poor Blade? Things have certainly been contentious in the world of the Daywalker ever since SDCC 2019, when Feige announced Mahershala Ali as the iconic vampire hunter. The project has apparently gone through at least five writers, two directors, and one shutdown six weeks before production. Feige most recently hired Michael Green, screenwriter for Logan, to start from scratch. The hope is that Blade will now make it for a 2025 release date. The supposed budget may have come down to $100 million or so, way less than the standard MCU fare.
We think if that’s the case, it’s a wise move. Blade is a bloody, horror action franchise. Cleaning it up to be a PG-13 tentpole defeats the purpose. If Marvel Studios is releasing an R-rated Deadpool 3, why not do the same for Blade? Nobody wants to see a sanitized version of the character. We would not be shocked if going back to the drawing board for Blade means looking at what worked in the original Wesley Snipes films (well, at least the first two) and giving the Marvel vampire saga a modern spin. The report says Mahershala Ali almost walked away from the project, but we think Kevin Feige is too smart to let that happen.
The X-Men May Be the Focus Post Multiverse Saga in the MCU
The report also mentions Kevin Feige’s trump card is the acquisition of the X-Men library of characters from Fox. Although it is rumored that many of the original Fox-era mutant heroes are returning for Deadpool 3 and possibly Secret Wars alongside Hugh Jackman, we’re guessing this is a big swan song for those iterations of the characters. A reboot of X-Men is inevitable, and we agree Marvel Studios is likely to pivot to all things mutant post-Secret Wars. Feige knows the X-Men world has much unrealized potential. They can make government operative strike teams like X-Factor or mutants in a Doctor Who-style world like Excalibur. A mutant black ops team? There’s X-Force. While we doubt the Avengers brand is going away, we foresee a big pivot towards Marvel’s mutants.
Why We Shouldn’t Count Out the MCU Just Yet
Although the original report has a real “the sky is falling” approach, the truth is more complex. A “failure” for Marvel is a big success for anyone else. If The Flash made as much as Quantumania, they’d be popping champagne bottles over there. But for Marvel, compared to the peak of the Infinity Saga, it paled. Marvel’s biggest enemy is its own success. The first decade of the MCU, from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame was unprecedented in terms of success. We’re talking about a franchise of 23 films, all opening at #1 at the box office. All with Fresh Rotten Tomatoes scores. And all of which collectively made a staggering $25 billion. To expect that kind of wild success indefinitely is totally unrealistic. We’d suggest not writing off the MCU just yet. And even if it dies, what stays dead in comics forever? The answer: Nothing.