Avengers: Endgame may have concluded the 21 year journey of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga. With 22 movies in the line-up, including the very recent Spider-Man: Far From Home wrapping up the status quo of the universe, the future of the most ambitious film franchise to date has been somewhat in the air.
Until Marvel Studios’ game-changing announcements at this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC).
Here’s a rundown of the movie end of things. Check out our other article for more about the Disney+ shows coming up.
While Natasha Romanoff may have faced her end sacrificing her life for the Soul Stone back in Endgame, clearly Marvel and the fans are not done with Scarlett Johansson. Returning in the first Black Widow solo title alongside the likes of David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz, Johansson’s roll is still somewhat of a mystery… given that she’s dead and all that.
Given set photos which reveal her hair made up to look like the character’s at different points of time from the MCU since her debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2, it’s possible that the movie is either set in the past, or will heavily utilise flashbacks featuring Romanoff.
Our own theory is that Pugh will be playing second Black Widow Yelena Belova (also known affectionately as the Blonde Widow) and may have been a once apprentice to Romanoff now seeking her own path of redemption.
UPDATE: Actor David Harbour has confirmed that Black Widow will occur between Civil War and Infinity War.
Launching a whole new franchise, Eternals will bring focus to a different group of superheroes. And with the combined star power of Angelina frikkin’ Jolie, Salma frikkin’ Hayek, Kumail frikkin’ Nanjiani, and Richard “I escaped GOT season 8” Madden, Eternals could very easily fill the shoes of the departed Avengers and give the Guardians of the Galaxy a run for their money.
While the Eternals aren’t the most popular characters in Marvel’s pantheon, their close relation to Thanos certainly makes things a lot more interesting. Essentially cousins to the MCU‘s OG big bad, it’s possible that the aftereffects of the Infinity Saga may directly link to the Eternals sub-franchise.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
FINALLY THE MANDARIN!
Quite literally the first villain ever teased in an MCU film way back in 2008’s Iron Man, it has been long established that the Ten Rings was an organisation of great significance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With his divisive “introduction” in Iron Man 3, and an even bigger tease in the One-Shot All Hail the King, it’s about time that the real Mandarin stood up.
And what a stand-up it will be, too. With legendary actor Tony Leung donning the iconic ten rings, it’s almost regrettable that Iron Man is no longer in the picture. Instead he will be going up against Shang-Chi, and while that in itself is pretty awesome, it is regrettable that the first Marvel Asian leading character will also be victim to the tired Hollywood diversity trope of “POC fights POC.”
After all, unlike the Wakandan setting of Black Panther, it’s not like Shang-Chi or the Mandarin are particularly restricted to a continent.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Doctor Strange is one of those odd characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who seems to have gotten more popular outside of his own sub-franchise. While fun and interesting, the first Doctor Strange movie lacked its own identity short of essentially being a magic-themed re-skin of Iron Man. But his participation in Infinity War, as well as his appearances in Thor: Ragnarok and Endgame, has done a lot to enhance the character.
That said, Doctor Strange is also one of the primary contenders for introducing the next big bad, a la Thanos 2.0. With the mystical Dormammu having appeared at the end of the first movie, the MCU might potentially be once again at an extinction-level threat–however distant that may be.
More interesting is the inclusion of Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch. With the character slated to appear first in the Disney+ series WandaVision, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume a cross-appearance of Doctor Strange at the conclusion of the series, and it tying to the multiverse spanning event of this movie.
Thor: Love and Thunder
If you thought Marvel Studios could have stolen the show without SDCC, you’d be right. Having already announced the return of Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth with what would have been the first solo character to get his own 4th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the God of Thunder still seems to have had more up his sleeve.
Confirming the return of Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman as well, the real news is that Natalie Portman may be stealing the thunder this time.
Literally. Given the popularity of the relatively recent run of Thor wherein Jane Foster was the wielder of Mjolnir, it seems like it would be an obvious choice for adaptation. Additionally, with early rumours having speculated that Natalie Portman’s departure from the MCU had much to do with the “damsel in distress” nature of Jane Foster’s role, this would certainly be a solution.