- Warning: This post contains major spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.”
- “Avengers: Endgame” is a satisfying conclusion to this era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it also sets it on a course for bold new territory.
- Marvel Studios has promised to make announcements about future projects after this summer’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
- “Endgame” raises big questions about those movies, as well as Disney’s Marvel TV series for its upcoming streaming service, Disney Plus.
Warning: This post contains major spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.”
After 11 years and 22 movies, “Avengers: Endgame” is here.
At 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus is that it’s a satisfying conclusion to the current “Avengers” era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or “Infinity Saga.” There’s not even an end-credits tease for the next movie, which have become synonymous with the MCU, emphasizing the movie’s finality.
READ MORE: The Marvel Cinematic Universe will enter an uncertain era after ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ but experts see a path for it to dominate another decade of pop culture
But while there is a finality to “Endgame,” it’s not a real finale. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” hits theaters in July, which Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said is the actual end to “Phase Three” of the MCU. And Marvel Studios already has eight release dates on the docket for yet-to-be-titled movies through 2022.
Yes, “Endgame” phases out veteran actors, but it also sets the stage for bold new territory, and a more inclusive future.
“Put it this way: It’s only the beginning,” Feige told The Los Angeles Times last month in regards to diversity.
Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans) goes back in time to live a real life with his lost love Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and, as an old man in the present, hands over the shield to Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Thor relinquishes leadership of the Earth-based “New Asgard” to Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
Add to that the $1-billion-grossing “Captain Marvel” and “Black Panther,” and that Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie, “Shang-Chi,” is in the works, and women and people of color appear to be the way forward for the MCU in a way they have never been before.
“We’re at the point where Hollywood is paying attention to a demand for more diverse casts, and Marvel and Disney are clearly listening to it,” Shawn Robbins, Boxoffice.com chief analyst, told Business Insider earlier this month.
But that’s about the only clear thing about the MCU’s future after “Endgame,” which answers plenty of questions and raises even more.
‘Endgame’ raises big questions about Marvel’s future projects
By the end of “Endgame,” Vision remains dead, yet there is a “WandaVision” TV series in the works at Disney’s upcoming streaming platform, Disney Plus, in which Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will reprise their roles as Scarlet Witch and Vision, respectively. The same can be said of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, who will also star in his own series for the streamer.
And a solo movie starring Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is in development, even though the character died in “Endgame.”
While most projects in the works have the potential to steer the MCU into uncharted waters, some will likely focus on the franchise’s past.
Black Widow’s backstory has been teased numerous times, and her solo movie will likely explore that history. That also applies to Loki and “WandaVision,” which Olsen recently teased could, somehow, take place in the 1950s. (It’s good to note, however, that there’s a potential loophole in “Endgame” that could bring Loki back from the dead, in which his past self uses the space stone to teleport to an unknown location.)
Then there’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” another Disney Plus series in development starring Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes. Will this take place in the past or after “Endgame”? With Falcon expected to become the new Captain America, is the title a misdirection, or will we see him slowly step into the role?
With “Endgame,” audiences are facing something they’ve never had to face with the MCU before: uncertainty.
We don’t know what movies will take which of the eight spots on Marvel’s release slate. We know of six movies in the works, including the “Black Widow” solo movie and sequels to “Black Panther” and Doctor Strange,” but Marvel Studios has yet to make any official announcements.
READ MORE: We made a timeline showing the entire history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading up to ‘Avengers: Endgame’
But that uncertainty is by design. Feige has promised that some questions will be answered and announcements will be made after “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and even that the next five years of the MCU are already “fleshed out.”
He’s expressed regret about revealing too much ahead of time in the past, particularly when the “Infinity War” title was revealed before 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was released.
“‘Ultron’ hadn’t come out at that point, and I felt a tiny little sense of, ‘Well, gosh, we’ve gotta talk about the movies we have coming out next, because that’s what we’ve been working so hard on and that’s what’s next available for our audience to see,’ but when we talk that far ahead, that took a lot of attention out,” Feige told The Hollywood Reporter last year.
Marvel Studios isn’t in a rush
Marvel isn’t just taking its time making announcements. Next year, the MCU will slow down a tad with just two theatrical releases. Legendary comics writer Gerry Conway, who created Marvel’s Punisher and wrote Carol Danvers’ (Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel) debut solo comic, told Business Insider that’s a smart decision.
“We’ve had three Marvel movies the past couple years, and next year we’ll have two,” Conway said. “And even if that’s only for a year, you’re giving the audience a breather and building up anticipation for the next one.”
Building anticipation will be key for the MCU’s future, especially after the Disney-Fox merger. Marvel Studios now has access to Marvel characters previously owned by Fox like the X-Men and Fantastic Four, but audiences shouldn’t expect them to make their debut in the MCU right away (Fox’s final “X-Men” movie, “Dark Phoenix,” comes to theaters in June).
READ MORE: There are 6 Marvel movies in the works for after ‘Avengers: Endgame’ — here are all the details
Feige wasn’t even allowed to formally develop ideas for the characters until after the merger finalized last month.
“They could wait five, maybe even 10 years,” Robbins said. “I think there’s a strong argument to be made that the longer the wait, the more anticipation there will be for it. It gives these other Fox versions time to settle.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger has said the MCU will try a new franchise beyond “Avengers” in the future. Eventually, that could be the X-Men. But in the meantime, the MCU has no shortage of power players at its disposal, even if Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are out.
Black Panther and Captain Marvel are barely in “Endgame,” but have plenty of time to grow into franchise leaders, and the box office for their solo movies prove audiences are eager for that. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) appears to still be in the picture, and joins the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of “Endgame,” who are set to return in a third movie with newly rehired director James Gunn.
“10 years ago, nobody thought Marvel could pull this off,” Robbins said. “It was a challenge then, and it will be a challenge now. They’d probably be the first to say that it’s not an easy road ahead, but it’s one that they know people want.”
Read more of Business Insider’s “Avengers: Endgame” coverage:
- ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is dominating the box office like no other movie in history
- ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is a mix of a heist movie and revenge tale that is even better than ‘Infinity War’
- ‘Avengers: Endgame’ already broke the record for the biggest box-office opening in China of all time
- ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is poised to shatter the opening-weekend box-office record
- Demand is so high for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ that many AMC theaters will be open 24 hours a day all weekend
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