Once again we are at that point where wild rumor has begun to circulate the Interwebs, pointing to potential – but totally unconfirmed – developments within the Marvel Movieverse. Today the rumor looks ahead beyond the end of Marvel Phase 3 (which is only now taking semi-solid shape) to what happens when Avengers 3 (and likely a big showdown with Thanos) is all over – along with the contractual obligations for most of major players currently in Marvel’s Avengers lineup.

UTF is the current site claiming to have “inside sources” feeding them hot rumors. Right now, with so many sites claiming to have THE inside sources on everything from the future of the DC Movieverse to the future of the Marvel Movieverse, it’s harder than ever to tell the could-be-facts from the total fiction – but this New Avengers angle has a certain amount of logic behind it, which is the only reason we’re discussing it.

We already saw the sort of turmoil Marvel faces when it comes to the matter of contract (re-)negotiations; in 2013, franchise star Robert Downey Jr. had a somewhat ugly battle with the studio – not just over his own contract, but those of his allegedly underpaid co-stars – before the matter was finally settled with the star landing a suitable deal to appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Avengers 3.

It’s almost been a footnote that Downey has NOT re-signed for Iron Man 4; that supporting actors like Gwyneth Paltrow are ambivalent about a long future with the franchise; or that other leading actors from the Avengers ensemble are probably less-than-enthused about their pay checks. However, taken together, all those small hints point to a future where actors jump ship (or become too costly), even as the Marvel Movieverse continues to expand beyond the initial three phases.

We here at Screen Rant have always been of the opinion that the current iteration of The Avengers has a limited shelf-life; it’s just the nature of the movie biz, really. We already listed the new Avengers we want to see onscreen, and looking at the mythos of the source material and potential direction of the films, New Avengers may be just what the doctor ordered by the time the “Twenteens” are coming to a close.

In the comic books, the “New Avengers” are a team that has had three versions – but sticking with the first version from the mid-2000s; the team was made up of heroes who didn’t want to adhere to the Superhero Registration Act, which reframed superhero vigilantes as government-sanctioned agents, whose secret identities and personal info were kept on file. At the center of the new team were Captain America and Iron Man, who would become enemies in the Marvel “Civil War” when Tony Stark decided that superhero registration was a necessary evil – an idea that a guy like Cap (who fought that sort of fascism in WWII) vehemently disagreed with.

In the time since its inception, The New Avengers has hosted the likes of Black Panther, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Captain America II (Bucky), and Doctor Strange – all of whom will be introduced either in Marvel movies or Marvel Netflix series within the foreseeable future. (Although, Cage, Fist, Jones and Daredevil will likely be in a Defenders team-up flick for Netflix, so that would be sort of redundant, no?)

Other New Avengers characters like Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird, Spider-Woman or Ronin (Hawkeye’s alter-ego) could (or may) easily be introduced at some point in the future of Phases 2 & 3. Heck, by the time Phase 4 rolls around, we could even see the day where other studios lend characters like Wolverine or Spider-Man to the roster (as they were both New Avengers in the comics).

…Or not.

The Marvel Movie Reality

After sitting down with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and talking all things currently Marvel, I can say this much: At the moment, dollars dictate. Pure and simple.

Yes, there will have to be new blood steadily pumped in (Marvel is currently going with a “one sequel, one new property” per year model) – but if the box office returns and fan love are behind a particular property, and the actor(s) is willing and able, a deal will get struck and that particular actor/character will continue on into further installments. For the franchises and characters that can’t drum up the profits to justify their own solo existence… well, that’s what team-up films are for, right? (Hulk, looking at you, buddy…)

At this time, any reports about New Avengers – from “sources” or otherwise – are simply premature. There is no concrete story planned that far in advanced demanding that this or that character end up on a New Avengers squad by 20-twenty-something. What there is, is a loose vision of overarching story ideas; some new risks like Guardians and Ant-Man bought and paid for by the mega-success of Avengers; a lot of on-the-fly trial and error decision-making; and some very frustrated directors left in the wake of the Marvel Movieverse’s at times stumbling expansion.

That’s all to say: This is a pretty fluid situation from a business point – and whatever the best laid plans MAY be, they could be drastically altered by whatever developments occur between now and the distant future of Marvel Phase 4.

Would we like to see some New Avengers by Phase 4? Who would we want on the team? What would the storyline be? Well, that’s a great discussion for another article (which is probably coming soon).

WATCH: Kevin Feige Talks About the Future of Marvel Movies

Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Source: UTF