War Machine Gets An Upgrade
Although he's never been the focus of a Marvel movie, James Rhodes has been one of Marvel's most important heroes; he played a crucial role during the Battle of Sokovia, and was one of the key players during the Battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War. There, the firepower of the War Machine armor cut a swathe through Thanos' Outriders.
Note that the artwork shows War Machine in a subtly different suit - one that's a little bulkier than usual, and with a shoulder-weapon more sizeable than anything he's used before. Infinity War closed with Rhodey in Wakanda, and if Shuri survived the "snap," it's entirely possible the young Wakandan genius will have given War Machine some Wakandan tech.
One exciting possibility is that the War Machine armor now contains nanotech. Tony Stark was able to use nanotech armor to actually make Thanos bleed while battling the Mad Titan on his homeworld, but Rhodey is a military man; he'd be able to find far more creative ways to use a nanotech armor, and to lethal effect.
The Hulk Has A Costume
Avengers 4 is confirmed to be the end of a three-part arc for the Hulk - one that's brought the Hulk and Bruce Banner personas into head-on collision. In the comics, the two personalities ultimately merged into a single identity, which comic book readers jokingly refer to as "Professor Hulk." Notice that, in this art, the Hulk's face bears an unusually pronounced similarity to Ruffalo's, and he's stood in a pose that certainly isn't your typical Hulk.
Of course, the most surprising detail in the image is the fact that the Hulk is wearing a costume at all. One of the reasons the Hulk rarely wears a costume is because he typically transitions between the forms of Bruce Banner and the Hulk; clothes that fit one form do not fit the other. So the fact the Hulk is wearing a suit in this image is actually quite interesting, and perhaps hints that the two personas will accept a status quo in which Banner adopts the Hulk form for good. Again, that's a development that's tied to the "Professor Hulk" era, one of the few times the Jade Giant did adopt a costume in the comics. On the other hand, maybe he's just wearing a very stretchy outfit.
Steve Rogers Is Captain America, & Black Widow Is A Redhead
Avengers: Infinity War opened with Steve Rogers and Black Widow as fugitives, on the run for the last two years. Rogers had abandoned his Captain America identity and grown a beard, while Widow had dyed her hair blond. Both were presumably ways of changing their famous appearances, so as not to be identified. If this artwork is accurate, those changes will only last for the one film. Presumably the world has a lot more to worry about than a few unlicensed vigilantes after Thanos' "snap."
Note that Rogers's costume includes the star on his chest once again. It makes sense for Rogers to reclaim the identity of Captain America, choosing once again to become a symbol of hope in a dark time. Remember that the entire world will have been shaken by Thanos's act, and a symbol like Captain America would give humanity a hero to rally around. One of the strangest details in the image is the fact he still isn't carrying the shield, though.
Hawkeye's Costume Looks Pretty Dark
Set photos have teased that Hawkeye will adopt a new, darker costume - and that's typically associated with his "Ronin" identity. In the Ultimate Comics, Clint Barton became the masked vigilante Ronin after the tragic deaths of his family. Most fans assume that, in the MCU, Thanos's "snap" killed the Barton household. If this theory is correct, then Avengers 4 will see a very different version of Hawkeye, a darker one than ever before. It's possible it will fall to Black Widow to keep Hawkeye from falling into grief and rage.
It's by no means certain that this image is an actual leak. And yet, the fact that a single image carries so many implications is itself telling; there are hints at major character arcs, featuring heroes like Hawkeye, the Hulk, and Captain America. Few fan-artists would create an image that carried quite so much potential.
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019