How Avengers: Endgame Would Have Been Different
So how would Avengers: Endgame have been different under the original Phase 3 plans? In order to work that out, it's first worth noting that there would've been a ripple effect running through the entire Phase 3 slate. Captain America: Civil War would've been very different, with no Spider-Man involved in the airport fight; on the other hand, Team Cap's ranks would probably have been bolstered by the debut of the Wasp instead. Peyton Reed has explained that he asked for Wasp to be held back so she could be introduced in his Ant-Man sequel. But if no sequel was on the books, then there wouldn't have been a reason to delay the moment when Hope Van Dyne suited up. All this would naturally have affected Avengers: Infinity War as well, with both Ant-Man and the Wasp presumably involved in the action in some way, but Peter Parker entirely absent.
But the really interesting question is whether or not Attilan and the Inhumans would have been introduced in Avengers: Infinity War. Certainly, that's possible given Avengers: Infinity War drew heavily on Jonathan Hickman's "Infinity" event, with Thanos and his Black Order scouring the galaxy on a quest and even engaging in a battle on Wakandan soil. "Infinity" also saw Thanos visit Attilan and confront Black Bolt; the Inhuman King was actually forced to destroy the city in order to defeat Thanos, with the Terrigen Mists released across the globe and the Inhumans fleeing to Earth. Marvel may well have originally planned to do something similar, with the Inhumans movie exploring the relations between the fractured Inhuman Royal Family and Earth's governments. That plot would possibly be based in part on Charles Soule's Inhumans run, which followed on from "Infinity."
As regards Avengers: Endgame itself, this would have resulted in two obvious changes. Firstly, it would have meant the Inhumans were involved in the Avengers' battle against Thanos, with members of the Royal Family perhaps helping Earth's Mightiest Heroes as they attempted to undo or avert the snap. Secondly, it's generally believed the Quantum Realm will play a major role in Avengers: Endgame, but that might not have been the case under the original plans; there's no natural narrative throughline for the Quantum Realm in any Inhumans project, which may be one reason Marvel placed Ant-Man & the Wasp in that slot. That doesn't necessarily preclude the use of time travel in Avengers: Endgame, though, given Charles Soule's Inhumans series used variations of that idea quite a lot.
Would Marvel's Original Plan Have Been Better?
The original version of Phase 3, and ultimately of Avengers: Endgame, would certainly have been very different. It would've been interesting to see how Marvel Studios handled the Inhumans, and that film may even have been set in a post-snap world, meaning viewers would have gotten more of an idea how Thanos' triumph affected the planet. At the same time, though, it's easy to see why Marvel changed course.
The Inhumans brand has never been particularly strong, in marked contrast to Spider-Man's, and given a choice between the two it's pretty obvious why Marvel opted for the wall-crawler. Meanwhile, the Quantum Realm fits with theories of quantum mechanics that do indeed suggest the laws of space and time break down if you shrink beyond a subatomic size, creating the possibility of time travel. It makes more sense to fix on the one mechanism for time travel that's already established as part of the MCU, rather than create another one.
Marvel's long-term planning is a lot more malleable than most viewers think, but in this case all the changes they made were probably for the better. Looking beyond Phase 3, the addition of Spider-Man means Marvel get to begin their post-Endgame era with an adventure starring the most powerful, marketable superhero brand of all, with Spider-Man: Far From Home. In strategic terms, that's a genius move.
- 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