WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
Avengers: Endgame wrapped up plenty of plot threads and left room for the already announced Disney+ Marvel series to start. After a record breaking first week of release, with a worldwide box office tally that has soared past $1.2 billion already, Avengers: Endgame could possibly become the highest-grossing film of all-time. The culmination of 11 years of intricate franchise planning and 22 movies has provided fans and critics alike with plenty of entertainment and discussions over the evolution of the superhero and blockbuster genres. Given the magnitude of this climax and how much work has been put into building up to it, it’s only expected that discussions of where the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes in Phase 4 continue with much fervor.
Of course, neither Marvel Studios nor Disney are in any danger of slowing down with this franchise, especially since it comfortably sits at the top of the list of the most profitable film series ever made. Phase 3 still doesn't end until Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters, but after that, the field is a little more open. Confirmed movies like Black Widow and The Eternals have yet to be given release dates, and there are several expected sequels on the horizon, including Doctor Strange 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Where most fan interests lie comes in the form of the announced Marvel series for Disney+.
The upcoming streaming service, which will launch in November 2019, has announced no fewer than four mini-series dedicated to some of the MCU’s most beloved characters. This presents a new evolution of Marvel’s TV strategy, which had previously been operated by a separate division from the film side of production and often seemed like the black sheep of the family. Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. remain popular with fans, albeit on a far smaller scale and style than the films, while series made for Netflix received mixed responses before being cancelled. There were notable failures, too, like ABC’s Inhumans series, which opened to the worst reviews any MCU related property has ever received before quickly being cancelled after one season. Disney+ promises to be a more fully invested operation, one that won’t shove the TV aspect to the side or pretend it simply doesn’t exist.
What these new series promise are bigger stakes, major budgets, and story-lines and characters that will directly intertwine with the cinematic universe. So far, the announced series will focus on Loki, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Vision, and The Winter Soldier and Falcon. The original stars will all return to play their popular roles, although at this current moment in time, no concrete plot details have been released about each series. What Avengers: Endgame did was fully set up how each of these shows will continue the respective stories of each character. Here’s how that happened and what we know about the series so far.
The Winter Soldier and the New Captain America
Endgame brings Steve Rogers’ tenure as Captain America to an emotional end as he handed over the shield to Sam Wilson after living a long, full, and normal life with Peggy Carter. This passing on of the mantle opens the doors to the planned Sam/Bucky series in a fascinating new way. While the show was originally described with the title Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it seems likely that will change to accommodate Sam’s new moniker. Sam has been Captain America in the comics before, as well as the leader of the Avengers, which could open up new possibilities for the group post-Endgame now that so many of the original team members are gone.
In collaboration with Bucky Barnes, the series promises to build on their friendship rather than go down a more adversarial route. Sebastian Stan had previously compared the idea of a Falcon/Winter Soldier movie to buddy comedy films, like 48 Hrs and Midnight Run, which could give audiences an idea of the show’s tone and approach to this pair. Sam taking on the title of Captain America and the weight of that responsibility in a world still trying to recover from five lost years and half the population’s disappearance (and return) would certainly be rich for story opportunities.
Loki and the Tesseract
Loki's appearance in Avengers: Endgame is limited to two jumps back in time: One where we see him imprisoned in Asgard when Thor goes to retrieve the Reality Stone, and again when Tony, Steve, Bruce, and Scott return to New York City in 2012 when Loki unleashed chaos in the first Avengers film. While trying to retrieve the Space Stone, located inside the Tesseract, Tony and Scott fumble their plans and Loki manages to escape with it. So now, MCU continuity includes the God of Mischief, and all-round troublemaker, having the power to jump around any location, rearrange space, teleport across the universe, and screw around with physics. Loki now has omnipresence and he's sure to do some damage with it. Early rumors around a Loki series hinted at a narrative wherein he barged his way through time and/or space for his own amusement, and this development in Endgame certainly suggests that as a possibility now that he has the Space Stone.
Hawkeye Trains Kate Bishop
Avengers: Endgame is ultimately a story about grief and the myriad ways of coping (or not) with it. It shows how each of the heroes who survived Thanos’ Decimation struggle to move on, be it through emotional guidance or just giving up. For Clint Barton, his grieving took the form of vengeance, and he spent the following five years as a killer, targeting those who he felt didn't deserve to have survived while his family disappeared. By the end, his family returns, but he's still seeking a way to atone for his crimes. This fits in perfectly with what we’ve heard about the upcoming Hawkeye TV series, which will focus not only on Clint but his protégé Kate Bishop. Many fans wondered if the young woman in the Avengers: Endgame trailers with the bow and arrow was Kate, but it turned out to be Clint’s oldest daughter; however, the moment still acts as a visual reminder of Clint’s ultimate destiny of passing down the mantle to a new generation. That’s a major Endgame theme thanks to Steve Rogers and Thor making similar decisions. Writer Matt Fraction’s wildly popular run on Hawkeye, featuring Clint and Kate, is expected to feature prominently in the series.
Out of the four upcoming Disney+ series, the one that will focus on Wanda Maximoff and Vision has proven to be the most intriguing post-Endgame. Scarlet Witch, the only character of these planned series who disappeared with Thanos’ snap, only shows up for the final battle in the movie, then can be seen at Tony’s funeral. Vision doesn’t return at all, having been killed once the Mind Stone was ripped from his head. Given that the Stones needed to be returned to their place in time to prevent further problems, it seems unlikely that Vision will return in this manner, although the way Wanda talks about him at Tony’s funeral strongly suggests that there are other ways for her to bring him back.
She definitely seems emotionally upbeat about such a prospect, as cryptically discussed as it is in that moment. Elizabeth Olsen has said that the series could have a 1950s retro-futurist aesthetic, but that doesn’t reveal much about the plot or what point in time it happens. In a recent interview, she said the influences were pulling from "quite a few other comics books [...] and I think at the Disney+ launch chat, they showed a photo of us in the 50s." Of the four series, WandaVision is the one fans leave Avengers: Endgame with the most questions about and the most ambiguity around its presence, which cannot help but be fascinating.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019