Look, Marvel…we get it. You’re pioneering the concept of a truly shared universe, and you want to be careful. Heck, there hasn’t even been that much crossover potential thus far, and what we have gotten has at least served to show that they are in the same plane of existence.
But you might have misunderstood our intentions. No, we don’t want Infinity War to be retitled The Defender-Vengers feat. Agent Carter and the Spectacular Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We’re really happy with cameos, or off-hand references. You’d be surprised how easily pleased we are. And like Chloe Bennet has said, why bother pretending the universes are connected when there's not much effort put into showing us that?
But with all that said... if you DID want to take things a bit further, here are some crossovers that might do the MCU a world of good, without destroying your carefully crafted universe.
12 Spider-Man and Daredevil
Spider-Man might be riding high on a wave of adoration from his appearance in Civil War, but his own solo movie will almost certainly be setting him loose back on the streets of New York where he’s always belonged. That is, the same New York currently filling up with costumed and non-costumed vigilantes, and it’s going to be incredibly awkward for everything if this goes completely unacknowledged.
Daredevil and Spider-Man are friends in the comics, because…well, of course they are. They operate in the same city, both wear a lot of red, beat up bad people and love to swing from buildings while secretly loathing themselves for being only human and not able to save people, like, all the time. Hell’s Kitchen is even in Manhattan, which is mostly where Spider-Man is known to hang out and fight street crime. They might be able to use the excuse of Matt Murdock being tied to his day job for a little while, but keeping these two separate is pretty quickly going to get ridiculous.
Given that Marvel Studios is (probably) so flooded with excess cash that Kevin Feige could perform a Scrooge McDuck out of any window in the building and fall a maximum of two feet before landing in massive pile of currency, getting Tom Holland in for an episode of Daredevil season 3 is by no means a big ask. Or Charlie Cox could clear his schedule for a cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming. We could have Spidey mentored by an experienced vigilante who actually knows New York on the ground level, as opposed to looking down on it from Stark Tower.
11 Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agent Carter as a show is currently dead in the water, and Agent Carter the person is currently dead in the ground. Fortunately, Hayley Atwell is still very much alive and available to reprise the role in the MCU, and her style of portrayal could just slot in nicely to the world of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Carter works for an early forerunner of S.H.I.E.L.D. and does a lot of the same jobs; finding weird stuff and making sure it doesn’t wreak havoc on the world in general. The shows are separated by a good half century or more, but AoS has explored aliens, interdimensional travel, enhanced humans, intergalactic teleportation and even an Inhuman who was able to see into the future. Time travel is by no means off the table, even if it was an episodic event. An agent (or several) could be sent back in time to assist Peggy in espionage and the daily struggle against the patriarchy, or Agent Carter herself could be brought forward in time through some kind of temporal shenanigans.
Remember, there’s still a Time Stone floating around, waiting to be discovered. If AoS is chosen as the MCU property that brings it into play (as unlikely as that is), there’s no telling what kinds of time travel plots could ensue.
10 The Defenders and The Avengers
Laying aside everything that was previously said about the Defender-Vengers, there’s no denying that seeing the two team up in any capacity would be a massive event. So massive that it'll probably never, ever happen, but there’s no harm in dreaming.
The Avengers are Marvel’s premium team, formed to fight alien invasions and killer robot swarms. The Defenders, at least as they appear in the comics, are more of a street-level team that deal with more localized threats. The exact form of the MCU Defenders is still up in the air, as the individual series are still airing. It could be that they come together for a single event, go their separate ways, and don’t even end up with a proper name for the team except by way of someone mentioning that they’re "defenders" of something. Justice, maybe.
But if they are a proper team, then The Avengers have to take notice. They can’t be everywhere at once, and street crime isn’t really their jurisdiction. Perhaps the ivory tower Avengers have to rely on the Defenders due to lacking manpower (as they currently are), or the two will actually team up for real once Thanos arrives and unleashes something evil. Either way, the two are the most powerful forces of enhanced people that the MCU has to offer…and it’s everyone’s world to defend.
9 Bobbi, Hunter and the Vigilante Crowd
Speaking of the Defenders, it looks as if they’re becoming the MCU’s ground-level Avengers, taking on the more hidden threats while their counterparts are off fighting aliens. If they stay together long enough to be a real, significant presence, there’s a good chance they could be joined at some point by a few others who’ve found themselves outcasts from the big leagues.
Last we saw of Bobbi and Hunter, they’d been disavowed and forced to leave S.H.I.E.L.D., which considering their popularity and presence on the show was a huge shame. Now that their spinoff has been canned, it’s unknown exactly what the characters are doing with their time. Wandering mercenaries, looking to help wherever they find some serious crime? With their future unknown, there’s no reason Bobbi shouldn’t have a go at fully embracing her Mockingbird persona as a vigilante, which could lead her into contact with New York’s other vigilantes.
Meanwhile, both Hawkeye and Black Widow are now on the run and could find themselves in the same boat, forced to fight crime from the shadows. Any chance they could have a meeting with the Defenders and help them out with some crisis? Probably not. But plenty of folks are waiting to see Bobbi Morse and Clint Barton meet up in some way, referencing their relationship in the comics. And both of them are currently taken, so…instant character drama! Make it happen, Netflix. Or not, whatever.
8 Spider-Man and the Kingpin
Fans of the Spider-Man animated series from the '90s would remember the Kingpin as a strong influence, while they’ve repeatedly clashed in the comics. Makes sense; Kingpin wants to own New York, Spidey isn’t keen on the idea, and it’s the same basic principle with Daredevil.
Rumors are currently just that at the moment, but if Spider-Man needs a genuine, well-acted threat, then we’ve already fully-established one in the form of Wilson Fisk. Not exactly a gimmicky animal-themed villain, the Kingpin of Crime is a far more dangerous figure who acts as a man behind several other men, controlling every scenario with his business prowess and skills in manipulation. He’s a figure of terrifying intelligence and even greater bulk, and since the Fisk we’ve already seen in Daredevil is on the rise, his further appearances are set to show his rise to power after being freed from what seems to be the worst-run prison ever.
Kingpin doesn’t need to be the main villain, but his presence within Spider-Man’s corner of the MCU needs to be felt.
7 Captain America and the Agents of SH.I.E.L.D.
Civil War ended with a majority of characters critically injured, emotionally devastated or just plain fugitives, chief among them being Steve Rogers. Now having abandoned the name of Captain America (probably) along with the iconic shield, he’s become a nomad (or a Nomad, if you will) with no real allegiances except to justice.
Which is more or less the situation S.H.I.E.L.D. is in, right now. After the organisation collapsed, they’ve been revived in an unknown location with a very different focus and management, and most importantly, they now operate entirely in the shadows. Or as "in the shadows" as you can be when one of your employees makes earthquakes and leaving your base involves ripping open the ground and flying out in a ginormous jet.
Again, Chris Evans’ star power makes regular appearances a logistical impossibility, but there’s never been a better time for him to appear on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The last we saw of Rogers, he’d even ditched his superhero duds, so he’d fit in just fine among all the black leather jackets. He’d be a valuable asset to the team, it’d allow him and Phil Coulson to finally have that "so I see you’re not dead" conversation, and we’d get to see exactly what Cap thinks of the whole Secret Warriors idea. Plus, the fanboy reactions, both in and out of universe.
6 Sif and The Warriors Three with Anyone
They might not have gotten much screen time, but it’s hard not to like the Warriors Three, especially since Hogun was demoted to what was practically an extra in The Dark World. Meanwhile, Lady Sif has already made the jump to AoS, one of the MCU’s most major crossovers thus far. The four of them have been short-changed in the Thor movies, as more time had to be spent on watching Thor and Jane Foster’s budding love story (which is totally paying off), though there’s now a much bigger universe to explore.
The characters are versatile enough to be dropped off most anywhere, though if the Ragnarok storyline is anything like the comics, we could soon see them trekking around the mortal world. The Warriors Three could feature on AoS, for whenever the occasion calls for a lighter episode than normal. Alternatively, seeing Thor call upon them in an actual, honest-to-goodness Avengers movie would be amazing, particularly if the situation became dire enough for the heroes to summon any allies they could.
Meanwhile, Sif has an amusing history with Phil Coulson, a romantic interest to be explored with Thor, and is just generally a badass warrior who could clash with Daredevil before they realize they should be working together. Heck, we’ve seen her in deep space with the Collector, so they could very well team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a bit of a culture clash. Really, just anything that lets us flesh out these fan-favorites a bit more.
5 The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Defenders
AoS has evolved from a show about agents dealing with weird stuff to having a huge focus on enhanced people. They have an entire team of them now, and most of the recent plots have involved dealing with rogue Inhumans wanting to do nefarious things.
In fact, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best known operations have been to do with enhanced people, which is the perfect excuse for them paying Matt Murdock a visit. Or Jessica Jones, or Luke Cage, or Danny Rand, all of whom fall under the organization’s umbrella of people to be on the lookout for. It’s unknown if any of them know about S.H.I.E.L.D. or have any opinion on its fall, but the interest in the opposite direction should be strong; after all, we’ve seen a woman considered "enhanced" after she put razor blades in her fingernails. People who can crush steel with their bare fists, or those with senses so enhanced that they can read actual air currents should sit a few rungs higher on the priority ladder.
The shows have already made oblique references to each other: Daredevil had Matt grow up in the same orphanage as Skye/Daisy, and a TV screen on AoS mentioned gang wars in Hell’s Kitchen. A crossover episode featured on either series just makes sense, and as we’ve seen on other networks, crossovers that actually have a reason to happen generally go over well with fans.
4 Ant-Man and Spider-Man
These two gleefully managed to steal the entire airport scene in Civil War through a combination of debut appearances, quips, impressive uses of their powers and a whole lot of adorkableness. Scott Lang and Peter Parker haven’t had much to do with each other thus far, aside from one of them kicking the other in the face, but they’re definitely the type of people who can put that past them.
Both have a science background (though Lang is mostly just part of the science instead of creating it himself) and both represent the truly lighter side of the already-light MCU. If Thor and Hulk are the heavy hitters, Iron Man and Cap are the leaders, Black Widow and Hawkeye are the ace normals and Vision and Scarlet Witch are the weird ones, Spider-Man and Ant-Man are the quirky comic relief tagalongs. Both were dragged into the conflict by someone they admire, and they share the goal of trying to prove themselves, though they often go a bit overboard in doing so.
The two might be just that little bit too separate to get their own movie together (and the double "Man" would just sound weird), but seeing one of them crossover into the other’s solo movie space would bring forth a hurricane of one-liners and wholesome dorky shenanigans.
3 The Guardians of the Galaxy with Everyone Else
This one's practically a given, but it definitely still counts.
Guardians of the Galaxy went from Marvel's first potential flop to ultra-uber-grand-mega hit overnight, with many placing it at the very pinnacle of the MCU movies thus far. This is a fair effort for a film starring a trigger-happy raccoon person and a bunch of deep space locations nobody used to care about, but could the formula work when brought quite literally down to Earth?
The Guardians have some experience with Infinity Stones and aliens, particularly with Gamora's connection to Thanos, so it makes sense that either Earth's heroes will be heading into space or Star Lord's crew will be doing the reverse. What's truly going to be a blast to watch is how they choose to mash the two together. Will Peter Quill and Tony Stark inhabiting the same space cause the script to dissolve into 90% quips? Do we get to see Groot and Hulk arm-wrestle? And if the two teams have a dance-off (because naturally, they will), who's left standing at the end?
There's going to have to be some hefty groundwork laid for their eventual meeting, so that it doesn't feel rushed or undeserved, but once it does happen, the event should be truly explosive.
2 The X-Men in the MCU
On the flip-side, THIS one seems pretty unlikely at this point. Fox's X-Men movies are still making boatloads of money, so there's less incentive for them to share any of the profits. Still, never say never, and the X-Men have recently updated their costumes to make them less drab black and more something that would actually fit into the MCU.
As for how to include them, that's where things get complicated. Marvel has been spending a good couple of years building up the Inhumans as the mutant equivalent, since they still held the rights to the name. If it was suddenly revealed that mutants have totally been living in the MCU this whole time, and there's a brightly-garbed young team of them hanging around upstate New York (where the Avengers are headquartered), things could get awkward.
"So, you're also a hated and feared minority with special powers who hide themselves from society? And some of you are part of a team fighting for acceptance and making the world a better place? And the government keeps trying to register both of us? How wacky and improbable!"
You'd therefore be aiming for something more like an interdimensional crossover, or an alternate timeline where human genes were churned out slightly differently. Maybe Scarlet Witch could go nuts and wipe Inhumans from existence (just like Marvel Studios are trying to do), replacing them with mutants and bringing the X-Men into the fold. It'd have to handled with immense care. Or not, and Infinity War: Part II could open with the X-Men tumbling out of a wormhole and everyone just rolling with it. Comics have earned the right to be stupid like that at least sometimes.
1 All the Marvel TV Shows
If all else fails, the Marvel TV universe could always just band together and have its own party. No movie people allowed.
We’ve seen from the beginning that world-threatening events aren’t movie exclusive. S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken down violent Inhumans planning to wipe out the human race (twice), Peggy Carter has saved countless lives from terrorist plots, and whatever the Defenders are building up to, it apparently involves legions of ninjas and ancient wars.
So take all these characters, unite them all under a single banner (as in, more than they already are) and end up with a TV special just as epic as anything the movies could come up with. It’d take a mammoth budget, but again, Marvel Studios are currently having their sub-levels renovated to include treasure caves where they’ll keep their massive piles of gold. When it comes to this sort of thing, rules can be stretched, budgets can be boosted and it’s an idea that could actually work. This may be one instance where people could get genuinely excited for a made-for-TV movie, because both AoS and the Netflix shows are popular, and Hayley Atwell’s performance was by far the best thing about Agent Carter.
If it all sounds kind of directionless…yep, it is. "Mash all the TV worlds together" isn’t going to make for a successful pitch, even if your board has as close to unlimited money as it can get. But there’s nothing wrong with wishful thinking. That’s the MCU, a world specifically crafted to be shared, where characters can cross boundaries and meet each other in a truly living universe. It’s a world where a secret agent from the 1950s can time travel to modern day America and foil a nefarious plot with the aid of a few superpowered fellow secret agents and a team of ragtag New Yorkers with mismatched powers of their own, and it actually works. That’s comic books for ya.
Any other crossovers you'd love to see? Take it to the comments section...