Reboots of Classics Characters
The future of the original heroes is up in the air at this point, but with most expected to bow out in Avengers 4, that may seem to halt any discussion of new entries. However, the comics have a wealth of cases where new characters have replaced icons, something which it feels like the MCU will follow. Bucky has been established as a successor to Captain America, with every single film in the trilogy featuring an overt nod to his comic fate, and considering that Sebastian Stan is still not even halfway into his nine-movie contract, he has to step up eventually (unless Falcon swoops in and grabs the shield). That's a Captain America 4 with a more morally complex hero for sure.
There's also room for more Thor, even assuming Hemsworth doesn't come back. The character has passed over the mantle in the comics and it would be easy for Ragnarok to turn out to have been a stealth Valkyrie primer. What makes this a lick more plausible is how Taika Waititi has talked repeatedly about wanting to the make Thor 4/Ragnarok 2; while the same discussion about an impossibility was to a degree true about Iron Man 4 (which we're ruling out for multiple reasons), here it feels more like it could happen.
Movies For New Heroes
Thus far, we've not actually mentioned any new heroes. Part of that is because, as it is with established characters to drop into standalone films, it's becoming common Marvel practice for newcomers to be established in existing franchises (Spider-Man and Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War obviously, but going backwards you have Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch and more all integrated without headlining), meaning that whoever Marvel chooses to introduce in "Phase 4" will likely be threaded through existing heroes.
Still, it would be crazy for some to not come out of the gate in their films, or for fresh characters to graduate to solo adventures. Who at this point is really hard to say because most of the traditional contenders - Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange - are already part of the firmament (or will be soon). Namor is a popular shout and certainly offers something different, but beyond that it could be a Guardians-style curveball.
One thing we do know about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is that while it's the end of the original roster, it's going to be laying the groundwork for the future of MCU's cosmic arm. Quite what that means - both short- and long-term - is vague, but it's a safe bet that after the success of Vol. 1 and 2 (as well as the more out-there Thor: Ragnarok), we'll be getting some more spacefaring adventures. What, exactly, depends on how the story goes: there's potential for Adam Warlock and the Ravager Guardians explicitly, as well as teases for Nova, Kree-Skrull antics and even Howard the Duck. Whatever we end up with, there's sure to be three to five of these continuations of the realm James Gunn's built.
And with all that considered, we have a full 20: between sequels, team-ups, spinoff and debuts, the MCU can grow as a brand while still keeping on nostalgic eye towards the past. Now, let's just hope Avengers 4 makes the extension worth it.
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019