If movies are like stocks, a studio like Marvel is made up of many, very expensive superhero investments. The MCU, has chosen to connect all of its films together, in the hopes they'll support and strengthen each other, while producing a sustainable income stream. As it stands now, smash hits like Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok more than outweigh the lesser successes like Doctor Strange and Ant-Man.
Including Black Panther, six movies are joining the MCU this year. Off the silver screen, Marvel Studios has ventured into more television than ever with multiple series on ABC, Hulu, and Netflix. If Marvel was its own network, it could run its own content 24/7. Now that the initial phases of movies and television have been so successful, Marvel is ready to move into the next wave of projects and thus, the next stage of its cultural relevance. With established success comes the ability to make riskier investments and take on greater creative challenges.
All of this illustrates the enormous momentum of the MCU right now. There's no end in sight, which is the most exciting place to be. Here are some plans for the future we see written on the wall; 10 Heroes Coming Soon To The MCU, and 10 Fans Will Have To Wait For.
20. Captain Marvel - Coming Soon
Her film is scheduled for release on March 8th, 2019, but audiences may see Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel sooner than that via cameo. In addition to leveling up the MCU with the ability to market their first female driven film, this version will bring Carol Danvers into the picture with a rumored take on alternate realities.
Captain Marvel has been reinvented many times as a character from the comics, making her one of the most complex Marvel Studios could have adopted. The film is said to also include Mar-Vell, the Kree iteration of Captain Marvel. All of these odd story elements will add up to a different kind of origin story than fans have seen in the past, with time travel, in a cosmic setting, through a generational narrative and some kind of multiversal exploration. The MCU is opening with a great introduction to Phase 4.
19. Ghost Rider - Have to Wait
One Ghost Rider has already been incorporated into the MCU; Robbie Reyes, played by Gabriel Luna, has been a recurring character on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for more than a season, although it looks like his arc is closed for now. The Reyes Rider was really nicely characterized and he looked spectacular, but fans are still itching to see Johnny Blaze.
Another supernatural hero will add much needed weight to that side of the universe, currently the least populated of all subgenres. Johnny Blaze is your classic, hell cursed, anti-hero, stuntman. Fans will have to wait awhile until he gets his rightful role in the MCU, but even if he doesn’t appear in any movies, a Spirits of Vengeance themed series, collecting several mystical heroes would be worth the wait.
18. Cloak and Dagger - Coming Soon
Cloak and Dagger are two young heroes that fans won’t have to wait long for. Their series debuts June 7th, 2018, telling the story of a young black boy and white girl, from different backgrounds in New Orleans. The trailer indicates that Tyrone and Tandy, played by Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt, shared a traumatic experience earlier in their childhood and coincidentally get reunited in their teens.
This show will sit really nicely next to Runaways, as the angsty tone seems to strike the same, slow paced, character driven action. There’s a direct shoutout to the Roxxon Corporation, a recurring evil conglomerate in the Marvel Universe, right in the trailer, so the connections to the cinematic universe are already being laid out. Cloak and Dagger is also an example of a project that the MCU can now afford to take a chance on. Judging by the trailer, it's sure to pay off.
17. Fantastic Four - Have to Wait
One of the windfalls of Disney's acquisition of Fox is the return of the Fantastic Four. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, has confirmed that the team is coming to the MCU, but fans are going to have to wait a while to see exactly how they make their appearance. After two films at Sony, Marvel's first family needs a fresh look and a flawless introduction.
Once this generation of Avengers fades, the Fantastic Four could take the role of a fresh, old guard, acting as the new hub of the MCU. The team that’s all about family would make a natural nucleus to the network of heroes and their towering headquarters can be a strong anchor to Marvel’s Manhattan skyline. On an even brighter note: This franchise has nowhere to go but up.
16. Adam Warlock - Coming Soon
Adam Warlock made his soft debut in the MCU at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Ayesha, queen of the golden skinned Sovereigns, revealed a being named Adam, created to defeat the Guardians. Since then, James Gunn, director and writer of Guardians 3, has continued to tease the appearance of Adam Warlock in future movies. Other than his appearance, not much is known about the extent of Adam's involvement. He's been a main character, but he could loom more in the background, quietly wielding his great power over the cosmos.
In the comics, Adam Warlock plays a pivotal role in the Infinity Wars for the good guys, leading to the defeat of Thanos. He’s also a character with a long history of duality, fighting on both sides of good and evil. Whether he’s the main villain of Guardians 3 or gets a cameo in Infinity War, or both, Warlock is coming soon to the MCU.
15. Blade - Have to Wait
Twenty years ago, another black Marvel superhero made his debut on the big screen. Blade came out in 1998, all that time ago, starring Wesley Snipes. It’s arguable whether or not the vampire assassin is a true superhero or not, but the time might be right for a resurrection in the MCU either way.
The months leading up to the Black Panther release are bound to bring up Blade discussion, but Kevin Feige has validated some of the comments, saying that Marvel Studios is open to something in the future. Wesley Snipes recently Tweeted his agreement that the time is right for Blade to come back to the big screen. It would be great to see Snipes slaying vampires with a smile again, but Blade may be better served by an update for this generation.
14. Miles Morales - Coming Soon
When fans saw Donald Glover’s character, Aaron Davis, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, they were excited to realize that small time villain is the same Prowler as Miles Morales’ uncle in the comics. Since then, Kevin Feige has confirmed that Miles Morales is present in the MCU. This sounds like another instance of open ended storytelling, leaving connections available to hook up with in the future. There hasn't been any hint of an appearance yet, but his introduction would be a great story line for later in the current trilogy.
Morales’ Spider-Man, created in 2011, would be another leap forward in diversifying the MCU, with an appearance as early as the Spider-Man sequel. On top of that, we have Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse coming out in late 2018, an animated movie focus on Morales. After that, fans can continue to hope for a trilogy of films about a non Peter Parker Spider-Man.
13. Silver Surfer - Have to Wait
One character that could be of immediate impact in the MCU, but fans will have to wait for, is the Silver Surfer. The comic book version of Infinity War featured the Surfer heavily in the fight against Thanos, so he would be perfect to bolster their cosmic story. He's always been a tricky character to write though, far from the traditional hero, far more ominous.
Surfer was last seen in the second Fantastic Four movie, voiced by Laurence Fishburne. Now that the character is back with Marvel, Fishburne has voiced his interest reprising his role, but nothing official has been announced yet. The Silver Surfer has always been a solitary, philosophical figure, carving through the galaxy in his role as the Herald of Galactus. Once he arrives, he’ll add a much needed sense of depth, weight and gravitas to the Marvel movies
12. Mister Immortal - Coming Soon
Coming out this summer, alongside Cloak and Dagger, Mister Immortal and the rest of the New Warriors are getting their own show and coming to television. This is the biggest gamble on the books for the MCU right now, even after the success of Runaways, to double down on with an even more offbeat young adult superhero team, but it’s a worthy goal with a broad audience.
Mister Immortal, the hero who will live forever but takes the present for granted, is just one of the ironically empowered heroes; Night Thrasher, Speedball, Microbe, and Debrii round out the roster alongside Squirrel Girl. Little is known about the New Warriors series at this point, but hopes are high for this Marvel experiment.
11. X-Men - Have to Wait
The upcoming X-Men movie, Dark Phoenix, comes out November 18th, 2018, but after that, the X-Men will completely reside in the MCU. Potentially. By the time the merger is completed, in the next five years of Marvel Studios, there may well be a multiverse so well developed that the X-Men can be the mutants of their own domains.
Wolverine’s story may have come to a close, and this most recent iteration of the X Franchise hasn’t exactly blown the doors off the box office, so rebooting it after this next movie would be a reasonable move as well. This is a perfect example of the excitement for the coming years at the MCU. A comic book universe that took decades to build and connect can finally all be brought to the screen for a story retelling with infinite opportunities.
10. Squirrel Girl - Coming Soon
The leader of the New Warriors, Doreen Green, also known as Squirrel Girl, could be in line to be a pillar of the next generation MCU. Milana Vayntrub plays the hero that leads the lighter edge of Marvel heroes. She talks to squirrels, grows her teeth super quickly, and talks villains into reversing their positions instead of punching them into submission.
Squirrel Girl strikes a unique not across the MCU and across the spectrum of female heroes. Whether or not she gets folded into the larger, cinematic stories, fans will have to wait and see, but in the meantime, Marvel is bringing more sides of its universe to the screen.
9. Beta Ray Bill - Have to Wait
Beta Ray Bill made his appearance in Thor: Ragnarok in effigy as a golden statue, but the character originally had a live appearance that was cut from the movie. Kevin Feige has confirmed that a longer sequence was cut for time, but he assured fans that Bill would return in future movies.
Making his comic book debut in 1983, Beta Ray Bill is a god level warrior from the Korbinite species. He’s most notable for being one of the only beings able to pick up Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Not all new characters are brought in to market new long-shot TV series. Even if Beta Ray Bill's upcoming appearance is purely fan service, it will be worth it to see him come to life from the page to the screen.
8. New Guardians of the Galaxy - Coming Soon
At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, audiences were introduced to The Ravagers, the band of space pirates that Yondu formerly belonged to. This set up was packed with easter eggs and begged fan speculation. As soon as Guardians Vol. 3, that speculation could be rewarded if some members of the cosmic super team are replaced.
James Gunn, director of the franchise, has already said that Vol. 3 will set up the next decades of Marvel movies. With films of this level of complexity though, it’s not entirely up to the whims of story creators. Chris Pratt, or Zoe Saldana, or anyone could leave the franchise at any time, contracts notwithstanding, so it behooves the MCU to keep a loose thread open here and there, just in case the story needs to pivot.
7. Quasar - Have to Wait
One new addition to the Guardians team, fans may have to wait for is Quasar. This hero has already been teased by director James Gunn, but by name only. No mention of the character’s role or gender, but they may appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.
Where this rumor goes depends on which version of Quasar Gunn decides to use. This is one hero that’s been rewritten several times since their debut in 1978. All versions revolve around a hero with the ability to fire quantum blasts from gauntlets on their wrists powered by precious gems. Quasar is a pure cosmic hero, whose powers may stem from the Quantum Realm and who may have overlap with Captain Marvel; we can’t wait to learn more.
6. Moon Knight - Coming Soon
So far, the MCU’s only foray into the supernatural genre has been Doctor Strange, but Moon Knight would help round out the magical and mystical superhero niche. Netflix was rumored to be thinking about a series, a movie has been kicked around Marvel studios, but despite the massive fan appeal, no plans have been finalized yet.
In addition to the hocus pocus, Moon Knight adds a depth and maturity to the MCU that it has often been lacking. Originally, the character debuted as a villain before making his turn into the light, the emotionality of putting himself on that line has always driven Moon Knight stories, along with high concept themes of justice and responsibility. Whatever project comes out of Moon Knight, fans can expect a brooding, slow burn, character study, with no better subject.
5. Young Avengers - Have to Wait
One of the rumors from Phase 4 and beyond that bears further speculation is the addition of the Young Avengers into the MCU. For a franchise of dozens of films over a dozen years, a plan needs to be established for the future of the superheroes we all love. Comic book characters don’t age, but actors do. Marvel movies are appealing to broader audiences than ever and slowly bringing new characters in is just good business.
A young Spider-Man has already been woven into the fold, while Patriot, Speed, Wiccan, Nova, Kate Bishop and Ms. Marvel have all been rumored for future scripts. The MCU is going younger in the future, attempting to prove that these stories can work across generations.
4. The Wasps - Coming Soon
Ant-Man and the Wasp comes to theaters on July 6th, 2018, so fans won’t have to wait too long to see Hope van Dyne become The Wasp, played by Evangeline Lily. The sequel has also been confirmed to focus on the search and rescue of Janet van Dyne, Hope’s mother, the previous Wasp, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
That mission will require a journey into the Quantum Realm and shrinking their way in between realities, but along the way, fans will be introduced to two versions of a classic Marvel heroine. The trailer begins by wondering if the events of Civil War would have gone differently if The Wasp had been there. In the coming movies, rumors of time travel and alternate realities, fans can expect her to be a big part of the transition toward the future of Marvel movies.
3 Man-Thing - Have to Wait
Man-Thing has already been spotted several times in the MCU. Most recently, in Thor: Ragnarok; his visage was made into a golden statue on Jeff Goldblum’s gladiator planet, so presumably he served time there as a prisoner at some point. He’s also been mentioned in passing on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as an escaped asset.
The most compelling easter egg yet though, perhaps indicating a significant future role for Man-Thing, was in Thor: The Dark World. One of Dr. Erik Selvig’s chalkboards, filled with research, mentioned the “Nexus of All Reality”, the place Man-Thing is sworn to protect in the comics. Another open thread, allowing even the craziest possibilities.
2 Shuri - Coming Soon
Everyone wants to talk about how much money Black Panther is making, but the other big revelation from the movie is Shuri, the half-sister of T’Challa, princess of Wakanda, and genius level superhero. Letitia Wright plays Shuri in the MCU and the movie sets her up in a big way, already making it clear that she doesn’t consider herself anyone’s sidekick, eager to inherit the Black Panther mantle. Wakanda is clearly going to play a big role in the MCU coming up, so Shuri will have plenty of opportunities to contribute in future movies.
As we’ve seen, Marvel Studios is already, very carefully laying the groundwork for a shift in the character make up of these movies. If they can pull it off, and in ten years we’re all watching movies about completely different heroes, Shuri is going to be a big part of the reason why.
1. Spider-Gwen - Have to Wait
Spider-Man: Homecoming set a solid foundation for a big franchise. Even though a casting call did go out for a “femme fatale” Gwen Stacy might not be in the immediate plans of the sequel so soon after Emma Stone’s portrayal in the Sony films.
Based on their moves so far, it’s only a matter of time before Spider-Gwen is folded into the plans for Marvel movies of the future. In a media landscape where Squirrel Girl and Quasar are being moved to the fore, evidence is mounting that superhero stories aren’t going away, even if the older, more traditional versions are getting a little tired. The best part is that plenty more heroes are still buried in the pages of Marvel comic books waiting to be brought to new audiences, and in the coming years, this list will look completely different, and fans will have some new characters to look forward to.
Which are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!