Avengers: Infinity War and its unnamed sequel promise to put a bow on Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Naturally, fans are already looking past the highly-anticipated film and guessing at what Marvel has planned in the future.
Ever since the Disney-Fox deal hit newspapers, fans have been wildly speculating about how those previously unseen Marvel heroes will enter the MCU. Will we see the X-Men and the Fantastic Four make an appearance? How will they explain their absence? Will they start by fighting the Avengers?
Some theories are more likely than others, but they all start with the end of Infinity War. The comics give us a general idea of what might happen, but nobody truly knows. We all expect that some of our favorite heroes may meet their end in the movie, and are eager to know what the implications of these losses will be.
The Avengers are entering a new era, and we can only guess at who will be left standing - if and when Thanos snaps his fingers.
Here are 15 MCU Phase 4 Theories So Crazy They Might be True.
15. Thanos Resets The Marvel Universe
Anyone who has read the comics that Infinity War is drawing from knows why many people expect the film to end poorly for many of the characters. Even if you haven't read the comics, just hearing how the filmmakers and stars are talking about the film is enough to put dread in your heart.
We're used to seeing superhero movies where our heroes triumph over the villain after about an hour and a half of hardship. Infinity War is likely to go in a different direction, with Thanos succeeding and wiping out half the life in the universe after he completes the infinity gauntlet.
The real question is: where does Marvel go from there? We expect some major characters - like Captain America and Iron Man - to meet their demise, but does Thanos' eventual defeat means they come back to life?
We're guessing no, and that the MCU will keep plugging along. After all, movies aren't comics, and actors can't play the same role for the rest of their lives.
14. A New Leader Emerges
If the previous theory is true and we lose a few stars in the Infinity War process, the Avengers will need new leadership. The internet has a few theories as to who will fill these shoes as well.
The relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker is presented as that of a mentor and mentee. Tony Stark took Peter under his wing, even giving him a few suits he can use to fight the world's enemies.
If Tony Stark comes to an end, Peter might be the next in line for the throne - which may come with the Stark empire.
Another popular theory is that Captain Marvel will take over as the Avengers leader once Infinity War concludes. Of course, we'll have to watch her upcoming standalone movie for more clues.
13. A New Captain America
Backpacking off of the previously mentioned theories, the Captain America we know and love might meet his end in Infinity War as well. If this happens, will someone else rise to take over his title?
It isn't unheard of for other Marvel characters to adopt the "Captain America" moniker. He is one of the central characters in all of Marvel Comics, and one of the foundations of the Avengers.
It's unlikely the studio will let the character disappear when Chris Evans is finished with the films.
One obvious candidate for a new Captain America would be his best friend Bucky. He's used Cap's shield multiple times throughout his appearances in the MCU, and some people think the studio was dropping hints about their future plans. Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, has also taken up the shield in the comics and would be a fitting Cap.
12. Nick Fury Finds Red Skull
We haven't seen much of Nick Fury in recent Marvel films, leading some fans to speculate whether the writers have excluded him from the storylines entirely. We haven't seen him in the Infinity War trailers - only heard his voice.
Thanks to an interview Samuel L. Jackson did with radio station Hot 97, fans got a bit more insight into what Nick Fury might have been up to during the recent Marvel movies.
"You didn't see me in Civil War,” Jackson said. “I’m still out there trying to figure out what, you know, The Skull is going to..."
He didn't get to finish the statement, but later in the interview, Jackson confirmed that his role wasn't over in the Marvel films. We haven't seen much of Red Skull lately either, and fans are speculating that the two might face off in a standalone movie.
11. Introduction to the Multiverse
Throughout the MCU, we haven't gotten any insight into alternate timelines that could be taking place. We're led to believe that the MCU's characters exist in isolation, but future MCU films might explore the possibility of the Marvel Multiverse.
Some leaked photos from the Infinity War set show some changes that have lead fans to speculate about alternate timelines.
If Thanos succeeds, he may open a portal to another reality where things transpired a bit differently.
Maybe certain characters who lost their lives in the main MCU survived in others.
Presenting audiences with an alternate timeline would give the writers a lot more freedom to reboot the franchise going forward. It would also help explain the inclusion of new characters, such as the X-Men and Fantastic 4.
10. X-Men vs. Avengers
There are all kinds of theories swirling about how the newly-acquired X-Men and Fantastic Four will make their way into the MCU. Some say that mutants have been there all along and are only hiding. Others think that a multiverse expansion is in order to try to bring everyone in.
Regardless of how they introduce audiences to these new characters, one thing's for sure: they probably won't get along right away.
In fact, one of the reasons Captain America was created in the first place was to battle mutants. The Avengers and the X-Men might be put into direct conflict with one another - with both groups thinking the other has too much power.
However it shakes out, they'll end up on the same side in the end. Hopefully, we're treated to a feature film of the two groups battling it out before they join forces.
9. The Inclusion of Fantastic Four Villains
Now that the Disney and Fox deal is final, Marvel fans have begun speculating on how their favorite Fox-owned superheroes will make their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are plenty of ways the MCU could introduce the X-Men and Fantastic Four into their world, but one theory has the villains entering first.
Movies haven't been kind to the Fantastic Four in the past. The original string of films opened to mixed reviews, and the newest reboot was dead on arrival.
What if Marvel skips making a Fantastic Four movie and brings the villains to the MCU first? Fantastic Four villains have always been the most interesting part of their storylines, so why not have the Avengers take on Doctor Doom as a way to bridge the gap?
8. Hawkeye Becomes Ronin
Hawkeye is the meme of the Avengers at this point. Yes, he can shoot arrows, but as the Avengers grow, his powers seem more and more insignificant. There's no question as to why he hasn't received a standalone film yet, and fans aren't exactly clamoring for it either.
One theory, though, has Hawkeye's role in the Avengers expanding quite a bit. He'll loss his life along with some of the other heroes in Infinity War, but he won't stay gone for very long.
Leaked set photos from Infinity War show Jeremy Renner in a costume we haven't seen before.
Fans believe that Scarlet Witch will resurrect Hawkeye, turning him into a new character: Ronin.
If this comes to pass, it would make Renner's character a lot more valuable in future battles, and may finally lead to his own film.
7. Scarlet Witch is a Double Agent
Scarlet Witch will undoubtedly play a positive role in Infinity War, and will likely help the Avengers fight and/or defeat Thanos before moving on. She's been on the good side for a few years now, but some fans have begun to think Scarlet Witch isn't all that she appears.
The theory states that she still holds the Avengers responsible for destroying her parents. She got close to them through the years, but she hasn't forgotten where she came from. Perhaps she's been working for Hydra this whole time as a double agent.
Scarlet Witch turning evil would give Phase 4 a fantastic starting point by reintroducing Hydra into the mix.
This would also serve as a platform for Nick Fury to face Red Skull. Phase 4 could start with the fractured Avengers coming together to face the original threat: Hydra.
6. A Blade Reboot
People forget that Black Panther wasn't the first black superhero to star in his own film. The Blade trilogy was successful long before the MCU started breaking records with every release.
Another product of the Disney-Fox deal could be a Blade reboot coming in Phase 4. Phase 4 is when we can expect to see some of the newly acquired heroes emerge, and the stage is set for another Blade film to be a success.
Some people will credit Black Panther for proving Blade's style of movie will succeed in the modern superhero arena, but Deadpool probably had more of a hand in any potential for a Blade reboot.
The new Blade movie will be dark, violent, and almost certainly R-rated. Since Deadpool was such a success, studios are open to providing audiences with superheroes exclusively made for adult audiences.
5. Venom in the MCU
Spider-Man was always the centerpiece of Marvel Comics, and now that Sony finally shared the film rights with Marvel Studios, he's a hallmark of the MCU as well.
We'll likely see his role expanded in Phase 4 of the MCU, which means he'll need some rivals to go against in his future films. If he is to lead the Avengers as some people expect, he'll need some worthy foes and anti-heroes to face him, while occasionally fighting on his side.
This is where Venom enters the picture. Sony has already released a trailer for Venom, which has fans excited to see the dark direction the film is taking. Since Sony and Marvel have proven they're not opposed to making deals, it's not out of the realm of possibility we see Venom enter the MCU.
4. Post-Thanos Villain: Skrulls
Once the Avengers take care of Thanos, they'll need another worthy foe to stand in their path. One-off villains have their place, but we'll need a larger threat looming ahead, the same way Thanos has for all these years.
One theorized force of evil could be the Skrulls. We already know they're going to appear in Captain Marvel's first movie, and fans are speculating that they could present a threat even greater than Thanos.
The most logical leap would be to assume that Secret Invasion will be the next Infinity War style movie to complete phase 4.
We could learn that some of our favorite heroes and villains were actually Skrulls all along.
They've been waiting in secret to plan their invasion. This threat could threaten the entire universe and is a great way to bring the Fantastic Four into the mix.
3. Ravagers Spinoff
The Ravagers' appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a brilliant cameo, but will their story end there? If fans have their way, it's far from the last we'll hear of this group of heroes.
Some speculate that we may get an origin story for the group, or an original movie starring the actors we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy. James Gunn has mentioned making a movie with this bunch, and fans are campaigning for an official Ravagers film as part of the MCU.
This film would be a great one-off, with a few implications that could ripple through the rest of the universe's continuity.
Either way, we're excited to see what the future holds for this misfit bunch. It's hard to imagine that a Ravagers movie starring Sylvester Stallone wouldn't put butts in the seats.
2. Loki Joins the Guardians of the Galaxy
The most far-fetched theory surrounding Phase 4 of the MCU has to do with Loki's future. It's clear by the Infinity War trailer that he gives his Infinity Stone to Thanos, seemingly to save Thor. It's no surprise since his role in the MCU has been mixed at best.
Fans love Loki, and we're likely to get more of him going forward. He's been the bad guy, he's helped Thor, and he's been his troublesome self the whole time.
One theory has a seeing a lot more of Loki, as he joins forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's not incredibly likely that this comes to pass, but it could make sense when you think about it. The Guardians are a mixed-bag of heroes who don't actually consider themselves to be inherently good.
Loki could fit right in with the Guardians, and he doesn't have many places to go these days.
1. Introducing the Fantastic Four
Marvel executives have already stated that they're looking to bring the MCU to more of a cosmic stage in Phase 4. It looks like the universe will be leaving some of the street-level heroes alone while it explores the threats that the rest of the cosmos offers.
The Fantastic Four would fit perfectly in this new phase, as many of their adventures take them to distant planets. Between them, Thor, the Guardians, and other heroes they can introduce, the MCU looks like it's going to expand quite a bit.
If the Skrulls become the next threat facing the Earth, it makes sense that the Fantastic Four will be there to help the Avengers do battle. The Skrulls have always been tied to the former group, and introducing them here would be logical. As for their absence, it's easy to explain that they were on some mission at a faraway star.
What's your favorite theory about the MCU's Phase 4? Let us know in the comments.