It’s now been more than a month since Avengers: Infinity War was released in theaters. Now that the shock has worn off and the initial heated debates about its implications have died down, we can start looking ahead to what might come next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, we don’t want to look ahead at Phase 4, we want to really look ahead to Phase 5.
We already know some of what Marvel has greenlit for Phase 4: we’ve got sequels for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange in the pipeline, as well as a last Guardians of the Galaxy movie to finish out the trilogy.
Phase 5, on the other hand, is more of a question mark. How is Marvel going to move forward, keep things fresh, and draw audiences to theaters after what by then will be nearly fifteen years of superhero films?
They’re definitely going to have their work cut out for them, and since nothing has been announced yet, rumors are flying about what Phase 5 of the Marvel empire will look like.
Fans have been sharing what they want to see in this phase for months, but it’s going to be a long time before we get any major hints from Marvel.
Until then, we’ll just discuss all the best rumors and educated guesses. Spoilers ahead for...everything.
Here are the 10 Rumors We Hope Are True About MCU Phase 5 (And 10 We Hope Aren’t).
20 Hope is true: Debut of the X-Men
This is probably the biggest rumor that’s come up about Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although before the characters were owned by different studios -- with the Avengers at Disney and the X-Men at Fox -- that barrier was knocked down by Disney’s $66 billion deal to buy Fox.
Once that deal is complete, one studio will have the rights to all of the characters. Could we see the X-Men join the brightly colored MCU?
As soon as the Disney deal was announced, fans started clamoring for the characters to be added to the MCU somehow.
As long as the character introductions are handled with the same type of care that has been shown so far over the course of the MCU, this could actually work.
Phase 5 is currently far enough in the future that Marvel and Disney have plenty of time to strategize and figure out how to best incorporate these characters. Maybe a Secret Wars movie to close out Phase 5, in a film that might even rival Infinity War?
Seeing characters like Deadpool and the X-Men in the MCU could be a breath of fresh air and a great way to reboot Phase 5 without some of the iconic characters we’ve come to know and love over the last decade of movies.
19 Hope isn’t: Removing Spider-Man
By the time that Phase 5 rolls around, we will have seen Spider-Man in two of his own stand-alone movies as well as Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and (we’re assuming) the still untitled Infinity War sequel.
At that point in the MCU, it wouldn’t be surprising if Marvel execs decided to go in a different direction and leave the founding members of the cinematic superhero team behind.
We’ll talk about that more below, but if Marvel is removing characters, we hope that Spider-Man isn’t one of them.
His character hasn’t been around since the MCU’s inception in 2008, so he wouldn’t feel overused by Phase 5 if his storylines are managed well.
Plus, with Tom Holland, we finally have a portrayal of Spidey that feels accurate to the comics. Holland is young enough, has fantastic energy, and really seems to understand the character. It would be a shame to have to let that go when we’re still enjoying the character and his story.
Sony gave Tobey Maguire three movies and Andrew Garfield two, so let’s hope that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is given a trilogy like some of the other MCU heroes. Fingers crossed there’s at least one Spidey movie in Phase 5.
18 Hope is true: Introducing Doctor Doom
Another possibility from the Disney/Fox merger is bringing the characters from Fantastic Four into the MCU. They’re nicknamed “Marvel’s First Family” for a reason -- they were the most recognizable characters before Marvel Studios started pumping out movies in 2008.
Not only would this be a great opportunity to finally see those characters represented well on screen, it would also represent a chance to introduce a great villain -- Doctor Doom.
If there’s one major flaw with the MCU as a whole, it’s that it tends to have an issue with its villains. They’re either forgettable and one-dimensional (Ronan) or rehabilitated to the point where we forgot they were a villain in the first place (ahem, Loki).
Killmonger and Thanos are notable exceptions, but they’re recent additions to the MCU canon. One easy way to fix this would be to add one of the greatest comic book villains of all time.
Doctor Doom is best known for being the archenemy of the Fantastic Four, but there’s already a comic book precedent set for him coming into contact with characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther.
Introducing this character would be exciting and could even give us an overarching antagonist for Phase 5.
17 Hope isn’t: Keeping the same characters
While there are lots of calls for new characters to be introduced, there are also rumors swirling around that Marvel might end up keeping the same core cast of heroes -- just not in the way we might expect.
Instead of keeping around actors like Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans, who are clearly hoping to be able to move on from the MCU and expand their bodies of work, new people would step in to play the roles.
Rather than re-casting the roles, which would not go well, other characters could step up -- like Bucky taking on the role of Captain America in the event of Steve Rogers’ passing.
This wouldn’t be completely unheard of since there’s a precedent set for situations like this in the comics. It’s part of how storylines can stay relevant and fresh while still (kind of) keeping the characters that audiences love.
For the MCU, though, it would be an incredible waste of an opportunity. The current cast of heroes is great, but there are endless opportunities for new characters and storylines that are already within the Marvel canon.
Just sticking to the heroes we already know and love would be limiting.
With how much power Marvel has, they have the power to introduce new characters without worrying too much about their bottom line.
16 Hope is true: A full reboot of characters and storylines
With that in mind, one rumor we really hope is true is that we’ll get a complete reboot of characters and storylines.
Phase 4 will still be dealing with the fallout of the two Infinity War movies, so we’ll see most of the same characters from Phases 1-3 return to the big screen.
Depending on how Phase 4 is resolved, though, there might be a good narrative opportunity to start the MCU over again from scratch.
The Infinity War sequel will probably be the vehicle for some of the “founding members” of Marvel to make their clean exits from the franchise.
The surviving members of the Avengers (aka the characters introduced in later movies) will still have some stories left to tell, as we can see from the scheduled movies for Phase 4. However, after that... there’s a real opportunity for Marvel to do something completely new.
Starting over would give the writers more creative freedom to introduce new characters and stories into the universe.
If they tried to do that now, it would be far too bloated -- it’s a miracle Infinity War worked with how many characters that needed screen time.
Keeping a few characters from early phases, like Spider-Man and Black Panther, could provide continuity and give audiences some familiar faces to look forward to.
15 Hope isn’t: Solo Black Widow movie
In the past, fans were clamoring for a solo Black Widow movie. She’s got a backstory that would make an incredibly exciting movie, and she’s so well-established in the Marvel universe that even casual viewers at least recognize her character.
She’s played by Scarlett Johansson, who’s an established star in her own right and would finally be able to show her full acting range in a Marvel movie for once. There are a lot of positives.
However, a Black Widow origin movie would have fit well in the earlier phases of Marvel, back when executives kept teasing her story but were clearly waiting to see if a female-led superhero film could bring in the cold cash.
By the time we get to Phase 5, though, we will have moved onto a new stage of the story and hopefully a new cast of characters.
Since she was introduced at the very beginning of the MCU, it might be time to let her go and focus on bringing other female characters to the screen -- starting with Captain Marvel next year. Besides, the film seems to be stuck in development hell.
Let Scarlett Johansson and her wigs take a break. It’s better to have no Black Widow movie than a movie that turns out like the SNL parody.
14 Hope is true: Including more supernatural heroes and fantasy elements
For the most part, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has tried to stay more in the realm of science fiction. Iron Man, the character who they chose to kick off the entire universe, doesn’t have any powers at all -- just a brilliant mind and fantastic technology.
Many of the other characters are similar: Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon, and War Machine, for example.
Even some of the characters with powers have scientific explanations. Captain America and the Hulk were both injected with serums (with mixed results), Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, the list goes on.
Characters like Thor, Doctor Strange, and Scarlet Witch, whose powers are more fantastical, are in the minority.
That’s not for lack of options in the comics. Incorporating more supernatural heroes and fantasy elements into the universe could open up a lot of options for stories, new characters, and new directions that the overarching story can take.
Now that we’ve established that magic is part of the MCU, the movies could make space for characters like Blade and Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider has made an appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Marvel owns the cinematic rights to Blade, so this actually could be a possibility.
13 Hope isn’t: Introducing the Silver Surfer as a villain
Audience members who don’t read the comics are likely only familiar with the Silver Surfer from the 2007 movie, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
It was the second movie in the Fantastic Four franchise, and the Surfer was introduced as the villain attempting to destroy Earth.
Eventually, the characters find out that he doesn’t actually want to be evil, he’s forced to destroy planets by Galactus because otherwise, Galactus will destroy his home planet. By the end of the movie, he has joined the Fantastic Four against Galactus.
Given that younger Marvel audiences will likely have no memory of the Fantastic Four movies by the time the MCU version of the Silver Surfer would hit theaters, they could technically tell this story over again. However, this wasn’t the Surfer’s last appearance in the comics.
After being trapped on Earth by Galactus, he joins the Fantastic Four to fight against evil. He even joins up with the Hulk and Namor to form their own group, the “Titans Three.”
We’ve already seen the Silver Surfer as a villain, and there are so many great opportunities to include him in the MCU as a hero. Let’s not stay in the past.
12 Hope is true: Including The Eternals
The Eternals were first introduced back in the seventies as an evolutionary offshoot of human beings. Their “classification” should give you a hint about one of their powers -- rather than being homo sapiens, they are ‘homo immortalis.’
They existed before humans and can live for millennia since they were originally intended to be the guardians of the Earth. (Not the galaxy.)
They were created by the Celestials, who also created the Deviants. The Eternals spent most of their time defending humans from the Deviants. Their history pulls from Greek mythology, but within Marvel comics, they also intersect with the Kree, the Titans, and the Inhumans.
Although you might not realize it, we’ve actually seen one Eternal already. Some Eternals are affected by the Deviant Syndrome, a genetic mutation. Most notably, one of those individuals is Thanos.
There are lots of ways that The Eternals could be introduced into the MCU, especially since so many connections could be quickly established within MCU canon.
Kevin Feige has said that they’re actively trying to figure out a way to bring them into the universe, but nothing is set in stone as of yet. We’ll just have to wait and see when that actually happens.
11 Hope isn’t: Nakia becoming Malice
If you’ve only experienced Black Panther through his standalone movie, you probably know Nakia as a smart, self-assured, and independent woman who works as a spy.
She and T’Challa used to be together, but there’s no bad blood between them.
She decided to take a different path so that she could pursue a cause she believed in, T’Challa carried out his duties to the throne, and both of them held each other in mutual respect. Since they seem to get back together at the end of Black Panther, they’re one of the healthiest couples in the MCU.
Since we have such a great example of what a good relationship can look like, it would be a shame if the writers chose to pull from one of Nakia’s comic storylines for some Phase 5 drama.
In the comics, Nakia is part of the Dora Milaje and instantly obsessed with T’Challa when they meet. She plots to take down T’Challa’s American ex-girlfriend, causing Nakia to be banished and eventually join Killmonger after being renamed Malice.
Before Black Panther was released, some people speculated that Nakia would turn against T’Challa and join Killmonger.
Those rumors seem to be continuing for Phase 5, but using this storyline would completely ruin her established character in the movies.
10 Hope is true: Exploring more possibilities with alternate universes
After the credits for Infinity War rolled, some fans started discussing the possibility of Marvel introducing alternate universes.
The Infinity Stones make the possibility of alternate universes seem even more tangible. After all, if you can control every aspect of the universe, who’s to say that you can’t open a doorway into another one?
Doctor Strange introduced us to the concept of multiple realities and potential futures, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine all the possibilities that come from really introducing alternate universes into the MCU.
The comics have gone down this road multiple times before, but we have yet to see it explored in the movies.
It would be great to see this come into play in Phase 4, but our guess is that it probably won’t actually be a reality until Phase 5.
If entire movies were set in alternate universes, that would open up a world’s worth of potential stories. (It would also make it easy to explain why things don’t fit perfectly into the overall continuity of the universe.)
Whether we see alternate universes appear because of elements already established within the MCU or because of something completely new, we hope we get a chance to explore them.
9 Hope isn’t: No Namor due to rights issues
Many fans are hoping that future phases of the MCU will bring a version of Namor the Sub-Mariner to the big screen. Namor is one of the OG Marvel Comics characters, introduced as early as 1939.
He’s the son of a human man and an Atlantean princess, which gave him his unique abilities. (If you’re thinking that sounds familiar, Namor is actually older than DC’s Aquaman by about two years.)
He’s a pretty recognizable character, and like some of the other characters on this list, there are easy ways for the writers to fit him in.
In the comics, he fought alongside characters like Captain America, Johnny Storm and Doctor Strange over the course of his run. His father, Leonard McKenzie, even met his mother while on an expedition to find vibranium. Including Namor in future movies seems like a no-brainer.
There’s just one problem -- Marvel doesn’t own the film rights to his character. The rights were sold to Universal years ago as a package deal with other characters.
Some of those characters have been rented to Marvel, but the Namor situation is more complicated. We probably won’t see him in Phase 4, but we’re hoping that Marvel is able to figure out the rights in time for Phase 5.
8 Hope is true: Expanding the role of Nova Corps
The Nova Corps was first introduced into the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014, though it didn’t play the biggest role. They’re a space police force charged with protecting the Andromeda Galaxy and Earth.
Since the focus has clearly been on the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy protecting earth, Nova Corps understandably took a backseat. However, the Marvel writers have an opportunity to do a lot more with them.
One of the most recognizable members of the Nova Corps is Richard Rider, who was later known simply as Nova after becoming Nova Prime.
He was the one who helped Star-Lord bring together the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics. Since his story is so intertwined with the Guardians, he might have a chance of popping up at some point during Phase 5.
We could also see the Nova Corps in their slightly less powerful state after Thanos’ destruction. In the comics, they have to completely reform and recruit people from across the galaxy.
There is just one problem -- they’re inexperienced, and people don’t trust them, so the Nova Corps gets a bunch of criminals no one wants. (Think the Night’s Watch from Game of Thrones.)
They should definitely have a bigger role in Phase 5.
7 Hope isn’t: More unconnected Netflix content
While some fans only watch the movies that are released in theaters (which is still a LOT of content to get through), the already expansive MCU has even more content on the small screen.
To date, there ten shows that have aired in the past or are currently still creating new content: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, and Inhumans on network television-- Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher on Netflix, and Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu.
That doesn’t even count Cloak and Dagger, which is in post-production and set to air on Freeform, and the comedy series New Warriors, which is currently trying to snag the empty slot left by Roseanne at ABC.
According to Marvel, all of these shows are connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some way, even if it’s only a passing mention of “The Incident” or the Avengers.
It doesn’t look like the production on TV series is going to slow down anytime soon -- in fact, the rumor is that there might be even more content coming, only completely unconnected to the rest of the MCU.
Instead of creating new, unconnected TV shows, it would be great to see Marvel step up the connections between the television and film worlds of its universe. (Or just bring back Agent Carter.)
6 Hope is true: Bringing the TV stories of the MCU into the films
As we mentioned above, Marvel already has a lot of great television available with production teams in place, actors cast, and storylines established.
While the shows are part of the MCU, sometimes that only seems to be a reality in interviews with Kevin Feige. More often than not, the only connection to the overarching storyline seems to be throwaway lines or Easter Eggs in the background.
Although we don’t expect Chris Hemsworth to suddenly appear in an episode of The Defenders, there could definitely be more done to firmly establish the shows in the MCU.
Let’s say that the writers of Marvel’s Netflix shows, for example, want to have the creative freedom to ignore most of the movies. Fair. That lets them set up each small screen hero in their own world without too much extra baggage. What about bringing the TV stories into the movies?
Right now, although (most) of the television properties at least mention the movies in passing, in the movies, it’s as though those characters don’t exist.
It wouldn’t be too hard to have Peter Parker mention his admiration for Luke Cage, or for storylines from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to have some influence on a movie’s plot. There’s a lot of content there and many interesting opportunities to create great stories.
5 Hope isn’t: M’Baku will turn on T’Challa
After the release of Black Panther, M’Baku (AKA M’Baeku) quickly became a fan favorite. The leader of the Jabari tribe is funny, loyal to his people, a fierce warrior, and has the added bonus of being played by Winston Duke.
Actually, the main reason why he’s a fan favorite might be because he’s played by Winston Duke.
Fans were thrilled when they realized that he would be reappearing in Infinity War and breathed a collective sigh of relief when he made it through Thanos’ snap.
In Phase 4, we’re pretty sure that we’ll see either him or Okoye (or both) step up to lead the Wakandan army in T’Challa’s absence. But what about after that? What happens to his character next?
One rumor is that after the events of Infinity War have died down, M’Baku will turn on T’Challa and become his enemy instead.
The writers would have the backstory to make that happen -- M’Baku was the only person to challenge T’Challa at his first ceremony, the Jabari tribe are on the outskirts of Wakandan society, and T’Challa arguably just allowed an alien army to breach their borders and claim the lives of the Wakandan people.
It wouldn’t be completely out of the blue for M’Baku to decide he no longer supports the throne.
4 Hope is true: Bringing more women and POC to the screen
Comic book movies (and comic books themselves) have historically had a bit of an issue with representation.
Even though women have always been present in comics, they didn’t receive the same level of care and attention that male characters did.
Women usually popped up as love interests, and when female superheroes were introduced, they were often over-sexualized with storylines and abilities that followed gender stereotypes -- especially once those characters made it to the movies.
A similar issue comes up when you look at the representation of people of color in comics. Characters like Luke Cage and Black Panther might have been around for ages, but go back and look at some of those early comics and try not to cringe at the racist stereotypes.
Recently, comics and movies have been improving when it comes to representation. In 2017, we got a powerful female superhero with Wonder Woman. 2018’s Black Panther was filled with powerful, intelligent black women.
The year 2019 will see Captain Marvel get her own standalone movie on the big screen. The progress is slow, but it is happening.
We hope that in Phase 5 of Marvel, we can bring even more women and people of color to the silver screen. Why shouldn't everyone feel like they can be a superhero?
3 Hope isn’t: Shuri takes up the Black Panther mantle
Let’s be clear -- Shuri would dominate if she became the Black Panther. She’s already proven that she has courage and fighting skills, plus she’s clearly more intelligent than her older brother. We would love to see her take over from T’Challa, but in Phases 3 and 4, not Phase 5.
Assuming Shuri wasn’t part of the fifty percent of humanity wiped from the Earth, she’s the obvious choice for picking up the Black Panther mantle. Plus, she’d be able to make herself a pretty fantastic suit. Seeing her retain those powers after Avengers 4 would be great for the Black Panther sequel.
In Phase 5, though, we’re hoping that T’Challa is still in the mix. We still have a lot to explore about his character.
Diving deeper into his backstory and psychology will be impossible to do with the limited screen time he’ll probably receive in the Infinity War sequel, again assuming that the people who perished because of Thanos will return somehow.
While we love Shuri, we also want to continue seeing Marvel develop T’Challa as a character.
Other superheroes were given a ton of time to develop across multiple movies, and we’d love to see the same for him as well.
We’d make a Phase 5 exception if Marvel picks up the storyline where Shuri takes up the Black Panther mantle after T’Challa abdicates the throne to go after Doctor Doom.
2 Hope is true: The introduction of Ms. Marvel
If you’re reading this confused thinking, “I thought she was getting her own movie before the Infinity War sequel?” you’re thinking of the wrong character.
Captain Marvel is starring in her own movie next March, but Ms. Marvel is a completely different character. They can get confused easily, especially since the first two Ms. Marvel series starred Carol Danvers.
The Ms. Marvel we’re talking about is Kamala Khan. Kamala is the fourth and most recent character to take on the Ms. Marvel title. She’s young (only sixteen) and a Pakistani-American teen from Jersey.
She’s also Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic series. Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel is a pretty big step forward when it comes to representation in comics.
Kamala idolizes Carol Danvers and takes on the title of Ms. Marvel after Carol becomes Captain Marvel. She might not be as well-known to members of the general public, but her connection to Captain Marvel makes including her in the Marvel Cinematic Universe easy.
Representation is especially awful when it comes to women of color, and it only gets worse when it comes to Muslim characters.
If her character is written correctly for the screen, a Ms. Marvel appearance could be groundbreaking.
1 Hope isn’t: MCU vs. DCEU
Some fans of both Marvel and DC have floated a potential possibility for a way to top the spectacle that was Infinity War -- could we see a Marvel vs. DC battle to end all battles in Phase 5?
Crazier things have happened. Ten years ago, people probably would have said that the idea of a cinematic universe spanning an entire decade was a pipe dream.
Could it happen? Sure, if executives and legal teams are really motivated to draw up one of the biggest contracts of all time. It’s the longest of all long shots. But should it? We don’t think so.
For that kind of movie to work, you have to settle more than just the rights to each character. You’d need a writing team skilled enough to balance out the humongous number of characters this movie would likely have, all while staying true to each character’s tone and voice.
The actors need to have chemistry together on screen -- without recasting any major roles because audiences would revolt if an unfamiliar face is playing their favorite character.
Not to mention all the timeline explaining you’d have to do to make those characters exist in the same universe. The exposition alone would take up half the runtime.
No, it’s better for these characters to stay in their own respective universes. Let’s leave the Marvel/DC crossovers to the comics.
What do you think of these MCU Phase 5 rumors? Any that we missed? Let us know in the comments!