How It Follows The Comics
Thanks to the long-running nature of Marvel comics, the idea of passing on superhero mantles has been around for decades. Iron Man is best known as Tony Stark, but James Rhodes, Doctor Doom, Pepper Potts, Riri Williams, and Nathaniel Richards are just a few who have worn an Iron Man suit and assumed some sort of Iron Man identity. Steve Rogers as Captain America has been followed by Isaiah Bradley, Jeffery Mace, Bucky Barnes, and Sam Wilson; Thor's powers have passed to Jane Foster, Beta Ray Bill and others; Bruce Banner has seen Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross, Jennifer Walters, and Amadeus Cho gain similar Hulk powers; and Hawkeye and Black Widow have each seen a few people take their name. Fans have already seen an example of this in the MCU with Ant-Man and Wasp. While the Ant-Man franchise focuses on Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne, their titles were previously held by Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne - both in the comics and in the MCU continuity.
Marvel Studios loves to borrow elements from the comics in telling their cinematic story, and president Kevin Feige has even hinted that following this guide could be in the MCU's future. He said "we can look to in the comics" to see how the MCU will continue on as mainstay characters, as the original Avengers are nearing their end, and he specifically noted how Marvel heroes are constantly updated. Many of these changes have happened recently in the comics as well, which is sometimes a giveaway to what is coming on the movie side - such as Captain Marvel's new backstory. Falcon was promoted to the role of Captain America in 2014, the same year when a cancer-stricken Jane Foster took over as Thor. Kate Bishop's turn to Hawkeye happened in Young Avengers #4 in 2005, so she's been around in this capacity a little bit longer. With the comic precedence for many of the original Avengers' mantles being passed on, the MCU very well could follow it and result in some major changes in Phase 4 and beyond.
What It Could Mean For The MCU’s Future
If the future of the MCU does lie with legacy characters, then one of the first things to happen could be some familiar faces getting promotions. Falcon has just been a side character to this point in the MCU, so promoting him to become the new Captain America would be a major step up. The same could even be said for making Bucky the next Captain America, or if they decide to give both Falcon and Bucky a chance to pick up the mantle. The other mantle that could see a character get a promotion is in who could be the next Thor. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has the comic history to make it happen and the Russo brothers wouldn't confirm her Infinity War fate, which made many think she could have a future in the MCU, after all. Becoming the next Thor would be a huge return for Jane, but Marvel could also decide to make Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie even more powerful and bestow her with Thor's abilities.
Since only a few of the original Avengers have replacements that have already been introduced, moving in this direction would also set up the MCU with several brand new heroes - many of which happen to be female. Kate Bishop could become the new Hawkeye, the Iron Man mantle could be passed to Riri Williams, aka Ironheart, and the next Hulk could very well be She-Hulk. And if Black Widow also finds someone like Yelena Belova to take over, then she, too, could become a legacy hero. Of course, if Marvel Studios explores the legacy route for the original Avengers, it could be just be the beginning. This idea of legacy characters also would lead the way for Shuri to become the next Black Panther, Kamala Khan taking cues from Captain Marvel, Cassie Lang following in the footsteps of her father, and even how Miles Morales can one day become a new Spider-Man. Legacy heroes could pave the way for the immediate future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also inform how it develops for years to come - and it could all start with the original Avengers exiting.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019