Next years untitled installment of the Avengers franchise promises to signal the end of an era. Most of the actors that have been around since phase one of the MCU will be completing their contract with Avengers (2019). Among the actors set to depart is Chris Evans, whose Captain America has led the Avengers since the team first assembled. In his absence, the Avengers -- whenever the inevitably get back together -- will need a new hero to lead them in Phase Four and onward. With that in mind, we offer our picks for the eight heroes we'd love to see take charge of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, as well as the seven heroes we don't think are quite cut out for it.
Captain America will be a hard act to follow. Steve Rogers is a born leader, having displayed these qualities from the first time we saw him in Captain America: The First Avenger. When the team has been on the verge of imploding (which is about every time they assemble), Cap always remains the rock that the others need. With that in mind, what superhero possesses the maturity and skill set to lead the next wave of Avengers? A few names immediately jump out that many fans would be excited for. Some of the obvious picks include Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther. But there are some characters that may catch up by surprise and make the jump to a leadership position. Here are eight heroes we would like to see lead the Avengers in phase four and beyond, and seven that could never cut it.
15 POTENTIAL LEADER: CAPTAIN MARVEL
Avengers: Infinity War's mid-credits tease hyped up audiences for the upcoming introduction of Brie Larson's Captain Marvel. With Marvel's game-changing hero set to debut in 2019's Captain Marvel and subsequently help turn the tide against Thanos in the fourth Avengers movie, Captain Marvel seems to be the face of the MCU's Phase Four.
It would only be fitting if Captain Marvel were to stick around on earth following the events of Avengers (2019) to lead the newest generation of Avengers. Like Captain America, Carol Danvers has a military leadership background, making her a likely candidate to lead the Avengers into future battles.
14 CAN'T CUT IT: STAR-LORD
It's hard to imagine Star-Lord leading Earth's top heroes anytime soon. Although Peter Quill is technically the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, he has a tough time convincing his fellow guardians of his status. More often than not, the other Guardians do what they want regardless of what Star-Lord has to say.
Plus, if Avengers: Infinity Wars told us anything about Quill, it's that he's far from being the cool-headed rock that his fellow heroes need when combating galaxy-threatening enemies. Star-Lord would have to do a lot of maturing in a short span of time in order to lead the Avengers.
13 POTENTIAL LEADER: DOCTOR STRANGE
Doctor Strange seems like an obvious choice to lead the next wave of Avengers. Stephen Strange possesses the big-picture mindset and maturity that Star-Lord lacks. In Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange seamlessly slid his way into the larger MCU. Once past the inevitable bickering between him and Tony Stark, Strange helped organize the rag-tag team of cosmic Avengers and put together a plan to stop Thanos.
And if current theories hold true that the elimination of half of the universe's population was necessary to ultimately defeat Thanos, then Strange's plan is still in play. With that kind of foresight, Strange seems to be the guiding hand that the Phase Four Avengers need.
12 CAN'T CUT IT: SCARLET WITCH
Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch is one of the few Avengers to return to the screen after Avengers (2019). This would seem to automatically qualify her for a leadership position due to her edge over other heroes in terms of experience. However, that wouldn't seem to make much sense from a narrative standpoint. Scarlet Witch is arguably the most powerful Avenger, but the sheer magnitude of her powers makes them difficult to control.
Gaining mastery over her reality-altering magic and leading the Avengers may be too much for one hero to handle. And if we had to choose, we'd much rather see the full potential of Scarlet Witch's abilities.
11 POTENTIAL LEADER: THOR
It was long expected that Chris Hemsworth would be leaving along with the rest of the original Avengers following Avengers (2019). However, after the success of Thor: Ragnarok, Hemsworth has been in talks of doing Thor 4 with director Taika Waititi. If Thor 4 does come to pass, we don't see why Hemsworth couldn't also return to the Avengers, perhaps this time in a leadership position.
In Thor's past two MCU appearances alone, the character has grown a lot. With all that Thor has been through recently, we can see him now being mature and responsible enough to take leadership of the MCU's mightiest heroes.
10 CAN'T CUT IT: WASP
This past summer, Wasp made her MCU debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp. From the film's start, it was clear that Hope van Dyne was born for superheroics. Furthermore, she proved to be excellent in a team environment and appears to be an obvious choice for the next line-up of Avengers. But could she lead the team?
Despite there being a precedent in the comics for a Wasp-led Avengers team, we don't see it happening. Unlike how it is in the comics, the MCU's Wasp isn't a founding member of the Avengers and it would be unexpected to see her make the jump to an Avengers leadership position.
9 POTENTIAL LEADER: BLACK PANTHER
Another one of the more obvious choices for phase four Avengers leadership is Black Panther. He's 2018's breakout superhero and is sure to be one of the MCU's most exciting characters for years to come. In addition to the character's popularity, it would make sense for Black Panther to take the lead from a narrative standpoint. T'Challa is, after all, a king.
He knows a thing or two about leadership and has already established relationships with several other MCU heroes. T'Challa could definitely cut it as a leader -- but will he lead? As much as we'd like to see it, he might be busy watching over Wakanda.
8 CAN'T CUT IT: HULK
Following Avengers (2019), Mark Ruffalo will still have to do one more movie to fulfill his MCU contract. What that movie will be is up for speculation. Whatever the case will be though, we can't see the Green Goliath taking a leadership position on the Avengers. Even if Marvel were to go with the Smart Hulk from the comics, it would still be unprecedented to have Bruce Banner or his alter ego lead the Avengers.
In every Avengers flick so far, Hulk has proved unstable. Given his track record, it doesn't matter if Banner is a founding member -- there are just too many smarter choices.
7 POTENTIAL LEADER: BUCKY BARNES
Sebastian Stan will still have several movies left do after Avengers (2019) in order to fulfill his contract. Seeing as how it seems all but certain that Chris Evans will be departing from the MCU with next year's Avengers film, Stan could very well take on the mantle of Captain America.
The passing of the torch would be a fitting way to send off Evans while also ensuring the continuation of the Avengers with a new Captain America at the helm. Of course, all of this is predicated on the assumption that the Winter Soldier's Avengers: Infinity War fate will be undone.
6 CAN'T CUT IT: ANT-MAN
Can the guy who stole from the Avengers in his first solo flick eventually lead the Earth's Mightiest Heroes? Not in our estimate. Ant-Man was one of MCU's few established heroes to not get the invite for Avengers: Infinity War, which definitely didn't help his odds here.
Ant-Man could and should join the team of heroes that assemble in the wake of Avengers (2019). But Ant-Man and Wasp told us that Paul Rudd's character would still have to grow a lot in order to fill in Captain America's shoes. Of course, this doesn't mean we wouldn't love to see Ant-Man try to lead the team.
5 POTENTIAL LEADER: SAM WILSON
If Anthony Mackie sticks around in the MCU after Avengers (2019), it's possible he'll take on a larger role. Like Bucky Barnes, Mackie's character, Sam Wilson, also takes on the responsibility of Captain America in the comics. The mantle of Captain America could very well skip Bucky and go to Sam if Marvel opts for a passing of the torch.
Like several other characters on this list, Sam's military background makes him a good fit for leading MCU's many novice superheroes. There's no question that Sam could cut it as a leader. Whether it's probable or not, is a different question.
4 CAN'T CUT IT: WAR MACHINE
As it stands, it looks as if Don Cheadle won't be returning as War Machine after Avengers (2019) but even if he were, we don't think he'd be the best pick to lead the team. First off, it would be a bit out of the blue for War Machine to make the leap from supportive character to lead Avengers.
Also, from a narrative standpoint, War Machine is kept busy by his work with the U.S. Air Force. His duty as a superhero has always seemed to take second place to his duty as an officer. So, although War Machine could probably technically cut it as Avengers leader, the chances of him doing so are slim to none.
3 POTENTIAL LEADER: VISION
Unlike many of his fellow MCU actors, Paul Bettany's contract is a mystery. We aren't sure if he'll continue to appear in the MCU after 2019 or if he'll join most of the original Avengers in their departure from the MCU. However, if he does stick around, we think there's a good chance that he'll assemble a new Avengers team.
The Vision has a long and storied history with the Avengers in the comics and led the team during a chaotic time in the early '80s. Vision certainly has the capacity to be a wonderful leader. The question is whether or not Vision would be interested in such a task in the first place.
2 CAN'T CUT IT: SPIDER-MAN
The MCU's Peter Parker is just a teenager. It's difficult enough for him to balance high school and being New York's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man without being charged with global-level responsibilities. As great of a character Tom Holland's Spider-Man, Phase Four seems way too soon for him to rise into a leadership position.
Every time we've seen Peter so far, he's been freaking out just to be in the presence of fellow superheroes. Spider-Man should stick to evolving in his solo films and as a supportive member of the Avengers. As for Phase Five and beyond, the likelihood of Peter leading the Avengers becomes more realistic.
1 POTENTIAL LEADER: BLACK WIDOW
Scarlet Johansson is set to return to the MCU post-Avengers (2019) in her own solo feature. Although the movie is rumored to be a prequel, if Black Widow does survive next year's Avengers movie, we could see her sticking around to lead the heroes.
At this point, she's the only founding Avenger confirmed to be sticking around after Avengers (2019). The fact that she has so much experience with the team is enough to qualify her as the frontrunner for the Avengers leadership role. The only thing that could prevent her from doing so would be her own aversion to such a position.