WARNING: This article contains light spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home, in theaters now.
Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios dropped more than a few bombshells this past Comic-Con International in San Diego, revealing new projects such as Eternals, Blade and a light hint at a future for mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With all of these secretive figures and factions jumping into the massive multi-movie franchise, the future of the MCU is looking rather crowded.
Populating the MCU with every single Marvel property might seem like a fun idea, but it may not necessarily be a good one. While the franchise is no stranger to shadowy groups, such as S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra and even the Inhumans, adding new groups like the cosmically-powered Eternals or the vampires Blade hunts so passionately could cause the MCU to contract rather than expand.
The Eternals are a splinter species of humans with powers gifted to them by the ancient Celestials. Due to their longer life spans and incredible power, the Eternals have typically hidden themselves away from the rest of humanity. Blade is a half-vampire who hunts other vampires, wherever it is they may hide. The X-Men, and by proxy the rest of the mutants in the Marvel Universe, are vast and plentiful, yet feared and hated by many in human society.
These three franchises all share a common theme: the heroes are outcasts. These heroes don't have the luxury of being accepted in society. For the sake of the MCU, this could lead to interesting social commentary in the films. However, in terms of worldbuilding and continuity, it raises the question of just how many secret societies this franchise can handle.
S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra were two of the earliest shadow organizations established in the MCU. They both operated at the highest levels of secrecy (Hydra probably more than S.H.I.E.L.D.). When it was revealed the latter had infiltrated the former in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the franchise as a whole got flipped on its head in a big way. That's especially true when you look at the repercussions of that film in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Speaking of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that show also introduced viewers to the reclusive Inhumans of the MCU. In some ways, the Inhumans are very similar to the Eternals. The primary difference is where their powers come from. While the Eternals were created by the Celestials, the Inhumans were the byproducts of human experimentation by the Kree. The Inhumans had a shot at relevancy in 2017, but their future in the MCU is uncertain since their show flopped.
Then there's the Skrulls. These crafty shapeshifters are the epitome of secrecy. Spider-Man: Far From Home cleverly teased the idea of Skrulls living among humans. The MCU Skrulls appear to be far removed from their vicious comic book counterparts. Still, it's worth noting just how shadowy they tend to be.
The idea of the Skrulls "infiltrating," as teased in Far From Home, and the recounting of all these other elusive groups raises the question of whether or not the MCU has too many secret societies. When you throw in the Eternals, vampires and potentially the X-Men, there's a lot more people to keep track of.
The idea of adding more figures into the MCU is a double-edged sword. On the one side, you're granted more tools to play with for worldbuilding and storytelling. On the other, the world might actually start seeming smaller, since it feels like almost everyone is part of one secret group or another. If every other individual is a Hydra agent or a vampire, where does that leave the typical citizens?
That doesn't even take mutants into account, whose numbers are nigh immeasurable in the comics. Suddenly lumping them into the already massive MCU slate of heroes is a daunting task, one that could throw off many fans. There's no doubt Feige and Marvel Studios can integrate all these new pieces, it's just a matter of how well they can do it. We'll just have to wait and see.
Marvel's Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao and starring Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Kumail Nanjiani, is set to release Nov. 6, 2020.