When the 2019 sequel to Avengers: Infinity War wraps, it will bring the curtain down on the MCU's Phase 3. The fact that its title is being kept secret has us even more excited, especially because Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, has said that revealing it will give a lot away as to where things are headed. When this fourth film ends, the MCU will be over a decade old, as things started with Jon Favreau's Iron Man in 2008, and Feige also revealed that the climate will be "distinctly different." It's a smart move to keep things fresh and keep our interests vested.
Feige has remained relatively tight-lipped, however, because he doesn't want to spoil how the Thanos saga plays out, but he has dropped bits of crucial information here and there. Some have been confirmations of planned directions while others have led to conspiracy theories and rumors on the internet. If it's one thing that we can't deny it's that everyone is waiting with bated breath. Heroes may fall, villains may triumph, and generations of new warriors could end up coming to the fore. With that said, CBR decided to look at some things we know will happen in Phase 4, and some rumors we hope turn out to be true.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for several MCU films
15 KNOW: A NEW AVENGERS LANDSCAPE
We're not sure what the landscape will be like for the Avengers in the wake of Infinity War and its sequel, but Feige has made it clear that things will change. With such a high-stakes fight for the fate of the universe, you'd be naive to think things will remain the same. Fresh faces would help to reinvigorate things and prevent monotony from sinking in. Reshuffling does have its benefits.
It would also allow players Feige mentioned in the past, such as Captain Britain, an opening for arrival. Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel is also joining the fray so it's very clear that the Avengers will be getting a facelift. Maybe we'll even get different teams like the New, Mighty or Uncanny squads from the comics. The Avengers initiative can even promote supporting heroes and really be an expansive project similar to the 50-state initiative from the Civil War books.
14 RUMOR: SECRET INVASION COULD HAPPEN
When Captain Marvel announced it would draw influence from the Kree-Skrull war, fans rejoiced, especially because concept art showed not just Brie Larson, but the mean-mugging Skrulls, who were depicted like their usual MCU counterparts. It came as a surprise because many thought the rights to these aliens were solely with Fox. We didn't expect this because the Skrulls were used interchangeably with the Chitauri in the Ultimate universe.
This universe heavily influenced 2012's The Avengers so we thought once we got the Chitauri, there would be no room for Skrulls. How glad we are to be wrong! Secret Invasion focused on them planting shapeshifting agents that ran back to before the House of M event in order to take over Earth. With this movie set in the '90s, maybe some Skrulls were left over, posing as some of our favorite MCU heroes and villains!
13 KNOW: ALL-NEW GUARDIANS
James Gunn introduced us to new faces in the form of the Ravagers in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and we also got a look at characters who were in the original team in the comics. We saw more of Yondu Udonta, and met Stakar Ogord (a.k.a. Starhawk), Martinex T'Naga, Charlie-27, Aleta Ogord, Krugarr and Mainframe.
What Gunn further revealed is that GotG Vol. 3 will be the end of the current squad, which boasts Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket Racoon, Mantis and Drax. After three films, it makes sense to shake things up, especially with so many other cosmic faces out there. Adam Warlock has already made his arrival known, and Gunn could use Quasar, Nova and Darkhawk to make the universe even more diverse, as Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning did with their books.
12 RUMOR: THE X-MEN COULD COME HOME
Bringing the X-Men home from Fox is unlikely but not impossible. Feige has left the door open for this to happen and don't forget he also deemed the pickings slim for Spider-Man to come to the MCU. The X-Men have remained a major part of Marvel Comics, factoring into storylines with the Avengers in events such as AvX and Schism, so it's not like they were thrown in the dog-house like the Fantastic Four.
Feige's reluctance to slam the door shut on them has led to whispers on the internet that Phase 4 could bring in the children of the atom, especially as the studios worked out deals for Ego to come over to GotG Vol. 2 in exchange for Negasonic Teenage Warhead for Deadpool. Sharing is caring, after all, and they've done so for the Skrulls, so hopefully it continues on a bigger scale.
11 KNOW: SONYVERSE REMAINS SEPARATE
The SonyVerse is picking up a lot of steam on the heels of the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming. The Venom movie has Tom Hardy on board while the Black Cat and Silver Sable team-up film is also coming along. With talks of solo flicks for Kraven and other villains also building, despite Peter Parker rocking our socks off as Iron Man's protege, these additional faces from the SpiderVerse won't be coming to the MCU.
In other words, they can be part of it but still can't really be allowed to show up on-screen in a direct manner. It's a tad odd and confusing but it is what it is and it appears Sony wants some exclusivity in order to strengthen the backbone of their comic world. It's all good though as long as Spidey gets freedom to roam in the MCU.
10 RUMOR: PASSING OF THE SHIELD
Speculation has it that Chris Evans will be bowing out after Avengers 4, which could pave the way for Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan) to take the shield from Captain America. This echoes what happened in the comics after Civil War. BuckyCap, as he was so affectionately called, played an underground role, partnering with Black Widow and Nick Fury, in the wake of Steve's death to restore justice to the shield and redeem himself.
The baton, or in this case, the shield, could even be passed to Sam Wilson, who is also Captain America in current comics. In the MCU, both are Cap's valued allies, so the possibility is there. Evans' Cap doesn't have to die; he could retire or be lodged in an alternate reality to set up a return, but fans have expressed interest in freshening up the Avengers' star-spangled icon.
9 KNOW: R-RATED IS A POSSIBILITY
With Fox seeing success with R-rated superhero films such as Deadpool and Logan, the possibility came up for the MCU to take a stab at similar adult-oriented stories. However, despite the violent Punisher depiction on Netflix, Feige quickly moved to point out Marvel Studios had no such plans for R-rated movies. He did acknowledge the creatives boundarie being pushed and the risks taken, as he pointed out that Blade was a Marvel property that was R-rated and did well.
In a recent interview, though, Feige was more open to the possibility as he said "I don't think it's out of the question," when asked if he warmed to the idea. If Marvel goes more horror and supernatural than say, Doctor Strange, or takes other vigilantes like Punisher, Blade, Ghost Rider or Moon Knight to the limit, this small window of possibility is good news.
8 RUMOR: FANTASTIC FOUR COULD COME HOME TOO
The odds are slim to none when it comes to the Fantastic Four movies coming back home to Marvel Studios, but there is a possibility. The movies haven't done as well at Fox and fans have long clamored for the property to come home to the MCU. In fact, the reduced role of Marvel's first family in the comics has hinted at a tension between the two studios.
While this rivalry has been downplayed, regarding the franchise coming back over, Feige has said, "There are certainly no plans whatsoever for that. But too many amazing things have happened over the past 17 years for me ever to say never. But for now, nothing." Remember, we thought the same couldn't happen for Spidey and look what transpired with Sony. Fingers remain crossed that some deal ends up being worked out.
7 KNOW: NO NETFLIX CROSSOVER
Fans have made tireless calls for the MCU's Netflix universe to make its presence felt on the cinematic side but Feige has also indicated that won't happen. The Netflix series have made references to the movies, of course, especially the Chitauri invasion from The Avengers, as it wrecked New York City, giving diehards hope that maybe the Defenders or the solo heroes such as Iron Fist and Luke Cage could get called up to the big leagues.
Sorry to burst your bubble but that's a no-go, even if Charlie Cox wants Black Widow or Spidey to dip on over to Daredevil! It would be awesome, as these street-level heroes have been key Avengers in the books, but this wishful thinking sadly is not in the cards for the greater vision of the MCU.
6 RUMOR: NEW NETFLIX HEROES
With The Defenders' debut season done and dusted, it's clear that New York needs new heroes. We saw Iron Fist assume a guardian position after what happened with Daredevil at the end, and the man who played the deadly weapon from K'un-Lun, Finn Jones, has said that we're basically in Phase 2 of the Netflix corner of the MCU.
With heroes welcome to help protect New York, and more street-level faces needed in general, internet chatter has led to names being mentioned from a bunch of Marvel comics, including Heroes For Hire. Misty Knight, Colleen Wing and Frank Castle's Punisher, who are all poised for big things. Rumors have it more new heroes such as Moon Knight and Shang Chi could enter the fray. We're calling them heroes, but we know they'll be branded vigilantes!
5 KNOW: HOMECOMING SEQUEL OPENS PHASE 4
Spider-Man is poised to make an even bigger impact in Infinity War than he did in Captain America: Civil War. In the recent Comic-Con footage, fans saw him fighting in a new suit that was teased at the end of Homecoming (hinting at the Iron Spider) and it's obvious he will have a crucial role to play in the MCU as the Homecoming sequel takes place just minutes after Avengers 4.
While the SonyVerse is being kept apart from the MCU, it's very interesting to find out that the first perspective on life after all the Thanos drama comes from Peter Parker. We're still waiting to see how many MCU faces will appear in this film, but to see the great responsibility placed on Spidey where he kicks off a new chapter for Marvel Studios is quite a powerful statement. Maybe perhaps mourning an Iron mentor?
4 RUMOR: FOCUS ON LEGACY & YOUTH
Sony is planning to have another Marvel hero join Peter Parker in the Homecoming sequel and rather than replace Iron Man with an experienced hero, rumors immediately began to swirl that it would be another Spider-Man in Miles Morales. He was name-dropped in the prequel by Donald Glover's character, Aaron (the Prowler). With both heroes teaming up in comics at present, it's not far-fetched.
However, apart from Miles entering the MCU, with a focus on youth being placed on series such as Runaways and Cloak and Dagger, legacy could be a theme for the big screen with Miles' Champions springing forth. This includes Amadeus Cho's Hulk, Kamala Khan's Miss Marvel, Sam Alexander's Nova and the Vision's daughter, Viv. These are some characters in the rumor mill, not just for Homecoming 2, but for Phase 4 in general.
3 KNOW: DEATH WILL INFLUENCE IT
In terms of key deaths, the MCU has played it relatively safe. We haven't really lost any hero we've established a strong emotional connection with. Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron didn't resonate as much with audiences; but now, the gloves are off and the Infinity Gauntlet is on! This means Thanos is coming for his Infinity Stones and as usual, expect death to follow in his wake.
Feige has also pointed out that some of our beloved heroes may not make it out of Thanos' assault alive which means a really new era of heroes for Phase 4. Whether it's via contracts being up or the natural course of the MCU not needing them anymore, figures like Chris Evans' Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man could be exiting stage left. Death does lead to new beginnings after all...
2 RUMOR: RED SKULL TO RETURN
This was a rumor that initially felt like something atop the wishlist of fans who wanted more of the Captain America villain. Cut to last March when Samuel Jackson was being interviewed and he was talking about being left out of the Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther movies. "You didn't see me in Civil War. I'm still out there trying to figure out what The Skull is going to do..." he said.
Speculation immediately started that with the next couple Avengers films focusing on Thanos, he was referring to Red Skull coming back for Phase 4. The despot was last seen being destroyed by the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger and many felt he wasn't done justice. This could spice up future Cap movies, especially as we're uncertain as to who will wield the shield.
1 KNOW: UNEXPECTED TEAM-UPS WILL HAPPEN
Feige has said to look out for "unexpected team-ups" in Phase 4 in the little tidbits that he has divulged about what happens when the Thanos saga comes to an end. Such a notion is highly plausible given that fans were not expecting a Thor and Hulk buddy-cop film in Thor: Ragnarok in the first place. We got a conventional one thanks to Iron Man-Spidey but again, we've seen hints of the unconventional with the Winter Soldier standing with Wakandan forces to take on Thanos' minions.
Footage of Infinity War also showed Star-Lord fending off Thanos' attack with Doctor Strange helping him, so it's pretty clear once the Russos are done testing the waters with their ensemble cast, the MCU will have the formula down for partnering heroes together, whether conventional or not. After all, Sony is already doing it with Silver & Black.
Let us know in the comments what (new) facts and rumors for the MCU's Phase 4 we need to take note of!