It’s been a full decade since the Marvel Cinematic Universe made its grand debut with 2008’s Iron Man, and despite near-constant talk of “superhero fatigue” amongst critics and analysts, it doesn’t appear the genre will go the way of the western genre any time soon, with Marvel movies continuing to break box office record after box office record. The universe started off somewhat moderately, focusing on a small handful of separate characters before bringing them together in The Avengers, but Marvel Studios has always had a talent for teasing its audience. Following Nick Fury’s appearance at the end of the first Iron Man, not only have post-credits scenes in superhero movies become incredibly popular, but they’re now fully expected. These little snippets of what’s to come are part of what makes Marvel movies so popular, allowing fans to speculate which of their favorite characters and storylines could show up in future movies.
With the upcoming Avengers 4 marking the end of an era, concluding the dozens of plot threads set up by earlier MCU movies, speculation around what Phase Four could bring is stronger than ever. Kicking things off with Spider-Man: Far From Home, Phase Four appears to be something of a fresh start for the universe, but exactly what -- and who -- can we expect to see going forward? CBR is here to shed some light on that question. Here are 5 characters rumoured to be appearing in Phase Four, 5 we hope to see, and 5 that we really don’t need.
15 RUMORED: MS. MARVEL
One of the millions of humans to undergo terrigenesis after Earth was exposed to the Terrigen Mists, Kamala Khan has since become one of Marvel’s most popular new superheroes. A young, Muslim teenager with shapeshifting abilities, Khan took on the mantle of Ms. Marvel from her idol Carol Danvers, with her youthful optimism and uncynical love of superheroics breathing new life into the character.
One of the frontrunners to appear in Phase Four of the MCU, Kevin Feige himself has expressed great interest in the character during several interviews, suggesting that the character may make her way to the big screen following the introduction of Captain Marvel in next year’s eponymous movie.
14 WANT TO SEE: X-MEN
While the prospect of the X-Men merging with the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have seemed like pie in the sky only a year or two ago, it seems that the team may finally be making their way home after all these years following Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox.
It’s no secret that Fox’s X-Men movies have been all over the place in terms of quality, and that’s something we’re confident Marvel will fix, giving the X-Men franchise a completely fresh start. Although the details of the deal are still somewhat up in the air, it’s all but confirmed that Marvel’s beloved band of mutants will enter the fray at some point in the future, whether it’s in Phase Four or further down the line.
13 DON’T NEED TO SEE: HAWKEYE
The unfortunate butt of pretty much every Marvel fan’s jokes, Hawkeye’s unfortunate lack of compelling screen time in 2012’s The Avengers is something that’s haunted the character ever since. Despite a mostly successful effort to humanize the character in Avengers: Age of Ultron however, Hawkeye still stands out as the black sheep of the Marvel family, with his appearances since Age of Ultron being few and far between in comparison to Marvel’s other heroes -- even getting written out of Avengers: Infinity War altogether.
With the sequel to Infinity War set to feature Clint Barton in some at least some capacity, the possibility that Hawkeye could give his life alongside several other heroes to take down Thanos is always present, despite rumors of a Hawkeye TV show floating around the internet.
12 RUMORED: MOON KNIGHT
Granted the powers of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu after being left for his demise at the site of an ancient temple, Marc Spector became the vigilante known as Moon Knight, with the character subsequently becoming one of Marvel’s most fascinating -- not to mention underused -- characters. Constantly struggling with his own trauma, as well as his battle with dissociative identity disorder, Moon Knight easily sticks out as one of the most unique street-level heroes out there.
It’s this street-level status, as well as his frequent team-ups with the likes of Daredevil, the Punisher and Spider-Man, that have made Moon Knight one of the most widely rumored characters in the MCU, with Kevin Feige confirming that he’s definitely been considered for future appearances.
11 WANT TO SEE: ILLUMINATI
One popular theory about Phase Four of the MCU suggests that Marvel is looking to explore more unconventional, non-Avengers teams in the near future, and the Illuminati fits the bill in that regard. Consisting of Iron Man, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Namor, Mister Fantastic and Professor X, each member of the group represents a different corner of the superhero community, with the morally questionable team pooling their top-secret information together to keep the world safe.
Since most of these characters already exist in the MCU -- with the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four now back in Marvel’s hands -- it’s not too outlandish to think Marvel could be heading in this direction.
10 DON’T NEED TO SEE: NOVA
A high-ranking member of the Nova Corps that was featured heavily in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Nova was actually a significant part of the film’s early drafts, which combined with Marvel’s confirmation of plans for the character make his appearance in future movies entirely possible.
Drawing his energy from the Nova Force, Nova possesses immense levels of superhuman strength, durability and speed, and can even absorb and redirect energy at will. While he’s undeniably one of Marvel’s more formidable cosmic heroes however, there’s not exactly much that distinguishes him from the MCU’s ever-expanding roster of cosmic characters, especially considering his powers are so similar to those of Captain Marvel.
9 RUMORED: CAPTAIN BRITAIN
Although Captain Britain may seem like a cheap knock-off Captain America at first glance, Brian Braddock is actually a pretty great hero in his own right, boasting superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, durability, stamina and the ability to fly -- not to mention the more mystical aspects of his moveset.
Captain Britain’s introduction into the Marvel Universe has been speculated for a number of years now, with Feige confirming the studio’s interest in the character, but the rumor seems to have gained momentum again in recent months, with stars such as Simon Pegg and Orlando Bloom expressing interest in playing the British hero.
8 WANT TO SEE: STATURE
With the same size manipulation powers as her father Scott Lang, Cassie Lang, perhaps best known as Stature to fans, became a fan-favorite hero in the mid-to-late 2000s, co-founding the highly popular Young Avengers team.
Cassie already exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing a prominent role in both Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp as Scott’s ever-optimistic daughter, but the casting of Emma Fuhrmann as an older version of the character for Avengers 4 indicates her transformation into Stature is imminent. After all, Cassie’s multiple on-the-nose speeches about becoming a hero in Ant-Man and the Wasp were clearly hinting at something, right?
7 DON’T NEED TO SEE: ADAM WARLOCK
Adam Warlock is one of those characters who might be just a little too overpowered for their own good, standing out as one of Marvel’s most weird and wonderful cosmic characters. Created as the “perfect human” by a group of mad scientists known as the Enclave, his powers include top-tier superstrength and durability, in addition to immortality and the ability to manipulate matter and quantum energy at will.
His existence in the MCU was teased in a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 post-credits scene, but considering he’s not set to appear in either Avengers 4 or Guardians 3, it’s unclear exactly where Warlock would even fit into the MCU -- especially considering that the character’s history is so intrinsically linked to Thanos and the Infinity Gems.
6 RUMORED: MILES MORALES
Considering that Miles Morales has rapidly become one of Marvel’s most popular new characters in decades, it’s no surprise that rumors have begun to circulate regarding his future in the MCU -- especially after Spider-Man: Homecoming gave the character such a clear nod in the form of Miles’ criminal uncle Aaron Davis.
Taking on the Spider-Man mantle after Peter Parker’s death in the Ultimate Universe, it seems unlikely that Marvel will go this route, but it’s entirely possible that the two Spider-Men could team up in some capacity further down the line, especially if Miles’ upcoming role in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse proves to be popular.
5 WANT TO SEE: NORMAN OSBORN
Sure, Norman Osborn may not be at the top of everyone’s list of most anticipated Marvel characters, nor has he been heavily rumored to appear in Phase Four, but Norman Osborn would make a great big bad for the MCU in the wake of Thanos, serving as a more personal breed of villain than the Mad Titan.
Not only is he the arch-enemy of Spider-Man -- a character set to spearhead the next phase of the MCU -- but the character also heads up an organization known as H.A.M.M.E.R., which is basically an evil doppelganger of S.H.I.E.L.D. With the Skrull set to appear in Captain Marvel, fans could even see Osborn appear in some version of the “Secret Invasion” story in the future, initiating the character’s rise to power.
4 DON’T NEED TO SEE: THE ETERNALS
One of the new superhero groups confirmed for Phase Four, the Eternals are a group of superhumans created by the Celestials, tasked with defending humanity from cosmic-level threats, most notably the incredibly dangerous Deviants.
Once again, the Eternals are simply far too overpowered -- a problem that’s only amplified by their great numbers. With their base strength rivalling that of pretty much any other Marvel character, as well as possessing immortality and other abilities, the Eternals simply aren’t all that memorable as individuals thanks to their endless laundry list of powers. The team are also strangely similar to the Inhumans in many respects -- and we all know how that team’s grand entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe panned out.
3 RUMORED: BLADE
While many people cite 2000s X-Men as the movie whose popularity kickstarted the superhero genre, it’s easy to forget that Blade -- which was released a full two years earlier -- was a huge win for Marvel Comics, even spawning two successful sequels of its own.
Now, 20 years after the release of Blade, the vampire hunter’s return has become the subject of much fan speculation, with actor Wesley Snipes expressing particular interest in reprising his iconic role. Rumors mainly point to the possibility that the property could be headed to the small screen given the franchise’s propensity for violence, so perhaps this could be part of the line-up for Disney’s upcoming streaming service?
2 WANT TO SEE: FANTASTIC FOUR
If there’s one Marvel Comics franchise that deserves a shot at redemption, it’s Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four. Following three critically panned attempts to kickstart the series, the latest of which being released as recently as 2015, it appeared that fans would never get to see the iconic team done justice on the big screen.
Enter Marvel Studios. After managing to reacquire the rights to the beloved characters, a newfound confidence has swept over fans, with many speculating that the fallout of Avengers 4 may lead to the creation of the team. After all, Marvel managed to correct the chaotic mess Sony made with the Spider-Man franchise, so why not the Fantastic Four?
1 DON’T NEED TO SEE: IRON MAN/CAPTAIN AMERICA
It goes without saying that everybody loves Cap and Iron Man. With constant speculation over the status of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr’s position in the Marvel Cinematic Universe however, it’s becoming more and more apparent that these heroes may not be around forever.
Following the cataclysmic events of Avengers: Infinity War, it’s pretty apparent that Avengers 4 will mark a significant change in status quo for the MCU, with Thanos’ defeat likely exacting a heavy price on Marvel’s existing roster of heroes. Using this opportunity to conclude the decade-long arcs of Captain America and Iron Man while passing the torch to a new generation of Marvel heroes seems fitting, especially in a cinematic universe that’s expanding so rapidly.