What’s next for the MCU post-‘The Marvels’?

IMAX poster for The Marvels (2023)

In the wake of recent developments and challenges within Marvel Studios, ranging from behind-the-scenes turmoil to rumors of potentially scrapping the ambitious Multiverse Saga, there’s a palpable air of uncertainty surrounding the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Despite the apparent setbacks, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has vehemently denied any plans to abandon the Multiverse and Kang as central elements in the overarching narrative.

However, if we entertain the notion of Marvel considering alternative directions for its storytelling, several intriguing possibilities emerge. One conceivable shift could be towards the ‘Young Avengers,’ a team comprising characters like Kate Bishop, America Chavez, Cassie Lang, and Kid Loki, who have already made appearances in Phase 4. This approach allows Marvel to focus on the next generation of heroes, picking up the mantle from those who faced Thanos in ‘Avengers: Endgame.’

Another narrative concept, tentatively titled ‘Inferno,’ envisions a battle against the demonic Mephisto, who is rumored to make his debut in ‘Agatha: Darkhold Diaries.’ In this scenario, a team of mystical heroes, including Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night, Elsa Bloodstone, and Blade, must thwart Mephisto’s insidious plans. This storyline adds a darker, supernatural element to the MCU.

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' MS. MARVEL

Considering the prominence of the X-Men in Marvel’s comic book legacy, the ‘House of X’ concept brings mutants to the forefront. This approach involves revealing the existence of the X-Men, who have been operating in the shadows, and their establishment of a sovereign nation on Krakoa. The ensuing conflict between mutants and other heroes provides a fresh dynamic, exploring themes of acceptance and coexistence.

A more contained and politically charged narrative could revolve around ‘In the Grip of Doctor Doom.’ Here, Doctor Doom seeks international recognition for Latveria and aims to solidify his rule. The story unfolds as heroes like Doctor Strange attempt to thwart Doom’s machinations, revealing a more diplomatic and strategic side to the iconic villain.

Despite these intriguing possibilities, it appears that Marvel Studios is committed to seeing through the Multiverse Saga. The recent conclusion of Loki Season 2 hinted at a complex narrative involving Kang variants and the Time Variance Authority (TVA). The saga’s expansive scope, reminiscent of the Infinity Saga, suggests a continuation of the intricate storytelling that has defined the MCU.

Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

However, concerns linger about the saga’s momentum and the need for broader awareness among characters about the imminent threat posed by the Kang variants. While certain characters, like Scott Lang, may have suspicions, a more widespread acknowledgment and collaboration seem necessary to tackle the impending crisis.

Additionally, the issue of various Kang variants needs resolution. Rama-Tut, a Kang variant glimpsed in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,’ and a reported Agatha character sharing a name with yet another Kang variant raise questions about how these divergent threads will converge into a formidable Kang antagonist.

Image of Mephisto from Marvel Comics

In conclusion, while the Multiverse Saga appears set to continue, Marvel Studios faces the challenge of delivering a narrative that resonates on the level of ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ The potential for alternative storytelling avenues, as explored in the various concepts, showcases the creative flexibility inherent in the MCU. Whether Marvel chooses to navigate these alternative paths or stays the course with the Multiverse, the passion and dedication of its creative team will undoubtedly shape the future of the MCU, possibly culminating in a climactic finish in 2027.

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