What’s next for Marvel after Endgame
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME
"Part of the journey is the end."
That's Tony Stark's farewell message in the closing moments of Avengers: Endgame and it very much feels like that movie closed the book on a massive cinematic universe - 11 years, 22 films and 48 hours.
What started in 2008 with Iron Man is now a movie behemoth that has so far, not counting the records-busting Endgame, grossed $US18.5 billion in box office receipts.
Marvel has made comic book movies cool, and extremely mainstream that even your aunt is throwing around names like Thanos and Ant-Man.
There is no avoiding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and parent company Disney is certainly not going to put it out to pasture, no matter how final Endgame feels.
FINAL SPOILER WARNING FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME
RELATED: Spoiler-free review for Endgame
What Endgame does is (almost) close out what has been retroactively coined The Infinity Saga, saying goodbye to foundation characters such as Iron Man/Tony Stark and Captain America/Steve Rogers.
But there are so many more Marvel Studios projects in the pipeline, so there's no need to weep just yet.
ALMOST THE END OF AN ERA
When it comes to Marvel, you may have heard people say "Phase One" or "Phase Four" - that's because the studio has organised its movies into phases.
So far, we've made it through Phase One (from Iron Man to The Avengers), Phase Two (from Iron Man 3 to Ant-Man) and we're nearly at the end of Phase Three (Captain America: Civil War to Spider-Man: Far From Home).
Originally, Avengers: Endgame was to be the end of not just Phase Three but the first era of the MCU and Marvel boss Kevin Feige had said that Endgame would mark the turning point, that everything would fall as either pre-Endgame or post-Endgame.
Which is why Endgame feels like such a big deal and why it emotionally focused on the original core Avengers - Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner, Thor and Clint Barton - much more than the newer generation of characters Marvel has introduced over the years.
Those newer characters, the likes of Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Falcon, are the future of the MCU.
However, as of last week, what marks the end of Phase Three been revised. On a promotional tour in Shanghai, Feige revealed Spider-Man: Far From Home will be the official end of Phase Three.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
For decades, Marvel Studios didn't have the rights to one of its most popular characters. That changed when it struck a deal with rival Sony Pictures to bring the webslinger home, though Sony still holds the rights and finances and distributes the movies.
Tom Holland will make his fourth appearance in the MCU as Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home, which releases on July 4 in Australia.
Set not long after Endgame, Peter goes on an overseas excursion with his schoolmates (who presumably were all "snapped" and returned because they don't seem to have aged) to Europe.
There, Peter is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to team up with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to fight the Elementals, beings with the powers to create natural disasters.
Unlike Tony Stark was to Peter Parker, Nick Fury is expected to be much less of a warm and fuzzy mentor to Spider-Man.
Phase Four should officially start on May 1, 2020, which is slated as the next MCU release after Far From Home. What that project is remains unknown.
Technically, Marvel hasn't "announced" what's coming next but there are many pieces being moved around.
It's also expected that future projects will be more standalone and character-focused than big event crossovers - at least for a while.
Presently, there are three untitled MCU movies scheduled each for 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Now that the fates of MCU characters are known with the release of Endgame, expect Marvel to start making more announcements of what's coming.
For fans who felt Natasha Romanoff's death in Endgame wasn't given the same emotional resonance as Tony Stark's or Steve Rogers' farewell, it's likely because Marvel doesn't want you to say goodbye to the character yet.
Given the character's irreversible death, the movie will likely be a prequel, maybe set before we met the character in Iron Man 2, possibly even in Budapest, an operation she and Clint were involved in and which have been referenced a couple of times in Avengers movies.
One thing we found out about Nat in Endgame is her father's name is Ivan, something she said she didn't even know. Not sure if that's going to be relevant, but interesting nonetheless.
The movie is due to start production in London in June and will be directed by Aussie Cate Shortland from a script by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson. Johansson will reprise the role and she will be joined by up-and-comer Florence Pugh and Stranger Things' David Harbour.
A solo Black Widow movie had been whispered about as far back as 2010 but had been, reportedly, hampered by the conservative and frugal Marvel Entertainment chief executive Ike Perlmutter, who supposedly thought movies led by women or culturally diverse characters would fail (and that female action figures wouldn't sell toys). Captain Marvel has made over $US1 billion so far while Black Panther closed out at $US1.3 billion.
Perlmutter was removed by Disney from the Marvel Studios chain of command in 2015 so Feige could report to Disney and not Perlmutter.
DISNEY+ TV SHOWS
When Disney officially announced its imminent streaming service, it also confirmed three MCU TV shows. But instead of the likes of Agents of SHIELD or the Marvel Netflix shows, which have been increasingly separated from the MCU movies (or cancelled), these will feature characters from the films.
The first is a Loki TV series, starring Tom Hiddleston as the mischief maker. Early rumours had the show charting the millennia-old Loki's adventures through history, especially as the character is dead in the current timeline. But it could also just as easily follow the 2012 version of Loki who absconded with the Tesseract in Endgame.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will return to play Scarlet Witch and Vision in the six-hour series WandaVision. In theory, with Vision now dead and neither he nor Wanda around before Avengers: Age of Ultron, it leaves a limited time frame for this story about the lovers.
But Olsen teased at the Disney+ launch that they had showed a photo of the characters in the 1950s - so maybe there is some kind of time travelling or alternate dimension thing going on?
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will team up for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There are no details on this yet but Endgame had Steve Rogers pass on the Captain America mantel to Sam/Falcon.
There are also rumours of a Hawkeye TV series starring Jeremy Renner. Speculation is that it could see Clint train the next-generation Hawkeye - he called his daughter Lila exactly that in Endgame, but rumours are rife that the next Hawkeye could be teen archer Kate Bishop.
After the success of Captain Marvel and Black Panther, not to mention Wonder Woman and non-comics rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, studios are keen to put forward properties with diverse leads.
Late last year, reports that Marvel was "fast-tracking" Shang-Chi had leaked out. The character was created in the 1970s during the Bruce Lee-led kung fu craze.
There's no casting news yet but Marvel has hired an Asian-American screenwriter in Dave Callaham and Asian-American director Destin Daniel Cretton. The movie is rumoured to be the Marvel project that will be filmed in Sydney.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 + THOR
The Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, originally due to go into production in early 2019, was delayed due to the public firing of Guardians creative steward James Gunn after right-wing activists unearthed old tweets from the director.
Gunn was then hired by DC for the Suicide Squad sequel before Marvel hired him back in March 2019 after the Guardians stars signed a public petition protesting his sacking.
Gunn needs to make The Suicide Squad for DC first, which goes into production in September 2019, before he can start work on Guardians Vol. 3. Gunn also had an executive producer credit on Endgame.
The character of Adam Warlock had also been teased in an end-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 so there's a chance he will turn up sooner or later, whether in a Guardians sequel or in a standalone movie.
Endgame finished with Thor joining the Guardians' ship amid a small tussle for power, played for laughs, with Quill and calling the group the Asgardians of the Galaxy. Whether Thor is just hitching a ride or if he will become part of the Guardians franchise remains to be seen.
Even though Thor is one of the original Avengers, a soft reboot and retoning of the character in Ragnarok means there's plenty of juice left.
Thor also handed leadership of the remaining Asgardians to Valkyrie in Endgame and Tessa Thompson recently said that "a pitch" had happened about a Thor sequel with Ragnarok director Kiwi Taika Waititi expected to return.
In the Marvel comics, the Eternals are a group of powerful characters connected to early human mythology - like the Asgardians - created by Jack Kirby in the 1970s. They were created by the Celestials (from Guardians 2) eons ago.
The main character would likely to be Sersi, rumoured to be Angelina Jolie while comedian Kumail Nanjiani is also in talks to join The Eternals. Marvel has hired Chloe Zhao to direct, from a script by Matthew and Ryan Firpo.
Production is expected in start in September 2019.
BLACK PANTHER 2
The hugely popular Black Panther isn't going to be left on the bench and writer and director Ryan Coogler is expected to helm the sequel with returning stars Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright.
Production is expected to start in late 2019 or early 2020.
DOCTOR STRANGE 2
Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has already signed a deal for the sequel. Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong are all expected to return.
Rumours are the main villain will be Nightmare, a ruler of the Dream Dimension.
- There's a line in Endgame where Okoye talks about earthquakes under the ocean - which could be exactly that, natural phenomena and tectonic shifts, or it could be teasing the MCU arrival of Namor the Submariner, an underwater superhero.
- Feige has expressed enthusiasm for a Ms Marvel adaptation - a story about a New Jersey Muslim-American teenager who can shapeshift, stretch and grow bigger, who named herself after Captain Marvel.
- Ant-Man director Peyton Reed has expressed hope that there would be a third Ant-Man/Wasp movie.
- With over a $US1 billion at the box office, it seems very unlikely that Captain Marvel won't get a sequel at some point.
- In Infinity War, Thor says Thanos "decimated" Xandar, the home of Nova Corps as seen in Guardians 1, to get the power stone. Many fans are reading this as the origin story of Nova in the MCU.
WHAT ABOUT THE X-MEN OR FANTASTIC FOUR?
Now that Disney has bought 20th Century Fox, the screen rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four can be brought under the same roof.
The upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants are widely expected to be the final chapters of the Fox X-Men franchise that started in 2000 - the state of the Deadpool movies and its absurdist fit into the X-Men continuity is another question.
But don't expect the X-Men to be introduced into the MCU too soon. Marvel will likely want to rest the franchise first after a two decade-run.
The Fantastic Four movies, however, one of which starred a younger Chris Evans, has been floundering on screen since, well, the first adaptation and is much more ripe and ready for a MCU-driven reboot.
Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas now
Share your movies and TV obsessions | @wenleima