What comes after Endgame?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe brings an unprecedented run of success to a close this month with the release of ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ the story toward which all 21 of the franchise’s previous movies have been building.
So what’s next?
We already know ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ comes out in June and sequels to ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Doctor Strange,’ plus an overdue ‘Black Widow’ solo film, are in the works. And some surprising choices – not unlike ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ – have been revealed, with directors hired for movies featuring Shang-Chi and the Eternals.
It’s doubtful Marvel will let the Avengers brand fade away, even if some of the stars that helped it soar to its current heights don’t return.
They could go with ‘New Avengers,’ the title the team carried for several years under writer Brian Michael Bendis. This could blend existing characters (Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther) with newer ones (Captain Marvel, Shang-Chi, maybe the Eternals’ Sersi).
The studio could utilize the West Coast Avengers, with a team featuring the Wasp and Ant-Man and maybe heavy hitters like War Machine, Scarlet Witch and Vision. I’d love to see them include WCA founder Mockingbird, with Adrianne Palicki reprising her role from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ And if they need a little muscle and a lot of comic relief, Korg from ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ would be an excellent addition.
(Full disclosure: I endorse Korg’s presence in any Marvel project, particularly a cross-country adventure with Luis from ‘Ant-Man’ and Darcy from the first two ‘Thor’ movies.)
Or maybe they go young with the Champions, some of whom could pop up in ‘Endgame.’ Mark Waid and now Jim Zub have reinvigorated that franchise with the next generation of Marvel heroes.
The Thunderbolts are on a lot of wish lists. The downside is the twist that made their inaugural comic series so iconic is common knowledge and would be unlikely to make it to opening day without getting spoiled even if it wasn’t. Their more recent portrayals as ex-villains in search of redemption could come across too much like ‘Suicide Squad.’
Still, a team-up movie featuring surviving Marvel villains, admittedly few in number, has a certain amount of appeal: imagine Zemo leading a team of the Vulture, Ghost and, say, the Abomination, from all the way back in ‘The Incredible Hulk.’
There’s word of a series featuring the Falcon and the Winter Soldier coming to the Disney+ streaming service. Might that be parlayed into a new Captain America, as both have wielded the shield in the comics?
There have been other Hulks, including perennial sidekick Rick Jones and Gen. ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, but the most enduring is Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk. The character has often been played for laughs, but recent comic stories have focused on her in a more monstrous state. The right filmmakers could find a way to mix the two into something both familiar and new.
The elephants in the room are the Fantastic Four and X-Men returning to the Marvel fold. I’ve written before that I think the FF can work, but the X-Men would be an unnecessary complication and have shown for years they can sustain their own universe.
There have already been rumblings about a Silver Surfer movie, possibly with Adam McKay directing.
I know McKay’s resume extends well beyond ‘Anchorman’ and ‘Talladega Nights’ and he has an Oscar for co-writing ‘The Big Short’ and was nominated as a writer and director for ‘Vice.’ But I can’t help imagining Will Ferrell starring as the Surfer (thus explaining the shorts he wore while hurtling through space in the early days) and frequent collaborator John C. Reilly as Galactus.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic ‘Support Group.’