As traumatic and upsetting as the closing scenes of Avengers: Infinity War are proving to be, it’s probably worth everybody calming the hell down here, and putting some things into perspective for a moment. The reality of all this is that in twelve months time, the as-yet unnamed fourth Avengers movie (Apparently the film’s tagline remains under wraps because it’s too spoilerific…) will ultimately undo all of this tragedy, bringing a significant percentage of those deceased heroes back to life again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Although a selection of key players such as Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are looking likely to leave the MCU as their contracts expire (which potentially opens up a whole new box of traumas), a good number of the characters we all just saw killed still have multiple movies left on their contracts. With rumours of the surviving Avengers using time travel to revisit the original Battle Of New York in order to alter history in their favour, and the simple fact that the Infinity Gauntlet can be used to undo everything Thanos just used it for, the majority of the seemingly heart-rending series of events we just all witnessed are essentially just bullshit smoke and mirrors, which are soon going to be reversed.
Having said all of that, the MCU is inevitably going to be a very different place after the end of Avengers 4. Some of those heroes just ain’t coming back, and the roll-call of permanent deaths will involve at least one founding Avenger. But this is an absolute juggernaut of a franchise, earning Disney billions of dollars in revenue every year. There’s not even the slightest suggestion that there are any plans to slow down or end the series, so fans need to stop freaking out. Because if anything, the MCU is only going to grow and evolve into something even more emotional and entertaining as it plows ahead.
With Thanos inevitably having been defeated in the not too distant future, after haunting the outer edges of proceedings for the last decade, Marvel will now need a new story-arc to pursue. So do the events of the last couple of movies give us a clue which storyline they might move things forward with? The answer is a resounding yes.
5. Secret Invasion / Annihilation
A growing number of Marvel movies are now being set in the depths of outer space rather than back here on Earth, which seems to indicate that the future of the MCU will be more ‘Heavenly’ than ‘Hydra’. The introduction of the likes of Nova, Adam Warlock and Annihilus would open the door to epic events like the Annhilation Wave or War Of Kings.
There’s also the long-awaited arrival of extraterrestrial villains The Skrulls in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie. The inclusion of their shape-shifting ability provides the opportunity for intrigues and conspiracy comparable with the average episode of Game Of Thrones. Which is in essence a summary of the Secret Invasion storyline, which sees the superhuman community turn on itself after it is saturated with alien decoys.
4. AvX / Civil War II
With the possible addition into the franchise of the new various characters who Marvel just reacquired the rights to back from Fox (if Comcast doesn’t ruin the deal), the stage is now potentially set for monumental dust-ups such as Civil War II and AvX. And why exactly is that? Because that list of returning characters contains a shitload of pissed off and mentally unstable mutants, that’s why. After all, it can be hard enough trying to police the MCU without the likes of claw-popping Canadian super soldiers and magnetized military mutant dictators running amok.
Up until the recent deal, Marvel’s scriptwriters have had to substitute the concept of mutant abilities for their far weaker Kree/Inhuman narrative. The sudden establishment in the MCU of a burgeoning mutant community, complete with a whole host of powerful heroes and villains would inevitably lead to an almighty showdown between teams with conflicting human and mutant agendas.
3. Dark Reign / Siege
Then there’s the unresolved Asgardian storyline. Thor infers in Infinity War that Thanos characteristically spared the lives of half of his surviving people, and when the dust has eventually settled its likely they would find their way to Earth to look for protection. The small town of Brockton, to be precise, which has already been established in the MCU during Season Two of Agent Carter.
The arrival of a super-powered community seeking asylum from persecution is unlikely to sit well with every US citizen, nobody less than General Thunderbolt Ross, who is enjoying the new recurring role his brief cameo in Captain America: Civil War has earned. Given the nature of the original Ragnarok storyline in the comics, this angle would also allow producers to potentially recast the existing Asgardian characters as they eventually reincarnate. Female Loki anyone?
2. Avengers Disassembled / House Of M
As the MCU has progressed over the last ten years, we’ve seen some of the newer Avengers stepping up to the plate to share responsibilities with the original team members. Ant-Man was thrust into the forefront of things during Civil War, and more recently Dr Strange led the fightback against Thanos in Infinity War. But it’s Scarlet Witch who may turn out to the the most significant addition to the team.
Wanda Maximoff is the most powerful member of the Avengers, having the ability to alter reality at will. But the poor girl’s already on the edge following the death of her twin brother. It’s entirely possible that following her resurrection in Avengers 4, she won’t take the murder of her boyfriend that well either, damaging her mental health and leading her to fracture time and space to try and create a happier false existence. Which is essentially bad news for everyone else.
1. Secret Wars: Age Of Ultron
Staying with the concept of shattering the laws of reality to create an alternate timeline, Wanda isn’t the only danger that the Avengers face. Arguably the only way that the studio’s moviemakers could go bigger and better than Infinity War is to see the creation of an alternative timeline, or a dimensional crossover featuring battles between the MCU heroes and their alternate counterparts.
One way this could take place, as in the comics, is if the surviving Ultron droids find a way to travel back in time and to correct their mistakes. By repeatedly doing this, they would be able to overcome and destroy the Avengers, leaving the surviving members in a desperate fight to reclaim their timeline. Given that the plot of Avengers 4 looks likely to see Tony and a Steve travelling back in time to defeat Thanos, then a rouge Ultron bot finding a way to do the same thing would be a relatively easy plot conceit to run with.
An even bolder and more explosive one would be to see some form of inter dimensional crisis, where opposing incarnations of Avengers face off against one another for the ultimate survival of their realities. But we close our list with the only two words that should matter to you. Marvel Zombies. Give the people what they want…