Volume Seven, Issue Eighteen!
“Where Does The MCU Go From Here?”
The following contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War. You've had two weeks now, so you've got no excuses if you start reading this without seeing the movie!
By all accounts, Avengers: Infinity War is a pretty resounding success. While not as critically acclaimed as the previous Marvel Studios films, it's still sitting pretty at an impressive 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it's had a pretty immediate hold on the pop culture landscape since release. Of course, it's also the highest opening weekend of all time, beating out The Force Awakens. But the real question remains after the credits roll is this : what's next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Of course, we know what's in the immediate future. Ant-Man and the Wasp hits this July, and Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 are coming our way in 2019. But I'm talking about AFTER next year. We know very little about Marvel Studios' Phase Four slate of films, aside from the fact that it'll feature another Guardians of the Galaxy movie and a sequel to Spider-Man Homecoming. Which, yeah, takes the sting out of some of the character deaths in Infinity War, but also doesn't give us a ton of insight into the other films that are coming our way.
But the biggest question I have about the future of Marvel Studios is what they're going to build to next. While Kevin Feige and the studio have played very coy about any plans they have in place if the Fox buyout goes through, I can't believe that they don't have something in place. Acquiring the X-Men and the Fantastic Four is too big of a deal to not have ANY kind of plan. After all, the only other threat that could serve as similar a purpose as Thanos did in the lead up to Infinity War could be Galactus, or maybe even Doctor Doom. But there's also some characters on the X-Men side that could serve that purpose too. Apocalypse could stand to get a Marvel Studios refresh, or hell, they could even try their hand at getting Onslaught off the ground, provided it doesn't end the same way that the comic storyline did.
But maybe the Fox buyout could be their next build up. Instead of leading up to another cosmic big bad, what if Marvel Studios used the coming of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four as their next big crossover film? However way they introduce the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU, they could do separate films for those characters, and then continue with the Guardians, Spidey, and whoever else makes it out of Avengers 4 alive. If done right, it could lead to their own spin on the Avengers vs. X-Men event, and like all good Marvel hero vs hero battles, it would lead to both sides realizing that they have been played by an enemy, and they team up to take him down. It's a left field choice, for sure, but it could work.
Regardless of what they do, we're entering a new and exciting era of the MCU. For the first time in years, we have no clear idea of what is coming our way. As great as Phase Three has been, the fact that Marvel revealed their entire slate for this phase years in advance did kind of take the wind out the sails dramatically. If I know that there's a third Captain America film coming, how am I supposed to believe that he's in any real danger in the Avengers movie that comes out before it? We don't have that problem now, and because of that, the sky is literally the limit for Marvel Studios. Here's hoping they don't let their current successes go to their head and start phoning it in.