The Future of The Marvel Cinematic Universe


After Age of Ultron, what’s next for the MCU?

You’ve had all weekend to watch and process Avengers: Age of Ultron, a giddy, dizzying carb-load of a blockbuster. Now it’s time to deliberate over what’s happening next, which is exactly what Marvel wants us to do, as these movies become more and more about the future than the actual movie we’re watching.

Since we’re already giving Marvel all our money, we might as well give Marvel everything that it wants, including way too much time and energy deliberating the course and future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What follows is a series of predictions (both serious and not at all) about how the MCU might take shape extending all the way to Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and 2. Obviously: SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON FOLLOW!

Back in August 2013, I did my own “fancast” of Marvel’s Phase 2. Highlights include: tabbing Crispin Glover as Ultron (if James Spader was an outside the box choice for Ultron, the box was a dot to Glover) and being right about Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Vision (Paul Bettany and a Jarvis colored origin) and I’m going to assume Hope Van Dyne or whatever Evangeline Lily is in Ant-Man will become Wasp.

While Ant-Man remains a part of Phase 2, for all intents and purposes, Phase 3 is upon us, because I doubt Ant-Man is going to be bursting with Infinity Gems.

Avengers 2 ends with a gloriously comic-booky ending with a new iteration of the team, a tradition whenever a new creative team comes onboard a title. Which, in effect, is exactly what’s happening in the movies, as Joss Whedon exits and is replaced by Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) for the next two Avengers films.


What’s the state of the Avengers?

  • Iron Man is taking a siesta to ruin Captain America’s life. While we got some of his guilt and bickering out of the way in Age of Ultron, it’s obviously/unfortunately just getting started. He’s not going to be able to forget the troubling vision of the future, and will take it in his own hands, to disastrous effect. Thus: Civil War.
  • Quicksilver is taking the ultimate siesta (RIP).
  • Thor has to deal with dark forebodings in Asgard, removing himself from the equation. Considering Chris Hemsworth is the only one not rumored for Civil War at this point, it’s safe to say Thor minds his own business into Thor 3, or Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Hulk is MIA, taking the reins from Bruce and retreating into a watery solitude. If this could somehow end with Hulk meeting up with Namor the Sub-Mariner, I’d ejaculate fourteen times. For now though, Hulk and Bruce seem due for some soul searching and a return to their lonely existence, following his latest rampage. A crazy psychological drama fighting over their existence like Mark Ruffalo wants would be a bold and interesting choice for Marvel, but I don’t see it happening until Phase 17 (read: probably 4).
  • Hawkeye has a family to retire to, a direct allegory for Joss Whedon, leaving the high-octane super-powered world behind. Hawkeye was the breakout and best character in Avengers: The Age of Ultron, the heart and soul of the team, even if that aspect was a little forced. But still: for my money, it’s the best way to say goodbye to this character. He’s not going to get a juicier part unless Black Widow gets a movie or the two get a team-up spy flashback flick, and these movies are already over-crowded as is. But, instead of taking that as a well-deserved out for the character, Hawkeye’s coming out of the cold for Civil War.

But for all intents and purposes, these heroes are no longer on active duty. Only two original Avengers remain to lead the new (New?) Avengers: Captain America and Black Widow. This makes perfect sense for Cap, as the Avengers are the only home that he knows at this point, while Black Widow also has nowhere else to go. I don’t like that that’s because she was jilted by a man, but her position at least sets Natasha up to be a co-leader of the team, which bodes well for Black Widow’s ascent into becoming perhaps the best and most interesting character in the MCU.

They will be joined by the new recruits: Vision and his mind stone, Scarlet Witch and her mind fuckery, with two sidekicks looking to be the new QB1: War Machine and Falcon. Just in terms of diversity, this is a much more refreshing mixture, though it’s only a start.


Ant-Man (July 17, 2015)

The only question with Ant-Man is if it really has any lasting effects on the Marvel Universe, or if Marvel will allow it to at this point. There are several reasons to be negative about the movie, but going beyond the behind the scenes trouble, the trailers make Ant-Man look like another man in a suit movie. Yes, it’s a shrinking one, but the plot looks copy and pasted from the first Iron Man, with the exception being that the guy who created it is gifting the abilities to a criminal (unfortunately, while I love him, Paul Rudd is the least convincing criminal ever). Hank Pym is a billionaire playboy philanthropist just like Tony, except he’s older and more behind the scenes, and his inventions are also going to get in the wrong hands, which happen to be a former protégé at his company. Sound familiar? Corey Stoll is the Jeff Bridges/Iron Monger replacement, taking Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) technology and corrupting it to become Yellowjacket. The get-up looks interesting, certainly, but it’s still more guys in metal armor. Sure, none of them can shrink size, but the packaging feels familiar to Iron Man, Iron Monger, Whiplash’s own suit in Iron Man 2, War Machine, Tony’s Iron Men, etc.

But regardless of whether Ant-Man is a good movie (a sarcastic Marvel heist movie is a fun genre choice certainly), will we see Ant-Man (or Wasp?) on the Avengers for Infinity War, or any future films? I just don’t see where Scott fits into anything before Avengers: Infinity War if even then. Though, of course, it’s hard to predict since Marvel hasn’t clued us in on the greater MCU implications of Ant-Man.

But let’s give it a shot:

  • Civil War is too stuffed already.
  • Hank Pym might’ve been an interesting foil for Doctor Strange but is Scott Lang?
  • I can’t conceive of a way that makes sense for Ant-Man to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, though I just had a hilarious thought that what if Hank Pym is Star-Lord’s Dad and nearly fell out of my chair, then corrected myself: Michael Douglas probably fathered everyone in every movie in the MCU.
  • Again, Hank Pym would make sense kinda to maybe act as a mentor to a young Spider-Man, helping him with his suit and web shooters, but do we really want to see that? No, and that’s Pym, not Scott.
  • He won’t be in Ragnarok, so Ant-Man and/or Wasp probably won’t be seen until Infinity War, when I presume we’ll really see everyone who’s ever made an appearance in a Marvel movie (does that mean Stan Lee has to appear 18 times?).

Unfortunately, considering how bloated Avengers: Age of Ultron felt, even though Joss Whedon somehow managed to hold it together, the best case scenario for an Ant-Man movie (that we want to see him again) is almost a worst case scenario for the greater MCU, because it means we have to find room for him/them.

Prediction: Hope Van Dyne is the daughter of Hank and Janet Pym, the original Wasp, who died tragically (a death that’s probably Hank’s fault). This explains Hank Pym’s seemingly reclusive nature, and gives him the dark side the comic book character had, and would imply an estranged relationship with his daughter. This will be healed over the course of the movie, before Hank Pym dies (because of course Michael Douglas dies in this movie), having passed the torch to Ant-Man and repaired relations with his daughter, and coming to grips with her superhero-dom, as the new (and the audience’s first) Wasp. Kevin Feige has described Ant-Man as a passing the torch movie, and I think there’s a strong possibility part of the narrative is seeing the original Ant-Man and Wasp as heroes in the age of Howard Stark and Agent Carter’s SHIELD, a nod to the history of these characters (they were the two original Avengers left out, after all). Because Evangeline Lily is destined to be a badass superhero, I feel fairly confident she’ll at least join the new recruits and is a more likely candidate for screen-time in Avengers: Infinity War than Scott Lang because the world wants to see more women kick ass.


Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)

Thankfully, Hydra’s pretty much over (or will be after Coulson’s team takes care of Dr. List by the end of the season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and because our heroes have run out of villains to fight with (until Thanos shows up), that means they have to turn on each other because Marvel loves pitting their own heroes against each other like fanboys arguing over who would win in a fight.

I share my concerns for this movie with my comrade David: Civil War was an insulting, awful storyline, moreso than the movie will likely to be, if only because Captain America and Iron Man have shared a million adventures in the comics, and only two in the movies. Even so, they’re friends, if tenuous ones and I just don’t get the escalation of going from teammates into the Avengers to opposite sides of Superhero Registration or whatever the fuck we’re going to call it in Civil War. Since secret identities make no sense in the MCU, it’ll clearly be taking a different angle: one where the government will want to monitor and impose control over superheroes and the “Enhanced,” because of Hulk’s fun jaunt in Ultron and the fact that Tony created Ultron. Tony, feeling guilty and reeling from his vision of being the last one standing amongst a pile of his brethren, spearheads the movement, with Steve Rogers rebelling and this turning into Marvel’s answer to Batman v. Superman (which should be obviously unnecessary). I’m getting nauseous just thinking about it, because as David so astutely points out, WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE TONY STARK BECOME UNLIKEABLE? He’s what started it all, the reason the MCU is so successful; of course, that’s probably the narrative Marvel is licking its lips over. Even so, turning him into a villain seems short-sighted. Before Ultron and Kingpin, I would’ve made a snarky comment about how Marvel is desperate to reverse their villain creation slump. Now, it seems even less important, a forced bout of controversy to waste time until Thanos finally shows up.

But it’s happening, and when it does, who is going to fight on Tony’s side? Cap will likely have his New Avengers on his side, along with Winter Soldier. One would guess War Machine might fight alongside his best friend Tony because of their history and his history in the military, but it’d be far more interesting if he didn’t. Bruce Banner would probably side with Tony, but he’s not going to be in Civil War: abstinence is probably the best move Banner or Hulk could make. I can’t imagine Hawkeye fighting against Black Widow, and I don’t see her jumping off Cap’s side, but I suppose whatever catastrophic event kicks off Civil War will send our heroes hurtling into wacky opposite directions. Otherwise, it’ll be Tony and his Iron Army versus all (and likely Nick Fury/SHIELD). None of this matters: whoever has Vision and/or Scarlet Witch (I’m gonna cry when their lovemaking opens Thanos’ eyes to true love, giving up his gauntlet to find a new lover than Death), wins anything.

I think Civil War will be the Trojan horse, with Ed Brubaker’s “The Death of Captain America” hiding inside it (kind of like how Two-Face was a Third Act shocker in The Dark Knight). All the ingredients are there: Crossbones survived The Winter Soldier (and he’s the one who assassinates Steve), we’ve seen a version of Doctor Faustus in Agent Carter, and he’s who manipulates Sharon Carter into stabbing Steve with the fatal blow, and Baron Zemo could be pulling the strings instead of Red Skull. I don’t think it’d go down exactly like that, because Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter is a nobody in the MCU at this point, and I doubt she’d be able to become interesting or emotionally affective as being culpable for the crime with such a packed narrative already.

But still: imagine how impactful it’d be if Captain America dies in Civil War, and if he actually stays that way (until Chris Evans returns as the Nomad in 2024). His martyred death would end the government’s BS policies, end any sort of opposition from Tony and whomever he’s rallied to his side, and put our heroes at one of its lowest and dangerous points, with Thanos seemingly forever looming across the galaxy, but looming a little bit closer now. Chris Evans has been back and forth about continuing with the franchise, and with Bucky/Winter Soldier and Falcon around, the MCU have two ready-made (and comic book inspired) replacements, which is why I just think this makes sense.

The point though, is that this only happens because Cap’s been distracted and out in the open, fighting against Tony’s policies. Tony will be crushed, giving us some massive guilt for RDJ to own. The problem is I don’t know if we could forgive Tony for his actions if it ends with Captain America’s death, and that’s why I think he’ll have switched well in advance of Baron Zemo’s plot, and perhaps sniffing it out before it happens, but just not in time. He’ll still blame himself, but will at least have started on the road of redemption earlier. There’s an interesting and frankly, scary way to tell this story: with Tony Stark drowning his guilt over Ultron and everything with alcohol, a nod to “Demon in a Bottle.” I just don’t think Marvel would ever go there with such a kid-friendly franchise, and I don’t blame them. But considering Robert Downey Jr.’s past, seeing him play a superhero struggling with addiction could be a knockout from a drama standpoint.

I’m not sure why I’m convinced Cap will die in Civil War, but I know one thing: killing off characters, and keeping them dead, is the only way to avoid a clusterfuck that will collapse in on itself in Infinity War and beyond. If not death, there will need to be a pretty big reason for heroes to remove themselves from the equation, because otherwise, we’ll all be wondering why Thor hasn’t shown up if he’s still around. If Marvel isn’t concerned by it (and they should be) and EVERYONE is going to be in Infinity War…it’s going to be too much.


Doctor Strange (November 6, 2016)

Next up will be Doctor Strange, which will likely feel like a psychedelic breath of fresh air after Civil War, existing in some weird, magical corner of the MCU we’ve yet to encounter. I’d be willing to bet that Strange will be fighting Baron Mordu over one of the two remaining Infinity Stones/Gems, and it’d likely be the Soul Stone. Not only was Doctor Strange a previous owner of the Soul Stone in the comics, but the attributes of the Soul Stone will prove an ideal method to showcase Strange’s character arc from arrogant prick to hero, as the Soul Stone will peer into Strange’s soul, tapping into the “Cold Light of Truth,” which sounds like a trippy sequence befitting Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange.


Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)

The last Infinity Stone to make an appearance could appear in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but instead, I think it’ll merely be Thanos’ first active movie going after stones we’ve already seen, fighting the Guardians and the Nova Corps over the Orb (Power Stone) that the Nova Corps possesses, and/or tracking down the Aether (Reality Stone) to the Collector. This will be the first salvo of the Infinity War to come, the precursor, and will also feature confirmation of the existence of Adam Warlock (who’s dead), a key component of the Infinity Gauntlet comic book on which this is all based. It’ll also probably feature more ass-kicking 80’s music.


Untitled Spider-Man Film (July 28, 2017)

I’m too tired of Spider-Man to really contemplate what his third reboot movie will be, nor do I think it’ll have any overarching implications in the MCU beyond getting him ingratiated with the Avengers. But he’ll be white, crack jokes and web-sling around New York.

Or it’ll be this mind-fuck/horrible film where Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man meets Mephisto following the death of Gwen Stacy and like in One Day, opts to start over, because the grief is too hard/he’s a poltroon. Then Asa Butterfield or whomever gets bitten by a radioactive spider and the whole mess starts over again. So: it won’t be that.


Thor: Ragnarok (November 3, 2017)

The last stone is the Time Stone, which meshes perfectly with Thor 3’s subtitle: Ragnarok.

Can I say how excited I am by the possibility of Ragnarok? I rather liked the first Thor but the second one, if not for Loki, would’ve jockeyed with Iron Man 2 to be the worst MCU movie thus far. Most of that is because Thor has been saddled with his Earth compatriots and painful love interest Jane Foster. Thor works great as an ensemble in Avengers, but he’s uninteresting by himself or accompanied by uninteresting people, which is why his relationship with Loki is so necessary.

Norse mythology is so cool and I want to see a movie that fully embraces it, and Ragnarok seems likely to do so. Ragnarok is the Norse end-of-days myth featuring a massive battle of Gods (with several deaths), natural disasters aplenty to submerge the world into water, Waterworld style. The world reboots, and the cycle begins anew, with the surviving Gods repopulating the world. This apocalyptic premise is a ripe playground for the Time Stone, because it might be the only way Thor can reboot things, in an Omega-13 like scenario where he’s all but lost to Loki, Surtur (a Fire Giant destined to be summoned for Ragnarok), Ymir (Surtur’s Frost Giant counterpart), Zarrko the Tomorrow Man and/or the Midgard Serpent (because let’s make this a crazy bonkers awesome Asgardian romp). I also think Mephisto (this time more seriously) would be an ideal opponent wrestling over the Time Stone or the Soul Stone in Doctor Strange.

There’s also a worthy scenario where Thor dies sacrificing himself for the good of the realm and for Asgard (but hey, thanks to the Time Stone this could always be reversed later, which I’ll bet 178 dubloons happens at least once going forward). If this was a more permanent thing, Marvel has ample Medieval-y buff replacements in the Warriors Three, Heimdall, or they could pluck the Thor-lite Hercules or Ares from the comics/Greek Mythology. Considering Helen Cho made an appearance in Age of Ultron and she’s the mother of Amadeus Cho, a fan-favorite sidekick to Hercules from the funny books, it might not be the craziest idea (plus it’d be the perfect vehicle for the Gerard Butler comeback). Or more intriguingly (and certainly more likely), Thor’s death/sacrifice could implore Loki to try the Good Side again, acting out of remorse for his brother and the fall of Asgard. While Joss Whedon is now gone from the MCU, his fingerprints will remain, and we know Whedon loves playing with the ever-twisty continuum between Good and Evil (see: Dark Willow, Spike, everyone in Angel, Ward in AoS). Considering Thanos isn’t going to be happy with Loki regardless, there’s a strong possibility we see the God of Mischief in the Infinity War. Of course, there’s a possibility you’ll see me in Infinity War.

Regardless, Ragnarok could be a fucking gnarly prequel to Avengers: Infinity War Part 1.


Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (May 4, 2018)

If Thor, Cap or anyone else doesn’t die before this hulking (ahem) monstrosity, we’ll have Thor, Cap, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Black Panther, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Spider-Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine, Doctor Strange, , Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Groot and Rocket Raccoon to share the screen. Not to mention Loki or any of Thor’s buddies, I would presume Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock (if he indeed comes into play), the Agents of SHIELD and my cousin Scott.

Avengers: Age of Ultron walked a fine line, and somehow managed to successfully tease the next Avengers, Guardians, Civil War, Black Panther and Thor 3. But at times, an Avengers movie nearly became a Maguffin-laced mess concerning everything but the current movie. Whedon’s deft balancing act between all of the various heroes, subplots, future films, action and game-changing downtime saved the movie.

I love the Russo Bros., and of anyone available, they make the most sense. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is arguably the best movie Marvel has made, and their TV ensemble background with Community and Arrested Development is at least something in the face of helming the two biggest ensemble movies EVER MADE.

But, I also think Joss Whedon might’ve been the only man left in Marvel Studios able to make a stand against Kevin Feige, the sneering Thanos-like overlord of the MCU. He’s a genius and deserves all the credit for creating this interconnected universe we love to play in. But the MCU is reaching critical mass; I almost went insane just deliberating over what could happen going forward. I’m forced to trust the overarching plan, since it’s worked so spectacularly well up to this point, but restraint might be necessary going forward. I just don’t know if we can expect it.

Regardless, I imagine Infinity War Part 1 and 2 will basically mirror Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with Infinity Gems replacing Horcruxes.

In the Infinity Gauntlet series, once Thanos has control over the Gauntlet and professes his love of Death, he erases half of the sentient life in the universe. This would be a fucking brutal (and awesome) way to end Part One, and certainly is a way to trim some fat on the ensemble, heading into Part Two.

We know two heroes that would survive…


Black Panther (July 6, 2018) & Captain Marvel (November 2, 2018)

…because they have movies in-between the two!

T’Challa would kick Andy Serkis’ Klaw ass and recover vibranium for the war, I guess. I’m stoked to see a Black Panther movie, but it almost feels like all movies before and after Infinity War are going to be swallowed into its gravitational maw. I feel like T’Challa would have to return to Wakanda to take back his throne and persuade his people to join up the forthcoming fight.

I envision Captain Marvel as a space-faring adventure with our heroine (Emily Blunt/Jessica Chastain/Anna Torv), teamed up with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Nova (and likely some Guardians) to bring back to life Adam Warlock, just in time for Part Two.


Infinity War Part 2 (May 3, 2019)

Part Two will see the remaining heroes (following Thanos’ temporary universe halving) mourn their fallen brothers and sisters while trying to keep up a resistance, led by a regenerated Jesus Christ-esque Adam Warlock and a more stable (Grey) Hulk.

I honestly might prefer to remove Adam Warlock from the story entirely, since his arrival will be reminiscent of Vision’s, and he just might be too much to take (especially since he’ll be played by Nicolas Cage, obviously). Plus, I just think there will be enough resurrection in the MCU not to have even more of Infinity War hinge upon it. But considering we’ve had Adam Warlock teased two separate times, it seems inevitable.

I’m also unsure what role Nebula (Karen Gillan) will play in what’s to come, as she’s the one who betrays her father and takes the Gauntlet, reversing his actions. I’m sure there will be elements of that, but here’s my wacky prediction: after a 14 hour fight, Infinity War Part 2 ends with Iron Man, now sober, wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, sacrificing himself to destroy the gems and Thanos in a moment of awesome redemption (this happens after the pre-pubescent Spider-Man drew the short straw, but in a nod to Bruce Willis in Armageddon, Tony punches Spidey out). This will complete Iron Man’s journey, and as I mentioned earlier: it was Iron Man who started us on this inexorable odyssey from Phase 1 through Phase 3, and it’s a fitting goodbye to the now iconic film character.

In the comics, Adam Warlock takes the Gauntlet and wanders off; that would feel like such an empty ending, and I hope the Gauntlet is destroyed after all this. We don’t need to revisit the saga any time soon. Also in the comics’ storyline, the heroes leave Thanos alone, brooding on a farm, which seems like the silliest thing ever. But hey: maybe Linda Cardellini will be there?

Anywho: after the fall of Thanos and the destruction of the Infinity Gauntlet, our remaining heroes will not be in a Return of the Jedi celebratory mood, and will be just shattered, exhausted, like the audience. Which is why it’s the perfect time for Kang the Conquerer to strike, learning of the Infinity War in his future timeline, knowing it’d be an ideal time to attack our planet.

Imagine that mid-credit sequence.

But we ain’t done yet.

The world is fucked…except for one thing: before Iron Man died, he managed to bring back to life the one hero that’s irreplaceable, the one that will rally Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against the next threat: Steve Rogers.

Boom (sorry Thor!).

Alternate Infinity War Part Two ending: everyone’s killed except a young woman named Doreen Green (no relation). Are we doomed? Nay, because Doreen Green is SQUIRREL GIRL, and she makes quick work of Thanos, Squirrel Girl sleeping with Death the last thing Thanos sees before leaving this mortal coil. Then Squirrel Girl, wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, restores Earth back to the way we know and love it, everyone accepting Squirrel Girl as our benevolent overlord.


Inhumans (July 12, 2019)

Good luck following that, Black Bolt.

The End of Marvel (May 5, 2028)

By 2028, when the Great Lakes Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Dark Avengers flank the Super Secret Probation Avengers franchise, there will be only one solution: the end of the MCU.

And there’s only one way to do it, a movie that would be the greatest human accomplishment aside from plastic:


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  1. Whelp this was the best 30 minutes of my day. I’ll be bookmarking this as a reference. Kudos.

  2. Don’t mind Ryan; he’s almost as slow of a reader as he is writer (but BTAS Part 2 is going to rock!;)). Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this edition, as well. Judging from your previous success rate, I assume a solid 5% of this shall come true.

    [A handsome man enters.]

    But now for what will really happen.

    Hank survives, Hope as the the Wasp gets teased but doesn’t happen — they try to save it for the sequel (a la War Machine in Iron Man 1). But the sequel never comes, because this movie bombs and Marvel cuts bait after the flop, Incredible Hulk-style. However, Feige decides that most of the highlights were thanks to Adam McKay’s rewrites, and offers him a future Marvel movie (Inhumans) that gets stuck in development hell and never happens.

    Cap 3: Civil War
    I really wanted to make a funny joke about the cause of the conflict between Cap and Iron Man, but the internet has pretty much covered all of them already. So my real guess is basically just an extension of AoU. Tony comes up with some kind of scheme for world peace that Steve finds extremely irresponsible. Honestly, the specific scheme barely even matters — Iron Drones, a Dark Knight/NSA mega invasion of privacy tap, precogs — whatever it is will probably just be a plot device to get us to the hero vs. hero conflict. So the most interesting speculation is the split of sides. I think they’ll try to find a way to make it at least remotely even. So my guess is:

    Team Tony: Iron Man, War Machine, Vision, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, and Black Panther. Fury and Vision are two of the only big players not confirmed for the movie yet, but them showing up in some form feels plausible. I agree that Rhodey being on the opposite side would be more interesting, so switching him and Black Widow would make this more interesting, but this seems the safer bet for him. Hawkeye and BP are wild cards too. Putting Clint here would create the conflict of him vs. Natasha, which would seem ludicrous after all we’ve seen between them, but that’s kind of the whole point of this concept: pitting characters against each other in a way designed to be painful, and characterization be damned. T’Challa will probably only have a small role here methinks, but if they use a Christopher Priest-style characterization, it would make sense for him to initially support Tony in an effort to have greater info about any potential threats to Wakanda. Vision gets pulled in by the supposed logic of Tony’s side; this would also put him and Wanda (the two biggest heavy hitters) on opposite sides, and create a moment in the thick of battle where they realize they’re in love, then have hot android/witch sex on Cap’s corpse.

    Team Steve: Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, and Spider-Man. The first four seem likely to be joined at the hip, which might mean they’ll change things up just to be unpredictable. Wanda seems a sure bet for Steve’s side, given that she’s already lost her parents and brother to Tony’s poor efforts at good deeds and his past neglect. Putting Spidey on Team Tony could be an interesting twist (especially if he’s a young genius seduced by Tony’s scientific mind), but it’s hard to imagine right now.

    I already laid out a lot of my initial concerns about Civil War months ago. To add to that now, my biggest new concern is that we kind of already did that in AoU. Not the same scale, obviously, but from the party celebration to the new team unveiling, almost every Tony/Steve interaction revolved around Tony brashly going too far and Steve getting pissed at him for it — basically, exactly what we all expect for Civil War. This ties into another problem: whatever elements of the comics story worked, worked in large part because it felt shocking to see Iron Man vs. Captain America. But we’ve only seen those two together for two movies pre-Civil War, and they spent the majority of both Avengers films bickering. I still think of them as friends just by habit, but we’ve actually seen very little evidence that they would be on film. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it does create a different dynamic in their relationship that will be interesting for the Russos to address when filling their conflict with emotional stakes.

    Finally, I don’t think Cap dies. I used to, because as you said, all the elements feel like they’re in place. But since the two-part Infinity War idea was announced, I’ve changed my mind. I feel like Marvel’s endgame there revolves largely around around those being the movies that bring everyone together for the first time; take away one (or especially two) of your major tentpoles, and I don’t think it feels quite as big. Plus, to cheat a bit, Chris Evans has already alluded to his shooting schedule for the Infinity War movies, all but confirming he’ll be involved in those. It’s possible he could die in Civil War and be used in Infinity as a flashback or vision, or even a straight resurrection though I’m skeptical the MCU wants to really dive into that revolving door (I know they did for Coulson, but AoS is far lower stakes, and they still seem unwilling to let post-resurrection Coulson show up in the movies again). So once we get to Infinity War, I think at least one of the Big Three dies, but I feel confident they’ll all make it there. Since someone presumably has to die in Civil War, I’ll pick Bucky.

    Doctor Strange
    Yeah, pretty much everything you said.

    Guardians of the Galaxy 2
    James Gunn has become kind of deflect-y about that cocoon, stating it wasn’t Warlock’s after all. I still think he’ll show up, but I’m not at all sure; I think there’s at least a chance they decide to find a way around using him at all in the Thanos stories. Thanos will definitely play a bigger role, but I don’t think he’ll be the main Big Bad until Infinity War, so the question remains who the main villain could be here. A pretty high percentage of Marvel’s most recognizable cosmic villains names probably belong to Fox through its FF and X-Men rights, so I don’t have a great guess here. As much as I’m rooting for Ego the Living Planet, I think Grandmaster makes sense.

    Spider-Man: The Next Avenger
    This isn’t the official title yet, but there was a rumor they might use it, and despite an initial eyeroll, I think I buy it now. I imagine Sony and Marvel will both want to draw as much attention as possible to the idea that this new Spidey shouldn’t be dismissed as a third quick reboot because this one gets to play with Iron Man. While I’m rooting for our first live-action Kraven the Hunter, my guess is Doc Ock here.

    Thor: Ragnarok
    I’m pretty sure Surtur will be the Big Bad here, but I’m holding out hope we get the Fenris Wolf as the secondary baddie.

    While someone important surely should die for the Norse apocalypse, I’m sticking to my statement that the Big Three of the Avengers will all make it to at least the first Infinity War movie alive. So that probably means Loki dies, methinks, completing his vacillation between good and evil by sacrificing himself for the Nine Realms. This would also leave/force Thor to take his place as king, bringing him back around full circle to where we began his solo trilogy.

    That said, it wouldn’t hurt to introduce a possible Thor analog that could replace him after Infinity War, when the original actors will probably all be done regardless of whether their characters live. Cap already has Bucky and/or Falcon to carry on for him. Iron Man has War Machine, though I’m skeptical Don Cheadle will go much further either. So this brings me to my greatest hope for Thor 3: bring in Beta Ray Bill. Come on, Marvel. Do it. You’ll take all my money forever if you do.

    Infinity War, Part 1
    Supposedly the Defenders will also have a small role in one of these two movies, assuming they’re done forming on Netflix by then (my gut says as extended cameo in protecting New York while the big guns do the main battle).

    I think at least one of the Big Three dies in these two movies. The only question in which one(s), and if they want to kill them now or in the second one. Cap feels like the most marked for death of the trio. I’m tentatively guessing he dies at the end of this one to raise the stakes to their highest point yet. Perhaps he sacrifices his life to temporarily foil Thanos without handing him a final defeat, allowing us to pretend the threat is reasonably non-imminent for the two movies taking place between Infinity installments. I also think maybe Vision dies when Thanos takes the Mind Gem.

    Black Panther
    Spoiler alert: this is going to be the best of all the movies on this slate. I’m saying that based more on wishful thinking than any hard evidence, but I’m calling it that Andy Serkis’ return as Klaw will be a top 3 Marvel villain ever.

    Captain Marvel
    The main drama to me here is whether Marvel makes Carol more cosmic in scope or more Earthbound. She’s been a lot of each through the years. Marvel has also said that they want to wait and premiere her in her solo film, so we probably won’t have her set up as much in advance, if at all, as T’Challa will be before his.

    Infinity War, Part 2
    At least two more heroes die to stop Thanos for good. One Avenger and one Guardian of the Galaxy, perhaps? Feels like Iron Man should be the obvious choice for the former, and indeed, my initial instinct was to guess he makes the final sacrifice to seal the ultimate victory. But I don’t know, I can’t shake the feeling that maybe they actually give Tony a happy ending, letting him retire for real this time at the end. So perhaps it’s Cap here instead, or any number of the many, many heroes we’ll be up to by then. But I think, maybe the Hulk is actually the other big death among the Earthlings. Drax is the obvious choice among the Guardians, as it’s practically his character destiny.

    This movie will never actually get made.

    Doctor Strange 2
    If the first film uses Baron Mordo, I assume it’s full-on Dormammu for the sequel. Unless this is a trilogy (it probably is), and they save that for the third. I’m also hoping one of these movies gives us a cool (and more P.C.) version of Brother Voodoo.

    Squirrel Girl
    This movie will star Anna Kendrick as Squirrel Girl after the Cosmic Cube has turned all other living creatures in the universe into squirrels at the end of Infinity War Part 2. It will win 17 Oscars.

    This movie will be co-written by our own Andy Greene and a powerful new AI software that Kevin Feige builds to spit out an algorithm for successful summer blockbusters. Andy successfully sells the idea of Stingray to Feige as an alternative after Marvel continues to fail to secure the murky rights to Namor, and Andy is set to direct it too. However, last-minute creative differences between Andy and the AI bot cause Marvel to replace him with Edgar Wright.

    Guardians of the Galaxy 3
    Three words: Pip the Troll.

    Untitled Spider-Man reboot
    After the commercial failures of Asa Butterfield, Marvel and Sony decide to finally turn Spidey over to a young white actor and maybe use Green Goblin or something.

    Beta Ray Bill
    Bill breaks every box office record so thoroughly that they no longer bother to even count box office records after this.

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