No cop outs, no ambiguity, no action so dark you’re still not quite sure what actually happened. Marvel and the Russo Bros. brought the pain and the accompanying rain of tears in Avengers: Endgame by killing off … (hey, here come some MAJOR spoilers) Black Widow and Iron Man before separating Steve Rogers from his shield (and his youth). As a result of those moves (and various other goings on in the film), things are going to change in a big way for the MCU when Phase Four kicks off, but until Marvel offers some clarity about what comes next, we’re left to wonder and speculate. So let’s do that by running down some questions that we have following Endgame.
Is Fat Thor riding with the Guardians Of The Galaxy longterm?
There’s the potential for maximum fun if the end of Endgame carries over to Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Thor and Star-Lord continue with their intergalactic pissing contest. With New Asgard under the protection of Valkyrie and her Pegasus, Earth defended by about two dozen heroes, three of his teammates dead or 90 years old, and a weight lifted off his doughy shoulders, Thor could use a head-clearing space romp. And so could we. Going back to Infinity War, there is clear chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and the Guardians crew. A deeper exploration of his addition and Chris Hemsworth’s abundant comedic chops feels like a recipe for magic. Also, please hide Star-Lord’s Bowflex, because I am down for the continuing magnificence of Fat Thor, a hero for the dad-bodded. Fat Thor: long may he rage (and make me feel better about myself).
Where is Gamora?
The feeling seems to be that pre-snap casualties like Guardians-era Gamora aren’t coming back. That could, of course, change, but for now, that’s where we are. Which isn’t great news for Peter Quill. Thanks to a sister-share, 2014-era Gamora knows that she, at some point, finds reason to be with Quill, but her absence at the end of Endgame suggests that she’s not eager to slip into that relationship. Which begs the question: is this merely a reset on that (which could be a cool wrinkle that’s ripe for exploration), or is Gamora going to be MIA for awhile?
What’s Captain Marvel’s ongoing story?
Captain Marvel was pretty much off range for the bulk of the action in Endgame (until she wasn’t). A frustrating surprise? Perhaps, especially following the high of her solo film, but she made it count when she was on-screen, and it’s understandable why Marvel may have wanted to hold off on more fully defining the character until Captain Marvel 2. (Especially if they want to explore the space in-between Captain Marvel and Endgame). Though, I suppose, that absence and her reminder to the Avengers that she’s not singularly focused on the Earth’s problems both give us some clue as to what the future will hold for the character and where the action could go down in future adventures. Anything and anywhere really is possible, though, with the absence of those three founding Avengers and the accompanying depletion of star power, it’s likely that Marvel will want to keep Carol Danvers somewhat close for whatever future team-up movies come down the pike.
Will there be a new Iron Man?
The torch (or shield) was passed between the now very senior Steve Rogers and Falcon, who is likely going to take on the mantle of being Captain America and the responsibility of possessing “America’s ass,” but what about Iron Man? Rhodey is probably the most likely character to take that on, easily stepping into the job due to his experience as War Machine, but there are other possibilities if you take a broader view. Pepper Potts has a pretty kickass suit and the will to hero when called upon, but would she risk making her and Tony’s daughter, Morgan, an orphan with only Happy left to feed her nonstop cheeseburgers? Morgan could also be an option way down the road, but for now, Shuri certainly has the mind for innovation and a longing to be in on the fight. She’d be an amazing fit. What about the kid from Iron Man 3 who popped up at Tony Stark’s funeral? There has to be some deeper significance to that appearance, right? Is the time right for a Justin Hammer redemption story? No, it isn’t, but more Sam Rockwell is always a good thing and could be a nice sub for a little Robert Downey Jr. swagger. Improbable, but a fun thought.
How does a Black Widow movie happen now?
Long rumored, the prequel option now seems like the most likely one for the Black Widow solo movie, but what’s the deeper value of a film that bolsters the foundation of a character that is dead and gone in the current version of the MCU? Besides seeing Scarlett Johansson get to play Black Widow again and deliver to fans a long awaited kickass solo film while also allowing her heroic move in Endgame to stand, of course. As with Gamora, and any character, really, the comic book movieness of all of this leaves a crack in the door, and the existence of the solo film sure makes it seem like it might get blown open. But what if dead is dead?
Is the door at all open for another Steve Rogers story in the future… er, past?
Steve Rogers’ decision to seize a little bit of that life stuff that Tony Stark was talking about was a pitch perfect and totally understandable move for the character. But while Endgame closed on a promise fulfilled and a dance in the ’40s with Peggy Carter, and while Chris Evans has sounded pretty definitive about being wrapped with the MCU, it’s easy to wonder if that ending was an ending. This ties to the idea of a Black Widow movie being a full standalone prequel and not something that’ll upend Endgame, and a Captain Marvel sequel being focused in the early 2000s: what about the possibility of a Steve and Peggy adventure set in the ’40s or ’50s? Obviously, there exists a vocal fandom for Peggy and Evans is beloved as Rogers. Might something disconnected from the larger continuity be different enough to bring him back in a few years? Might Marvel’s next phase allow for a mix of connected and less connected stories? Besides, is it believable that Steve Rogers sat on his shield for 60 or 70 years while watching baseball and canoodling with the love of his life? Okay, that doesn’t sound so bad, so maybe! But maybe not.
How big a factor is time travel going to be?
The MCU has the potential to be a lot bigger and bolder thanks to the existence of time travel. Really, this is the biggest development since we got introduced to Marvel’s cosmic side. Like all good things, though, time travel in the MCU will probably be used best in moderation and not to undo every dire moment, lest all stakes be removed from the franchise after they were so clearly established. Rules and limitations may be what’s most in store for time travel in the MCU, the only question is when and by whom?
What familiar MCU elements will carryover?
We know that, unfortunately, Stan Lee’s cameos are soon coming to an end, but what other familiar MCU elements are going to go by the wayside? Endgame had no real after credits scene — is that the new normal? It would make sense if Marvel films are less connected moving forward, but that’s a total “what if” on my part. Are we going to keep seeing Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury beyond Spider-Man: Far From Home? One imagines that’s an expensive connecting thread, but a valuable one. And with so much changing, it would make sense for Marvel to hang on to some kind of normality.
Who will lead the Avengers now?
We don’t know who will comprise the Avengers team (but we have our theories) and we certainly don’t know who will fill the leadership void now that Black Widow, Iron Man, and Steve Rogers are gone. So many candidates have marks against them or reasons why not, though. Some don’t fit the profile of a leader at this point (Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange), others seem more inclined to stay close to home (Hawkeye) or in the lab (Hulk), and other potentials are in space (Thor, the Guardians, and maybe Captain Marvel) or too marked by their past (Bucky). I could see Valkyrie or Falcon step up, but that’s a big jump from fun sidekick status. Black Panther seems the most well equipped, but his duties as King of Wakanda may stand in the way.
As with all of these things, time will tell, but for now, we can mourn the lost Avengers, marvel at the spectacle we’ve been shown, and wait (impatiently) for what’s next.