As much as Avengers: Endgame felt like a conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film also opened many, many, many narrative possibilities for its characters. Sure, some actors are taking a break from the superhero game, but others will be much, much busier. If Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios continue to deliver films with satisfying and relatable character dynamics, there is no end in sight for their franchise machine. The Avengers are forever. So, let’s explore where Phase Three left its heroes and where they could go in the next eleven years.
↓Avengers: Endgame Spoilers Below↓
“I am Iron Man.” Tony Stark concludes his journey in the MCU by responding to Thanos’ arrogant proclamation of inevitability using his climactic defining moment from the first movie and putting a button on it with a snap of the Iron Gauntlet. The bad guys disappear, but the shock of cosmic energy caused by the clicking of fingers destroys Stark’s feeble human frame. He’s gone. Or is he?
In the comics, Stark recently died, spent a little time as an A.I. for Riri Williams’ Ironheart teen Avenger, and was resurrected as a clone. Hmmmm. I say, no. That will not be happening anytime in the MCU. If we’re ever to see Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark again, I think it’s most likely that it will be in the form of hologram messages a la his funeral scene in Avengers: Endgame. He seems like the type of guy who would record a whole mess load of those before attempting time travel.
Witnessing Tony Stark finally accomplish the sacrifice play that once fueled his own morality, Steve Rogers decided that it was time to settle down and find a proper life outside of soldiering. As he similarly told his VA group during that post-Snap period of mourning, if he didn’t make the best of the time he was given than what was the point of all that they lost. He owes it to Stark to find happiness, and he did by breaking the rules they established before they mucked about and heisted the Infinity Stones. Does no one cry for Peggy’s original husband and children that were obliterated by this choice? Never meant to be, I guess.
Well, technically, we don’t know that Rogers married Peggy and lived happily ever after. He does not disclose all the details of that wedding ring to Sam Wilson when he inquires. We only know that the film ends on a reunion with Peggy, their dance, and their kiss.
Rogers hands the shield to Wilson and practically knights him as the new Captain America. Wilson tells Rogers that the shield feels like it belongs to somebody else. Rogers tells Wilson that it doesn’t. Stay tuned for the Disney+ spin-off program Falcon and Winter Soldier that will revolve around the emotional struggle Wilson has in filling the shoes of a man and a mantle he so greatly admired. Bucky will be his guide; his connection to Rogers and an emotional ally as well as a foe. Their friendly bickering experienced in Captain America: Civil War was merely a taste of what’s to come. By the end of this season of television, I imagine Sam Wilson will be fully prepared to don the Captain America costume for the next Avengers mission.
Natasha was another Avengers: Endgame sacrifice, but the one that hurt the most. Dammit, Hawkeye, it should have been you who splattered on the floor of those Vormir cliffs. Alas, Scarlett Johansson’s time with the MCU has come to an end. Wait, what? Isn’t there a Black Widow movie rising on the horizon?
Natasha’s death would seem to indicate that this new film will be a prequel of sorts. What works for Captain America and Captain Marvel should work for Black Widow. Except, when we watched those films we knew there was a future awaiting those characters. The idea of experiencing a prequel for Black Widow knowing that her destiny ends on a pile of rocks feels like a grim and painful cinematic endeavor. No thanks.
The casting of Florence Pugh could indicate a replacement Black Widow. Through flashbacks, we could see how Natasha was grooming a replacement on the occasion of her death. We could even see how the Winter Soldier ruined Natasha’s bikini body as alluded to in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or maybe have a run-in with the villainous Ghost agent that plagued Ant-Man and The Wasp.
Personally, though, that’s too basic for my comic book tastes. I think the future of Black Widow could exist within…
The Asgardians of the Galaxy
Ok, hear me out. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor sheds the pressure of royalty and decrees Valkyrie as the King of Asgard. Odinson has lost more than most characters in the MCU, and while he may have pulled himself out of his self-loathing Lebowski state, he still needs a great deal of healing. Thor will find new life amongst the Guardians of the Galaxy, and their first adventure could result in a resurrection of sorts for Natasha as well as Gamora.
When he’s not fending off Thor from the captain seat of the Benatar, Peter Quill is hunting for the time-displaced Gamora ripped from 2014 and brought to the battle of Avengers HQ. When Tony snapped the Iron Gauntlet, did she return to her time or did she wander off the battlefield to contemplate the insanity that brought her and Quill together in the first place? It doesn’t really matter; her appearance brought hope back to Quill and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will involve a Gamora-hunt.
We also saw at the end of Vol. 2 that the Sovereign queen Ayesha constructed a new unstoppable lifeform called Adam to accomplish her revenge against our loveable losers. In the comics, this is Adam Warlock, a one-time guardian of Soul World which we caught a glimpse of at the end of Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos snapped the Gauntlet eradicating half of sentient life. What he saw there was a child Gamora, her soul, asking him what this cosmic feast cost him. His response was “Everything.”
My theory is that the Asgardians of the Galaxy, in their hunt for Gamora, will encounter Adam Warlock. He will prove to be an adversary at first, but eventually, they will work together to penetrate Soul World and retrieve Gamora from its realm. While they are there, they could also encounter Natasha and bring her back too.
Ah, here’s the rub, the Black Widow film will certainly see the light of day before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 does. Soul World may also just be too damn comic bookish for the MCU. Of course, I thought the same thing about Rocket Racoon once, and he’s sending out emails across the universe now. So, you never know. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
He’s a pretty zen dude now that he’s merged the Bruce Banner and Hulk personalities. Professor Hulk feels like an end of sorts for him as well. If we never see him again, I’d be ok with that. There are other big brains in the MCU (Shuri, yes please, and thank you) that could fill his and Stark’s shoes. Let the big guy enjoy a retirement filled with selfies.
Next month, Peter Parker closes out Phase Three of the MCU. Given the heroic tragedy of Avengers: Endgame, I’m really curious to see where his head is at during Spider-Man: Far From Home. He’s one of the lucky ones. Most of his friends were snapped when he was snapped. They get to pick up where they left off.
However, there is no Tony Stark to guide Parker along the way. As we see in the trailer, Happy Hogan will fill that role. When he’s not keeping Morgan H. Stark fed on hamburgers, Hogan will be worming his way into Aunt May’s love-life and making sure that Parker is sticking to the journey that Stark would have wanted. Meanwhile, Nick Fury is also there to groom him along with that Avenger lifestyle. The challenge for Parker will be determining who he wants to be with two dads carving a path for him. Stark would want Parker to be his own man.