Fandom will drive itself crazy on speculation. Scouring interviews, sneaking peaks at Lego box art, and setting Google alerts for D-Man will only secure you a one-way trip to the nut house. I get it. I feel your pain. However, the Disney masters will only foretell the future when they’re damn well good and ready.
Don’t bother foraging for any real insight into what the Avengers 5 lineup will look like in the wake of Phase Three’s climax. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is not going to help you out either. He only has crumbs to keep you groveling for more. He’s resting high on one of their biggest box offices successes, and Black Panther is only $61 million away from being their top earner. How can they possibly beat that?
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly for their mega Avengers: Infinity War special, Feige acknowledged the success of exploring cultures beyond the Western perspective:
“We’re not ready to talk about what those [future characters] are, but like the ones we’ve made in the first three phases, they’re ones that are either just great concepts for a film, great characters with great supporting characters, like Panther. New locations and lands that have cultural significance all their own, and continuing to tell stories that represent the world as it is, that represent people who perhaps haven’t seen themselves portrayed in this light in the past. We want to continue to do that.”
Maybe D-Man will have to wait a little longer to get his own franchise.
So, if we all promise to have a little fun with speculation, and not fly into any fits of wishful-thinking rage, let’s pick five Marvel concepts from the books that could fit into Feige’s hope of exploring cultures beyond New York City.
5. The Inhumans
Yes, I understand that Marvel has already tried and failed with their dreadful ABC show. It was a mess, and an embarrassment. But we’ve all survived multiple Spider-Man and Fantastic Four reboots, and if anyone needs a second chance it’s these freakazoid super beings. Centering around a royal family of half human/half Kree (for lack of a better m-word) mutants, The Inhumans stand apart from the rest of the world in the same manner as the Wakandans. Their superior intellect and technology gives them a similar sense of smugness, but their morality can’t help but pull them into Earthly affairs.
4. America Chavez
Marvel’s first Latin-American LGBTQ character, America is a hero not of our time or reality. Her whole life has been spent jumping through the multiverse, experiencing a variety of What-If scenarios, and forever attempting to steer our world in the right direction. Alternate realities could be the next big over-arching plot point for the MCU, and America Chavez would be an utterly unique guide.
3. Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager obsessed with Captain Marvel. After her body is exposed to the transformative Terrigen Mists (mystical gasses that reveal your genetic connection to Inhumans), Khan adopts a new life of neighborhood crime fighting. She’s basically Spider-Man with a different set of social concerns and a family to protect. As a big geek for this stuff, she also makes a great stand-in for the audience, carrying our wonder deeper into the MCU.
2. Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu
The character began life as a blatant Bruce Lee rip-off. He is a master of all the wushu styles and incorporates them into his own fighting technique a la Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. We’ve seen Marvel’s yakuza wannabes, The Hand, as part of their Netflix series, but they’re too devilish a threat to waste on the small screen. Imagine a Shang-Chi film as a globetrotting, superhero mob adventure with plenty of ninjas to dispatch.
1. Namor: The Sub-Mariner
If you’re looking for a world as wild and wonderful as Wakanda, the only logical choice is Namor’s Atlantis. One of the first Marvel heroes, Namor started his career as an opponent to the original Human Torch. Disgusted with how the humans treated their oceans, Namor sought to wipe us out for the benefit of the planet. This antagonism never left his personality, and he’s always kept a hostility towards the surface dwellers even if they pranced around as part of The Avengers. He’s also a firm enemy of T’Challa and could easily spin out of future Black Panther sequels. He’s a good bad-boy ready for his close-up.