Fan Art via imperioavis.deviantart.com
Spoiler Warning: The following article includes a discussion of things that happen at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you may want to go take care of that first.
There’s oodles (yes, oodles) of setting-up-future-Marvel-Movies moments layered into Avengers: Age of Ultron. You think you’re watching an Avengers sequel, and you are, but whether you realize it or not you’re also watching Marvel drop hints (and at one point, a severed arm) towards what’ll happen in Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Infinity War and probably a few we haven’t recognized yet. Maybe the incoming Sokovian diaspora will have some huge effect on, I don’t know, Luke Cage.
Most of these future teases are as standard as they come. Bruce Banner stammers out a Wak… Wakamandama and our subconscious repeats See Black Panther, in Theaters July 6, 2018! Except for one tease: Captain America addressing a foursome of brand-new Avengers in their shiny new headquarters. Maybe-new-S.H.I.E.L.D. creates a maybe-new-Avengers, and we have no idea where we’ll see the new team again. We didn’t even know this team was coming in the first place. From a studio that usually announces all incoming superheroes and super-team-ups about five years in advance, it’s a bold, surprising move.
So we’re going to take things hypothetical and ask: where could we see the New Avengers?
(Also, we’re going to call them the New Avengers, because until someone says otherwise, I’m going to assume the words “New Avengers Facility” refer to a facility for new Avengers, not a new facility for standard-issue Avengers).
Captain America: Civil War
This is as close to a guarantee as we’ll get right now. No one’s come out to officially confirm an appearance from those newfangled Avengers in Civil War, but Elizabeth Olsen is signed onto the film, and so is Anthony Mackie. That’s half the New Avengers right there (even if Mackie was a given for Cap 3, New Avengers or not). And a Captain America sequel would obviously touch on Cap’s situation when last we saw him in the MCU- mentoring a new super-team.
According to the people making Civil War, it’ll be pretty Avenger-y.
Says Anthony Mackie: “Cap 2 was really Avengers 1.5, and Cap 3 is going to be Avengers 3.8.”
Says Jeremy Renner, confirming the same without committing to strict decimal points: “Kind of, yeah. A little bit. A little bit.”
We’re gonna need superheroes to shore up sides in the great Cap vs Iron Man debate. It’d make sense to include our newest Avengers foursome, and see them split down the middle. Or maybe they’ll all side with the guy who’s been coaching them and not the guy who took off in his sports car to go do millionaire playboy things on their first day of training.
Avengers: Infinity War
So far the only Avengers confirmed for Infinity War are Captain America and Thor (and only because Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth crumbled under wave after wave of press junket questions and admitted they’re shooting both films).
But come on. The word “Avengers” is in the title. It’s safe to say the Infinity War double feature will be stuffed with every Avenger in the MCU. Would you really commission 4–5 hours of straight Avengers and not use every available character?
Depending on how closely the Russos stick to the original “Infinity War” comic (plus the “Infinity Gauntlet” series that preceded it), we might have a perfect opportunity to see the New Avengers test their mettle. The first issue of “The Infinity Gauntlet” sees Thanos try to court Death (in Marvel lore, a cosmic entity with a lady grim reaper vibe) by wiping out half of all life in the universe. Which, when wearing the Gauntlet, can be accomplished with a snap of the fingers. And considering half the universe includes more than a few superheroes, those leading the charge against Thanos start at a severe disadvantage.
Presumably, the MCU is going to need a grand display of power to show why this Gauntlet doodad is so sought-after. A genocidal finger-snap might do the trick. And wouldn’t it be nifty if that snap took away our seasoned pros and left only the newbie team? That way, they’ve got a chance to prove themselves just as capable as the original lineup.
Every so often all the leading black Marvel heroes will hang out out and punch some crime in the same comic. “Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive” and Christopher Priest’s run on “Black Panther” both featured Black Panther/Luke Cage/Falcon team-ups; maybe at some point in Luke Cage we’ll see the same group get together for some quasi-Avengers cameo fun. Probably in a later season though, given that Luke Cage is due sometime next year and Black Panther won’t hit theaters until 2018. By then, the MCU’s movies and its five Netflix shows will probably an orgy of constant cross-promotional incest. Fingers crossed.
Black Widow and Captain America’s talk before the New Avengers reveal makes it obvious- they’re actively searching for new super-folks to grow the team. And they’ve picked the perfect time to do it, because five new superheroes are getting their own solo movies in the next year or two. Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel. All would make spiffy additions to the New Avengers.
Consider what happened last time the Marvel Universe was putting a team together, way back in Phase One. We’d get a solo hero movie, then someone would pop in after the credits to tantalizingly hint at this mysterious Avengers Initiative. Phase Three gives us the very same situation. Marvel might not follow the exact same “recruit ’em after the credits” strategy, but it’s a safe bet that more than one of Phase Three’s solo flicks will end with a solo hero signing his/her official Avengers paperwork.
Black Panther and Spider-Man especially, considering they’ll probably be on speaking terms with Cap and the Avengers by the end of Civil War. Oh, and Captain Marvel, because if Joss Whedon was gung-ho enough to have Captain Marvel join the New Avengers in an early Age of Ultron draft, he can probably play the “I’m Joss Whedon, OBEY ME” card with the Captain Marvel screenwriters and get them to do the same.
Here’s the issue with the original Avengers team: they’re kind of a big deal. Getting everyone together is something you can only do for the most humongous of event films. A team of Avengers second-stringers that exist a bit lower under the radar? They could actually hang out more often. So instead of The Avengers, then three years of nothing, then Avengers: Age of Ultron opening with a team-up battle and “yeah, it sure has been fun hanging out and raiding Hydra bases for the last few years in secret missions, it’s a shame no one ever saw that,” Phase Three could recruit the smaller guys for full-on Avengers missions in any movie already starring an Avenger.
Also, Avengers calling on other Avengers for backup would finally jam a cork in the mouths of everyone whining well if Captain America was in trouble during Winter Soldier, why couldn’t he just call Thor?
For all we know, Marvel Studios will keep this New Avengers team on the down low for the bulk of Phase Three. The final shot of Age of Ultron might just be Marvel’s contingency plan for when Robert Downey, Jr., Evans and Hemsworth get tired of the superhero game. By the end of Infinity War Part 2, Marvel will have names like Paul Rudd and Benedict Cumberbatch on the Avengers. Hypothetically, the original stars could be freed from their 1,000-picture contracts and the MCU would still have enough established star power to chug along through 2030 at least.
It’s sad but extremely true, everyone loves Chris Evans as Captain America, but people might love him a little less when he’s 83 and can no longer believably lift and throw a motorcycle. Gonna need to change the guard at some point.