What Comes Next For The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)?

A look into the upcoming projects Marvel has planned, and what fans can theoretically expect to see tie them each together.

Following the Falcon and the Winter Soldier season finale, many fans are wondering: what is going to happen next? While we may never know exactly what tricks Marvel has up its sleeves, there are some things we can figure out based on end credit scenes, trailers, comics themselves, and the future projects they have announced.

Here is a list of upcoming MCU projects and what we can expect from them.

1. Loki, TV series

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Image Source: TechRadar

After seeing Loki die and then reveal he’s not actually dead twice already in the history of the MCU, I was crushed to watch him actually die in Infinity War.

So, I was beyond thrilled when he picked up the Tesseract and left Earth in Endgame because he was going to live to see another day. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show and I was initially guessing it would just be a retelling of Asgardian history after his run-in with the scepter (and mind stone) in The Avengers, but that is not the case.

With every new MCU project, I feel like we’ve been getting introduced to new government agencies and spearheads and Loki doesn’t seem to be an exception. I always assumed it was the Ancient One who dealt with rifts in the timeline since she possessed the time stone, but I guess it was Owen Wilson all along.

2. Black Widow, film

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Image Source: Den of Geek

The only consolation with Natasha’s ending in Endgame was knowing that wasn’t the last we were going to be seeing of her.

Marvel never gave viewers a lot of information about Natasha’s past, other than the fact that she was a Soviet spy, so I know I’m excited to finally get some more information about her character after 11 years of being portrayed in the MCU.

A lot of us aren’t sure what to expect from the movie, other than knowing Natasha survives to fight Thanos in Infinity War, but Florence Pugh (Black Widow’s sister) is set to reprise her role in other projects, which suggests she may take over as Black Widow post-Endgame.

3. What If...?, TV series

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Image Source: The Playlist

Although an official release date hasn't been announced, it is slotted for a mid-year, summer 2021 release and has already been confirmed for a second season.

I wish it had been possible for Marvel to create this series with all of the original actors, but it does lend even more Disney animators another chance to delve into another creative avenue of superhero projects.

The obvious plotlines would be the different Thanos-related timelines Doctor Strange used the time stone to see, but fans are hoping to see some of the best storylines used in this arc of the comics.

The exclusive first look shows the emergence of Captain Britain (Peggy Carter), a vampire-esque Doctor Strange, a non-Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes, zombie characters, and a Wakandan Star-Lord. I think we all know this show is going to be really interesting, but I don’t think everyone is going to be able to guess what happens next.

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, film

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Image Source: Slash Film

This is the movie I knew the least about coming into phase 4 of the MCU, but watching the trailer has me so excited.

It looks like we’ll actually be able to see the real Mandarin instead of the actor we see in Iron Man 3, which will be interesting to see who Aldrich Killian was trying to impersonate.

It’s advertised as a standalone film, but Marvel is notorious for making characters and storylines overlap with the others. In the comics, he works with Steve Rogers to escape an imprisoned Sharon Carter, so it could be possible for her to show up in at least the end credits.

We know Carter is doing something shady (and probably very illegal) being let back into the U.S. while still being the power broker, so it could have an impact on the events of Shang-Chi despite happening on opposite ends of the earth.

5. The Eternals, film

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Image Source: Marvel

I was originally drawn into The Eternals because of their star-filled cast, including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan, and Barry Keoghan.

In the comics, the Eternals are involved with and related to Celestials, with Ego being their most notable (and only) representation in the MCU thus far. If Marvel decides to go against the space route, the Eternals have been alive on Earth since it was formed, so they have an endless amount of possibilities.

This movie, and the possibility to make movies taking place at just about any time in history, opens up so many doors for Marvel to continue expanding the MCU into all kinds of time periods (not just WWII) and give history buffs even more things to geek out about.

The teaser trailer didn't give away much information besides the fact that, at some point in the movie, the Eternals are on Earth in "current" time (post-Endgame).

Some of their magic was shown, however, and to me, it seemed to echo that of Doctor Strange and even some of Scarlet Witch. Both the Eternals and Strange have been shown to create circular-shaped glyphs when using magic.

Strange, Scarlet Witch, and the Eternals share the commonalities of levitating and moving at a faster rate, which may indicate nothing, but I hope indicates the Eternals making their way into the Avengers.

6. Spider-Man: No Way Home, film

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Image Source: LRMOnline

Set immediately after the reveal of Peter Parker’s identity at the end of Far From Home, Peter and his friends appear to be on the run.

Benedict Cumberbatch is also set, according to IMDb, to reprise Doctor Strange in this movie. There were extensive rumors about Andrew Garfield and/or Tobey Maguire making an appearance and creating the Spiderverse, but I'm not sure they'll be able to fully give them a role outside of a brief cameo.

Along with the multiple rumors of Maguire and Garfield reprising their Spider-Man roles, there are confirmed castings of Jamie Foxx as villain Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Alfred Molina as Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2.

Also, according to the timeline of projects that have been released so far, this movie is taking place eight months after Endgame while WandaVision took place only three months afterward. It’s my guess we’re going to be seeing another end-credit scene showing Wanda getting even stronger than Strange, very similar to the last scene of WandaVision since another five months (at least) will have passed.

Meanwhile, as it’s set to be a Christmas-time movie release in 2021, it may be able to be categorized as a Christmas movie just like Iron Man 3. This will just be another reason for me to feel like I’m reliving watching their relationship build and almost immediately fall apart over the course of Infinity War and Endgame.

7. Ms. Marvel, TV series

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Image Source: Den of Geek

The character Ms. Marvel, is also set to appear in Captain Marvel 2. The character, very popular despite not having been shown in the MCU yet, is herself an avid superhero fan and then becomes one herself.

However, it has also been reported that the character is going to premiere in the MCU before the show airing, which suggests she will make an appearance in an end-credit scene like we have seen Marvel do before.

It’s entirely possible, and I am hopeful, that Monica Rambeau could make an appearance to act as a mentor since Ms. Marvel looks up to Captain Marvel. We all saw Monica’s powers be revealed during WandaVision as well and they may be a good pair to see team up before we even get to see Captain Marvel 2.

8. Hawkeye, TV series

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Image Source: MickeyBlog

Jeremy Renner's portrayal of Hawkeye is not most people’s favorite, especially die-hard comic book fans, but he has also never really been given time to be in the spotlight.

Florence Pugh, who portrays Black Widow’s sister, is also set to star in the show, which makes me think Clint’s assassin streak during the Blip was more than just him going rogue. However, the show doesn’t seem to have Clint as the only main character, as it will probably be about mentoring and then passing the mantle to Kate Bishop.

The character “Echo” is also set to make an appearance and reportedly has a dedicated show in the works with Marvel already, which again hints at a reentrance of Daredevil into the MCU since they are known associates in the comics.

9. She-Hulk, TV series

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Image Source: Polygon

Another character who hasn’t been represented in the MCU yet, She-Hulk is a lawyer who mostly specializes in superhuman-related cases. According to many dedicated fans, this may be a hint of providing Daredevil a way to return to the MCU after the separate Netflix original series’ conclusion.

It is also thought to be a way to introduce all of the other Hulk characters, including Red Hulk, Abomination, and Leader. Liv Tyler is also rumored to return to the series after being in The Incredible Hulk movie released in 2008, which may make fans finally accept that movie as part of the MCU storyline.

The series should be a good way to mix the old with the new, with Hulk still expected to infrequently appear in more MCU movies.

10. Moon Knight, TV series

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

This is another vigilante story, which isn’t one that’s commonly represented in the MCU so far.

Fans are the most concerned with this character being placed on Disney+ because he is a dark and serious vigilante with mental health issues, not like Deadpool who can be cracking jokes (albeit inappropriate ones) the entire movie.

However, other fans are defending the choice because Batman (a character Moon Knight is commonly compared to) was able to go entire movie series without having to be rated R and he is also known for his violence and serious attitude.

I’ve been excited for this to be integrated into the MCU since Sebastian Stan said in an interview that he would want to play this character if he wasn’t already Bucky. It also allows the fan-favorite character to eventually be introduced into the movies, which will be interesting to see how the other characters interact with him.

11. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, film

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Image Source: OtakuKart

If you watched WandaVision, you should be extra excited about this movie. While I definitely wouldn’t say the first movie was my favorite, it did set up the whole MCU for a more magical- and time travel-friendly environment.

This movie is also said to be the first scary MCU movie and while that may mean it is psychologically scary to think of the never-ending possibilities and consequences of your actions, I am hoping it will have a genuine horror feeling including the score and camera techniques.

We are, of course, expecting to see a full-on Scarlet Witch in the movie and whether she will be on his side or not is the real question. Also, with Loki being released before this and working on fixing the timelines in their current universe, it’s possible either his or Owen Wilson’s character will show up to consult with Strange.

12. Thor: Love and Thunder, film

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Image Source: Gadgets 360

I am very excited to see the Guardians interact with Asgardians in this movie, even if it ends up being a tertiary plot. Since Thor left Earth after Endgame, it has been very up in the air what the plot of this movie is going to be.

It will definitely center upon Valkyrie, the new king of Asgard, and Jane Foster, who will (almost certainly) take on the power and mantle of Thor.

Also, with rumors of Matt Damon flying to Australia (where Thor 4 is being filmed), he is probably set to reprise his role as fake Loki. Obviously, Loki wasn’t able to hire them this time so it just continues to demonstrate Thor’s attachment and grieving of his brother...again.

I will be hoping Loki ends with him being able to come back to New Asgard and see his brother again, but we won’t know anything until his show starts releasing episodes.

13. Black Panther 2, film

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

Obviously, this movie will feel a lot different from the first with the absence of Chadwick Boseman, but I know I’m really excited to see what direction Marvel takes with the Black Panther mantle.

Personally, I hope Okoye, Shuri, or M'Baku will get the chance to become the next king of Wakanda because they’ve sacrificed so much for the world already without being involved too directly with the Avengers. Unfortunately, since Kilmonger destroyed all of the ‘super serum’ herbs, no other ruler will be able to truly hold the power of the Black Panther.

Overall, it will just mean a lot to be able to see the movie centering around honoring T’Challa’s (and, indirectly, Chadwick’s) legacy and I hope they’ll be able to maintain that throughout the movie.

Also, since Wakanda ended up deciding to open themselves up to the world there is obviously more opportunity for other characters (besides Bucky) to end up in Wakanda. Who knows, maybe White Wolf will come back to apologize more for breaking Zemo out of jail?

14. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, film

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

Obviously, the quantum realm has played a very large role in not just the Ant-Man movies, but the Infinity Saga as well. So, it will be interesting to really delve more into what is possible based on the quantum realm.

I hope Scott’s daughter, Cassie, will be able to work her way into a more involved role in his and Hope’s superhero projects and it will be interesting to watch their family dynamic shift after the Blip.

Ghost is another character I would like to see make a return to the MCU, but we don’t have much information on the project other than the name of the newest villain. Kang the Conqueror is notably a time-travel character, which means we’re more than likely to see the use of the quantum time travel machine developed in Endgame.

There may be a chance to hear even more about why Captain America never came back or maybe Loki could provide some real insight on the dangers of time travel by then.

15. Captain Marvel 2, film

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

Although many people aren’t fans of the first movie (I chalk it up to bad movie release planning and underdevelopment of her character from the writing), I know I’m excited for the second installment of this series to come out.

Specifically, I'm excited for the emergence of Carol’s “niece” having powers seeming fairly similar to her own. Although I hope Monica doesn’t have to wait until this movie to reappear after WandaVision, it is entirely possible.

It would be really entertaining to see an alliance form between herself, Monica, and Ms. Marvel since she is confirmed to be appearing in this movie as well.

Being able to see other, more established, characters in the MCU interact with her would almost automatically make this movie better than the first. My biggest complaint was that her character was so powerful but also so understated considering how easily she could have defeated Thanos.

16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, film

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Image Source: IMDb

Since this is set to release after the fourth Thor movie, we can guess Thor won’t be making too much of an appearance and the Guardians have once again set off on their own. Due to the movie being pretty far out release-wise, the only confirmed characters are the main characters we are already used to seeing on the screen.

It will be very interesting to see how Peter Quill is reacting to having a Gamora on board who never fell in love with him, and then watch him try to essentially recreate their old relationship.

Eventually, I think Rocket is going to be the one to be in charge of the Guardians. He and Quill have been arguing about it forever, but I truly believe Quill’s rash actions (and the fact that he still cannot be a team player) should be enough proof that he is not fit to be the leader of a team.

Nebula, as always, seems to be sort of a toss-up as to whether she’ll actually be helpful for the Guardians or not, so that should be fun to watch unfold as well.

17. Captain America 4, film

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

Following the events of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier (series) finale, this movie will follow the events of Sam Wilson as the new representative of the Captain America mantle.

Given the ending of the show, we can assume Sebastian Stan will be reprising his role as Bucky Barnes and working alongside the new Cap. It is also possible, now that the role of Falcon is vacant, that somebody like his ally Joaquin Torres could pick up that mantle.

Also following one of the last scenes of the FATWS show, John Walker became U.S. Agent, and although he seemed to have a little bit of a redemption arc at the end, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up butting heads with Wilson once again.

It may finally provide closure to many viewers in knowing what actually happened to Steve Rogers since Sam and Bucky just referred to him as "gone". I would also like to see some explanation of Red Skull being on Vormir, but I’m not sure if that would even find its way back into a plot since nobody except Hawkeye has seen him since the 1940s.

18. Secret Invasion, TV series

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

A show years in the making, we may finally find out when the Skrulls started imitating Nick Fury. Some people think it goes all the way back to Avengers: Age of Ultron because of the way he cuts his sandwiches in Captain Marvel, set in the ‘90s.

It will also be nice to see Samuel L. Jackson get even more screen time portraying Fury. Additionally, Emilia Clarke just got confirmed to be joining the cast, which is exciting to a lot of Game of Thrones fans, including me.

Personally, it makes sense for this to be released before Captain Marvel 2’s release because of the Skrulls being such a main character group in the first movie.

Marvel could decide to play this on a smaller scale or even build up to a really big one, but since there are people who are convinced that just about every MCU character has been imitated by a Skrull, they can do however much they want and we will still consume it happily.

We know Marvel is viewing the shows as smaller movies, so it will be so awesome to see how far they take this concept.

19. Ironheart, TV series

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

The heir to the Iron Man throne, this character is (at least in the comics) another badass, smart, and resourceful woman similar to Tony. Stark is also rumored to create his own AI interface to help Ironheart run things smoothly like he created J.A.R.V.I.S. and F.R.I.D.A.Y.

Of course, it would have made a little bit more sense to me to have his daughter Morgan take on his legacy, but any mind smart enough to build an even better suit than Tony without ulterior motives deserves to at least give being a hero a try.

I’m hopeful that Happy will be able to find her and help mentor her, as well as Spider-Man. I think the two characters would make a really good team and its connections like that that make the idea of a Young Avengers team seem so appealing.

With Iron Man being my favorite MCU character, I am the most excited for this show and for characters with the intellectual means to be represented no matter their age.

20. Armor Wars, TV series

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Image Source: MCU Wiki

We have seen at least four movies centered on what happens when Stark technology gets put in the wrong hands and this show is no exception.

All of those have been entertaining storylines and, with Don Cheadle back as War Machine, we know we’re in for an exciting ride. He is, however, the only cast member confirmed so the rest of the plot specifics are completely in our hands to try to figure out.

Some fans have cited interest in bringing back Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2, but really any bad guy that survived an MCU movie could want to get their hands on Stark technology and weapons.

It’s possible, at least with all of these new government agencies coming to light, that there could be rogue operatives (like Director Hayward from S.W.O.R.D. seems to be) looking to misuse it. Hayward is my first guess, since S.W.O.R.D. seems to have more malicious than good intent.

Also, the organization is extremely linked to the X-Men, since the most organic weapons would be people naturally born with extraordinary abilities, and gives the MCU yet another opportunity to bring them in.

With a lot of new characters entering the MCU, it can be overwhelming to think about all of the possibilities but breaking cast lists down project by project makes it all the more exciting to think about.

Although the original six Avengers are no longer together in the franchise, these movies are setting up for the Young Avengers team to exist. This franchise is sure to continue telling heroes' stories for the unforeseeable future and, personally, I am very excited to see where they take all of the stories.

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