We know it is too early for any speculation, but real fandom breathes ‘speculation’! Marvel’s ambitious and hugely successful ‘The Infinity Saga’ ended with Avengers: Endgame and Spiderman: Far From Home in 2019. Post-Pandemic, the release of a bunch of disconnected movies of Phase 4 made fans question where this all was heading.
Kevin Feige answered that question at SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) 2022. He announced ‘The Multiverse Saga‘ with Kang, The Conqueror as the main antagonist. This Saga will end in 2025, with the release of the final two films – Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. For full coverage of the event, read – Marvel’s Plans For Phase 5 And 6 Revealed At SDCC 2022.
Now the question is, where will Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe head next?
The previous three phases (1, 2, and 3) took a build-up of nearly 11 years (2008-2019) and 23 movies before reaching their conclusion. While these current phases (4, 5, and 6) span just 5 years (2021-2025), it includes a total of 19 movies and 14 Disney+ shows.
In the Infinity Saga, the main villain was Thanos and his quest for the six Infinity Stones to “balance the universe”. Clearly, this was inspired by the Marvel comic book runs – Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War. And as is clear now, The Multiverse Saga’s main villain is Kang and the story will follow his conquers and battles across the multiverse. This is inspired by the Marvel comic book runs – The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. If reports are to be believed, this new saga will see two antagonists – Kanga and Doctor Doom.
But what is next? Let’s speculate.
As said earlier, Marvel takes inspiration from huge comic book events and drafts a story spanning years. However, these particular events need to be compelling and impactful enough. Civil War, Ragnarok, Infinity War, and Secret Wars – all of these had huge consequences for Marvel’s storyline. Hence they saw their live-action adoptions. This resulted in Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame being hugely successful.
However, the greatest challenge is to make the adaption such that the story is easily understandable to even non-comic book audiences. Kevin Feige and his nerd herd have proven their excellent proficiency so far. After Secret Wars, there still are many comic book events that can be adapted. Some examples of such events are – Fear Itself, Avengers vs X-Men, Civil War II, Onslaught, Siege, Secret Invasion, and World War Hulk.
Secret Invasion is already being made into a Disney+ show and World War Hulk might still be a far-fetched bet, given how underpowered MCU’s Hulk is. Marvel won’t be revisiting a Civil War storyline in Civil War II. The rest of them like Onslaught, Siege, and Fear Itself is not possible given the direction in which MCU is heading in The Multiverse Saga.
Phase 6 will commence with the release of Marvel’s ‘re-re-rebooted’ Fantastic Four. Kamala Khan’s genes have already been referred to have “…some kind of mutation”. This makes Ms. Marvel the first official on-screen ‘known’ Mutant in the MCU. Professor Charles Xavier’s short cameo in Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness, proves that Marvel acknowledges the existence of Mutants too.
Now that Fox Studios and Marvel Studios have merged, and the Multiverse is unleashed, X-Men can easily be integrated into the main MCU timeline.
There still are un-announced empty 8 slots in the Phase Six slate of SDCC 2022. Its likely candidates are – Deadpool 3, Shang Chi 2, Spiderman 4, Nova, Armor Wars, and Wonder Man. Eternals 2 could also be one of them. If all of them do, that leaves only one empty slot. Marvel won’t repeat its mistake of Inhumans, of making Mutants debut on a Disney+ show, so it could be a movie – The Mutants.
Also, there has been the latest report that Marvel can’t recast some of the X-Men characters. Because the actors who played them in the Fox universe still have their outstanding contracts till 2025 (listen to Marvelvision podcast).
This all points to just one thing – Mutants will arrive with a bang after Phase 6 ends. The next three phases, i.e. 7, 8, and 9 could very well be called ‘The Mutant Saga‘.
This shall enable Marvel to have plenty of room for X-Men movies to breathe. They can even make individual movies on these characters like the Wolverine reboot, Cyclops, Gambit, House of X, etc. Then they can slowly be introduced to the ‘then’ existing Avengers team. Further, they will possibly have an epic clash with them in the last movie of this saga – Avengers vs X-Men.
The four movies, which will be released in 2026 (Phase 7), are all as yet untitled. But they have been been given the following release dates: February 13, May 1, July 24, and November 6. Only time will tell, what project will fill these slots.
All of this has to be taken with a grain of salt. This all is still just a wild guess – an educated one, yes – but still a guess! Surely, if everything continues to go right, neither Feige will stop nor the love of fans for his vision. But the future, even beyond The Multiverse Saga, sounds exciting.