What ‘Avengers: Endgame’ means for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers: Endgame SPOILERS.

For the past ten years the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the biggest film franchise around. But after a decade of consistently shattering box office records and with a cast stuffed full of Hollywood A-Listers, the sprawling ‘Infinity Saga’ climaxed up with Avengers: Endgame last week.

Unsurprisingly, film twenty-two in the MCU has been hugely successful, with a gigantic $1.2 billion dollar debut weekend and thousands heading out to midnight screenings across the globe. But as the end of Phase three (well, kind of, we still have Spider-Man: Far From Home left in this “phase”), there were some huge events that will mean big changes for the Marvel universe. Big spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen Endgame yet here’s your chance to look away. Here’s what Avengers: Endgame could mean for the future of the MCU.

No more Iron Man

Fans correctly predicted (but the expectation didn’t make it any less emotional), that Endgame saw Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) die a hero’s death after using the Infinity Stones. This most likely marks the end of Downey Jr’s involvement in the MCU, having played the role of Iron Man since 2008. However this doesn’t mean we won’t see other characters from the Iron Man films return, with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) set to appear in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The Black Widow standalone film will probably be a prequel

Marvel have confirmed that there’s going to be a standalone Black Widow film, but given the shock death of Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Endgame, this one will most likely be a prequel. Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour have all signed on for this film, so we can expect to the film to explore some of Natasha Romanoff’s earlier life before she joined The Avengers.

C85M8X THE AVENGERS 2012 MVLFFLLC/Marvel Enterprises film with Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow

Gamora’s back, but not the same

In Avengers: Infinity War we saw Thanos kill his daughter Gamora in order to obtain the soul stone; but due to the time travel in Endgame, Zoe Saldana’s returned alive and well. Only one problem, this is a version of Gamora from five years in the past, so she has no knowledge of her time with the Guardians of the Galaxy, nor her romantic relationship with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). This sets up an interesting dynamic for the next Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, which is several years off.

Thor’s the new Guardian of the Galaxy?

At the end of the film Thor (Chris Hemsworth) abdicated as king of New Asgard (with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) taking his place), and headed off into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. This could be a set up to Thor in the next Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, or the Guardians appearing in a fourth Thor film.

So could there be a standalone Valkyrie film?

In the past Tessa Thompson has spoken about Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi pitching a Thor 4 film to Marvel, so it looks like she’s interested. But as the Queen of New Asgard, there’s now scope for a film centred around Valkyrie to work.

And Loki isn’t actually dead – which is good for the TV show

We saw Loki (Tom Hiddleston) die fairly early on Infinity War, but a version of him in Endgame survived. As the Avengers’ travelled through time to collect the Infinity stones, a version of Loki in the past managed to get his paws on the Tesseract and escape with it. Where he went is unknown, but with a new standalone Loki TV show in the works on new streaming channel Disney+ (with Tom Hiddleston reprising his role) we’re sure to find out.

A new Captain America?

There were fan theories that Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) would die in Endgame; and although he survived, it saw the end of Evans’ involvement in the MCU. At the end of the film we see him travel back in time to spend his life with old flame Peggy Carter, reappearing at the end of Endgame as an old man. But that may not be the end of Captain America.

We see Rogers give his shield to Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), effectively handing him the mantle. There’s a The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Disney+ TV series in the works, so could we see Wilson being the new Captain America?

Vision is set to return, but remained dead in Endgame

After dying in Infinity War when Thanos extracted the mind stone from his head, we didn’t see Vision throughout Endgame. But there’s another Disney+ TV series in the works about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), called WandaVision, so the character is set to reappear in some form. This could be having him resurrected, but the series is rumoured to have some time travel in it, so he could be brought back in a way similar to Gamora.

HC9CG0 AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, Jeremy Renner (as Hawkeye), 2015. ©Walt Disney Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Hawkeye’s back to retirement

At the end of Endgame we saw Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) back with his family and his life of retirement; but this may not be Renner’s final appearance in the MCU, as reportedly he’s signed on for a Disney+ series about Clint Barton passing on the Hawkeye mantle to Kate Bishop.

It does, however, probably mean this was Renner’s final appearance in a Marvel film, but we could see Kate Bishop appear as Hawkeye in the future.

Future sequels will have to address the five-year time jump between the films

Several Marvel films have had follow up films confirmed, and it looks like they’ll have to address the five year time jump between Thanos’ snap (when they all disappeared) and the Hulk’s snap (when they all reappeared). Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man and the Wasp have all had films confirmed over the next few years, so it’ll be interesting to see how characters interact when some of them have been missing for half a decade.

It’ll be especially interesting in Spider-Man: Far From Home, where half of Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s class mates will now being old enough to go to university, whilst he remains a high-schooler.

And entirely new films are in the works

Marvel have been fairly tight-lipped about what films will be part of Phase 4 of the MCU, but now we know which characters survived Endgame there’s sure to be a series of announcements about future films.

Work has started on The Eternals, which Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani are involved in. The Eternals are a type of super-humans (which Thanos is one of), and this film will focus on the two characters Ikaris & Sersi.

Marvel have also fast-tracked development on Shang-Chi, their first Asian-led film, which will be written by David Callaham and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.

Is Captain Marvel the new leader of the Avengers?

Potentially. At Tony Stark’s funeral we saw all the Avengers lining up, but one of the most striking moments was when we see Captain Marvel standing above the rest on the steps of the house, with Nick Fury by her side, looking over the rest of the superheroes. As one of the most powerful members of the team, she could take on the leader position in future films.

So could this mean further team-up films are on the way?

Who knows! But with all these new characters, and tons more sequels on the way, there’s plenty of scope for further Avengers films. The hard part would be trying to top Endgame, but we’ll just have to wait and see if they can do it…