Make no mistake: “Avengers: Endgame”, released Friday as the most anticipated film of 2019, is the definitive conclusion of what is described as “The Infinity Saga”, the first 22 films of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
This saga took viewers from the stories of classic heroes such as Captain America and Iron Man to the zany space adventures of The Guardians of the Galaxy, making superhero fandom cool and grossing almost $20 billion (and counting) worldwide.
However, with the end of “The Infinity Saga” comes a shift in focus from the original six Avengers towards newer characters and properties such as Spider-Man and Captain Marvel, which is uncharted territory for a film series so rooted in its core cast.
This poses an interesting question: what is Marvel Studios planning to make this new era of the MCU just as successful as the first?
Thankfully, several rumored adaptations for the studio may ensure just that.
Outside of “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, which releases in July, another upcoming film in the MCU is said to be based around The Eternals.
This group are the god-like beings of the MCU, individuals which are essentially immortal and possess abilities easily exceeding all of Earth’s heroes.
Thanos, the main villain of “Avengers: Endgame”, is one of these beings, and seeing several characters with this sheer power battle would produce some of the most grandiose action sequences seen in a superhero movie.
The potential cast, including Sersi, Ikaris and Thanos’ brother Kronos, are also relatively unknown.
This could lead to a film that exhibits the same type of style that made The Guardians of The Galaxy such a success upon their debut in 2014, and with “The Rider” director Chloe Zhao reportedly set to helm the story, it would breath fresh life into the MCU.
Right now, The Eternals are rumored to debut in 2020, meaning we will probably see an announcement at Comic-Con this summer.
Another rumored character that could breathe life into the MCU is Shang-Chi, a kung-fu master whose film would could contain the first Asian lead in a Marvel Studios film.
Shang-Chi would represent the exact opposite of many of the MCU films so far, trading in the large-scale, cosmic focus of recent years for a story where the stakes are much lower and may harken back to the classic kung-fu movies of the 1970s.
This is necessary after the incessant fan service and easter eggs that have marked all Marvel films in recent years, and could lead to a more unique adaptation detached from the universe-building which often leaves fans too focused on what comes next.
Similar to The Eternals, Shang-Chi is also relatively unknown, allowing for the same type of unfettered freedom that often leads to memorable, bold adaptations.
With “The Glass Castle” director Destin Daniel Cretton recently attaching himself to the project, the future for the film is bright. However, with relatively few rumors circulating about the film, don’t expect an official announcement for awhile.
While these two films represent the boldest of Marvel Studios’ rumored slate, the company is also reportedly moving forward with sequels to “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange”, a third Guardians of the Galaxy film, a Black Widow movie, and a variety of series set to debut on Disney’s new Disney+ streaming service in the future.
However, in order to move forward and maintain the greatness of their first 22 films, Marvel Studios needs to continue to push their properties into bold new directions on both the television and film.
Based on these moves, it seems like they are on the right track, but only time will tell if they can recreate the magic we’ve been blessed with so far in the MCU.
Alex Cala is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]