& What will the next Avengers team look like?
Now that the Herculean cinematic achievement that is Marvel's Infinity Saga is in the history books, there are about a million open questions concerning the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 4. Oh, sure, we know quite a few things: that many of our favorite characters will be back for new solo adventures, that new heroes (and new teams of heroes) are waiting for their introductions, and that Marvel Studios' takeover of the television branch means that we'll soon be seeing a stronger connection between the small-screen MCU properties and the feature films than ever before. One thing we don't know, though: When we will next see a movie with the word Avengers in the title.
Of course, we do know that this will happen, eventually. The members of the original squad might mostly be dead (like Iron Man and Black Widow), elderly (like Captain America), or off on their own galaxy-spanning adventures (like Thor), but Marvel will eventually field a new Avengers team, if for no other reason than that no Avengers movie has failed to break a billion dollars at the global box office (and 2019's Avengers: Endgame became the highest-grossing film in history).
For that matter, we're pretty sure that Marvel Studios head honcho and King of All Geeks, Kevin Feige knows a lot more about the next iteration of the team than he has publicly said. In a chat with MTV News last year, Feige was asked point-blank if he knew what the next Avengers team would look like, and he didn't beat around the bush. "Yes," he said, "and it will be a very different team than we've seen before. That's what Endgame was all about. It will be a very different incarnation of the team with some people you've already met and some people you haven't met yet."
What legacy MCU characters could be part of the next Avengers team?
We know a little bit more about the future of the MCU now than we did when Feige made that statement, including details of the Disney+ miniseries and solo features that are on tap for the franchise. He's also made it clear that the MCU will be leaning hard into diversity going forward, and with those two things in mind, a new Avengers team will have some glaring needs that it should be relatively easy for a few legacy characters to fill.
First of all: Whether he likes it or not, Sam Wilson is going to become the new Captain America, a development that was loudly announced at the conclusion of Endgame, and which appears to be the focus of Sam's journey in the upcoming Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Any new Avengers team is going to need a leader, and Steve Rogers passed his shield to Sam for a reason.
With Iron Man deceased, the Hulk pretty much out of commission, and Thor absent, a new team is also going to need some serious muscle. We nominate Captain Marvel, an insanely powerful hero with a strong working knowledge of alien races and societies. There's also Valkyrie, a badass Asgardian, although she currently has a lot of responsibility as the ruler of New Asgard. Finally, the new Avengers will need a big, huge scientific brain, and, in that capacity, we give you T'Challa, the Black Panther, who comes with a kid sister who is even smarter than he is.
Also in the mix: Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff, although they'll be dealing with some serious problems of their own in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Finally, sign up Ant-Man, who has proven himself to be resourceful and valuable in many different ways. Any Big Bad who underestimates Scott Lang does so at their peril.
What new characters could be joining the team?
You'll notice that that's a pretty diverse group we just mentioned, and among the new characters we know will be making their entrances into the MCU soon is the franchise's first Asian hero, Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. In the comics, he's near the top of the list of the finest unarmed combatants in existence, with the supernatural ability to channel his life force (his "chi"), which enables him to go toe-to-toe with opponents much more powerful than he. If you're not familiar with the character, don't worry, because you will be soon. Shang-Chi will be the first new solo character to be introduced in Phase 4, and we doubt it'll take too long for Wilson or Danvers (one of those Captains) to knock on his door.
As far as the rest of those characters we "haven't met yet," we're left with a mixture of tantalizing possibility and pure speculation. As to the former: Could Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, who will be introduced in the Black Widow stand-alone, become the new Widow? Could Mahershala Ali's Blade, whose solo flick won't drop until Phase 5, be part of the team? What about Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who will pick up Mjölnir to become the Mighty Thor in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder?
As to the latter, will we ever see Richard Rider, the "man called Nova," who has been teased since all the way back in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie? Will Cassie Lang, the now-teenage daughter of Scott, follow her comics trajectory to become the hero Stature? Oh, and the freaking X-Men are on their way after Disney's acquisition of Fox, right? We're sure Feige knows the answers to all of those questions, and we're equally sure he won't be sharing them any time soon.
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What about the Disney+ characters?
Now, we also know that three key new characters will be introduced on Disney+ limited series of their own, and that these characters (from the mouth of the King Geek) will then cross over to appear on the big screen. Of these, one is almost certain to feature in some future iteration of the Avengers: Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk. Like we mentioned before, it's not like there are not substitutes for the team to turn to when something is in need of a good smashing, but She-Hulk is simply an awesome character in her own right. She retains her smarts after Hulking out, she's a skilled attorney,, and in the comics, she's known for breaking the fourth wall. We can virtually guarantee that her MCU incarnation will swiftly become a fan favorite, so they might as well just save her a spot on the team right now.
As for the other two, we don't find their inclusion to be as likely at least, not yet. Marc Spector, aka Moon Knight, is a formidable hero, to be sure, but he's also a bit of a loose cannon, and his general mental state ranges (depending on who is writing him) from slightly unbalanced to full-on nuts. Then, there's Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. Sure, she's one of the coolest new heroes to come out of the House of Ideas in ages, and she's Muslim, which would check that diversity box. She's also a kid, though, so throwing her onto a team regularly tasked with countering the most severe threats to the existence of humanity might not be the best idea.
What about Spider-Man?
From a narrative standpoint, the inclusion of Peter Parker on the next Avengers team should be a no-brainer. He was basically hand-picked by Tony Stark to be his successor, and, so far, his entire arc in his solo films has been about learning to accept the responsibility that comes with being a powerful hero in a world seemingly continually in need of saving. If the story were the only consideration, then there would be no question that Spider-Man would be a key member of the Avengers going forward, probably for the next decade or more.
As we're sure you know, however, it's quite likely that Sony Pictures will interfere with this plan. The studio still owns Spidey's film rights, and its shared custody agreement with Marvel nearly came to an abrupt end as recently as last year. We'd like to think that, no matter what, all involved parties will always do everything they can to keep the wall-crawler in the MCU, which has completely revitalized the character's cinematic fortunes. With Sony moving ahead with its own shared universe of films based on Spidey characters (one which may or may not be tangentially connected to the MCU) and star Tom Holland only set to reprise the role for two more MCU-set films, however, anything could happen.
There could also be unknown wildcards on the next Avengers team Marvel Comics
Obviously, Feige is holding the details of what he knows about the next iteration of the Avengers close to the vest, but it's not as if that's the only inside info to which he's privy. His comments about characters we "haven't met yet" could just as easily pertain to characters whose introductions haven't been made public, yet, as they could to She-Hulk or Shang-Chi. Since Mighty Marvel plans the overall trajectory of the MCU years in advance, the next team of Avengers could easily include characters nobody is even speculating about yet.
Fans have been clamoring to see Adam Warlock and the Sentry for years, just to name a couple of examples. Somehow, we get the idea that Feige is pretty savvy about what fans want from the MCU, and that he may at this moment be making big plans that won't be made public for years.
As we mentioned, however, we like to take our informed stabs at what the future might hold, so we're going to go ahead and shoot our shot. We predict that, when The New Avengers drops in the summer of 2024, the six core members of the team will be: Sam "Captain America" Wilson, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Shang-Chi, Yelena "Black Widow" Belova, and ... Spider-Man. Call us optimistic.
The curtains may have closed on Endgame, but that's by no means the end of the game for Marvel. You think they'd stop at a measly $1.2 billion opening weekend? There's plenty of material, on both the comic page and the silver screen, just waiting to be developed into further box office gold. But after the Avengers "blipped" Thanos' victims back to life and Spider-Man introduced us to a world without Iron Man, the future of the MCU was left uncertain for the first time in a long time. With no officially confirmed movies on the horizon, fans were left to speculate about what the coming years would bring, and how the studio could possibly follow up the game-changing 23-movie run of the Infinity Saga.
Of course, Marvel enthusiasts are nothing if not dedicated, and the curious acolytes of the Avengers immediately got to sniffing out all the rumors and news they could find. It's hard for a machine as large and complex as Marvel Studios to keep all its secrets, after all, and there were some intriguing scraps to be found. Then, of course, San Diego Comic-Con 2019 arrived, and with it came the studio's grand reveal of the MCU's Phase 4. Some assumptions were confirmed, others quashed, and surprises were dropped like Mjolnir on an unsuspecting crowd.
Now that we know what Marvel movies and TV shows are on the way, we're starting to catch wind of some definite rumors, spoilers, and announcements about Phase 4. Here's what we've learned so far.
Black Widow to feature Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and villain Taskmaster
The first big Marvel movie following the end of Phase 3, and the death of many of our favorite characters, will be the long-anticipated Black Widow solo movie. Marvel has tucked this film in the timeline between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, which explains how Natasha Romanoff is alive and kicking butt.
We don't know much about what happened during this time, but we're about to find out. According to a sizzle reel at San Diego Comic-Con, something happened in Budapest. Again. Natasha's Russian spy past seems to be catching up with her as she contends with fellow Red Room graduate Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Rachel Weisz's character is so far only known as Melina, but fans have speculated that she could be Melina Vostokoff, who is known in the comics as the Iron Maiden. David Harbour is on board as Alexei Shostakov, who is a kind of Russian version of Captain America, the Red Guardian. No word yet as to who will be behind the skull mask of the copycat Taskmaster, the film's main villain. We'll see how Natasha fares against him on May 1, 2020.
Extraordinary Eternals cast includes Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek
The stage was star-studded at San Diego Comic-Con, and the cast of the confirmed Eternals movie set to release November 6, 2020 is just as brilliant. This, we think, befits a race of ancient, superpowered aliens. Did we mention that they were godlike? Because the Eternals are tangled up in Greek mythology.
Angelina Jolie's role, for instance, is Thena, a reference to the Olympian goddess Athena. Richard Madden of Game of Thrones fame is indeed playing Ikaris, one of the most mighty of Eternals, named after the boy who flew too close to the sun in Greek myth. Ajak (mistakenly called Ajax during the Trojan War) is male in the comics, but Salma Hayek will be portraying this Eternal on screen. The same gender-bend goes for the deaf character Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, who bears parallels to the god Hermes. Kumail Nanjiani will play Kingo, who's been living in Japan for millennia following the way of the samurai. Eternal Phaistos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, is a pseudo-Hephaestus because of his weapon-smithing skills, and Sprite is a Loki-like young trickster, played by Lia McHugh for another gender-bent role. Finally, Don Lee will be playing Gilgamesh (we'll give you three guesses which historical figure he's a stand-in for.)
Simu Liu is Shang-Chi in Legend of the Ten Rings
Kevin Feige has promised that actor Simu Liu, our soon-to-be Shang-Chi, will be a household name everywhere. Liu is probably best known for his role on the Canadian sitcom Kim's Convenience, where he doesn't really do a whole lot of action star backflips or fights. Rather, Liu cut his teeth on being an action hero in his roles on the Taken TV series and through performing stunts on the sets of Designated Survivor and Heroes Reborn.
Liu had actually tweeted about his interest in the role back in December of 2018, saying, "OK @Marvel, are we gonna talk or what #ShangChi." Apparently, Marvel and Liu did talk, and he thanked the studio for "getting back to me" when his role was officially announced. Starring alongside Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be Awkwafina of Crazy Rich Asians fame, who will likely be handling the comedy while he does the backflips. We'll also finally meet the Mandarin, the leader of the Ten Rings terrorist organization. The actual Mandarin (as opposed to the fakeout one played by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3) will be played by award-winning actor Tony Leung. We'll see what kind of villain the real Mandarin is February 12, 2021.
What If...? poses some interesting questions for Marvel
A big part of Phase 4 will be the content on the Disney+ streaming service. Rather than focusing solely on big blockbuster films, Marvel has decided to flesh out its offerings through TV series set to release on the new platform over the next few years, giving fans a more up-close-and-personal look at some of their favorite characters.
The What If...? animated series slated for release in the summer of 2021 is an especially unorthodox look at the world of Marvel. Based on the comic series of the same name, What If...? muses on alternate versions of the events in the MCU. The voice cast boasts a staggering number of Marvel movie stars, from Michael B. Jordan to Michael Rooker. We will watch these alternate timelines unfold through the eyes of the Watcher, voiced by Westworld's Jefferey Wright, seeing exactly what would happen if things had turned out just a little differently. The first episode of What If...? will find Peggy Carter taking super-soldier serum in place of Steve Rogers.
The dynamic Disney+ duo: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
One of the first Disney+ series that caught our attention was The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series. A super-powered buddy cop movie spread over six episodes? Count us in. Steve Rogers' two best friends are set to team up against Helmut Zemo's return. Daniel Brühl's Zemo was our mind-controlling baddie from Captain America: Civil War, and this time he's back with a vengeance. And his signature purple mask from the comics, apparently.
The series will star Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their roles as Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But wait, isn't Falcon Captain America now? At the end of Avengers: Endgame, an aged Steve Rogers handed over the red, white, and blue shield and with it the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson as Bucky Barnes looked on approvingly. At some point in the confusingly titled series, we will see Sam Wilson in a star-spangled outfit, according to an interview with MTV News. We'll see the pair back at it as superheroes when the series releases in the fall of 2020.
Joining Mackie, Stan, and Brühl will be Emily VanCamp, making her return as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker, a.k.a. U.S.Agent.
Loki's new place in the timeline
Where did Loki go when he snatched up the Tesseract and disappeared from 2012 during Avengers: Endgame's Time Heist? Apparently, we'll get the chance to find out in the upcoming Disney+ series Loki. Kevin Feige himself confirmed that the series picks up right after Loki winked out of existence. Tom Hiddleston, reprising his role as the God of Mischief, was effectively the conductor of the Loki hype train, saying at San Diego Comic-Con, "Kevin has generously told me what his plans are. I can't tell you any of them, but it is one of the most exciting creative opportunities I think I've ever come across. This is new territory, a new world, new challenges, and I cannot wait to get started."
The Loki TV series, set to release in the spring of 2021, will indeed be a whole new world and maybe a whole new time period. A preview image teased at a Disney investor event in April shows Thor's baby brother in front of a promotional sign for the film Jaws, which was released in 1975. After Endgame, Marvel's no stranger to time travel, but Loki vamoosed with the Space Stone, not the Time Stone. What's he up to? Only time will tell.
Wanda and Vision sees a new vision of Monica Rambeau
Here's what we know about WandaVision: not a whole lot. Marvel has been pretty mysterious when it comes to this Disney+ show, and how it works with the current Marvel timeline. After all, Vision is no more, his life snuffed out by Thanos. Spider-man: Far From Home further confirmed through a memorial video that Vision is gone. So, how is he starring alongside his girlfriend Wanda in a show that takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame? "It's gonna get weird," Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlet Witch herself, said at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
Another question: how does Monica Rambeau factor into this? Young Monica, Maria Rambeau's daughter, charmed audiences with her mischief in Captain Marvel. The film strongly hinted that she wanted to follow in her Auntie Carol's mighty footsteps and become super herself. WandaVision will feature Monica all grown up, played by Teyonah Parris, and maybe getting in on the superhero action. Maybe.
Other surprising returns in store for WandaVision include Kat Dennings as Thor's Darcy Lewis and Randall Park as Ant-Man and the Wasp's Jimmy Woo. Into the Spider-Verse's own Doc Ock, Kathryn Hahn, will cross into the MCU as Wanda's nosy neighbor. How will all of these seemingly disparate elements come together? We'll have to wait for WandaVision to come to the streaming service in spring 2021.
The two Hawkeyes in the Disney+ Hawkeye
Clint Barton may finally be taking center stage in the Disney+ streaming series Hawkeye, but he won't be the only Hawkeye. While we don't know much about the series, set to release on the platform in the fall of 2021, we do know that the logo is almost an exact replica of the one used for the much-loved, much-lauded Hawkeye comic run by Matt Fraction and David Aja. This stylish series featured Barton's life as a smart-aleck coffee junkie trying his best to help the people around him. Fraction and Aja put particular focus on his various relationships — with his ex-wives; with his estranged brother; with his dog, Pizza Dog; and with his protege, Kate Bishop.
Kate Bishop is also known as the leader of the Young Avengers, a master strategist and fighter with a deadly aim, but otherwise a down-to-earth human-like Barton. Bishop, who becomes the new Hawkeye after Clint returns from his years as the brutal Ronin, is confirmed to have a spot in the show. We can't wait to see Jeremy Renner (confirmed to return as Clint) as a more laid back, morally gray Hawkguy mentoring the sharply witty Kate Bishop.
Thor: Love and Thunder finds Natalie Portman worthy
Taika Waititi is returning to direct the fourth installment in the Thor series, Thor: Love and Thunder. With a title logo that looks straight out of an '80s film, we're sure that Love and Thunder will have the same tongue-in-cheek humor and epic adventure that Waititi brought to Thor: Ragnarok. He is also bringing on a new god of thunder.
Yes, Chris Hemsworth will be back as Thor, but in this new film, Natalie Portman's Jane Foster will take on Mjolnir and become the Thor, as in the hero who controls the thunder of the heavens. Jane became Thor in the comics a while back, when Thor was no longer worthy of Mjolnir. Mjolnir itself contacted Jane and chose her as a worthy wielder. Thor thus renamed himself Odinson and went off to travel the universe, kind of like what he's doing with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Tessa Thompson will also return as Valkyrie, decreed the "King of New Asgard" at the end of Endgame, rounding out the star-studded cast in her search to, as Thompson said, "find her new queen." The film is set to rumble into theaters on November 5, 2021.
Doctor Strange descends into the Multiverse of Madness
Just because there's not another Avengers film currently on Marvel's slate doesn't mean that superhero team-ups are off the table. Phase 4 might be focusing on the development of new heroes, but it hasn't forgotten some of the old favorites. Doctor Strange is getting his own sequel film, ominously titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Avengers: Endgame and Spider-man: Far From Home confirmed the fact that there are multiple realities in the MCU, and it looks like Doctor Strange is going to trip right into them.
Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch fittingly called strange herself, will be alongside the good doctor. At Marvel Studios' Comic-Con panel, the filmmakers revealed that the WandaVision Disney+ series will tie directly into the Strange sequel. Of course, it could also cross over with the animated What If...? series, considering that the show's entire premise is exploring alternate universes. The title suggests some Lovecraftian adventures are in store for the sorcerer in this story that director Scott Derrickson called "the first scary MCU film." We'll discover the mysteries of the multiverse when the film is unveiled on May 7, 2021.
Blade found the perfect Blade in Mahershala Ali
Marvel took us all totally by surprise at San Diego Comic-Con when they announced that everyone's favorite half-vampiric vampire hunter would be returning to the silver screen. Yes, Blade is happening. Many will remember Wesley Snipes' iconic performance as the sharp-fanged, sharp-witted hunter in the trilogy of films at the dawn of the new millennium, but Blade was first a Marvel comic released in 1973.
Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali of Moonlight and Green Book fame is stepping up to bat when it comes to donning the role of Blade. Kevin Feige explained in an interview with Variety just why Ali is perfect for the role. "He's the perfect Blade because he's one of the greatest actors working today and because he is a huge fan of our universe. It's a dream. It's the kind of dream casting that you almost don't dare to dream that you can actually do it."
The Dark Avengers are maybe coming
Thought the Avengers were a dysfunctional team? They've got nothing on the Dark Avengers. Think of them as the bizarro version of the team that we know and love. This alliance first came together in the pages of Marvel comics in 2009, in the aftermath of a Skrull invasion that's devastated the Earth. With Iron Man gone, a seemingly reformed Norman Osborn dons a super-suit of his own and takes it upon himself to start his own team of superpowered peoples. Rather than come up with an original team, he tries to make a knock-off version of the Avengers: Venom becomes the new Spider-Man, Bullseye takes Hawkeye's place, Wolverine's bad boy son enlists to spite his father, and Noh-Varr represents the Kree in place of Captain Marvel. A couple other baddies, like Ares and Sentry, are also along for the ride.
How could these obvious villains be accepted as heroes? Norman Osborn effectively turns himself into a folk hero upon killing the Skrull Queen on national television during the Secret Invasion storyline, in which the Skrulls plot to take over the world and S.H.I.E.L.D. is once again compromised. The former Green Goblin is then given control of S.H.I.E.L.D. by the government after the dust settles, and he reforms it into the more aggressive H.A.M.M.E.R.
Very little is known about Marvel's plan for integrating this storyline into the MCU, but clearly, many of the important pieces are already in place in a post-Endgame world. The Hashtag Show has reported that somewhere in the bowels of Marvel Studios, there is a completed Dark Avengers script lying around. Maybe now that the Avengers are avenged and the Skrulls have arrived, it's time for a new kind of team to take the spotlight.
Will David Morrissey be another iconic villain?
Yet another secret whispered for all to hear via MCU scooper Rodger Wardell's Twitter: "Marvel Studios are a big fan of David Morrissey and are considering multiple roles for him for Phase 4." Morrissey gained fame among comic book fans when he embodied one of The Walking Dead's biggest and baddest villains, the Governor. He's been proving his versatility since, playing more than just megalomaniacs, but we wouldn't mind if he brought another bad guy to life.
Wardell suggests Morrissey is being considered for numerous roles, and Marvel's Phase 4 has the opportunity to introduce, or in some cases re-introduce, some of the scariest names in comics. We could see him one-upping even Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin by taking on the name of Norman Osborn, who is rumored to be a big part of the MCU's future. Morrissey's clear skill at playing all things evil would also be well-suited to none other than Doctor Doom himself. But who knows? Maybe he'll be a good guy, like the handsomely salt-and-peppered Reed Richards. Regardless of his future in the MCU, we're sure Morrissey would be fantastic in any role.
Spider-Man is swinging back into the MCU
It's been a rocky relationship, but after a brief trial separation, Sony and Marvel have officially gotten back together for one more film. Spider-Man 3 will release on July 16, 2021, placing it between Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May and Thor: Love and Thunder in November. No casting has been confirmed yet, but it's safe to assume that in addition to Tom Holland, we'll also be seeing the return of Jacob Batalon as Ned and Zendaya as MJ, as well as Marissa Tomei as Aunt May. As one of the only Spidey regulars whose character wasn't briefly snatched away from the MCU by Sony, Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan is also likely to return. And given the cliffhanger at the end of Far From Home, we'd be surprised if J.K. Simmons doesn't make an appearance as well.
Like the first two films, the MCU's Spider-Man 3 will be helmed by director Jon Watts. This gives Watts membership to the exclusive club of directors who have shepherded an entire MCU trilogy only James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Peyton Reed (Ant-Man) are set to do the same. No plot details have been released for the third Spider-Man outing yet, including whether or not it will cross over with Venom or any other part of Sony's own Spider-Verse, but considering the mess the last time Sony snatched back the web-slinger, we expect it'll probably pave the way for Spidey to exit the MCU for good.
Kraven the Hunter?
Spider-Man has a huge roster of comics villains to pick from and after Mysterio's (Jake Gyllenhaal) game-changing swan song in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the antagonist of the third MCU Spider-Man movie could be just about anyone. However, despite Kevin Feige's trademark elusiveness about the plot of the next film, we can take a few educated guesses to narrow down the field of candidates. Sony has been chomping at the bit to finally get the Sinister Six on screen for a long time and Spider-Man 3 would be an excellent opportunity to round out the lineup by bringing in a few more. Topping the list of likely candidates? Kraven the Hunter.
Before he'd officially been tapped to direct Spider-Man 3, Jon Watts mentioned that if the villain of the third movie was up to him, it would be Kraven the Hunter. Now that he's in the director's chair, it seems that it is up to him, at least partially. What's more, Far From Home scribes Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have mentioned Kraven as the next villain they'd like to see Spidey fight. And as if that's not enough, Sony is working on developing a Kraven solo film, so we wouldn't be surprised to see the hunter make his first appearance in a Spider-Man movie.
Ms. Marvel will break new ground on Disney+
Just when we thought we knew everything to expect in Phase 4 of the MCU, Marvel threw us for a loop by announcing a trio of additional new MCU shows at the 2019 D23 Expo, including Ms. Marvel, which will follow Pakistani American teen hero Kamala Khan. Bisha K. Ali, writer of Hulu's Four Weddings and a Funeral, has been tapped as showrunner. In the comics, Kamala is an Inhuman who idolizes Carol Danvers and takes up her pre-Captain Marvel mantle after discovering she too has superpowers. Marvel hasn't yet revealed whether the series will show this discovery and Kamala's first days as Ms. Marvel, or whether they'll pick up with the character after she's already been established, similar to Peter Parker's introduction in Captain America: Civil War.
Kamala already blazed new territory in the comics as the first Muslim character to headline her own Marvel book, and to see her on-screen in the MCU will be a significant step forward in the battle for more diverse representation in Hollywood, especially if the character eventually crosses over to the films. We don't have any idea yet when Ms. Marvel will hit Disney+, or where it will fit into Marvel's increasingly crowded schedule, but since Marvel included it on its Phase 4 timeline when it was announced, we can safely assume it'll be before the end of 2021.
Moon Knight will be a different type of Disney+ show
The second of the new Disney+ shows announced at D23 2019, Moon Knight follows former mercenary Marc Spector, who gains superpowers from the god Khonshu during a mission that goes sideways in Egypt. In many ways, Moon Knight has functioned in the comics like Marvel's version of Batman, since Spector acts as a vigilante who uses his substantial fortune to outfit himself with advanced gadgetry that helps him hunt down bad guys. However, Spector comes with a unique twist that's bound to make his transition to screen very interesting and potentially very tricky.
In the comics, Spector struggles with dissociative identity disorder (DID), which gives him three distinct personalities: in addition to Spector, there's also wealthy businessman Steven Grant and street-smart cab driver Jake Lockley. Those three personalities all work together to enable and equip Moon Knight to battle evil, but Marvel will have to be careful to avoid the problematic tropes that typically accompany fictional portrayals of characters with DID.
In November 2019, Umbrella Academy's Jeremy Slater was announced as Moon Knight's head writer. We still know very little about the show's general direction, but we hope that everyone involved in bringing Marc Spector to screen will be dedicated to a nuanced and authentic portrayal of mental health struggles, staying true not only to the character from the comics, but to the real-life individuals who live with DID every day.
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She-Hulk will smash her way onto Disney+ in Phase 4 Marvel Comics
The last of the Disney+ shows announced at D23 was She-Hulk, which will center around Bruce Banner's cousin, Jennifer Walters, an attorney who receives her Hulk powers from an emergency blood transfusion from Bruce. While both Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight could theoretically pick up after the characters have already discovered their powers and taken up their superhero mantles, She-Hulk will likely have to include her origin story, since she has such close ties to an original Avenger. Most likely, Jennifer will gain her powers sometime after the "blip," which will hopefully mean we'll get at least a Mark Ruffalo cameo in She-Hulk, if not a more extensive role.
As for who will play Jennifer herself, no casting has been announced yet, although fans have proposed a variety of talented actresses for the part including Jameela Jamil, Constance Wu, Stephanie Beatriz, and Blake Lively. Whoever Marvel casts in the role will likely not have to physically portray Jennifer in her Hulked-out state (that's what motion capture suits are for), but will need to embody her wit, intelligence, strong moral compass, and ability to snarkily break the fourth wall. Jessica Gao, the Emmy-winning writer behind Rick and Morty's "Pickle Rick" episode, will serve as She-Hulk's showrunner. As with Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight, we don't know exactly when She-Hulk will slot into the Phase 4 schedule, but expect it to be before the end of 2021.
Although Marvel already announced a slew of casting for their cosmic ensemble film The Eternals during SDCC, the studio still had a few more exciting names in store, which were announced during D23. Although she's already portrayed a character in the MCU with her role as the ill-fated Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel, Gemma Chan will be rejoining the franchise in The Eternals as Sersi, who in the comics lives among humans in New York and throws lavish parties where she entertains her guests bypassing her superpowers off as magic tricks.
Additionally, Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) will be portraying the vicious Eternal and ex-KGB agent Druig, and Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington will play the non-eternal superhero Dane Whitman, a.k.a. Black Knight. Harington's role will reunite him with his Game of Thrones brother, Richard Madden, and will in many ways feel like familiar territory; much like Jon Snow, Black Knight is also the recipient of a weighty family legacy and a thematically significant sword.
We're not sure yet how a mortal character will fit in with the rest of the Eternals possibly Whitman will be a love interest for Sersi, as he is in the comics, although we should know better by now than to expect the MCU to be especially faithful to its source material but we're confident that Black Knight, Sersi, and Druig will make excellent additions to The Eternals' already stellar cast.
In the comics, Adam Warlock bears the "emerald" Soul Gem on his forehead, put there by none other than the High Evolutionary himself in Marvel Premiere Vol. 1 #1. Adam Warlock saves the universe on occasion, and he has a long and tangled history with the Infinity Gauntlet. His biggest quest, however, is that of every cosmic superhero: to find out who he is. Read on to discover the untold truth of Adam Warlock!
Adam Warlock, created by Marvel legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, started his existence as a being known only as "Him" in 1967's Fantastic Four #66. For the entirety of the issue, the being known as Him haunts the storyline from off-panel, all the while gestating unseen within a human-sized chrysalis. In Fantastic Four #67, Ben Grimm's blind girlfriend Alicia Masters is drawn towards a seemingly distressed voice that emanates from within the chrysalis. (Her side plot leads into the next arc, in which Ben Grimm yearns to be cured of his hideous condition as the Thing.) In the final panels, out steps a shirtless blond Rocky Horror lookalike in a yellow speedo. Having foiled the Beehive, a club of dastardly scientists, he toots his own horn, explaining that he has saved all humanity from the Beehive's evil but no one will ever know. Then he disappears, destined to remain in this under-developed state until Roy Thomas and Gil Kane turned Him into Adam Warlock starting in Marvel Premiere Vol. 1 #1.
When writer/artist Jim Starlin took the reins with Warlock in 1975, he saw him as "sort of a messiah character, or at least a mystical character with his cosmic awareness" essentially the same type of thing Marvel already had with Captain Marvel. Rather than rehashing plot during his classic run on Warlock, Starlin chose to turn our hero into a "suicidal paranoid schizophrenic. And it seemed to work pretty well."
Enter the Magus. Adam Warlock's nemesis is not some horrifying alien star beast like Thanos or a world-devouring cosmic entity like Galactus. No, his worst enemy is himself from the future the figurehead of the perverse Universal Church of Truth. Time paradoxes notwithstanding, since Adam Warlock and the Magus are one and the same, Warlock can defeat the Magus only via an act of "self-annihilation." The evils of the Magus come back to haunt Adam Warlock again and again. "It wasn't me, it was future me" doesn't even work in the comics, as an excuse for misdeeds.
Beginning in New Mutants #18 (1984), legendary writer Chris Claremont built upon Starlin's Warlock/Magus dichotomy by introducing the Technarchy, a techno-organic futuristic society on the planet Kvch. A being called the Magus reigns over the Technarchy with a metallic if not an iron fist.
One of the Magus's sons and would-be successors, confusingly named Warlock, cowers at the thought of having to face his father in combat, in accordance with Technarchic custom. The cowardly Warlock flees to Earth-616, happens upon the Xavier Institute, and teams up with the New Mutants. The Magus is ultimately brought down by a new strain of the techno-organic virus the same virus flesh-to-metal virus that Cable is constantly fending off.
Adam Warlock's interactions with the opposite sex have been less than ideal. In Fantastic Four #67, the being still known as Him lured Ben Grimm's blind girlfriend Alicia Masters to his chrysalis with a wounded cry. In Thor #134-135, Warlock attempted to kidnap Sif and keep her as his "mate." Thor stepped in and roughed up the aggressor, but that doesn't diminish the criminal uncoolness of Warlock's actions. Warlock's ultimate decision to flee Earth's violence can be seen as his first futile attempt to run from himself.
Story only gets you so far. Sensory details are essential to all of Marvel's cosmic comics Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and, of course, Warlock. Credited in Warlock #2 as "Spiritual Advisor," artist Gil Kane updated Adam Warlock's getup from the bare-chested minimalism of Him to the iconic red shirt emblazoned with a thunderbolt.
In addition to adding intellectual in-jokes, tightening up Marvel's dialogue, and writing some of the best arcs in comics history, Roy Thomas gave Adam Warlock's actions sound effects. Thomas' percussive, consonant-heavy onomatopoeia and ornate prose built on the classic traditions popularized by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Warlock truly moved onto Marvel's main stage with two cosmic tales: 1990's Thanos Quest and the following year's Infinity Gauntlet arc, which might as well be called "Adam Warlock Saves the Universe" and led all too quickly into 1992-'93's Warlock and the Infinity Watch, an extended title for which might be "Adam Warlock just gave the Infinity Gems to Gamora, Pip the Troll, Drax the Destroyer, Moondragon, and Maxam. Are you kidding, Warlock?"
In a metaphysical courtroom, the Gauntlet-coveting cosmic entity Eternity tries to make the case that Warlock's artificial origins and history of impulsive behavior make him unfit for godhood. Following the trial's dissolution, Warlock entrusts each member of a motley crew of ne'er-do-wells with one of the Infinity Gems. You can guess where this is going. It's time for Infinity War and a ton of other Infinity Gem-related events after that. Some superbeings mainly Thanos and Adam Warlock just never learn.
With great power comes great responsibility, as Marvel fans are all too aware and Adam Warlock never asked for either. Faced with the argument that, as Newsarama put it, he achieved superhero glory after the High Evolutionary casually said "Oh hey, I just happen to have this thing lying around, put it on your forehead," writer/artist Jim Starlin conceded the point, chuckling, "Yeah, I always got a kick out of that. And as I went on, I realized the High Evolutionary didn't do him any favors, because he basically turned Warlock into a spiritual vampire!"
The High Evolutionary's actions would end up coming in fairly handy for the universe at large later on, but still, that's kind of a jerk move.
Over the years, Adam Warlock and Doctor Strange have teamed up and fought each other on numerous occasions. One memorable showdown that takes place between The Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity Watch pits Warlock's Gauntlet against Doctor Strange's relics and talismans.
The seeds of this showdown were sewn years earlier: in 1963, a short called "Dr. Strange Master of Black Magic!" in the horror anthology Strange Tales #110 introduced readers to a "rushed" version of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Doctor Strange. Marvel's most explicitly magical superhero, Strange crosses planes of existence and wields exotic magic to reshape reality. In the early 1970s, writers such as Steve Englehart flung the character headlong into the ethereal unknown, priming him for inevitable meetings of the minds with Marvel's other cosmic warlock.
In Invincible Hulk Annual #6, it's revealed that their fates are inextricably linked by Ayesha, a.k.a. Kismet, a.k.a. Her. Doctor Strange was tricked into performing an operation in the Beehive, which, in a roundabout way, led to the creation of Ayesha, "Her" to Warlock's "Him." Given that neither Strange nor the Hulk were part of the Adam Warlock origin glimpsed in the closing moments of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we're betting it'll be some time before we see "Her" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.