Phase four is coming.
Avengers: Endgame closed out eleven years of interwoven stories that captured the imaginations of millions across the globe this past April. What Kevin Feige did with Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was genius, and now every studio in Hollywood is scrambling to create their own interconnected universe. None have been able to replicate what Marvel and Disney have delivered. At the conclusion of the decade long story, prominent heroes such as Iron-Man and Captain America have left their hero titles behind. Cap handed his shield down to Falcon, and Iron-Man's daughter, or possibly his mentees such as Peter Parker or Harley Keener, will carry his mantle. But what happens after that? We are all aware that Disney's new streaming service will launch several MCU-based shows, such as Loki, Falcon & Winter Soldier, and WandaVision. Still, the future of the MCU seems harder to predict than ever before.
Utilizing what little information we have from the movies that are in production, and also leaning on extensive comic book knowledge, I believe there is only one way for the MCU to go from here. When Endgame first dropped, I predicted that the multi-verse would play a role in Phase 4. The recent Spider-Man: Far From Home trailers have confirmed that the multi-verse is, in fact, being integrated into the MCU. In the comic books, there are several different universes or realities co-existing at the same time. Some universes feature entirely new heroes and villains, while others closely mimic the main timeline, which is called "616" in the comics. The 616 timeline can be compared to the main MCU timeline we've watched on screen for the last decade. Now that the multi-verse is being introduced though, the popular 1610 universe is rumored to play a large role in upcoming films. The 1610 universe introduced the world to heroes such as Miles Morales, the ethnic Spider-Man that stars in Into The Spider-Verse. Coincidentally, the animated Spider-Verse film uses the idea of the multi-verse for its plot as well.
The multi-verse gives Kevin Feige and Disney a way to introduce heroes as if they were already established. For example, the X-Men can now be brought into the main timeline without having to provide a backstory for how they were created. The multi-verse essentially created an entry point for Marvel to introduce heroes without crafting origin movies. There have been rumblings around the internet pertaining to which heroes and movies will be introduced next. Some of these rumors have already been somewhat confirmed, although not announced officially, by Marvel. These movies include Black Panther 2, Captain Marvel 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Ant-Man 3. The solo Black Widow film has also begun shooting in Europe, while more obscure heroes like Shang Chi and The Eternals are said to have movies already deep in development. Ryan Coogler has been confirmed to return to direct Black Panther 2, while Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is on board for a magical sequel of his own. Namor, the MCU's version of Aquaman essentially, may be the character that connects T'Challa and Stephen Strange. Namor is a hero at times, but has been a nemesis to both heroes as well. Expect a team up from the King of Wakanda and the Sorcsssor Supreme at some point in the future.
Marvel Studios is supposedly working on integrating their new television shows with their upcoming movies, creating more mini-arcs much like actual comic books rather than a ten-year long storyline. Villains such as Norman Osborn and Doctor Doom are allegedly going to make their appearances soon, while heroes such as The Fantastic Four and the X-Men are slated to be included in future movies sometime within the next five years. The most popular storylines involving both teams have yet to find their way on screen, such as the heralded House of M plot where Scarlet Witch alters all of reality, to catastrophic consequences. Scarlet Witch's new show will somehow bring Vision back from the dead, so the idea of reality-altering may already be in play for the upcoming Disney series. Kang, a time and dimension-traveling villain that is a plight to all life, is also likely to make an appearance sooner than later. His villainy rivals Thanos', and his obsession with timelines fits snugly with the current state of the MCU.
The future of the MCU rests firmly in Kevin Feige's hands, which is the only place I trust it. The multi-verse will open the door to a long list of possibilities, the most promising of which being the introduction of the Fantastic Four. With Tony Stark gone, Reed Richards can step into town as the smartest man on the block. His introduction will then lead us to the rise of Doctor Doom and the menace of Galactus. Meanwhile, Disney's streaming service will explore other dimensions. The Loki series leak suggests that it will take place in the past, leading fans to believe his escape in Endgame sent him through time and space. Intersecting realities, intergalactic villains, and interdimensional adventures will be the main focus of the MCU going forward, making the film universe more and more like its source material as the years continue.