What the ending of 'Avengers: Endgame' means for the future of the MCU (spoilers)

Hanna Flint
Contributor
What lies ahead for the Fab Four? (Disney)

It’s been over a decade since Tony Stark first uttered those four fateful words -“I am Iron Man” – and the Russo brothers have delivered a stunningly epic and utterly gratifying conclusion to his, and so many Marvel superheroes’ stories, in Avengers: Endgame.

For some characters, the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was the ending of endings, while for others it marked the beginning of new adventures to come as the franchise promises to explore previously unseen territories.

From Iron Man to Thor, Captain Marvel to Black Panther, here’s what we know of their future in the MCU so far.

ENDGAME SPOILERS INCOMING…

Iron Man

Could the Iron brand live on beyond Tony Stark? (Disney/Marvel Comics)

What an ending for Robert Downey Jr.’s journey in the MCU. As Tony Stark, he has gone on the most transformative journey of all the MCU inhabitants: from a genius billionaire playboy to the hero who delivered that one win out of over 14 million losses to save the entire universe (or at least, half of it).

He sacrificed his own life by snapping Thanos and his army out of existence, but he leaves a legacy of which the Avengers, Pepper Potts, daughter Morgan, and even his own father, could be proud.

Read more: The mysterious boy at the end of Endgame explained

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end for the Iron Man brand though. The franchise has been a cornerstone of the MCU to date, and one of the most recognisable to non-fans. We think Marvel Studios will look to the comics for inspiration for a way to continue the character that works, and the introduction of Riri Williams as Ironheart, Tony’s young female protege would certainly fit the bill.

Having a black, genius teenager taking on the Iron Man mantle would be a fresh start for the character, and would fit with Marvel Studios’ boss Kevin Feige’s promise that diversity is “the future” of the MCU. We’d put money on Robert Downey Jr. returning to voice the new suit’s operating system.

Captain America

Steve Rogers has never looked happier than he did at the very end of Endgame. He was tasked with returning each Infinity Stone back to their original timelines, but chose to stay in the 1970s to finally be with Peggy Carter. Peggy’s husband’s name was never revealed in The Winter Soldier, so there is a theory that it was Steve all along, and he coexisted in the Endgame timeline. That’s why he was on the bench waiting for Bucky and Falcon as an old man ready to pass the Captain America mantle to Sam Wilson.

In both the 1999 and 2014 Marvel Comics storyline Falcon steps up to become Captain America, so there’s a precedent for this. Evans has come to the end of his contract with Marvel Studios, and has said farewell to Captain America but this ending leaves the door ajar – if not entirely open – for a return to the franchise, should he choose to.

Bucky and Falcon

Bucky and Falcon have become fan favourites, earning their own spin-off TV series. (Disney)

The move by Marvel to introduce a black Captain America is especially resonant given the rise of white nationalism and the alt-right in the US, though it’s unclear if we’ll see Sam Wilson as the new Cap in the recently-announced TV series.

He and Bucky are top-lining the Disney+ show, Falcon and Winter Soldier, with Michael Spellman acting as writer. The name suggests it will be a prequel series but it could actually be a working title used until Endgame’s release to prevent spoilers.

Read more: All the Marvel Studios shows coming to Disney+

Still, we’re looking forward to seeing these two fighting side-by-side once more and hopefully make appearances in future MCU movies too.

Hulk

Hulk enjoyed quite the transformation for Endgame, hinting at a bright future for the character in the MCU. (Disney)

Bruce Banner has been in the MCU game as long as Iron Man and has had a lot of ups and downs, though Endgame finally gave him the peace of mind and body that he so desperately sought. No longer playing tug of war between his human and Hulk self, Mark Ruffalo’s hero becomes the perfect mix of Banner’s brains and the green giant’s brawn. He’s now an iteration of the Professor Hulk introduced in the Marvel Comics, concluding his character arc across Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War.

Ruffalo has been pretty vague about his future in the MCU but his kids don’t want it to be over, so there’s a strong chance he could return, potentially as a mentor or, you know, professor figure, to the younger generation of heroes coming up through the ranks. With the film rights to solo Hulk movies still tied up at Universal Pictures, we don’t expect a Professor Hulk movie any time soon.

Thor

Chris Hemsworth stars as Thor in Avengers: Endgame (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Thor was at rock bottom for the bulk of Endgame; he became a heavy-drinking, overweight recluse wracked with guilt, until a pep talk from his mother during the Time Heist inspired him to pull his finger out. That, and Mjolnir proving to him that he was still worthy.

At the end of the film he puts Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie in charge of New Asgard and jumped on Rocket’s ship to seemingly go on a new adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The fact that Chris Hemsworth is only 35-years-old bodes well for more Thor in Marvel’s future so he could appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as well as another solo movie given the success and critical acclaim of Thor: Ragnarok.

Tessa Thompson recently confirmed a pitch had been given for Thor 4, with Taika Waititi back as director so a Thorth film could be the next Phase 4 film to be announced.

Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson nabbed £11m payday for solo ‘Black Widow’ movie

Natasha Romanoff finally cleared the red in her ledger by sacrificing her life for the Soul Stone but luckily for fans, Scarlett Johansson will be returning as the super spy in her own (lucrative) solo movie. This film will likely be set before Endgame, Infinity War even, but it’s unclear how far in the past.

It’s more than likely that the writers of the Black Widow movie will look to her solo 2016 run from Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. In that storyline, Nat is on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D., like she was following Captain America: Civil War (also released in 2016) so the film may well be set in that two-year period before Infinity War.

After that, Johansson will probably hang up her Black Widow jumpsuit unless the solo film does ridiculously well and it spawns a trilogy. No one would put it past Disney to do that.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye returns to the fray in Avengers: Endgame (Disney)

Clint Barton’s absence from Infinity War was more than made up for in Endgame. He lost his best friend but got back his family and given that Disney has confirmed a Hawkeye TV series, it’s safe to say Jeremy Renner will be back in action. Although he might not be the Hawkeye the show refers to.

In the cold open of the film, Clint is teaching his daughter Lila archery and calls her “Hawkeye” which hints that the series will focus on him training her up to replace him. However, Variety reports that the young girl who will take up his mantle is actually Kate Bishop, who does just that in the Marvel Comics and is a member of the Young Avengers.

Either way, Renner is still a pretty firm fixture in the MCU, on the small screen at least.

Spider-Man


Poor Peter. Losing Tony meant he lost another father figure in his life after Uncle Ben, and his actual father. At the end of Endgame we see him back at school reuniting with Ned and we know where his next adventure is headed because of Spider-Man: Far From Home.

He’s on a trip to Europe but gets recruited by Nick Fury to help battle The Elementals, seemingly with the help of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio.

That movie would be his fifth MCU appearance, and Holland has confirmed he’s doing a third solo movie, but after that it’s anyone’s guess if Sony and Marvel will renew their deal.

The Guardians of the Galaxy

LONDON,UNITED KINGDOM – APRIL 24: Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell, Pom Klentieff, James Gunn and Michael Rooker attend the European Gala Screening of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at Eventim Apollo on April 24, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rune Hellestad – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Infinity War killed Gamora but Endgame brought her back… sort of. A 2014 version of the assassin came from 2014 through the Quantum Realm with Thanos but switched allegiances before travelling through time. However, after Iron Man decimated the Mad Titan and his army it’s unclear if she was also dusted. It’s likely she wasn’t as Zoe Saldana is apparently returning back in the next film and Tony probably willed the decimation of Thanos and his followers, which at that point, she wasn’t.

In the final scenes of Endgame, Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill is seen searching for Gamora on the Guardians ship – setting up a potential plot for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. James Gunn was reinstated as the director of that film, and has written the script, but the film won’t be in cinemas until 2022 at the earliest because of Gunn’s commitments on The Suicide Squad.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and The Wasp take flight (Disney)

Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang and Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne returned to San Francisco to be with Scott’s now-grown-up daughter Cassie, as well as Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet van Dyne. It seems certain that Rudd will be back for another movie, two a least, if he’s signed a six-picture deal with Marvel Studios. He also doesn’t age so he could probably play Ant-Man until he’s 70.

His franchise really set up the Quantum Realm for Endgame to play with but there is so much scope for further storytelling in that dimension. Ant-Man franchise director Peyton Reed is keen to return and has said, “there is story we’ve talked about, potentially. I’m very, very hopeful.”

Everyone involved wants there to be a third Ant-Man film so it’s a waiting game to hear whether it gets green lit for Phase 4.

Black Panther

Disney pushed ‘Black Panther’ for Best Picture at the Oscars

Thanks to Bruce Banner’s snap, Chadwick’ Boseman’s T’Challa was returned to life along with his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and his fellow Wakandans to battle Thanos. After the victory, he heads back to Wakanda and is seen overlooking the city with Shuri and his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett).

Kevin Feige confirmed Black Panther 2 will be happening with Ryan Coogler returning as writer-director. Coogler is said to be in the writing phase for the sequel that is looking to film in 2020.

Read more: Marvel to focus on diverse characters after Endgame

With the ten-year threat of Thanos gone, Chadwick Boseman’s hero have a new villain to contend with and Endgame may have hinted it is Namor. The Sub-Mariner has had a long rivalry with the Wakandan hero on the page and in the movie, Okoye mentions to Black Widow that they have noticed some underwater earthquakes occurring, which could draw out some people from Atlantis.

Considering how well Aquaman did at the box office, Marvel may want to finally but some of its ocean-dwelling characters into play, and Namor would be a popular choice.

Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers revealed her true potential in Captain Marvel (Disney)

Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel was hyped as a key player for Endgame, but remained largely on the sidelines for much of the film. Her return to Earth at a critical moment during the climactic showdown finally showed the character living up to her reputation as “the most powerful character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe”, and it’s clear she’s got a bright future ahead of her in the MCU.

Captain Marvel 2 has not yet been officially announced by Marvel Studios, but after the film easily surpassed the $1 billion mark at the global box office, it’s only a matter of time. Talking to ScreenRant about a possible sequel, Kevin Feige cryptically revealed, “the making of a first film is in some ways a brainstorm on the future and on what can be. So what it will be again is not clear. But what it could be is pretty amazing.”

We expect Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man to form the crux of a new Avengers team somewhere down the line.

Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch

Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch finally went for a few rounds with Thanos after he killed her bae Vision (Paul Bettany) in Infinity War, and she would have ended him, had he not called in an airstrike on the battleground. She was last seen at Tony Stark’s funeral but she’ll be back again in a Disney+ series WandaVision.

It will have to be a prequel as the show so they may well focus on that period between Civil War and Infinity War when they were having a Romeo & Juliet relationship in secret. Olsen recently spilled that the show will have a 1950s aesthetic, hinting that the limited series could adapt a version of Tom King’s award-winning The Vision comic series which sees the couple living in 1950s suburbia.


Though now that Marvel has the rights to the X-Men, they may introduce some characters into the show as Wanda Maximoff has links to them as she was considered the daughter of Magneto.

Nick Fury

Samuel L Jackson returns as Nick Fury in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

Well, Samuel L. Jackson probably didn’t get as much Endgame action as he or some viewers were hoping for – not even a quick reunion scene with Carol Danvers after revealing his long-standing association with the character in Captain Marvel.


He doesn’t have to worry about his future though as Nick Fury is back in Spider-Man: Far From Home, replacing Tony Stark (RIP) as the connection to the MCU and potentially Peter’s mentor. And there’s no doubt that now Fury is no longer on the run, he will be popping up in future MCU movies too, maybe to get a new team together.

Loki

Tom Hiddleston’s time as Loki is drawing to an end. (Disney)

Loki is still dead in the Endgame timeline because his death in Infinity War was not part of the Decimation, but Disney has confirmed Tom Hiddleston is leading a new TV show based on the character. Michael Waldron, a writer on Rick & Morty season 4, is penning a pilot and the series, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is said to follow him as he “pops up throughout human history as an unlikely influencer on historical events.”

This will have to be a prequel to Infinity War but given that Loki’s lifespan is much longer than the average human, it could take place 10 or even 100 years before the events of the MCU. A better guess would that the series might take place in a new timeline created by Loki himself after he stole the Tesseract during the Time Heist in Endgame.

Valkyrie

Tessa Thompson llega al estreno mundial de “Avengers: Endgame” en el Centro de Convenciones de Los Ángeles, el lunes 22 de abril del 2019. (Foto por Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Tessa Thompson is still a bit of an MCU newbie but after being crowned as the ruler of New Asgard by Thor at the end of Endgame, it’s safe to say she’s still playing a significant role in the MCU as well as in Thor’s franchise.

Many fans are eager to see Valkyrie and Captain Marvel share the screen and after they fought side-by-side during the final battle, so it would be great to see them team up again in the next Captain Marvel movie.

Thompson, Brie Larson and several of the other female Marvel stars have expressed their wish to share more screentime with each other rather than being supporting characters to male heroes so as the MCU diversifies its storytelling, a Valkyrie team-up with Captain Marvel, or the Wasp or Scarlet Witch etc., might not be a pipe dream after all.

At a press conference for Thor: Ragnarok, Thompson said “I marched up with a couple other women [who also] work in Marvel, we went up to Kevin. ‘What about a movie with some female superheroes? Just like, all of them.’”

Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas now.