The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) juggernaut is definitely not slowing down any time soon. That's a sentence that's sure to make comic book movie naysayers bristle but, based on the latest news to emerge from CinemaCon, it's all but guaranteed.
Speaking during Disney's presentation at the Las Vegas event, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that the company's executive team were about to embark on a retreat to work on the next 10 years of Marvel movies. It's unclear if that includes recently announced Marvel Phase 4 projects like Blade and Fantastic 4, or if the Disney subsidiary is simply plotting out its Phase 5 plans.
Kevin Feige just said on stage he’s going to a Marvel Studios retreat from CinemaCon to work on the next 10 years of MCU movies. pic.twitter.com/TKcs27Oj0gApril 27, 2022
Regardless, it's set to be a busy and exciting time for the MCU, its creators, and Marvel's global fanbase. But, with so much rich comic history to pull from over the past 83 years, what could the future hold for the MCU? Will we get new superhero team up flicks a la The Avengers? Is the multiverse, which we've already seen in Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home, set to play a bigger role moving forward? Or do Marvel have something else in mind?
There are numerous options for Marvel to explore, but here are four things I absolutely want to see from the next 10 years of Marvel movies.
1. Less interconnectivity
Marvel Studios always had plans to create an interconnected universe. The foundations for this has been embedded in the MCU from the get-go, with the post-credits scene of 2008's Iron Man laying the first bricks for multiple heroes and villains to cross paths.
The first Avengers movie, though proved it was not only possible to bring together a remarkable group of people – see what we did there? – but that there was worldwide audience demand for superhero team-up films of this ilk. Subsequent Avengers flicks, plus the arrival of the multiverse – set to be explored in greater detail in Doctor Strange 2 – have only added to the MCU's burgeoning interconnectivity.
The problem with continuing down this 'everything is connected' path, though, is that it arguably prevents newcomers from fully immersing themselves in this franchise. With 27 movies and six Disney Plus shows (and counting) to catch up on, some would-be fans may even be put off from becoming the next MCU super fan. At this point, there's just too much content to consume to catch up on.
In my view, Marvel should take a leaf out of one of the best MCU Phase 4 projects to date – Moon Knight – and actually rein in its shared universe. For a time, at least. Allow your superhero movies and TV series to stand independent of one another. Tell self-contained stories so anyone – even the least likely Marvel fan – can check out a six-episode TV show or a two-hour long film, with the knowledge that they don't need to know any about any previous plot points or characters, and enjoy it for what it is.
Sure, there will be a time when bringing superheroes together to stop a wider, multiversal threat – we're looking at you, Kang – is necessary. Moving forward, though, less is more. Make standalone films with no ties to previous or concurrent movies, and you'll likely attract new (and more) Marvel fans. And hey, if newcomers like what they see and want to watch more MCU content, they've got a whole batch of productions to catch up on. Win-win, in my opinion.
2. Move away from the traditional film trilogy format
The movie trilogy format is something that's become entrenched in Hollywood filmmaking over the past few decades. Star Wars, the MCU, the DCEU, and many other franchises have utilized such a blueprint for many years now, albeit with varying levels of success.
But it's time to move away from this overused, somewhat stale formula now – and, funnily enough, Marvel has proved that it's already willing to do so.
We've had four Avengers films. Once Thor: Love and Thunder arrives in July, Chris Hemsworth's god of thunder will have had a character arc encompassing four flicks. The Captain America franchise – albeit with a new Cap in Anthony Mackie's Falcon/Sam Wilson – is in line to receive a fourth movie, too. There's a precedent, then, for Marvel slowly moving away from the traditional film trilogy format. And it's something I'd like to see the studio lean into more.
Marvel doesn't have to start making quadrilogies instead of trilogies now, either. If the next entry in the Black Panther series – Wakanda Forever – completes numerous character arcs for its primary cast, stop at two and make it a Black Panther duology. If The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise continues after Volume 3, potentially with a new line-up, why not make another two movies (if that's all that is needed to end their MCU journey) instead of three? Heck, Eternals is one of the worst performing Marvel movies of all-time so, while it clearly set up events to come in a potential sequel, leave it as a single film (that didn't resonate with audiences) and move onto something else.
Not every Marvel movie series needs a three-film arc, i.e. a beginning, middle, and end. Some need to tell their stories over numerous flicks, while others don't. Here's hoping Marvel takes that into account.
3. Introduce the X-Men
We all know they're coming – there have been plenty of references to them in the MCU so far, most notably in Falcon and the Winter Solider and Moon Knight (Scarlet Witch is the most obvious nod to this group, though, given her ties to Magneto in the comics). Outside of The Fantastic Four, they're arguably the most requested superhero group among Marvel fans as the next major addition to the MCU.
So, Marvel, please introduce the X-Men at some point over the next decade. We're already getting a Deadpool movie set in the MCU, plus we know we're getting a multiverse variant of Professor X in Doctor Strange 2. We're even getting a follow-up series to the original X-Men animated series on Disney Plus in the near future as well.
All the signs are there to bring them into your money-spinning franchise. And, quite honestly, we're tired of asking you when Wolverine and company will actually show up. So, on behalf of all Marvel fans, please bring them into the MCU. And make it sooner rather than later, okay?
4. Use the Disney Plus shows to your advantage
While a movie may make sense for iconic and beloved Marvel characters/teams such as the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Blade, it's arguably becoming more difficult to introduce new superheroes in their own standalone MCU flick.
Okay, Shang-Chi showed it was possible but, as we previously touched on, Eternals was considered a mess by many fans and critics. Unless a new character is introduced as part of an established character's film franchise – think Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, or America Chavez in the upcoming Doctor Strange 2 – the increasingly complex nature of the MCU may make it impossible to introduce superheroes in their own film.
That's where Disney Plus comes in handy. Disney's streaming platform has already helped Marvel to introduce multiple new characters in lead or supporting roles, including Moon Knight, Hawkeye's Kate Bishop, and Sylvie/Enchantress in Loki.
With shows such as Ms Marvel, Secret Invasion, and She-Hulk set to introduce new superheroes to the MCU before their potential appearances in MCU movies, Marvel is already utilizing Disney Plus in the correct way. Introducing new incumbents through a six-episode series provides the opportunity for greater character development, too, before they make the transition to the big screen.
And that's a trend that needs to continue. Marvel can certainly take advantage of introducing audiences to new characters, such as Ironheart in Wakanda Forever, in its movies before they get a standalone TV series on Disney Plus. But Marvel movies can similarly benefit from its Disney Plus cousins – a case in point being Ms Marvel's co-starring role in The Marvels, which will land in theaters eight months after Ms Marvel's live-action debut in her own Disney Plus series.
Marvel may be planning out the next 10 years of Marvel movies, but you can be certain that it'll also be factoring in its slate of Disney Plus shows – announced or otherwise – into its thinking. Taking advantage of its small screen offerings will go a long way to bringing new characters into the fray, even if they're standalone entries like Moon Knight, and further enrich the MCU as a result.