Where Marvel could go after ‘Endgame’

Joshua Lloyd, Editor-in-Chief

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“Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters in April, bookending Phase Three of the global phenomenon we call the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given the cosmos-shaking events from last year’s “Infinity War,” it’s almost a given that not everyone will emerge unscathed.

But “Endgame” is as much an end as a new beginning. Word from Disney is that there are at least 10 more MCU flicks set for production, which begs the all-important question: if our heroes somehow send Thanos packing, what’s next?

There’s certainly no shortage of options. The Marvel Comics-verse is astoundingly vast, even without delving into alternate realities, otherworldly dimensions and Counter-Earths. Here are a few plausible directions Marvel could travel (and some that are probably just wishful thinking) in the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Through big, green eyes

Other than introducing Bruce Banner (played at that time by Edward Norton) and his pissed-off alter ego, 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” has had minimal effect on the MCU. There hasn’t been a solo Hulk sequel in the eleven years since, which proves just how limited the ideas are for the green goliath.

But that was then, and the one-dimensional “Hulk smash” gimmick is long gone. In 2017, “Thor: Ragnarok” went a long way toward rejuvenating the Hulkster and his thunder god costar. Why not give the less-than-jolly green giant another chance? When he wasn’t smashing baddies alongside the Avengers in the comics, Hulk fell in love with a warrior princess, became the ruler of a far-off planet, battled alternate versions of himself and did a lot of other crazy shit that only he could pull off.

A fresh take on Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, who now has humor and personality to match his raging rampages? Smashing.  
 
Fourth time’s the charm?

The Fantastic Four are two years shy of their sixtieth anniversary, yet in all this time they’ve never been done proper justice on the silver screen. Now that Marvel Studios has the necessary rights secured, maybe there’s hope for Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, the Thing and the Human Torch after three tremendous misfires.          

If the FF did make their way to the MCU, the storytelling opportunities would be too good to pass up. Imagine a meeting of big Marvel minds like Reed Richards, Shuri, Bruce Banner and Tony Stark, not to mention the on-and-off bro rivalry between Torch and Spider-Man.

Of course, the Four would need a superior villain to thrash with their cosmic ray-given powers. We’ve seen some pretty sad incarnations of Doctor Doom and Galactus, but the insectoid conqueror Annihilus or alchemical master Diablo could give the quartet a run for its money.

It wouldn’t take much to top the trio of big-screen FF blunders that still leave a bad taste in fans’ mouths. If Marvel’s first family came home to the MCU, it would be… yes, fantastic.  

Putting the hammer(s) down

Mjolnir isn’t the only mighty, mystical hammer in Marvel Comics. In the “Fear Itself” saga, the Red Skull’s daughter seizes the Hammer of Skadi and becomes a living engine of terror.

Seven more hammers tumble from the sky and transform seven Marvel names into forces of pure destruction known as the Worthy. Thor, Iron Man and Captain America lead the charge against them as the supers of the world take up arms.

Weapons and armor from Odin’s workshop help even the playing field against the hammer-swinging baddies, but in the MCU, Odin’s already gone to Valhalla and Asgard is nothing but floating space dust. Maybe if Eitri the dwarf survived the extinction from “Infinity War,” he could reopen Nidavellir for some more specialty weapon-forging. Of course, that’s assuming there will be enough heroes around after “Endgame” to provide him with a steady stream of business. Speculation aside, this Marvel epic would break worlds (and box offices) if the suits at Marvel could somehow squeeze it in.

By the gods

Sure, the MCU Asgard is toast, courtesy of Surtur blasting it to smithereens in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Deities in Marvel don’t just hail from Norse mythology, though. In his comic book travels, Thor has crossed paths (and occasionally weapons) with Greek gods from Mount Olympus and Egyptian entities from the city of Heliopolis.

The deities of ancient Greece have a long and storied history in big-screen movies. Marvel could put an invigorating new twist on heavy hitters like Zeus, Hera, Ares and Athena. Hercules in particular would be a tantalizing addition to the MCU lineup; he’s been at Thor’s side for the thunder god’s most pivotal battles and even led the heroes of Earth against the Chaos King in the “Chaos War” storyline.

The heavenly beings of ancient Egypt, however? Aside from the all-around terrible “Gods of Egypt” from 2016, they haven’t been plugged nearly as much as their Greek counterparts in recent blockbusters. How about Marvel gives Osiris, Set and the rest of the pantheon their due?