To Infinity Stones and Beyond: What’s next for the MCU?

Everything comes to an end. Though a few franchises seem to believe that spaced out rebirths are the way to go (we’re looking at you Halloween), even the multi-billion-dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe has to fade one day, but what can it do to survive? A few female directors thrown in the mix might help, with the recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox and Sony’s Spider-Man, Marvel have plenty of options to explore in Phase 4.

Very soon, nearly 40 confirmed beloved comic-book heroes will appear in Avengers: Infinity War and battle it out with big purple baddy, Thanos. It has been quite the build-up, with Thanos first being teased in the end credits Easter-egg of Avengers Assemble back in 2012. Originally announced as Infinity War Part One and Part Two, whatever massive summer hit that follows will mark the end of Phase 3 of the MCU, which began in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War.

During the 90s, when Marvel was struggling financially, they were unaware that by selling assets like Spider-Man to Sony, and X-Men and the Fantastic Four to Fox, they were ensuring these characters would exist in different worlds on screen. So now, with Disney having bought back many heroes from 20th Century Fox, which also owns everyone’s favourite merc-with-the-mouth Deadpool, there are new possibilities, one of which is to introduce the gifted young mutants to The Avengers. We may even see another crossover event inspired by the well-loved X-Men vs. The Avengers comic series. With Marvel’s current (known) plans for Phase 4, it doesn’t seem likely that will happen anytime soon.

Although I’m sure there are many that don’t particularly want it to, myself being one of them. The X-Men universe has been built over a course of 18 years, we’ve grown to love and relate to characters like Logan and Charles and we’ve seen their relationships evolve. No matter how awful some films might have been, it would feel almost an insult to recast for the sake of a Marvel-helmed reboot.


But what if they do decide to take that risk? The X-Men franchise has had some disappointing outings, but also some absolutely brilliant ones. Logan was a stunning western homage from James Mangold, and Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class brought a stylish new lease of life to the superhero period piece; whilst also blessing us with Fassbender and McAvoy’s Eric and Charles. If Marvel were to try their hand at Professor X’s mutants, would that mean an entirely new cast? A new tone and location? We all know that with three renditions of Spider-Man, starting from scratch so many times can get tiring. Yet from what I’ve seen these past ten years I can say, honestly, that I trust Marvel and their vision and I’m excited for every announcement they make.

Fox, however, still have X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants and their Deadpool sequel slated for the coming years, so it is unclear if they’ll be released under Marvel and their terms. I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

If done well, Avengers: Infinity War could be utterly spectacular. It serves as a gargantuan earth-space adventure with some strong personalities that are likely to clash, in the most entertaining way. It’s also introducing us to the heroes who will be taking the mantle of the original six. With Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. all confirming their contracts end with the untitled Avengers 4, Phase 4 is effectively handed over to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy (a third film is confirmed), Black Panther, The Wasp and whoever comes next. We know Captain Marvel is in production and there are rumours of Nova being introduced. But one thing that we’re desperate to see is more female-directed films. The Brie Larson-starring Captain Marvel is being co-directed by Anna Boden (Mississippi Grind, The Affair) but that’s quite literally it. Look back at every film in every phase of Marvel history and it truly is a man’s world.

Seeing the recent success of directors such as Greta Gerwig, Lynne Ramsay, and Sundance stars like Desiree Akhavan, should hopefully inspire Marvel producers to seek out this talent. Ava DuVernay is now set to direct DC’s New Gods and helming the Harley Quinn solo film is Cathy Yan. If there was one thing I’d ask Marvel to learn from DC (and there is literally nothing but this) it’d be; hire female directors.

Whatever the future brings, we know Marvel have plans to dominate our screens with at least three releases a year until 2022, and I’m certain it’s not difficult to find a talented female director for a few of them. Perhaps we should send them to Screen Queens and show them our page of hundreds of female directors. Sorted, we just did the work for them.


by Millicent Thomas

Millicent Thomas is a proud Mancunian who will be studying film at Bath School of Art & Design from September 2018. Hobbies include theatre, museums and waiting for Charles Xavier to show up and tell her she’s the world’s most powerful mutant. Her favourite films include Whiplash, Her, Logan and Short Term 12. You can follow her on Instagram at @millicentathomas and twitter at @millicentonfilm

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