Macro Marvel Part 2: Global Threats and the Heroes Who Stop Them

In part one of our series, co-author Nathan Miller and I explored the expanding street level of the MCM. If you haven’t read up on it yet, what are you waiting for?! Check it out Here. However, now we want to turn our attention from the Boroughs of New York and look towards the world as a whole. 

When you think of global threats, what immediately comes to mind? Ultron? Thanos? The 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four? If you answered yes to any of these, you are correct. Thanos’ ambition was to destroy half of all life in the entire universe. Ultron aimed to build his perfect vision and rule the world. Both of their motives were a threat of the highest caliber (so was that Fantastic Four film). 

Therefore, only one team can stop them in their tracks. The Avengers. The A-list superheroes that aren’t afraid to risk it all to save the world. These are the threats and heroes that are connecting the fibers of this level. Now, before diving in, we tried our best to sort the heroes and projects into their respective levels. However, in a world that is so connected like the MCU, there is some overlap. Some strings cross the microcosm while others stay in their respective levels. 

Flying High-The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

As WandaVision came to a close, it was hard to imagine how Marvel Studios could top it. Then Sam and Bucky burst on the scene. It has been undeniable the incredible chemistry Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) and Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson) share in almost every scene together as begrudging allies. 

Not only did the series traverse continents, but began new stories that will greatly impact the entire world. It marked the passing of the Captain America mantle as well as what that fully meant to all parties involved. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) made being the governmental representative of the United States look easy. Rarely did he falter in his beliefs and actions. 

However, Sam grapples with filling his shoes. As well as being representative for America as a Black man. The government believes that any good soldier can replace Rogers, but Sam exemplifies that it does indeed take a good man to properly wear the Stars and Stripes. 

I think that his speech in the final episode will catalyze many young heroes around the world. Seeing a Person of Color stand up and fight for good on a platform denied to many because of their skin tone will inspire others. I see the likes of Ms. Marvel, Patriot, even Miles Morales seeing it and starting on their journey’s in their respective microsystems. 
The ramifications of the Power Broker and the access that Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) receives at the end will be felt for a long time in the MCU. Sharon, after being rejected by the US, disappears and begins creating and distributing powers to those who can afford it. Part of the mystery of the series is who is the Power Broker, which wasn’t revealed until the climax of the last episode. Though Sharon was able to preserve her secret and is now operating from within the government, selling its secrets and weapons, this will most likely spill into Armor Wars on Disney+. Which from why we know from the comics, is about Tony Stark’s technology falling into the wrong hands. Seems like Sharon may be a bigger bad than originally thought. 

As well, this series introduces us to someone who is going to change the global scene of the MCU. Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is played by the incomparable Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Mysterious and powerful, not much is known about the intentions of Val, though it seems that she is acquiring a team for something…

Sisterhood of the Traveling Trauma-Black Widow

At times, Black Widow felt like an isolated movie set between two time periods we’ve already seen. However, threads begin in this Scarlett Johansson film that will continue well into phase four and beyond. 

The first one that jumped out at me is, what happens when all the widows are released? During the movie, we find out that they are being mind-controlled by Dreykov (Ray Winstone) and throughout the film, only a handful receives the cure. When more are set free, does that bode well for teams such as the Avengers? Or do more individual mercenaries around the world spell more trouble?

With Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexi (David Harbour) still out and active in the world, is there a chance we will see them again? Melina’s comic book counterpart has an alter ego as Iron Maiden that is heavily affiliated with The Thunderbolts. Seem more than coincidental that both Melina and General Ross are appearing in a movie together. As well, Alexei’s story could easily be continued in the form of a Winter Guard project. Allowing us to finally explore how other countries around the world attempt to protect their boundaries. 

What happens with Taskmaster? At the end of the film, Antonia Dreykov (Olga Kurylenko) was also released from her father’s grip. Though her fate was never revealed. There are two strong possibilities for how she and the taskmaster protocol show up again. One, the more unlikely of the two, is that she works for General Ross, leading to an eventual Thunderbolts project. Though since Val’s appearance in both FATWS and this movie, it makes sense for Taskmaster to be on the same team Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is on in the post-credits scene. My guess is the Dark Avengers, but more on that in just a bit.

By the Way, why does Val want Clint dead so bad? Did he mess something up for her during his time as Ronin? Or are her motives more sinister than that?

Daddy Issues-Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

As the next movie out in cinemas, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings could be considered one of Marvel Studios wild cards. Like most future Marvel projects, not much is known, but let’s string together what we do. Shang-Chi, played by Simu Liu, is trying his best to escape his father Wenwu’s shadow. And as is known, Wenwu is the real Mandarin and leader of the Ten Rings, not the fake one we saw in Iron Man 3

This contest opens the door to connections throughout the MCU. Already we saw Abomination and Wong (played by Tim Roth and Benedict Wong respectively) appear in the trailer during one of the many promised fights. Could we see Val show up in hopes of recruiting more people for her expanding team? With Roth also appearing in She-Hulk, it’s a bit more likely that we’ll see Val attempt to recruit him for her team in that series. However, with challengers coming from all around the world, you never know who will show up and how those threads will impact the MCM as a whole. 

There are no Gods here-Eternals

Another potential wild card for Marvel after audiences have had such a long wait to return to theaters is The Eternals. This film directed by now Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, will span thousands of Earth years and will provide a unique perspective not seen before. In the trailer, it appears that the Eternals first help humanity grow but something causes them to pull back. With such a huge period of time covered, we’ll be able to see and potentially explore areas that we have never seen before. The potential projects that could spill from this movie are similar to Loki escaping in Avengers: Endgame as we have an introduction, flash, and then explore deeper into another project. 

The introduction of a new team opens the door to many possibilities. How will this team change the layout of what we already know? So far in the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse (MCM), we haven’t had two distinct teams of people working towards a common goal but separately. This will be more common as we continue growing, with eventually Fantastic Four and the mutants coming. 

Why does everyone want to kill Clint?-Hawkeye

The post-credit scene of Black Widow had Val show Yelena a picture of Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton. She heavily implies that he killed Natasha, or is at least responsible for her death, and she offers Yelena the chance to take vengeance. Fishy right? So along with a street-level story, this show is providing plenty of connective tissues to the larger world. 

Val’s pulling strings for some purpose, though we don’t know why or what for. Though we’re building to something bigger and it’s most definitely nefarious. Is the reason Val wants Clint dead is because he knows something? Or is he’s one of the only ones who can stop Val and her plans? We’ll find out in November-December when the series airs hopefully!

Must be a Full Moon – Moon Knight

Is Marc Spector possessed by an Egyptian God, or is he crazy? This is a question that Kevin Fiege posed in December’s Investors Day presentation. Right off the bat, he told us that we are in for a wild ride in this Oscar Issac-led show. One part globetrotting adventure, two parts street-level gritty story, and just a pinch of mental health exploration. Shake it up and serve it over ice. 

Gods are something that has been explored previously in the MCM, with several movies based on our favorite Norse siblings: Thor and Loki. However Egyptian Gods are new territory. Were the Norse Gods aware of other Deities, or is this news to them as well? The structure of the MCM is about to get a shakeup with Gods of different kinds appearing left and right. Where does that put our heroes in this new hierarchy?

I object! – She-Hulk

I can feel it already. You are wondering why so many are crossing over. Well don’t blame me, blame Kevin Fiege! Plus did we not all agree we wanted a connected universe? Yes, Jennifer Walters is still very much a street-level hero, but she has the potential for so much more. In the comics, She-Hulk has been known to lead both the Avengers and A-Force. Though in the latter she shared that responsibility with Carol Danvers. Leadership is in her blood along with the gamma radiation. We may not see the formation of a team or Jennifer’s rise to power within the Avengers structure but be prepared for the world to notice a second large green hero in the scene. 

I believe this is the more likely place for Val to show up next. We always know she enjoys picking up people from court because, like John Walker (Wyatt Russell), you get the people who are not afraid to bend some rules, that are also in a spot of trouble and potentially desperate. Plus what else do they have going for them at that moment? She’ll be waiting in the shadows with her clacking heels and purple hair. 

Ladies in Waiting-Thor Love and Thunder

Asgard as a people instead of a place is something director Taika Waititi established in 2017’s Thor Ragnarok. However, besides a small glimpse of the people in Avengers: Endgame, not much is seen or known about how the Asgardians have adjusted to Earth. And how Earth has adjusted to its new inhabitants. Especially now that half the population of both Earth and New Asgard have returned. 

The politics of Asgard won’t just stop at the interactions between them and other Earthly beings but will focus on the changes within. That’s right y’all there’s a new Queen in town and she isn’t messing around. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) was gifted the throne from Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as he decides to go back out on adventures. She promises changes, which will help push Asgard into a new direction, allowing for a bigger point in the Earthly global scene. 

A show that explores these ramifications and the politics around the abdication of the throne and how everyone adjusts to it. This is similar to what I expect a show about Wakanda to be like. Big changes are coming to Midgard, including a change in power (lightning power, that is), and a new hero for Midgard is on the horizon. Natalie Portman was announced to return as Jane Foster who will soon be taking up the mantle of The Mighty Thor. That isn’t to say that Hemsworth won’t be sporting his usual powers, Stormbreaker is still a weapon in play. But it will be good to see a new spin on a franchise of characters well into their second decade of storytelling. Nathan and I believe that the division will be Hemsworth’s Thor sticking to the cosmos (be returning for big crossovers) and Portman’s character sticking Earthside and protecting Midgard from evil. 

As if this movie doesn’t have enough to do there is a strong possibility that it will also introduce a new collection of Gods. This time though it’s all Greek to me. Russell Crowe slipped during a radio interview that he was playing Zeus in the film, something that shocked me. Mostly because I’m sure Marvel wasn’t too happy about it, but also because it opens a whole new world. It does make sense that some Gods would be introduced with Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) slicing his way onto the scene. Though with each deity brought to the screen the question of “how are the people of Earth impacted”? And the answer is greatly, even if they don’t realize it. 

Everyone’s a critic. Or a Skrull- Secret Invasion

Of all the Disney+ series coming out, this one shocked me the most. This story feels big league. Like Avengers Endgame big. No, that’s not me cutting down the series as something smaller than the movies. Instead, it’s a huge indication of how important the shows are to the structure of the MCU as a whole. 

The basic premise is “what if the heroes you know are sleeper Skrulls”? Maybe that is an oversimplification, but throughout the comic series, a good chunk of our favorite heroes was found to be Skrulls waiting to attack. Think Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) from Spider-man Far From Home. It will be interesting to see which stars if any, pop up as Skrulls. Trust will be running short for the Jackson-led series, which will put the entire world on edge. And who knows who will take advantage of the confusion to strike. 

The Loss of a King-Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Who else cries when thinking about how empty the MCU already feels without our king? Typing this feels heavy because no one can ever or will ever truly replace Chadwick Boseman. And I do not envy the job of Ryan Coogler and the entire cast to have to pick up the pieces and move the story forward. 

So first and foremost, the movie has to deal with the impact of the absence of T’Challa. Recent leaks indicate a grand hall erected to celebrate the life and legacy of our king. Gone too soon (see this Murphy’s Multiverse article). Though, like in most situations where there is an absence of power, who will attempt to fill the void?

The void of T’Challa, as well as Wakanda’s store of Vibranium, will attract power. Perhaps this is the moment Namor seizes to return to the surface and take what he believes belongs to him and his people. Or perhaps other megalomaniacs around the world such as Victor Von Doom will try for a bit of the power housed in Wakanda as the people are reeling from their loss.

Also, when the film closes, who will take the mantle of Black Panther? The safe bet would be Shuri (Letitia Wright) who takes up the mantle in the comics at different times. Though if Coogler wants to completely flip the script and set a new precedent by having multiple Black Panthers at a single time. By creating a council of Panthers, one from each of the tribes of Wakanda, the country could turn from a monarchy to a democracy. Switch from tradition to something new. Progress. Something T’Challa pushed for. What a way to honor him. 

Heart of Gold, Suit of Iron-Iron Heart

This show feels like the spiritual sequel to the Iron Man trilogy. Connected to Armor Wars, this series will tell the origin of Riri Williams (Dominique Throne) who creates a suit of armor similar to Tony Stark’s armor. Tied closely to her story is an A.I. version of Tony Stark, which could spell a return of our favorite genius playboy. The hope would be for Robert Downey Jr. to return to the role but nothing has been confirmed so far. As Lizzie Hill recently pointed out in this exclusive about the working title, however, it seems a strong possibility. 

Having a teenager flying around with an Iron Man-esque suit sounds like a recipe for disaster. It certainly could make her an easy target for those with nefarious plans. It’s not a stretch to see those who want an easy way to replace Stark’s technology to try to steal the next best thing. 

This show, it’s assumed, will also help tie into the eventual Young Avengers project. It’s almost assured that this project is coming. Too many young heroes needed for the team have or are about to be introduced. Eventually, we will see the Young Avengers team unite and save the world, as long as their home by supper. 

Boom! You looking for this?-Armor Wars

As we progress through Phase 4, it feels like more and more projects are connected to one another. Armor Wars has been said to be directly connected to Iron Heart. Which makes sense seeing both deals with Iron Man-like technology and the ramifications of that technology falling into other’s hands. Oh yeah, let’s not forget Sharon…

Remember talking about Sharon Carter being the Power Broker? This seems like the next logical place for her to show up. Unless, of course, Captain America 4 comes out before Armor Wars. Now that she has access to some of the greatest technology and secrets that the government has to offer, could she be the one that starts the “armor war?” Stark worked hard to not let others get his technology, for fear that it would be the end of the world. It makes sense that his best friend, Captain James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) will stop at nothing to ensure that it doesn’t. 

Others that seem likely to appear are both Valentina (Remember her?) who might like that technology integrated into her team. Also, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), the rich guy who tried to steal Tony’s technology way back in Iron Man 2. He hasn’t been seen since (aside from a jailhouse appearance at the end of Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King), so it may be the perfect time for him to pop back up. Especially now that his competition is six feet in the ground. 

A Quantum Reality-Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania

It seems like a huge chunk of this movie will center around the exploration of the Quantum Realm. It’s literally in the title. Plus we have Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror appearing in it as the main villain. The story is going to be wild, the consequences will be huge, and I firmly believe the MCM will never be the same. 

However, even though most will be connected to the Multiverse article coming soon, a few threads felt more connected to the global scene. One is Pym Technologies. We last saw the company as an institution in Ant-man, so revisiting where it stands and how it’s continuing to push boundaries is important to see. Perhaps we could see how the shrinking technology is being utilized to change the world?

More importantly, this film feels like the most likely place for the Young Avengers to initially team up. As one of the last projects to come out with one of the team members, Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), it would give a new property a great jumping-off point. Like a back door pilot, but better. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) would serve as a fantastic mentor for the younger generations of heroes, while also bringing needed comic relief. 

Overall Observations

Woah. That was a lot of ground to cover! Still with me? Now that we have the threads, let’s bring it all together. It seems as if Val will take the role of big bad for the whole world, along with this team she’s building. At this point, audiences don’t know much about her intentions. However, it’s hard to not see her pulling the strings to many different people, some of which have had very bad intentions in the past. 

Ultimately it feels like she’s planning on bringing together a Dark Avengers team. She already has Walker and Yelena under her thumb. It’s only a matter of time before she has others. But to what purpose would she need the team? World domination? Utter control? Probably, seeing that is what most villains want. Though what if she is attempting to bring back something worse? Hydra perhaps? It’s hard to believe that they were truly stomped out. Though maybe she’s just working for her own selfish reasons. 

So far Phase 4 has felt like the point where many heroes pass their batons on – Steve Rogers, Clint Barton, Thor, perhaps even Ant-man and the Wasp. And with each torch being passed, new and different characters with amazing powers get a chance to shine. Perhaps characters like Amadeus Cho, Wonder Man, even Secret Wars, along with the Young Avengers, have a place in the new Global Structure. Either way, the world is no longer as easy as it once seemed to be. 

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