In Part One and Part Two of this ongoing series, Nathan Miller and I explored how the street level and global scene of the MCU are about to explode with Phase four and beyond. Those two subsections of the MCM have many connected threads that at times it felt almost impossible to untangle one from the other. Though in many ways that is how the Marvel Cinematic Universe was forged and is poised as one of the most sought-after aspects by comic book fans. After 24 movies and the beginning of many series on Disney+, the cosmic part of the MCM is still in its youth compared to the Earth-bound stories’ progression.
Beginning with James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy there have only been a handful of entries in the MCM that take audiences to the far reaches of outer space and beyond. There is so much untapped potential to the stories that can and will be told in the future of the MCM, something that Kevin Feige seemed to agree with. In an IGN interview with Gunn from September 10, 2017, the Guardians of the Galaxy director alluded to a growing cosmic universe with multiple scripts at different stages of production. Even though the third entry is the final film with the current iteration of the Guardians, the movie was intended to serve as the jumping-off point for many new cosmic stories. The cosmos were the future, leaving the earth story behind.
At that time of the interview, the rumor was that Gunn was becoming a driving force at Marvel Studios and quasi-creative director of the MCM cosmos. With the introduction of the Marvel Studios Parliament, the need for more than one person other than Kevin Feige became a thing of the past and the studio went through a rebuild and expansion. The Marvel Studios Parliament consists of a group of 6 executive producers from different Phase 3 films (Brad Winderbaum, Eric Carroll, Stephen Broussard, Nate Moore, Trihn Tran, Jonathan Schwartz) that keep cohesion within the MCM through connections across different scripts and contributions that develop characters and further stories. If Feige is the visionary of the MCM, these Illuminati-level individuals are the commandos that strategize out the plans. Together they will continue to shape both the land and the stars of the MCM for our current phase and beyond. Using the groundwork that (now) Murphy’s Multiverse’s Nathan Miller laid out for us, Anthony Flagg and I will forge ahead into the unknown in hopes of connecting more threads to the rapidly expanding tapestry.
Number One Fan Girl: Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan is an interesting character that does transcend the Earth-space boundaries mentioned above. Kamala gains her powers of embiggening, similar to those of Mr. Fantastic when a Terrigen Cloud sweeps through her town. In the comics, Kamala is Inhuman, an individual who (due to experimentation) has Kree DNA mixed with her humanoid DNA. Kree is an alien race that has been at war with the Skrull for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Something that was shown in Captain Marvel. The entire plot was about Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) rediscovering who she is and what truths there were to the Kree-Skrull war.
This leads us to believe that there will be overlap due to these ties, although a strong connection to our favorite intergalactic captain is already at the heart of Kamala’s comic book story. The development of Kamala’s superhero persona resulted from her admiration for Carol Danvers, which also garnered Carol’s attention towards Kamala. Though not together all the time, they have crossed paths more than once to save the world.
The experimentation by the Kree on the Inhumans caused these individuals to gain powers. Though it does not grant a blanket set of powers, rather, each individual develops powers related to their DNA. Some may have wings, others may be able to breathe underwater. Throughout her run, Kamala discovers more about her Inhuman race, including the existence of a Royal Family. While worried for Kamala’s safety, Queen Medusa decides to make Lockjaw (a loveable, gigantic, teleporting dog) a friendly protector at her side.
On Investors Day in December 2020, Feige disclosed that Iman Vellani would not only be starring in her own Disney+ series Ms. Marvel but would also be sizing up for the big screen in The Marvels starring Larson and Teyonah Parris as Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau respectively. Does this give a hint to the comic origin of Kamala? With Kree DNA in her system, it makes sense that Ms. Marvel would travel to space to find out more about herself. Or is there something special about her powers that Larson’s Captain Marvel requires? Her story is expanding quickly past the streets where she began. Though hopefully, she returns from the stars with a few more answers in hand.
The Celestials Gift to Earth: Eternals
The Eternals have been around in Marvel comics since July 1976, created by Jack Kirby after his New Gods run was canceled by DC. Sharing many similarities with the DC’s New Gods, Kirby wished to explore a team of God-like characters unlike any that had been seen before. Though up until now they haven’t been included or explored as a race within the MCM. With their first screen appearance rapidly approaching, we hope to explore it and more when The Eternals lands exclusively in theaters on November 5th.
Like the Inhumans’ experimentation by the Kree, the Eternals were a result of experiments by the Celestials on proto-humanity. The experimentation created two distinct races; the Eternals who possessed God-like powers and Deviants who are monstrous creatures with no real purpose. The Eternals work mostly behind the scenes to help foster growth for the human race, while also stopping the deviants from their senseless mayhem and destruction. In a film that will span thousands of years on Earth, Eternals could explore these origins, while also examining the power and purpose of the Celestials on the whole of the MCM.
From what little we know of the film so far, it appears that Eternals could be taking significant inspiration from Neil Gaiman’s comic run of the same name. Set in modern times, readers discover that the Eternals were living on Earth without memories of their past or powers. Part search and rescue, part saving the world, using this structure could easily explain why the Eternals were missing during key events like Avengers Age of Ultron and Avengers Endgame. It’s hard to save the world when you’re unaware of your capabilities to do so. Finding themselves along with answers to their place in the cosmos is a great place to start with their first entry.
We Know Who’s Really In Charge: Thor Love and Thunder
At the end of Avengers: Endgame Thor abdicated his throne to Valkyrie and set off with Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians for more adventures in outer space. With Taika Waititi again at the helm, audiences are almost guaranteed a similar trek to that of Thor: Ragnarok. No, that isn’t me confirming anything, but more assured about the vision and direction that Waititi has in almost every movie he creates.
Though not much about the film is known so far, we do know that we have the incredible additions of two Academy Award-winning actors: Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher and Russell Crowe as one of the most well-known gods to exist in mythology: ZEUS! In the comics, Gorr is a formidable opponent who believes that Gods don’t exist, or shouldn’t. Therefore he makes it his mission in life, armed with his All-black Necrosword to rid the world of those who claim to be Gods. Old Gods, New Gods, and God Killers. Sounds like the making of trouble for the titular God of Thunder and his newly joined companions. We speculate that Zeus and perhaps other Greek Gods are not the main characters in the film, but instead one collection of Deities that Gorr is hunting down to destroy. However, this also opens up the door for heroes like Hercules, who is a prominent figure in Marvel lore, to enter into the MCM and hopefully get his own project.
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is returning to the MCU after sitting out of Thor: Ragnarok and this time she’s wielding Mjolnir becoming The Mighty Thor! Even though this precedent has been established in Marvel comics, we have not seen the Goddess of Thunder in the MCU yet. Her time as Thor was marked with tragedy because even though she was graced with Mjolnir and the great powers that come with it, she also battled breast cancer when she wasn’t holding it. Interestingly enough, Jane was given her diagnosis while Thor was off-planet battling Gorr the God Butcher. One could easily see how these pieces could fall in line to give us a semblance of that story.
It’s also been reported that the Guardians of the Galaxy will be in the movie, though it’s speculated that their role is brief. From the way Endgame wrapped up, it’s clear that the Guardians would appear in the first half of the movie. They will serve as a way back into the cosmos for the formerly self-benched Thor, while also simultaneously preparing them for their own sequel. The dynamics already exhibited will add comedic relief to what is sure to be an intense movie already. The Guardians’ current plan is to find Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, which may be why Thor branches from them. Though with so little known about the plot, the reason for the separation is currently difficult to speculate.
Also, did anyone else hear rumors about a space goat?
Marvelous Women: The Marvels
Threads from many different levels of the MCM flow into this movie. Most importantly, this movie is a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers. At the end of the movie, Carol sent Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) back to Supreme Intelligence with a message. She intended to end the war between the Kree and the Skrulls and took off into space to help the Skrull refugees find a new home. Those storylines are left hanging as the movie wraps, and even though the story will be moving from the 1990s to the modern-day it is a strong possibility that we see the conclusion of the war and how it impacts the Cosmos as a whole.
Stories for Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau will continue from Ms. Marvel and WandaVision to this movie. In one of the post-credit scenes of WandaVision, Monica Rambeau is approached by a Skrull, indicating that she was being summoned off-planet. Where she is heading and why is still to be determined, though I wouldn’t want to be Carol when they eventually cross paths again. Monica seemed annoyed even at the mention of her proclaimed ‘auntie’ in one WandaVision scene. Ms. Marvel, as Carol’s number one fan, has a long history of working with the Captain in the comics. So wherever her own show takes her, she ends up among the stars with her idol. Again, there’s a strong possibility that she is searching for answers about her Kree heritage and the creation of the Inhumans. At least my hope is she searches for the Inhumans, fans deserve a good version of the Royal Family.
Just a Bunch of A-holes: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
The loss of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has impacted not just the Guardians team, but also the MCM as a whole. Her death directly gave Thanos (Josh Brolin) access to the Soul Stone, which led to Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) messing up the plan and allowing Thanos to win.
Though because of all the time travel in Avengers: Endgame, a Gamora from an earlier time in her timeline made her way to the present. Her goal was to save the world with Nebula (Karen Gillan) before she suddenly disappears before the end. This is a great quest starter for the Guardians, finding this other Gamora. Even attempting to bring her into the group will change the dynamics of the family again, before the Guardians team-up Gamora’s drive was rough and brutal. Her renewed brashness could play well into her and the other Guardians’ story in her trying to assimilate back in with the squad.
After the ending of Loki’s first season, one might also wonder how the TVA will feel about this Gamora “Variant.” But perhaps their hands are now much too full to go after one wayward Gamora, after that shocking and eventful finale. Then again, it’s been reported previously by Murphy’s Multiverse that Owen Wilson has an “open-ended” number of options for film appearances in his contract with Marvel/Disney. So one does have to wonder where Mobius M. Mobius and his movie star actor, might show up next, with that in mind.
Adam Warlock also seems a sure thing for Vol. 3 after the post-credit scene from Vol. 2. Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) was shown talking towards a golden pod and uttered the name, ‘Adam’. Adam Warlock in the comics is a being of immense power, stemming from his ownership and mastery over the Soul Stone. He has shared the convenience of being a hero, an outsider, and still able to play a hand since he seems to have enough power to change the tide of any conflict. Adding him to the fold could change the power dynamics against the Guardians significantly, as we know they are still seen as ‘exiled’ by the Sovereign race. Having been created, he would be similar to Vision, experiencing the world through the lens that the Guardians provide for him. Though with no past to help dictate his future, he could be a wild card for the cosmos. Although his ear may be very easy to bend and therefore could be used nefariously.
Born Again-Fantastic Four
The story of the Fantastic Four always starts in space. It’s an age-old story. A curious man who is too smart for his own good and creates a rocket to space. Add in his crush (Susan), Best Buddy Ben, along with her brother Johnny who all decide to fly this unauthorized ship into space and are exposed to cosmic rays that give them powers. Now THAT’S a first date to tell the kids about in the future… With an origin story coming down the Marvel Studios’ tube for the Fantastic Four, it seems likely that we will receive a version of these events. They could be adjusted just a bit to distinguish themselves from 2005’s Fantastic Four, but the story’s energy and gist should stay to the core of classic Fantastic Four tales.
Though other aspects of the cosmos are attached to Mr. Stretchy and his amazing friends. In the comics, along with the 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, we see a connection to Galactus and his herald the Silver Surfer. The Fantastic Four have crossed paths with both more than once. While also fighting Kree and Skrull at different points in their superhero career, along with Adam Warlock and even some Inhumans. It feels like with the direction the MCM is headed, the Fantastic Four are destined for the stars and all the characters and races that live among them.
That was a lot of ground to cover. But that can happen when talking about the unending void of space. Alhough since the inclusion of the Guardians in Phase two of the MCU, it seemed that this was the way the story was headed eventually. There is so much potential for the stories that can be told in space, plus it helps to not overload the narrative of our Earthbound heroes. As Captain Marvel (Larson) said in Endgame there are a lot of other planets, each one as much in need of saving as Earth (who lacked The Avengers for assistance). As we turn towards the stars to guide us, resolution for the Kree/Skrull war is imminent. Carol promised to end it, though who knows how long that could take. Though what does that look like? We know that Ronin and Korath (Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou respectively), somewhere between Captain Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy, broke away from the Kree Empire to become something else. What pushed them to find a different path?
Further out, a big bad that could be lurking in the shadows, similar to Thanos in the Infinity Saga, would be Galactus. Galactus is a cosmic being that roams around the universe consuming planets and all inhabitants that live on them. He has played both an antagonist and protagonist in many different stories. Galactus is usually accompanied by a herald of some kind, traditionally the Silver Surfer, who finds planets to consume and guides Galactus to those places. Thanos was a genuine universal threat, but his deeds were witnessed by only a select few and mostly insignificant locations rather than throughout everything. The threat of a world eater would feel gigantic and would be seen by all who live on Earth. That would give credence to a villain that is not only ominous but mysterious in his methods since, unlike Thanos, they don’t have a humanoid size enemy to attempt and reason with. I hope Marvel inspires dread and fear in not only our heroes but the audience as well when they get to him.
Characters that could easily show up are Nova, Quasar, or Hulkling. Nova’s origin story was heavily hinted at in Avengers Infinity War with the destruction of Xander and the Nova Corp at the hands of Thanos to get the Power Stone. That scene was not shown, probably being held off for Nova’s movie or Disney+ series. Hulking is essential for a Young Avengers series or project. Hulking is a shape-shifting alien that appears as a young Hulk, who decides to stay on Earth with his love Wiccan. Seeing that a young Wiccan has already been introduced in WandaVision played by Julian Hilliard, introducing a young Hulkling who will also continue to grow into a Young Avengers team would be fantastic to see on screen. Regardless of who’s coming from space for dinner, our plates are going to be full of the stories that are bound to be told.
Eternals releases in theaters on November 5, 2021. Ms. Marvel is expected in early 2022, Thor Love and Thunder rolls onto the scene on May 6, 2022, and The Marvels soars into theaters on November 11, 2022. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is flying into theaters on May 5, 2023. Fantastic Four is in pre-production and has no release date currently.