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Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans in 'Avengers: Endgame' (Marvel Studios)

Do we need to say, “Don’t read this if you care about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but somehow you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet”?  OK, fine. Don’t read this if you care about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but somehow you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet. Major spoilers lie ahead

Still here? Great, you’re likely one of the millions of people who led Avengers: Endgame to pulling in more than two billion dollars in two weeks. Of course, there’s going to be many more Marvel films to come in the years ahead. But where does the mega-franchise go from here?  Let’s have a look at a few of the players.

Chris Evans

Chris Evans (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Captain America

Well, Cap doesn’t quite die in Avengers: Endgame, but he does return to the current timeline as a much, much older man. He literally and figuratively hands his (fully intact) shield over to his pal, Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon). This follows a storyline in the comic books from a few years ago when Sam Wilson took on the shield and the name Captain America. Something about that final scene was a bit weird, though, wasn’t it? It looked like Bucky wasn’t at all surprised to see Steve, as an elderly man, reappear, or that he gave the shield to Sam. Does he know something? We may find out in the upcoming Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. And here’s hoping that Sam Wilson/Captain America will get his own film franchise.

Will we ever see Chris Evans as Steve Rogers again? Doubtful. Although he’s always seemed to love the role, he’s played it in three Captain America films, four Avengers films and two cameos (Thor: Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming), and he’s often talked about moving on from the character. His second-most well-known role was as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four franchise, so it’s understandable that he wants to move on to other films that don’t involve tights and green screens.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. (courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Iron Man

When Tony Stark’s chestplate flickered out after he saved the universe from Thanos at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, that seemed to mark a pretty cut-and-dried end to his story. His legacy, though will go on: as we’ve seen in the trailer to the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home, he is very much on the mind of Peter Parker, the amazing Spider-Man. Tony’s pal, Happy Hogan, seems to play a prominent role in the film (as he did in the first installment, 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming).

Tony’s wife, Pepper Potts, donned the armor for the first time since 2013’s Iron Man 3 in Avengers: Infinity War but Gweneth Paltrow told Variety that Avengers: Endgame would likely be her last time playing the character.  She did add, “Of course, if they said, ‘Can you come back for a day?,’ I will always be there if they need me.”

And hey, Tony and Pepper had a daughter, Morgan, played by Lexi Rabe. And in about a decade, she’ll be a teenager and can play Iron Man’s progeny. Speaking of which, did you notice that sort of unfamiliar looking kid at Tony’s funeral? That was Harley Keener, the kid who helped Tony make his new suit of armor in Iron Man III. Played by the same actor, Ty Simpkins!

Finally, let’s not forget about James “Rhodey” Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle. He’s been wearing the armor since 2010’s Iron Man 2, and could easily carry his own Iron Man film. But could Robert Downey Jr. return to the franchise? As the marquee star who Marvel hung their first film (2008’s Iron Man) on, the franchise has made him a very rich man. We know that Tony recorded some messages for his family before dying, so maybe we’ll see some of that in future films. But don’t expect to see Downey return to the franchise in a larger role.

Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth (courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Thor

Death might have been an easier end for the God Of Thunder. When we encountered him during Avengers: Endgame, five years after he beheaded Thanos, he was suffering from crushing depression, and he still hadn’t come to terms with what he hadn’t done: prevented the deaths of his parents, his brother, Loki, his best friend, Heimdall, or most of Asgard (although he did save some of them, and now they live in a quaint looking seaside town, New Asgard).

But at the end of the film — having met with his late mother one last time — he takes to space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, so it seems likely that he’ll be a part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, one of the few Marvel films that we know is happening. There haven’t been any rumors about a fourth Thor film, but perhaps Taika Waititi can direct a film starring Thor’s co-stars Valkyrie (played by the much-beloved Tessa Thompson) and Meek (played by Waititi himself).

Frankly, after Thor: Ragnarok we’d see anything Waititi directs. Could there be another Thor film? Sure, but it seems like Marvel Studios keep their franchises to three installments. And with Hemsworth gunning to be the next 007, and co-starring (with Thompson!) in the Men In Black reboot, he may not have time to be the centerpiece in another solo film. Maybe doing ensemble pieces in the Marvel Universe is the way he’ll go for the next few years. Meanwhile, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki will live on in his own Disney+ show.

Also, although most of Thor’s Asgardian posse is dead, one character who may not be is Lady Sif: she didn’t appear in Thor: Ragnarok, so we haven’t seen her die. While Jamie Alexander, who plays her, has been busy with her own TV show Blindspot, there’s nothing saying that she can’t return to the role.

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Natasha Romanoff

Like Tony Stark, her end during Avengers: Endgame seemed pretty final. But there’s been rumors of a Black Widow film swirling for years. Frankly, the character deserves her own showcase, and so does Scarlett Johansson, who has been playing the character since 2010’s Iron Man 2, and has played her in two Captain America and four Avengers films in the subsequent years. After her death, Tony Stark asks, “Did she have any family?” Steve Rogers responds, “Us.” Suffice to say, there’s a lot about her past that the Avengers didn’t know, and neither do we. Hopefully, this long-awaited film will tell that story.

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The Hulk

Bruce Banner, a sort of tragic character for most of his comic book existence, has gotten the closest thing to a happy ending that any of our characters received. In Avengers: Endgame, he figured out a way for Bruce Banner and the Hulk to coexist, something he struggled with through Avengers: Infinity War. As of now, a standalone Hulk film does not seem to be in the cards, and we don’t know if Hulk figures into Marvel’s future plans.

Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Clint Barton

We didn’t see him in Infinity War, but we saw him going rather rogue in Avengers: Endgame. However he got his happy ending as well, reuniting with his family by the story’s end. We know that his story continues in an upcoming Disney+ series, starring Jeremy Renner. 

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olson

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Wanda and the Vision

The Vision was destroyed, pre-Snap, by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, but during the film, Bruce Banner postulated that Vision could exist without the Mind Stone, and we’re guessing that that’s how he returns to “life” to co-star with Wanda in the upcoming WandaVision show, another series coming to Disney+.

 

Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Black Panther

We didn’t see nearly enough of Okoye in Avengers: Endgame, even though she survived the Snap from Avengers: Infinity War. Narratively, that makes sense: with T’Challa gone, she had to look over Wakanda, and it wouldn’t make much sense for her to leave. But, as i09 points out, she may have given a clue to the villain in (the still-unannounced) Black Panther 2: when she’s giving a status report to Natasha, she mentioned an underwater earthquake: “It was a mild subduction under the African Plate…It’s an earthquake under the ocean. We handle it by not handling it.”

That earthquake could have been the doing of Namor, the Submariner, who is essentially Marvel’s underwater answer to DC’s Aquaman (and, funny enough, he looks more like Jason Momoa than Aquaman does). T’Challa has clashed with Namor in the past, so this could be his point of entry into the Marvel Universe. Again: the film hasn’t been officially announced but given the huge success of Black Panther (which was even more successful than Avengers: Infinity War), it seems like it’s only a matter of time before we start hearing about it.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch  (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Dr. Strange

Since debuting in his own film in 2016, Strange has appeared in Thor: RagnarokAvengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. While Dr. Strange 2 hasn’t been announced yet, it is reportedly in development.

 

Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd

Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The Wasp And Ant-Man

In 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, Hope Van Dyne’s Wasp snarked on Scott’s Lang’s Ant-Man and his relationship with the Avengers. But in Avengers: Endgame, she’s taken to calling Steve Rogers “Cap.” While there haven’t been any announcements about the next film in their franchise, it seems likely that it’s coming; hopefully, it will also explore Lawrence Fishburne’s Bill Foster (who, comic book fans know, eventually becomes Goliath).

 

Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan)

Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) (courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The Guardians of the Galaxy 

At the end of Avengers: Endgame, they leave Earth, with Thor, but without the past version of Gamora who joined them during the final battle. Peter Quill is running a computer search for her, and it’s fair to guess that this will be a plot point in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. While that film’s future was in doubt when Guardians writer/director James Gunn was fired, Disney/Marvel re-hired him for the film back in March. But Guardians 3 will have to wait for Gunn to direct Suicide Squad 2 for Marvel’s rival, DC.  That film is due out in 2021, so the search for Gamora will have to wait a while.

 

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

Brie Larson (courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Captain Marvel

A second installment in the Captain Marvel world seems inevitable following the huge success of her first movie, earlier this year. (Notably, it was the first Marvel film to focus on a female character; Ant-Man and the Wasp was the first to have a heroine’s name in the title.) But now that we’ve established that she’s probably the most powerful of all the Marvel heroes, what threat could possibly make for a compelling story?

 

The Avengers

(Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The Avengers

Their HQ was destroyed in the final battle with Thanos, but some of the core members remain: founding members Banner, Thor and Clint Barton along with War Machine, Falcon and Wanda. Add Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Wasp, and you’ve got a team. On the other hand, with Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox Films, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are now in the toybox of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe the age of the Avengers is over?

 

Spider-Man

Coming in July!