As Marvel has released the trailer for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s an exciting time for devout Marvel fans, but what does this mean for the past, present and future of our beloved mad multiverse?

Two years ago the Russo brothers delivered the conclusion of Phase 3 of the MCU with ‘Endgame’ (2019). We experienced love, loss, humour and incredible cinematography. As heroes from across the universe came together through Dr Strange’s magical portals, Steve Rogers gave everyone goosebumps as he uttered those two words we’d all been waiting for: Avengers Assemble.

Theatres across the globe broke out in applause as beloved characters from all corners of the MCU joined together to fight back the forces of Thanos, however, 2 of the beloved heroes were painfully absent; Gamora and Natasha Romanoff.

Romanoff, A.K.A Black Widow has featured in 8 previous Marvel movies, dating back to the second Iron Man film in 2010.

Natasha Romanoff is a complicated character with enough historical material to make 3 more movies, however, until last years announcement of the Black Widow origin story, Romanoff has been hugely neglected by the Marvel Production team.

Black Widow’s trailed was released in April this year and brought a welcomed preview of Natasha’s abhorrent treatment in the Red Room. We were teased with a glimpse into what Natasha endured in the Red Room during Avengers: Age of Ulton (2015) when Natasha was under a Wanda-induced trance.

The trailer of the new Black Widow origin story sees Romanoff in her native Russia as she rediscovers her long-lost family, made up of Florence Pugh playing Yelena Belova, a sister-figure to Natasha (who took up the mantle of Black Widow in the Marvel comics), Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff and David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov, Natasha’s adoptive parents.

Throughout the trailer, we see the true extent of the torture Natasha and Yelena endured at the hands of their Red Room trainers. Subjected to injections of unknown drugs, forced to comply with psychopathic emotion blocking and most hauntingly sterilised, all in the name of creating the perfect femme fatale assassins.

The Black Widow film is the latest project affected by the pandemic after the film was pushed back by 7 months due to lockdown and travel restrictions. Fans were disappointed by the news, even more so when the highly anticipated ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ was also pushed back after filming in Prague was postponed to comply with government lockdowns banning international travel. During the behind the scenes show ‘Assembled’, director Kari Skogland and Co-Executive Producer Zoie Nagelhout explained that the crew had to stop filming prior to the borders closing and the entire cast and crew being trapped in the country as the pandemic spread throughout the world. This hit the showrunners exceptionally hard, since an earthquake also ceased production in Puerto Rico.

However, upon the news of the postponement of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier came the equally disappointing information that the MCU multiverse plans were now in array as the schedule change meant that the (planned) later released Wandavision was now going to broadcast before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, pushing the latter back even further to accommodate the broadcast schedule.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also raised more questions than answers for fans as the whereabouts or even the status of the beloved Steve Rogers remains ambiguous. Future Falcon Joaquin Torres teased fans in episode 1 when he asked Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson is Steve was on a secret base on the moon, however, cryptic as ever Sam neither confirmed or denied Steve’s whereabouts. This foreshadowed the scene in episode 6, when state officials confronted Sam Wilson as he made his debut as the new Captain America. This begs the question, where is Steve Rogers?

We’ll return to Steve later, as he will be relevant to another Disney+ series debuting later in the year.

In the most recent Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Far From Home (2020), the end credits scene saw Nick Fury and Maria Hill revealed to be Skrulls from the Captain Marvel (2018) film.

At the conclusion of the final episode of Wandavision, we saw Monica Rambeau being recruited by the Skrulls, tying Rambeau into the new MCU storyline for Nick Fury’s series debuting on Disney+ later this year. Fans have affectionately referred to the project as ‘Nick Fury in Space’, whilst the actual title, ‘Secret Invasion’ was confirmed within the Phase 4 trailer.

Samuel L. Jackson has confirmed for the show, whilst newcomers Game of Thrones’ Mother of Dragons Emilia Clarke and Oscar-award winning, Britains sweetheart, Olivia Coleman have been confirmed for top secret roles within the series.

Fans have run rampant online with theories as to how Secret Invasion will link to the main MCU timeline, with one theory being that Steve Rogers (see, I told you he was relevant), returns to the action by going to space alongside Nick Fury to help fight the war between the Skrull and their archenemies the Kree. With the confirmation of the multiverse comes the hope that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange will also feature in the show, connecting it with the Doctor Strange sequel: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

So, with that information provided, the first big theory to delve into is that the Skrulls have been masquerading as main characters for a while now with Nick Fury laying low and overseeing the operations. This is due to the shocking revelation in Far From Home as Nick and Maria were unmasked. The most obvious faux-Avenger is Natasha Romanoff. Tragically, Natasha sacrificed herself to save Clint Barton, A.K.A Hawkeye as they attempted to obtain the Soul Stone. To obtain the Soul Stone, the receiver must sacrifice someone he/she loves. Clint loves Natasha, she is his best friend, as such Natasha made the heart-breaking decision to sacrifice herself, throwing herself out of Clint’s grasp over the cliff in Vormir, helping her friends and saving the world.

So could it really be that far-fetched to believe that Natasha was really a Skrull in disguise?

Fans were devastated when Natasha died, however, we were given new hope when the trailer for the new Loki series showed Tom Hiddleston’s Loki sitting with Natasha in the Nether Realm on Vormir, where she supposedly perished.

This leads me onto the next theory.

With the trailer for the Loki series came the confirmation of a multiverse as speculated by Peter Parker in Avengers: Infinity War. As the Avengers went back in time to return the Infinity Stones, we see Loki in manacles at the end of the first Avengers movie, he grabs the tesseract and disappears into time and space.

This opens a whole can of worms and provokes many questions, including: Will Loki return to Vormir and save Natasha? Is this even possible? Would Loki even want to do so? Remember, this is 2012 Loki. Not 2017 Loki. Loki has undergone a massive amount of character development since the first Avengers film. His role during Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok as he supported Thor meant that the character became a more likeable, relatable and enjoyable person to watch on screen. Thor: Ragnarok also brought around the first time Loki referred to himself as ‘Odinson’ since discovering his true heritage.

So, would Loki want to save Natasha? As far as the end of Avengers (2012), Loki saw the Avengers as the ones who foiled his attempt to take ownership of the world. At this point in time, Loki is very much burdened with glorious purpose.

 The next theory I move onto is regarding Wandavision.

So we have already discussed a potential crossover between Wandavision and Secret Invasion, but what about a crossover between universes? Within Wandavision, we were treated to the resurrection of Pietro, Wanda’s late brother who was killed in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but this prompted more questions as it wasn’t Avengers actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, instead it was X-Men actor Evan Peters. The biggest question is why?

When trying to understand the different roles and crossovers within the MCU, its important to note that Wanda and Pietro were featured in both the X-Men comics and the Avengers comics, however, they were not referred to by their character superhero names in the Avengers films.  In the X-Men films, Pietro was also called Quicksilver, his superhero name in the comics. Wanda’s alias in the comics is Scarlet Witch, however in the Avengers films, she is only referred to by her actual name: Wanda Maximoff.

Wanda and Pietro were also supposed to be twins in Avengers: Age of Ultron, whereas, in X-Men Days of Future Past, we are introduced to Pietro as Quicksilver, a teenager without a father. He soon discovers his father is the antihero Magneto, Erik Lensher.

So, in the X-Men universe, are Wanda and Pietro related at all? Will X-Men now merge with Avengers to bring Quicksilver Pietro into the MCU?  We know that Ryan Reynolds wants to do a Deadpool/Avengers crossover with Deadpool’s usual sidekicks being members of the X-Men but what does this make Wanda? An X-Man or an Avenger? Or both? Well the theory goes that Wanda only becomes Scarlet Witch when she fully accepts her power in the final episode of Wandavision, until this point, she is just Wanda, a young woman finding her feet in the world with new powers that she doesn’t fully understand.

Once we have seen

 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness we will understand where the timeline stands in consideration with merging the X-Men with the Avengers, as well as the introduction of the new Avengers. Marvel recently announced that a new X-Men movie was in development, however, nothing has been set in stone just yet regarding the storyline or cast.

The previous Avengers will pass the torch onto the next generation, fronted by John Walker’s U.S Agent. John Walker was hated by the nation during his debut as Captain America on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, however, in the final episode John Walker accepted defeat and took on a new role, U.S Agent. U.S Agent was the team leader in the West Coast Avengers in the comic books.

Alongside John Walker will be the return of some old faces, such as Monica Rambeau and Hawkeye as well as some new faces we are yet to see, like Sersi and Ikaris.

Hawkeye, however, might pass on the alias to someone else, namely, Clint Barton’s daughter, Lila. We’ve seen Clint train his daughter throughout the Avengers movies, so it only makes sense for him to pass the mantle, and his bow to her. It is also evident in the Comics that Lila takes on dear old dads role, however, historically the films have deviated away from the comics.

This is the same nepotism shared by the Iron Man theorists who believe the new Iron Man will actually be Iron Woman, as the suit is accommodated by Morgan Stark, Tony’s only daughter. This is a theory I love as it makes Tony’s sacrifice at the end of Endgame even more tragic. Just because Tony died, doesn’t mean his legacy, technology or financial stability died with him. He would have passed this onto Pepper and Morgan, thus leaving Morgan his Iron Man suits. With Tony’s brains and Pepper’s organisation, Morgan will be the walking, talking ‘Friday’ with incredible tech and billions of dollars to boot!  

At the end of Endgame, Morgan was only young, however, with friends of the family being who they are (Happy Hogan, Peter Parker and Nick Fury), it wouldn’t take Morgan long to flourish into the Genius, Billionaire, Preteen, Philanthropist that she was born to be.

So, with the arrival of the Phase 4 trailer comes a peek into the future of the MCU, as new characters arrive in both television and cinema form, we will see new avenues explored that even die hard fans had overlooked or forgotten about, such as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10-rings and MCU Eternals. We will be introduced to characters played by huge actors in the likes of Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden.

Kevin Fiege and the rest of the production team over at Marvel have gifted us so many films and shows to come, ensuring the next few years will be as big, bold and exciting as the previous films have been.

The end of Endgame left us feeling lost but the future is bright. We may have lost many of our beloved characters but their legacies live on and pass the torch for the next generation that will inspire the masses for years to come.


What's Next for Marvel's MCU?