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‘Avengers: Endgame’: Burning Questions About Where the MCU Goes From Here (Spoilers)

One major Marvel phase has come to end. Here's what could happen next.

Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: ENDGAME..Thor (Chris Hemsworth)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

“Avengers: Infinity War”

Marvel

Note: This article contains major spoilers about the events in “Avengers: Endgame.”

“Avengers: Endgame” brought a definitive end to many characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but as everyone following these movies knows, every ending is really just a new beginning. Marvel’s slate looks busier than ever, but “Endgame” only goes so far in terms of explaining the next steps. Here, we dig through some of the most pressing questions that viewers may have after watching this weekend’s biggest release and what they might mean for the future.

How will these events impact “Spider-Man: Far From Home”?

Though “Endgame” ends with the resurrection of the youngest Avenger, Tom Holland’s darling Peter Parker seems to be (quite understandably!) taking Tony Stark’s death very hard. The film’s final scenes show a devastated Spidey as he deals with 1) watching Iron Man die, 2) attending his tearjerking funeral, and 3) trying to get back into the swing of regular life. There’s some cheer to be found, though, as the final Spidey-centric scenes shows a downtrodden Peter reuniting with his best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon) in the halls of their high school. Next up for the teenage superhero: a class trip across the pond, care of Jon Watts’ sequel, which hits theaters later this summer.

In June 2017, producer Amy Pascal told Fandom that the film “will start a few minutes after ‘Avengers 4’ wraps as a story.” While “Infinity War” and “Endgame” are two separate movies, they are considered to be part of the same story — the “Avengers 4” title Pascal referred to — meaning that the film will pick up soon after Peter’s (and the rest of the world’s) return to “normal life.” What better way to ease back into a very changed world than with a country-spanning class trip? While “Far From Home” will likely see Peter attempting to have fun, it will also see him getting something of a new mentor in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio, who is reportedly dispatched by Nick Fury to help Peter fight a new enemy. Expect the same charm and humor as Watts and Holland’s first outing together, with plenty of attention paid to Peter grappling with a post-Tony Stark world. —KE

What does this mean for the announced Black Widow standalone film?

A “Black Widow” standalone film has been bandied about by Marvel for years, but actual development kicked into high gear when Jac Schaeffer was hired to write the film’s screenplay in January 2018 (a year later, Ned Benson came on board for a re-write). A search for a director soon followed, with names like Amma Asante, Cate Shortland, Maggie Betts, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Chloe Zhao, and Lucrecia Martel being tossed around, before the studio picked Shortland, known for “Lore” and “Berlin Syndrome,” to helm the picture. —KE

Where does the God of Thunder go from here?

When the MCU first started, it seemed like Thor was the biggest gamble. Based on name recognition alone (both of the character, and the hunky Australian unknown playing him), it was hard to imagine him inspiring as much interest as the other core Avengers. But despite the relative shakiness of his first two solo outings, Chris Hemsworth has transformed the God of Thunder into a cornerstone of the world’s biggest movie franchise, and it’s hard to imagine Phase Four without him in it. 

"Thor: Ragnarok"

“Thor: Ragnarok”

Disney/Marvel

The good news is that he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The better news is that, when Thor jets off into the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of “Endgame,” it looks as if he’s plotting a course for a crossover! “Infinity War” made it clear that Thor had great comic chemistry with Peter Quill and the rest of his ragtag group of a-holes, and the evidence suggests that he might tag along for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in much the same way that Hulk played a major supporting role in “Thor: Ragnarok.” After that, it’s anybody’s guess, but Tessa Thompson suggests that more standalone “Thor” adventures are in the works, with Taika Waititi in talks to return for the next one. —DE

Where are Captain Marvel’s pals during the events of “Endgame”?

If there’s one thing “Endgame” is not, it’s lacking in characters. The Russos’ film is filled with heroes, villains, and even a few mostly forgotten supporting characters (did you spot “Iron Man 3” co-star Ty Simpkins late in the film? He’s there!) from the franchise’s 22-film history. And yet not everyone is present, including Captain Marvel’s best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), her whip-smart kid Monica (who would have aged 24 years since the events of the Brie Larson-starring film from earlier this year), and alien pal Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). While it’s fair to imagine that Talos and his Skull brethren are somewhere out in the universe (hopefully on a new home planet, as promised at the end of “Captain Marvel”), the missing Rambeaus are a big question mark. Plus, where’s Goose the Flerken? Even the world’s cutest fake cat doesn’t appear in “Endgame.” —KE

What will Wakanda be like at the start of “Black Panther 2?”

Like many of the more recent additions to the MCU, Black Panther doesn’t play an especially pivotal role in “Infinity War” or “Endgame.” But that doesn’t mean that Wakanda sits on the sidelines. The hyper-futuristic African nation, which ended its longstanding policy of isolation at the end of “Black Panther,” provides the battleground for the climactic skirmish in “Infinity War,” and offers an invaluable helping hand for the final battle in “Endgame.” T’Challa made it clear that he wanted to expand Wakanda’s borders and share the country’s natural gifts with the rest of the world, and the final two “Avengers” movies show them doing just that. At this rate, it seems clear that “Black Panther 2” will take place in a very different world from the original; that Wakanda will no longer be a well-kept secret, but a major global force that every living person knows by name. It’s never easy to be king, but things are only going to get harder for T’Challa as his responsibilities start to extend beyond his ancestral homeland. —DE

What does this mean for the planned “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” series?

When Disney+ arrives later this year, the premium streaming service will offer up a pair of MCU-centric spinoff series, including one focused on the exploits of Captain America’s two very different best friends: Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson. While details on both “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and Disney+’s other big MCU title, “Wandavision,” remain predictably slim, we do know that the limited series will feature MCU stars Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie, reprising their movie roles for the small screen. “Empire” writer Malcolm Spellman was tapped back in October to write and produce the series, but other stars and below the line talent have yet to be announced. 

“Captain America: The First Avenger”

Still, the conclusion of “Avengers: Endgame” provides some big clues about what’s to come for the pair. The biggest revelation: maybe this series should be called “Captain America and the Winter Solider,” because the film ends with an aged Cap (Chris Evans) handing off his shield to Mackie’s Falcon, literally passing him the mantel of Captain America. It’s a big revelation in the film, but it’s something that the Marvel comic books have done before extensively, with Sam becoming Steve’s “official” choice for replacement in a 2012 “Marvel NOW!” storyline that echoes many of the same beats as the conclusion of “Endgame.” (Small complication: in some comic books, it’s Bucky who becomes a new Cap.)

Given the way “Endgame” wraps up, with Steve happily handing over his shield, Sam nervously accepting, and Bucky standing by looking just fine with the results, we’re guessing that the series will pick up soon after the events of “Endgame” and feature the duo continuing the traditions of Captain America, through crime fighting, helping the little guy, and assisting the remaining fellow Avengers as necessary. —KE

So, uh, what does Earth’s civilian population think about all of this madness?

The MCU has never done a great job of showing the world of superheroes from a civilian’s perspective; sure, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” has some fun with the idea of integrating the Avengers into pop culture, and the fallout from Sokovia had clear real-world implications, but “Shazam!” has more to say about the nuts and bolts of living in a comic book world than all 22 movies of the MCU combined. 

The opening passages of “Endgame” focus on the fact that everyday life on Earth has been traumatically affected by the Avengers’ failure — they’ve always tried to prevent regular people from having to suffer the consequences of their superhuman shortcomings, but this time they can’t do that. The world is quiet. Somehow, in a wild statistical fluke, all of the Mets are gone. And Captain America is just another guy in an anonymous support group.

But how is everyone supposed to feel once 3.5 billion people — all presumed dead — suddenly reappear? Of course there will be a lot of joy, but also a lot of confusion and difficult situations. What about the people who’ve started new lives since the Snapture? What about the countries whose collective grief has allowed them to bury ancient grudges? What is this going to do to the economy? How will obsessive MLB statisticians accommodate for the glitch? It’s hard to say, but it’s even harder to imagine that the MCU can just sweep all of this under the rug as it moves forward. “Spider-Man: Far from Home” probably takes place before the events of “Infinity War,” but here’s hoping Marvel addresses the masses before long.  —DE

What does this mean for the newcomers?

For all the goodbyes in “Endgame,” a lot of regular characters seem to be sticking around. Still, the MCU is poised to get busier than ever, thanks to at least two upcoming projects set to star new characters — the first Asian entry in the MCU with director Destin Daniel Cretton’s “Shang-Chi” and “The Rider” director Chloé Zhao’s “The Eternals,” about mystical alien beings that are rumored to include the first gay Marvel character in their ranks. Both movies will arrive in a busy MCU that also includes new adventures for Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, the timeline is fuzzy: “Captain Marvel” took the franchise all the way back to the nineties, and it remains unclear when — and where — Cretton and Zhao will set their character’s stories.

So we don’t know if they’ll encounter some familiar MCU figures or, as with the first “Guardians” entry, simply exist in their own space until another event movie calls them into action. But now that the MCU has close to two dozen movies in its wake, the timeline was grown complex enough that filmmakers have a lot of options when it comes to how they want to position their narratives. It’s obvious that Kevin Feige will have a masterplan to fit each strand together, but it may take years before the full picture comes into view. —EK

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