After Disney’s recent comments, several rumored sequels in the Marvel Cinematic Universe might not see the light of day. Since kicking off with 2008’s Iron Man, the MCU has become the biggest shared franchise in cinema history, with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania marking the 31st film in the MCU. Marvel Studios shows no sign of stopping, as many more films and Disney+ series’ are planned for the remainder of the Multiverse Saga. Even so, the MCU’s critical reception has been dwindling in recent years, causing Disney to announce significant changes for the future of the franchise.
Speaking at March 2023’s Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Disney CEO Bob Iger posed that, while sequels “typically worked well for [Marvel],” future MCU sequels may not always be a guarantee. While this could mean bad news for the original Avengers, the announcement comes following the poor reception to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Peyton Reed’s third installment in the Ant-Man franchise, and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love & Thunder in the MCU’s Phase 4. Iger’s comments could jeopardize several rumored and planned upcoming sequels in the MCU since they simply may not be necessary to progress the characters’ stories.
Thor 5 Probably Won’t Happen Now
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Chris Hemsworth was the first of the MCU’s original slate of actors to receive four solo movies, with Thor: Love & Thunder releasing during the MCU’s Phase 4, catching up with the Asgardian God of Thunder in the wake of Avengers: Endgame. While Taika Waititi revitalized the Thor franchise with a comedic spin in Thor: Ragnarok, Love & Thunder was heavily criticized for its overwhelming use of comedy. This often came at the expense of the more serious plot points such as Jane Foster’s battle with cancer, Gorr the God Butcher’s massacre across the universe, and Thor’s own battle with grief and depression that featured heavily in Endgame.
The ending of Thor: Love & Thunder revealed that Thor would be returning in the MCU’s future, though Waititi and Hemsworth revealed that this came as a surprise to them both. After Iger’s comments, it’s likely that Hemsworth’s next appearance in the MCU won’t be in Thor 5 but will actually see the Asgardian hero join the Avengers once again in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. After recent developments in Hemsworth’s personal life, it’s possible that these will be Thor’s last MCU adventures, which will perhaps create the opportunity for other Thor-adjacent characters to develop their stories, just as Loki has been on his solo Disney+ series.
Small-Scale Ant-Man 4 Hopes Might Have Been Dashed
paul rudd as scott lang in ant-man and the wasp quantumania no sequel
Following the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the first film in the MCU’s Phase 5, rumors surfaced of talks already happening for a proposed Ant-Man 4, with some members of the cast even suggesting that they’d want to go back to the smaller-scale action of previous Ant-Man films. However, since Quantumania received a barrage of negative reviews from critics in the early days of its release, it’s possible that the proposed sequel will never come to fruition. Peyton Reed and writer Jeff Loveness took huge risks with Quantumania, particularly by introducing Kang the Conqueror during the film, that might have sealed the franchise’s fate.
2015’s Ant-Man and 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp acted as palette-cleansers for Marvel Studios’ audiences, releasing directly after epic Avengers films in an effort to lighten the mood of the MCU. With Quantumania, however, Scott Lang and his size-changing crew found themselves falling victim to the typical Marvel formula, so any dreams of returning to the smaller-scale stories of previous Ant-Man projects might have been dashed. It’s more likely that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s characters will pop up in other MCU projects, such as Phase 6’s Avengers events and a potential Young Avengers project with Cassie Lang, a.k.a. Stature.
Deadpool Crossovers Could Be More Likely Than Deadpool 4
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Technically, Deadpool 3 will mark the first MCU film for Ryan Reynolds’ Merc-with-a-Mouth, but since the character has already seen a fruitful career in Fox’s X-Men franchise, it’s possible that further Deadpool sequels won’t focus solely on Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool. In Marvel Comics, Deadpool is famous for crossing over into other characters’ stories, most notably with Wolverine, Daredevil, and Spider-Man, so this could point to a possible future for Reynolds’ character in the MCU. Seeing Deadpool interact with established MCU characters in other projects would certainly be fantastic, and he could even be featured in future X-Men or X-Force projects in the MCU.
Marvel Studios could develop even more Deadpool sequels in the MCU following Deadpool 3’s 2024 release. However, with Iger’s new comments and a shift in focus onto “newness,” it’s more likely that Deadpool’s future in the franchise resides alongside other Marvel properties. After the Multiverse Saga comes to an end with Avengers: Secret Wars, Phase 7 and beyond is rumored to heavily feature the MCU’s mutants and X-Men, which will more than likely see Deadpool interact with far more characters than he ever did in his Fox films, so while Deadpool 4 might never happen, the character will have a bright future in the MCU.
Eternals 2 Is Increasingly Unlikely
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Chloé Zhao’s Marvel debut, Eternals, quickly became one of Phase 4’s most divisive projects, with many scrutinizing the film for trying to do too much in too little time. Eternals introduced thousands of years of history and ten new all-powerful superheroes into the MCU, which was a big ask for its two-and-a-half-hour runtime. In a way, this makes a sequel to Eternals even more necessary, as there is much more that needs to be explained about the Eternals, their time on Earth, their Celestial creators, and the massive changes made to their Marvel Comics origins, but Iger’s comments perhaps suggest that the divisive project won’t see a big-screen continuation.
Rumors of Eternals 2 have been circulating for some time, but since there has been no confirmation from Marvel Studios, it’s possible that the proposed film will be reworked, potentially veering away from the Eternals themselves. This could work by delving deeper into the mythos of the Celestials in Eternals 2 since they have been a background presence in the MCU for years and deserve more development. Some have speculated that Eternals 2 could take the form of a Disney+ series, which would allow a greater amount of time to really explore who the Eternals are, why they were sent to Earth, and what they will do to protect it.
Which MCU Sequels Will Be Safe?
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Even though several proposed MCU sequels will surely be on the chopping block following Bob Iger’s recent comments, many can rest assured that they’ll get developed, released, and potentially even spawn further sequels. Following the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Marvel Studios and Sony made clear that further projects featuring Tom Holland’s Peter Parker would be developed for the MCU, with a planned trilogy in development and Spider-Man 4 already being confirmed. It’s also likely that Black Panther 3 will be developed under Ryan Coogler’s watchful eye, carrying on Chadwick Boseman’s legacy in the MCU.
Proposed sequels Doctor Strange 3 and Shang-Chi 2 are rumored to be in development, continuing stories from the MCU’s Phase 4. After Sam Wilson’s big-screen debut as Captain America in Captain America: New World Order, it’s likely he’ll also get further solo sequels. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy are set to embark on their final adventure in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but there’s no doubt that a new team will form, potentially led by MCU newcomer Adam Warlock. New projects, including Fantastic Four, Blade,and even Thunderbolts, could also see sequels following their releases, so the future is still looking very bright for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.