Marvel Phase 3 is well underway, having started over a year ago with Captain America: Civil War, then Doctor Strange, and most recently Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As we follow the ever more complicated MCU, each movie seems to leave as many questions as it answers. There are hints that haven’t yet materialized. There were storylines that were aborted, and along with them, characters that have been crucial in the comic book world have been abandoned… for now.
Wading deeper and deeper into the web of superhero stories, some of those questions may be answered as MCU 3 unfolds over the next few years. Still to come include Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017, Black Panther – February 16, 2018, The Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018, Ant-Man And The Wasp – July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019, and Untitled Avengers: Infinity War Sequel – May 3, 2019.
Whew. Those are a lot of complications and some new characters to absorb into the story. At this point, though, we have a lot of questions we’d like to see resolved or at least dealt with in some way.
15. Where Does Captain Marvel Tie In?
There’s a lot of mystery about Captain Marvel, which we won’t see for another two years. Other than the fact that the starring role will be played by Oscar winner Brie Larson, we don’t know much else about the story or stars. Or do we? There may have been a hint in Doctor Strange, released last fall. It happens in a seemingly innocuous scene, just before the accident happens that changes his life and makes you forget the details. Strange takes a call where a colleague asks him whether he’d like to take on new patients. The colleague describes one of them as a Marine Colonel who has a young woman in her twenties who has been struck by lightning. It’s an injury complicated by the fact that she has an implant in her brain that uses electronic impulses to control schizophrenia. Now, that’s not the origin story of the comic book world, but we already know that it will be different in the MCU. Director Scott Derrickson would neither confirm nor deny the charge in an interview, but we all know that Marvel never adds that kind of detail unless it means something somewhere down the line. But what? There have also been rumors of a tie-in to Ant-Man via the Quantum Realm. How will she fit into the Avengers landscape?
14. Will Nick Fury Have Something To Do With Red Skull’s Return in the MCU?
We haven’t seen Red Skull since he was absorbed by the Tesseract at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. We also didn’t see Nick Fury in Civil War, and we won’t be seeing him in Black Panther — something actor Samuel L. Jackson apparently isn’t so happy about, according to interviews. But, during a radio interview to promote Kong: Skull Island, he was asked about his future appearances in the MCU. That’s when he said, “You didn’t see me in Civil War. I’m still out there trying to figure out what The Skull is going to…” Then he paused and said no more about it, but that little quote has been generating a lot of speculation. Is Nick Fury absent from some of the movies because he’s secretly in the hunt for what became of Red Skull, the first heart of HYDRA? It’s an intriguing thought. Now, one criticism that has been made of the MCU as a whole is the lack of spectacular villains, with the notable exception of Loki. If Red Skull comes back, that would add a lot of spice to the mix.
13. What’s The Deal With The Collector?
What is the deal with the Collector? Benicio Del Toro plays Taneleer Tivan, aka the Collector. We first got a glimpse of him in Thor: The Dark World in a cameo in the mid-credits scene as he’s introduced to Thor’s cohorts, Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson). Sif gives him the container holding the Aether, because, as she explains, its proximity to the Tesseract, a second Infinity Stone, would be a bad idea. So here, he’s keeping the infinity stone safe. Yet, as the Asgardians leave, he whispers, “One down, five to go.” Hmmm… Then in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he’s the guy who’s going to buy the stone from Gamora, which seems to be according to his grand scheme of collecting them all. But what for? Himself or for someone else — someone far more sinister? He didn’t appear in the Guardians Vol. 2, but he’s slated to appear in Avengers: Infinity War. Is he in league with Thanos, or does he have another game in mind? In the comics, he’s billions of years old, an Elder of the Universe who plays a key role in a number of stories, and it’s often a sinister one. Still, the Asgardians and Gamora seem to see him as a more neutral party. So far.
12. Will Yondu Be Back?
Spoiler alert! If you haven’t yet seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you may want to skip this one. If you have, then you already know that the movie ends with a grand funeral for blue-skinned Yondu Udonta, played with gusto by veteran actor Michael Rooker. In the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he was a largely threatening character; at least, he was singularly focused on getting the Infinity Stone that Peter had scavenged. In Vol. 2, though, he sacrifices his life to save Peter Quill, the young boy that he brought up. He even reveals that it was Peter’s mother who asked him to look after her son. So he’s gone… but then just before the movie’s release, Michael Rooker posted a pic on his Instagram account of him wearing an Avengers: Infinity War hat, with the logo badly covered up. Is he just teasing? Or is Yondu not really dead? Or does he appear in a flashback? We need to know.
11. Will Scarlet Witch Finally Get Her Own Movie (In The Next Phase)?
Scarlet Witch, so ably portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen, is a character with a lot of potential that has only been scratched on the surface. So far, her role has been largely to cause problems for the other Avengers. Wanda Maximoff was born in Sokovia, a fictional Eastern European country, and grew up with her twin brother Pietro. They worked for HYDRA at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, motivated by the Stark Industries label they’d seen on the bomb that destroyed their home and killed their parents. She became an Avenger herself and sided with Captain America in Civil War. In the comic books, she’s got a great back story — she and Pietro/Quicksilver are first revealed to be Magneto’s children. Then, in 2014, that story was turned upside down, and it turns out the twins were kidnapped and experimented on by a High Evolutionary. She’s also married to Visionary, another under-utilized character. It’s a great opportunity for an X-Men crossover. Will her story grow significant enough to warrant its own release in MCU Phase 3?
10. What About The Hulk’s Own Story – And His Side Characters?
The Hulk has has two movie treatments so far, and he’s still hard to get off the ground as a solo project. But does that mean he’s doomed to exist only as a sidekick to other Avengers’ stories? Like every superhero, there are other important characters in his story. William Hurt’s General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross has come back as Secretary Of State in Captain America: Civil War, but what about Betty Ross, The Abomination, and others of the Hulk saga? We know that the next time we see him, Hulkster has become a star gladiator fighter on the planet Sakaar in the next installment of Thor’s story. That’s where Bruce Banner ended up after the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, when he went into a self-imposed exile. On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there was mention that the Abomination was locked up in a cryogenic cell. Is that really the end of him? It’s understandable that Betty wouldn’t come along for the ride — Bruce had, after all, just had an affair with the Black Widow! But, can Marvel really drop such longstanding characters? Will there be any hints in Thor: Ragnarok of new directions for the guy with the gamma ray-induced anger issues and the characters who’ve populated his comics series?
9. What Became Of The Jotunheim Beast?
In the first Thor outing, the brash demigod rushed off to the land of the Frost Giants, accompanied by Sif and The Warriors Three. There, they battled Frost Giants, but King Laufey pulled out another level of terror when he set the feared Jotunheim Beast free. Thor did kill the huge, hideous beast, but then in Thor: The Dark World, we get another glimpse of him/her/it when The Beast goes after Thor and Malekith during their epic battle. But, there’s another glimpse of the Beast, and you may have missed it. During the second post-credits scene, Jane, Erik Selvig, and the gang are in Jane’s apartment. Jane is eating cereal by herself while Erik and Darcy are fiddling around by the sink. Then Jane sees the flash she knows is Thor coming back to earth. Pan to a view from her window, we presume, where some birds are flying around… and the Jotunheim Beast playing around in a parking lot. What? It’s a pretty big loose end to leave hanging around rampaging on Earth.
8. Will The Workings Of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Finally Cross Paths With The MCU?
One of the true moments of pathos in the first Avengers movie was the scene where Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, was killed by Loki. It was heartbreaking, until we all realized that he wasn’t really dead, as of course, he couldn’t be if he was going to become director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Obviously, he’s busy with his Agents these days on TV, but how come none of the Avengers seem to know that he’s still alive and thriving? And, even though Phil is the director these days, Nick Fury is still showing up now and then. Didn’t he get the memo? Will the ongoing saga of MCU 3 finally be the time when all of this comes together somehow? Adding to the confusion is the fact that Nick Fury operated under the supervision of an international oversight committee, something Phil never seems to have to deal with. We’re not asking for much, here — just some kind of cohesion between the MCU and the TV show we’ve come to love, too.
7. Can Vision Survive Without The Infinity Stone?
Vision was created by Ultron, and then, the mad scientist brain trust of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to bring him to life by injecting (more or less) what is left of J.A.R.V.I.S., the sentient operating system designed by Tony, into Ultron’s shell. Then, Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, and twin Pietro arrive to rain on their parade, understandably, after what they’ve just gone through with Ultron. Thor appears out of nowhere and performs some kind of demigod-like action with Mjølnir, his magic hammer, and Vision literally jumps out of the enclosure Banner put him in, suddenly alive — and with the Mind Stone embedded in his forehead. It’s especially interesting because the Scarlet Witch, with whom Vision has a thing, as we know, also derives her powers from the Mind Stone. That happened during her childhood with Pietro/Quicksilver during the experiments with Loki’s scepter and the Mind Stone within it at that point. It’s all well and good so far, but we all know the Infinity Wars are coming, fueled by Thanos’ mad thirst to possess all of the Infinity Stones. What will become of Vision — can he survive without it? Scarlet Witch needs to know.
6. Will We See The Return Of Dearly Departed Marvel Villains?
Let’s take a step back and consider where this whole train is heading. Ultron originally used the Mind Stone, then in the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the Avengers reacquire it, and Wanda destroys his primary body; then Vision — with the Mind Stone in his forehead — destroys Ultron. Malekith the Accursed, evil leader of the Dark Elves, has a complicated story. He was brought back to life after thousands of years when Jane Foster absorbed the Aether Stone in Thor: The Dark World. Malekith sets out to reclaim the Aether Stone, which he created centuries before, and, at that point, was still within Jane in Asgard. Malekith arrived in Asgard with a party to steal the Aether, which he absorbed. After a long battle with Thor, he’s crushed by his own ship, but the Aether (Reality) Stone is still inside him. In the first Guardians of the Galaxy flick, Ronan the Accuser is destroyed by the power of the Orb, or Power Gem, funneled through the combined might of the Guardians themselves. So, all major villains are defeated by or through an Infinity Stone…and we’re headed for the Infinity Wars. Will one or more of them come back to fight on Thanos’ side?
5. Will Loki Continue To Side With Thanos?
Loki makes a fine, ongoing villain, someone with significant powers of his own, whom the Avengers can do battle with in spectacular form. He has a gleeful sense of evil. But, he’s still Thor’s brother, albeit an adopted one. And, there have been flashes of a less evil Loki throughout the MCU, such as when he helped Thor in Dark World, and he was always softer with Frigga, even if he was angry with Odin. We’re assuming, at this point, that Loki will start out on Thanos’ side, as he has been on since the start of the Avengers. He did try to destroy NYC with Thanos’s army, after all, and that’s something that would be hard to back down from. But will he stay there? In the Norse legends, Loki was more of a trickster, malevolent, but also helpful to the gods of Asgard at times. While Loki may seem to be on Thanos’ side, maybe he’s really playing out some endgame of his own. Time will tell.
4. How Does Bucky Fit Into The Black Panther?
Bucky Barnes has had a rough life, all in all. We’re hoping he can come back into his own in Black Panther. By the time of Captain America: Civil War, he’s no longer working for HYDRA but is roaming the world in search of answers to his own story. It’s his actions as HYDRA goon the Winter Soldier, in fact, that spark the Civil War. He’s framed by Helmut Zemo as the perp behind the Vienna International Centre bombing that killed T’Chaka, King of Wakanda, and Zemo also lets Tony know it was Bucky who slaughtered Tony Stark’s parents. Iron Man rips off Bucky’s robotic arm in revenge, and he barely escapes with Captain America’s help. During a mid-credits scene, we see Bucky in Wakanda. While Steve Rogers still isn’t what you’d call best buds with T’Challa, he does trust him and Wakandian technology enough to look after his friend. Bucky chooses to go into stasis until his brainwashing can be controlled or diminished. That leaves him sitting there in Wakanda. We don’t know much about the plot so far, and we’re assuming Bucky will be back for Infinity Wars, but will he be reanimated in time for Black Panther, or will he just be the brainwashed superhero in storage for the duration? Black Panther is set to take place after the events of Civil War, so anything could happen.
3. Does Scott Suffer From Using Pym Particles?
We haven’t seen Ant-Man since his debut movie, and for a time, there was some debate about whether there would even be a sequel, but he’s set for a definite return in July 2018. That raises a lingering issue. In Ant-Man, as we recall, Hank Pym created the Pym Particles that allow for that startling and very useful ability to change size, and basically turn you into a human bullet while in a shrunken state. But, while they can turn a human being into a super powerful weapon, Pym Particles have a dark side, too. The suit is specially constructed not only to take advantage of the Pym Particles but to protect the wearer from them, too. Without the suit, they can cause damage to the chemistry of the brain. But even with the suit, continuous use also has adverse effects. That’s why Pym recruited Scott Lang to wear the suit in the first place. We’re wondering just how the new Ant-Man may be affected by the suit, and whether that raises any issues in the movies to come.
2. The T.H.A.N.O.S. Theory
The T.H.A.N.O.S. theory is a fan theory, one that’s been developing over the last few years. It’s about noticing things… and the MCU always rewards you for noticing details. Basically, it’s this: if you assemble the Infinity Stones (in their Marvel Comics gem names) and their Marvel artifacts, they spell out T.H.A.N.O.S.. Let’s start with the Space Gem, which was located in the Tesseract for T. We’ll leave the H out for now. Next, the Reality Gem is the Aether for the A. Then there’s the Time Gem in Doctor Strange’s Necklace for the N. Next, the Power Gem, which is located in the Orb. Last, there’s the Mind Gem, which was originally in Loki’s Scepter for the S. That leaves us with the H still unaccounted for. Where is that Soul Gem, and how will it come into the MCU? Many people have been predicting Heimdall, Asgard’s gatekeeper as played by Idris Elba. The connection, as many have speculated, is that Heimdall can see into all the souls inhabiting the Nine Realms. But, the Soul Stone isn’t really about seeing or surveilling. It’s about changing souls. Just recently, we got a better glimpse into Thor: Ragnarok and the introduction of Cate Blanchett in the role of Hela. In the Marvel Comics, Hela controls the world of spirits and souls… get it?
1. The Avengers’ Visions: Reality Or Dream World?
When the Scarlet Witch was introduced in Age of Ultron, she sowed the seeds of destruction into the Avengers by showing them visions that tormented them. Are those visions real, and should we expect some of them to come true in MCU 3? Captain America’s dream world was about the past, putting him at the World War II era dance he was supposed to have with Peggy Carter, tormenting him about what could never be. Black Widow has unpleasant visions of her past, training as an assassin, including the revelation that she was sterilized for the role. The Hulk gets angry at his vision, and we’re not sure why. But, both Tony Stark and Thor seem to have visions of the future. Thor sees the end of Asgard — Ragnarok, in other words — along with an Infinity Stone, with the reference “Hel.” It certainly sounds like it will play into the movie. Tony Stark sees all the Avengers dying around him with the added ignominy of Captain America reaming him out for not doing enough to help stop the calamity. Is that how Infinity Wars will play out? We’ve got a while to wait and see.