Major spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame and everything that came before it. You've been warned.
So, you've seen Avengers: Endgame. After 22 movies, Marvel's gigantic cinematic universe came to an end... well, for now. A lot of characters and storylines that we've been following for a decade wrapped up this week, so there's a lot of Endgame that feels like a conclusion.
That being said, we know that Marvel's Phase 4 is on the horizon. It's just that the studio is keeping quiet about what we should expect. Luckily, after Endgame, we know a bit more.
Who's the new Captain America?
One of the most satisfyingly-emotional moments comes at the end of Endgame. Steve Rogers takes one last trip back in time to return the Infinity Stones to their original positions, but instead of returning, he stays. One moment he goes through the time machine and in the next, he's sitting on a nearby bench, now an elderly man.
Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, goes up to him and asks him about who he ended up marrying. Steve won't say but the audience gets a flashback, where we see him and Peggy Carter finally sharing the dance they lost out on in the first Captain America movie.
Steve does one more thing. He takes out his vibranium shield and hands it over to Sam, thus passing the Captain America torch over to his good friend.
This is a great moment for comics fans since Sam has recently gone by Captain America. Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, has also gone by Captain America in the comics and both would be great successors in the MCU. As of the end of Endgame, Sam is now Captain America, but that might become more complicated in the upcoming Disney+ series (more on that below).
Asgardians of the Galaxy
At the very end of Endgame, Thor decides he's going to give up his title as the leader of Asgard to Valkyrie so he can go on a journey of self-discovery. He joins Rocket, who he partnered with throughout a lot of Endgame and Infinity War, onboard the Guardians' ship, the Milano. He and Peter Quill have a tense and hilarious conversation about who should be the team leader, and the ship goes off into the universe becoming, in a sense, the Asgardians of the Galaxy.
This isn't just a cheeky turn of phrase. The Asgardians of the Galaxy is an actual superhero team-up in the comics that made its debut last year. While the current team at the end of Endgame looks like most of the original Guardians, plus Thor and Nebula, that comic team includes Valkyrie, Thor's half-sister Angela, and a Destroyer suit controlled by Loki, and others.
As for the original Guardians, who are all back alive and on the Milano (minus Gamora, who disappeared after kicking Peter in the balls), their future is as open as the void of space. However, considering Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in the works, there's a lot to look forward to. We can glean from the end credits of Vol. 2 that longtime Marvel character Adam Warlock will be involved, but we also know where the Guardians are emotionally and what their dynamics are going into the sequel. Endgame set up not only a new team lineup but also new emotional stakes, too.
More space adventures
Captain Marvel didn't do a whole lot in Endgame, but she did make an important point to the Avengers as to why she couldn't stay on Earth. Not every planet has a team like the Avengers, and they were also affected by Thanos' snap. Carol has been jetting around space in the time between her solo movie and Endgame doing just that: helping the Skrull settle on a new homeworld and just generally fighting baddies in space.
Before Endgame, space was normally the dominion of the Guardians and to a lesser extent, Thor. With our favorite losers going back into space and Captain Marvel continuing her mission, we're hoping we'll be seeing more cosmic adventures. For example, The Eternals, Marvel's upcoming movie about a race of powerful evolved humans created by alien beings called Celestials, is bound to have a scale much larger than Earth.
Asgard has been through a lot over the past few movies. In Endgame, we see that the Thanos survivors have settled in what is called New Asgard, which looks to be somewhere in Scandinavia. It's a miserable place with Thor in a deep depressive spiral, but now that Valkyrie is in charge, there are options for how this could fit into Phase 4 and beyond.
There's no confirmation yet on if we'll be seeing more of Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie in future movies, but we know that according to Thompson, Ragnarok director Taika has pitched an idea for Thor 4 to Marvel. Now that she's technically the ruler of Asgard, maybe another Thor movie could see a different kind of star?
Disney+ TV shows
Endgame had to wrap up a lot of character arcs and storylines, but Marvel Studios has so many more to go. That's where Disney+ comes in. The new streaming service is set to be the new home of many of Marvel's new TV ventures, and they've already announced quite a few. However, there are four that are relevant here: WandaVision, the Loki series, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the Hawkeye series. If you know where to look, you can say that Endgame set up a little bit of each one. At least, that's what we're theorizing.
Marvel announced a series starring Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) and while both died in Infinity War, only Wanda came back at the end of Endgame. This makes sense considering that only people killed by the Snap were resurrected, but what does that mean for WandaVision?
Olsen revealed a few things in a recent interview with Variety about the show, including that it supposedly takes places in the 1950s (she seemed unclear on the specifics), does in fact co-star Bettany, and will be pulling from multiple comics storylines.
Wanda reflects on death at the end of Endgame with Hawkeye, but that's the only look we get into her state post-Tony Snap.
We got the most overt Disney+ setup in regards to the upcoming Loki series starring Tom Hiddleston. The redeemed Loki we've come to know died before the Snap, so he wasn't resurrected, but 2012 Loki now has the Tesseract in his possession. After Scott and Tony botch the first operation to retrieve it, Loki grabs it, uses it to open a portal, and jumps away.
We don't know where he teleported to, but that'll certainly set up his adventures in the TV series. Also, because this is a Loki that hasn't become an ally and true brother of Thor, we should expect the God of Mischief to be back to his, well, mischevious self.
Falcon and Winter Soldier
So, Sam is now Captain America, but what's next? Will the new series focus on how both him and Bucky deal with that legacy? Will they come to share the mantle? Will Bucky once again become a sidekick? Will they change the name to Captain America and Winter Solider? That last one is not likely, but there's a great setup here for a TV show.
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan have great chemistry together, as seen in Captain America: Civil War, but now they're connected even tighter.
Clint Barton started off Endgame as Hawkeye, but by the end, he was still Ronin — a vigilante who didn't mind outright murder if it meant he could carry out his brand of justice. Clint got his family back, but what does that mean for the future of the Hawkeye name?
We saw him teaching his daughter at the beginning of Endgame to shoot arrows, so there's something about Clint that's ready to teach and actually ready to move on. We know that in the Hawkeye series, he'll be teaching Kate Bishop, who takes on the name of Hawkeye in the comics.
It might be the Endgame, but it's not the end
So much happened in Endgame and there's a lot more to come. Do you have any theories for Phase 4 and beyond? Was there anything you saw in Endgame that you think might have implications for the future? Sound off in the comments below.