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Marvel’s roadmap to Avengers: Secret Wars might have leaked – here are all the story arcs

Published Dec 22nd, 2023 6:04PM EST
Time Runs Out was the final storyline before Secret Wars in Marvel Comics.
Image: Marvel

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The biggest Marvel news of December isn’t that What If…? season 2 started streaming on Disney Plus, but that Jonathan Majors has been fired from the role of Kang, the main villain of the Multiverse Saga. Marvel dropped the actor soon after his guilty verdict came in, prompting speculation about what will happen in the MCU going forward.

While the Multiverse Saga will still end with Secret Wars, Avengers 5 might get a new title. And we might have a new overarching villain, according to some leaks.

A new scoop from a Marvel insider claims that not only is Kang not out of the picture, but Marvel is working on several smaller MCU story arcs that will fit inside the Multiverse Saga. All before we get to Secret Wars. Massive spoilers might follow below.

According to Alex Perez at The Cosmic Circus, Marvel is looking to improve the quality of the MCU and focus on quality over quantity. It’s also looking to introduce more mature tones, with Deadpool 3 and Echo serving as tests for such projects.

The report plans that Marvel also wants writers and directors to tell the story they want to tell “while relaxing the need for connectivity with other corners of the MCU.” That’s not necessarily great news to this longtime Avengers fan, who thinks you can’t have the MCU without providing those links.

At the same time, Marvel’s intention of improving the “rewatchability” of the MCU is certainly a good plan. I can count on one hand the MCU Phase 4 and 5 projects I want to see again. And if smaller story arcs will help with that, then I’ll be happy to see it happen.

As for those story arcs, Perez detailed the various storylines Marvel is working on.

Kingpin and Devil’s Reign

The main projects:

This arc is a street-level story that follows Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) becoming the mayor of New York City and outlawing superheroes. A Spider-Man 4 rumor mentioned this very same plot for the unannounced movie.

Peter Parker, Ned, and MJ in No Way Home trailer
Peter Parker, Ned, and MJ in Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer 2. Image source: Sony

Hulks and World War

The main projects:

This story arc follows the events in the world after what happened in Avengers: Endgame. It focuses on world politics and the desire of some countries to obtain either important weapons (Stark tech, vibranium, or adamantium) or create super soldiers or Hulks.

This storyline might culminate with a World War Hulk that Perez describes as an Avengers 4.5 movie that will be in the style of Captain America: Civil War. The Avengers will have to battle the bad Hulks of the world, including Red Hulk (Harrison Ford), who will appear in Brave New World.

I will say it’s not the first time we’ve heard about a World War Hulk movie coming to the MCU.

(L-R): Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk / Bruce Banner and Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer "Jen" Walters/She-Hulk in Marvel Studios' She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, exclusively on Disney Plus.
(L-R): Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk / Bruce Banner and Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer “Jen” Walters/She-Hulk in Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, exclusively on Disney Plus. Image source: Marvel Studios

The Iron Man legacy

The main projects:

As you can see, this story arc has been in development for a while. It focuses on the tech that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) created to defend the world. With Tony Stark dead, others will try to abuse it via the Department of Damage Control (DODC). Armor Wars and Ironheart will conclude this arc.

Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) making her Ironheart armor.
Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) making her Ironheart armor. Image source: Marvel Studios

The Young Avengers

Marvel has practically confirmed the rumors on this new team via The Marvels. At the end of the movie, we see Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) starting to recruit a team of her own, beginning with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). Perez further details the expected team of this story arc:

Multiple sources have already confirmed to us that Kamala Khan, Kate Bishop, Cassie Lang, America Chavez, Billy Maximoff, and Tommy Maximoff are expected to be a part of the Young Avengers lineup. Some sources have mentioned other possible members, including Theodore Altman, Axl Heimdallson, Riri Williams, Eli Bradley, and Skaar. However, these members in particular were only confirmed by some sources, not all.

These Young Avengers will likely appear in other story arcs.

Iman Vellani, Brie Larson, and Teyonah Parris in The Marvels.
Iman Vellani, Brie Larson, and Teyonah Parris in The Marvels. Image source: Marvel Studios

Wanda

The insider notes that the WandaVision story continues, and we know that already. Agatha is one sequel and VisionQuest is supposed to be part of the same arc.

Perez also claims that Marvel is working on a Scarlet Witch movie, but there are no details on this standalone Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) story. This isn’t the first time we hear such a rumor either.

Wanda in Doctor Strange 2 clip.
Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and her children in new Doctor Strange 2 footage. Image source: Marvel Studios

The Midnight Sons

The main projects:

This is also a storyline that shouldn’t surprise anyone staying on top of their MCU rumors. This is the story arc focusing on the supernatural corner of the MCU. The Midnight Sons team might include Wong (Benedict Wong) as one of the leaders, as well as Blade (Mahershala Ali).

Doctor Strange and Wong in Multiverse of Madness trailer
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) in Multiverse of Madness trailer. Image source: Marvel Studios

Deadpool 3 and the mutants

The MCU is getting more X-Men, although that designator isn’t here yet. It started with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Professor X), and it continued with Ms. Marvel (Ms. Marvel), Wakanda Forever (Namor), and The Marvels (Beast).

Deadpool 3 will bring Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) over.

Perez says that Marvel is still working on establishing a direct connection between the MCU and the mutants. But the X-Men ’97 animated series might provide more details on Marvel’s plans for the mutants. The characters in the series will serve as a guideline for the MCU’s mutants, and Marvel has planned a season 2 for the show.

The insider also says that Deadpool 3 sets the stage for what comes next for the mutants in the MCU’s main reality, Earth-616.

Marvel reportedly wants the mutants to have a bigger role in the Multiverse Saga than initially anticipated. This might lead to a standalone Mutants series on Disney Plus or an X-Men film that will premiere before Secret Wars.

Also interesting is the premise of an Avengers vs. X-Men movie, which Perez mentions. It’s unclear when such a film would drop, however.

Deadpool 3 first look photo shows off Deadpool and Wolverine in costume.
Deadpool 3 first look photo shows off Deadpool and Wolverine in costume. Image source: Marvel Studios

The Fantastic Four and other arcs

Perez also mentions Fantastic Four as one of the big stories Marvel wants to tell in the coming years. It should be a “cosmic adventure with multiversal implications” that will do a lot of “heavy lifting” leading into Avengers: Secret Wars.

The leaker lists other sequels Marvel might be working on without tying them to any of the different arcs of Fantastic Four:

Finally, there’s a Wonder Man TV show in development that might be tied to Shang-Chi.

John Krasinski as Mister Fantastic in Doctor Strange 2.
John Krasinski as Mister Fantastic in Doctor Strange 2. Image source: Marvel Studios

Kang’s return

Jonathan Majors might be fired, but Marvel won’t retire his character. Instead, it’ll focus on other storylines and take it’s time to build up Kang and the multiverse. Sources told Perez that Marvel won’t address Kang again until near the end of the Multiverse Saga:

Sources state that there have been discussions and plans for other multiversal villains to step up to the plate in the upcoming phases. This is, of course, in an attempt to take control of the multiversal-sized vacuum left in the absence of Kang the Conqueror and his variants. But make no mistake, for better or worse, Marvel ultimately still intends to close out the Multiverse Saga with a Kang Variant as their final villain.

Iconic Avengers scene from The Avengers.
Iconic Avengers scene from The Avengers. Image source: Disney

I will say that all of this sounds great, at least in theory. And I hope the focus on quality over quantity is real. But check out the list of titles. There’s plenty of quantity there.

As someone who hasn’t given up on the MCU, I wish these story arcs to shine. But I also want more connections between these standalone stories. And I will say that Kang, the character, deserves to stick around and that a recast would definitely work later down the road.

One more thing: while Perez doesn’t talk about the return of Iron Man, I’m even more convinced RDJ will be back. With Iron Man, I think Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) will return for one more fight. You can’t have these massive stories, all leading to a big Secret Wars ending, and not get the old gang back.

In between What If…? episodes, you should check out Perez’s story in full at this link for more details about Marvel’s big MCU shakeup.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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