After more than 15 years of super-powered storytelling, Marvel Studios’ on-screen universe has started to bend under the weight of its own narrative baggage.
The franchise is already headed for its next culmination point after a lackluster Phase 4 and 5 (so far) with Avengers: Secret Wars, a Multiversal epic seemingly set to bring in Marvel heroes from across the brand’s storied big-screen history in and out of the MCU.
But could Avengers 6 be the perfect place for the series to start anew?
Secret Wars: The Perfect Reboot Set-Up
If Marvel were looking to do a reboot, it just so happens, that following a Secret Wars adaptation would be the ideal spot for it to happen.
The Phase 6-capper is set to tackle the beloved 2015 version of the Secret Wars storyline by Jonathan Hickman (as opposed to the 1984 original), which served as a pseudo-reset for some of the Marvel Comics universe.
This fan-favorite comic event saw Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, the mainline comics universe, and many others converge on one Multiversal planet known as Battleworld.
But most importantly, Secret Wars offered Marvel the chance to pick and choose elements from these alternate comic universes and bring them into the mainline Earth-616 continuity, while doing away with other universes that had been played out.
While Avengers: Secret Wars may not be a straight adaptation of the comic event, it could serve the same purpose for Marvel Studios.
If the Hollywood giant wanted to pull the reboot rip-cord, the Secret Wars film could be one last hurrah for a chunk of the current continuity. And with the potential of heroes from Fox’s X-Men series, Sony’s Spider-Man franchises, and so many more, this film could be the MCU 1.0 finale fans have been waiting for.
Then, upon the movie’s closing, Marvel Studios could do just what Marvel Comics did nearly a decade ago, deciding what it wants to keep moving forward and starting fresh with the rest.
One of the benefits of a (at least partial) reboot coming after Phase 6 of the MCU, would be a smoother introduction of Marvel’s band of iconic mutants, the X-Men.
However, at the same time, Marvel seems poised to give the last generation of on-screen X-Men one more lap around the ole super-powered racetrack. Hugh Jackman has been confirmed to return in Deadpool 3 and it has all but been confirmed that even more of Fox’s X-Men characters will appear in Avengers: Secret Wars.
If, in fact, Phase 7 will be the start of the Mutant Saga in the MCU (as fans sort of expect it to be), then a pseudo-rebooting of the on-screen universe may be the best option.
This would allow Kevin Feige and co. to give these legacy heroes one last farewell in the Secret Wars movie, then hard-lock them behind the end of Phase 6, allowing for less confusion as new actors start to be introduced as the MCU versions of these fan-favorite characters.
Fresh Beginnings for Classic Heroes
In the same way that this reboot would be a great place to clearly introduce new heroes to the MCU like Wolverine and Cyclops, it could also allow the studio to re-introduce a new generation of classic heroes already seen in the franchise.
Names like Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor could all get new life with a reboot of this universe, allowing Marvel Studios mainstays like Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo to move on from the franchise while bringing in new actors to play these iconic characters.
If Marvel were to go by the Secret Wars comic playbook, this would let the studio pick and choose some heroes from Phases 1-6 to move forward, letting them take on leadership roles within the Avengers ranks (i.e. the Fantastic Four, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, etc).
Would it not be exciting to slowly bring some of these classic MCU characters back as younger, new takes on the characters over the next decade or so, putting some of the younger heroes brought forward through the ‘reboot’ into the role of the mentor as opposed to the mentee?
Pointing the MCU in a New Direction
And the biggest reason of all for a post-Secret Wars (at least partial) reboot would be giving the franchise a sense of direction, after an up-and-down track record since Avengers: Endgame.
What Marvel Studios has been up to since Endgame has been divisive, to say the least. After years of building to the Infinity War/Endgame duology over the decade prior, the franchise has felt a little aimless.
With so many threads to pull on in this Marvel-themed tapestry that has been continually added upon year after year since 2008, the MCU may be starting to show signs of strain under the weight of its own continuity.
By going in, pruning some branches, and cleaning up the Marvel Studios topiary garden, the franchise could potentially move forward more flexibly without having to worry about decisions that were made nearly 20 years ago.
This renewed narrative flexibility could offer the series a better chance at a clearer direction moving forward. Instead of working within a narrow hallway with tight brick walls on either side, the MCU would be offered a wide open field with very little holding it back from its past adventures.
While this “go anywhere, do anything” feeling could also backfire, with the narrative openness potentially being seen by some as creatively paralyzing, one could also argue it is better to have too many options than none at all.
Avengers: Secret Wars comes to theaters on May 7, 2027.
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