In the last 11 years, Marvel Studios has established a familiar pattern with their release schedule. Divided up into "Phases," their slate for a given period of time typically includes a series of solo adventures featuring a character doing their own thing as a two-hour blockbuster, and then everyone from those movies comes together in the form of an AVENGERS movie. We saw it work with THE AVENGERS in Phase 1, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON in Phase 2, and the two-fer of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and AVENGERS: ENDGAME for Phase 3 — but what isn’t quite certain yet is what we can expect in the future.
Marvel announced their entire Phase 4 run of films at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including titles such as BLACK WIDOW, ETERNALS, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, and THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (with the developing SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME sequel also coming together in the weeks since). But one project that was surprisingly missing from the announcement was a new AVENGERS title. Does this mean that Marvel Studios is pushing pause on their big capstone series?
That’s certainly one theory, but another theory is that they are building things up so that the future will be filled with multiple different Avengers teams.
This is something that definitely has precedent in the comics, as the pages of Marvel have featured multiple lineups of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes since 1984. It was then that Roger Stern and Bob Hall created the West Coast Avengers, a lineup established with Hawkeye as its leader. And ever since then, Marvel writers and artists have created many different incarnations of the legendary superhero team. During the aughts, for example, there were multiple major groups working at the same time, including the main Avengers (which were referred to as the New Avengers); the Mighty Avengers (a team operating under government sanction following new laws after the events of the Civil War crossover event); the Dark Avengers (a team of "reformed" villains pretending to be heroes); and the Young Avengers (a team of up-and-coming adolescents).
In addition to the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already introduced a number of key characters from these teams (or at least announced plans to do so in the near future), this is a potential strategy for the big-screen franchise that makes a lot of sense. As seen in AVENGERS: ENDGAME, there are a lot of superheroes operating on Earth at this point in the timeline, and trying to fit each and every one of them into AVENGERS movies going forward doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Not only would it be hard for any single protagonist to get the attention they deserve in this age of exponential growth, but it would also certainly mess with the storytelling to have to try and bend over backward to include everybody.
This is a problem that is solved with multiple AVENGERS features coming out in the span of a few years, though. They would still provide the capstone effect of seeing multiple disparate characters come together for a single mission, but also provide more leeway in terms of mixing and matching personalities to develop particular relationships.
For now, this is only a theory, but should it become a reality, it could result in some superior storytelling and blockbuster adventures for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.