ByDavid Opie, writer at Creators.co
The day someone green-lights a Marvel Zombies Ghibli film directed by Xavier Dolan is the day I will be happy. Any day now...
David Opie

Everything that's happened in the MCU since Iron Man first hit our screens was set to culminate in an epic 2-parter titled Avengers: Infinity War. But, just as we were gearing up for the cinematic superhero event of the century, then Marvel baffled us all by announcing that Avengers 4 will now be a stand-alone film instead.

[Via Marvel Studios]
[Via Marvel Studios]

Now that it doesn't have an official title, Avengers 4 presumably won't continue to follow the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. As a result, fans have begun to speculate which comic book story line that the Avengers 4 could draw upon for inspiration.

What Will Avengers 4 Be About?

[Via Marvel Studios]
[Via Marvel Studios]

Initially, it seemed there was a slim chance that Marvel might build in elements of Infinity Crusade or Infinity Gauntlet for the sequel. However, a new quote from the directors of Avengers 4 suggests that this definitely won't happen:

"We wanted the movie to be very different and distinctive, you know. There's certainly cross-pollination between characters and some story-arcs, but you know, the first movie is very clearly Avengers: Infinity War and, in time, we will reveal what the second film is."

Of course, the Russo Brothers are understandably cagey about Avengers 4, especially considering that its predecessor Infinity War is still two years away from release. But the fact that the directors are keen to make the film "different" and "distinctive" leaves the story line extremely open.

[Via Marvel Studios]
[Via Marvel Studios]

Fortunately, another quote given by the directors this week may shed more light on the matter:

“I can’t get into too much detail about who we’re introducing, but these two movies are intended to be the culmination of everything that has happened in the MCU since the very first Iron Man movie. In being a culmination, these movies are in some ways going to be an end to certain things, and in some ways, they’re going to be the beginning of certain things.”

So if Avengers 4 is expected to end the current status quo and begin something new, what comic book event could the Russo Brothers draw upon that stands out as different to Infinity War? Well, we think that after Earth's Mightiest Heroes end their battle against Thanos, Avengers 4 could move away from the idea of one central villain to fight in the Secret Wars instead.

What Is Secret Wars?

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

The original Secret Wars arc from the '80s was such a huge success for Marvel that they decided to revamp the concept last year in a new story line that brought together heroes from alternate realities into one universe called Battleworld.

In the original story, Battleworld is ruled over by Dr Doom, who has become a god of this reality and Doctor Strange oversees law enforcement with the help of the Thor Corps. That's right. An Army of Thors. And you thought one Chris Hemsworth was pretty special.

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

While the story line certainly had its detractors among comic book fans, the concept itself holds huge potential for a big screen adaptation. Although characters like Dr Doom would have to be excluded due to legal issues, others like Miles Morales from the Ultimate line and the ever popular Marvel Zombies could finally meet in one epic clash which would end up being the most ambitious comic book movie ever made.

How Could Avengers: Infinity War Set Up Secret Wars?

The Secret Wars arc began after the Ultimate line and the regular Marvel Universe (616) are brought together following a cataclysmic battle in the comics. Obviously, the Ultimate characters are nowhere to be seen on film right now, but the MCU has subtly begun hinting at parallel universes for quite some time now.

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

For years, Thanos has been working tirelessly to gather the Infinity Gems, which will grant him the power to alter reality itself when combined. Obviously, the Mad Titan will get his hands on the gems and the gauntlet too at some point in Avengers: Infinity War and it's likely that the changes he will make could have long-term repercussions for the fabric of reality in the MCU.

Doctor Strange is set to explore the concept of a Multiverse further too, suggesting that the idea of alternate dimensions could be a priority for Marvel Studios moving forward. It's not much of a stretch to imagine that either Thanos or Stephen Strange could open a gateway to other worlds for our heroes to explore.

[Via Marvel Studios]
[Via Marvel Studios]

How Would Secret Wars Change The MCU?

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

If the Russo Brothers are planning to adapt elements of Secret Wars in Avengers 4, this would fit perfectly with their suggestion that they're looking to end certain aspects of the MCU and begin new ones too.

By the time Avengers 4 rolls around, many of our favorite MCU actors will be coming to the end of their multi-picture details it's doubtful that many of the original cast members such as Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. will want to stick around much longer. By introducing alternate realities into the MCU, new versions of our favorite characters could take their place, perhaps even drawing upon Legacy heroes such as Riri Williams, Amadeus Cho and maybe even Spider-Gwen.

Sony have already confirmed that they want to develop a Spider-Verse onscreen in cooperation with Marvel, so the inclusion of Spider-Gwen or Miles Morales in the MCU isn't as much of a stretch as it might first appear.

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

Of course, the fact that alternate dimensions are now part of the MCU also opens up the even more exciting prospect of properties like X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four appearing alongside the Avengers too. If Marvel can work out the legal rights with Fox like they did with Sony, then a Secret Wars adaptation would be the perfect way to integrate these heroes into the MCU without erasing or retconning everything that's occurred before.

What Are The Chances Of Secret Wars Actually Happening?

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

Adapting Secret Wars in Avengers 4 would literally open the door to an infinite number of new directions and possibilities for the MCU. It could lead to some unique and compelling story arcs that would set the studio even further apart from its closest rivals.

The potential inclusion of characters like Miles Morales and Riri Williams would also do wonders for the diversity of their characters, as Marvel have come under criticism recently for the lack of authentic representation in their films.

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

However, an adaptation of Secret Wars may be too ambitious for Marvel Studios, as the original story line is rather convoluted. Ideally, the Russo Brothers should take the idea of alternate realities clashing from that particular arc but re-work them in a way that would better fit the MCU, drawing on the more realistic elements like they did with Civil War.

For more ideas about the future of the MCU, check these links out:

[Via Marvel Comics]
[Via Marvel Comics]

Alternatively, Marvel may decide to set Secret Wars as the end goal of Phase 4 in the same way that Infinity War will end Phase 3. However, the idea of having to wait even longer for a glimpse of Marvel Zombies on screen is something that I don't even want to think about, so instead, I'm just going to leave this video of Chris Pratt dancing just here.

What do you think Avengers 4 will be about and which alternate characters would you like to see most in the MCU?

Source: IGN