With the Marvel Cinematic Universe growing at an ever expanding rate, it's not too surprising that we've all become a little caught up in what the future holds. After all, between multiple network TV shows, Netflix series' and movies, there are now countless hours of superheroic Marvel Studios fun hitting our screens pretty much every week of the year. With so enticing a vista before of us, then, is it any wonder that we're always looking ahead to what's coming next?
Perhaps not - but from the sounds of Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige's latest interview with io9, we may soon have to spend a little less time looking towards the future of the MCU, and a little more looking back into its past.
It Sounds Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe Is Going to Start Delving into Its Own Past
Yup, that's right - when asked whether or not the MCU will take a trip into its own past with any of its upcoming movies - as it has once before with Captain America: The First Avenger - Feige responded in positive fashion:
"Certainly we could [set another one in the past]. There are no rules. I think the majority of them will be chronological, but not all of them necessarily."
Which, it would seem, suggests that there's a good chance we could, in the near future, see a Marvel movie set in the past.
The big question, then?
Which Marvel Movies Could Now Be Set in the Past?
Well, first up, it seems fairly safe to assume that the likes of Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Avengers: Infinity War will all be set in the present day - and, indeed, take place roughly within the timeframe that their releases suggest. Civil War, for instance, will likely take place around a year after Avengers: Age of Ultron, with Infinity War then taking place roughly two years after.
When it comes to brand new solo movies, though, everything is a little more up in the air. Captain Marvel seems likely to be set in the present day, as she's almost certainly far too visible a hero to have appeared in the past without prompting some sort of mention in the modern day MCU. Similarly, there's seemingly little need for Inhumans to be set anywhere but in the present day.
That, though, leaves two fairly obvious possibilities for a Marvel period piece.
1. Doctor Strange Might Need to Start Early
With the good doctor having been name-checked in a Captain America: The Winter Soldier Easter egg, there's every reason to believe that Dr. Stephen Strange has already become a notable figure within the MCU, beyond his origins as a surgeon. After all, why else would HYDRA have been seeking to eliminate him?
It's possible, then, that Doctor Strange's introduction next year will actually see us heading back into the past of the MCU - with the Sorcerer Supreme becoming a hero to the backdrop of Iron Man and the Avengers' rise to prominence. If so, then, with the lengthy training he'll have had to go through, a late '90s or 2000s setting seems entirely plausible.
Could we even see a retrospective cameo or two, with Strange turning out to have been involved in key moments in the lives of our heroes? Helping to thaw out Cap, perhaps, or treat a younger Bruce Banner?
Of course, we could also well see the past turn up:
2. Black Panther Could Begin at Multiple Times
Now, there are two (very different) ways this one could go.
On the one hand, we may well see Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa turn up in Captain America: Civil War as a Wakandan prince, but not yet the heroic Black Panther, and then watch his full origin story in his own solo movie - in which case flashbacks in the film are likely to be limited to an opening sequence, or a few scattered memories.
Alternatively, we may well see a fully formed Black Panther in Civil War, and then watch him become the hero in a flashback within his own solo movie. After all, a key part of the Panther's mythos is that the role is passed down through the generations - which opens up the possibility of a youthful Cap having come into contact with T'Challa's father or grandfather, as he did in the comics:
If the good folks at Marvel opt not to head back into the past during Phase 3 of the MCU though, that doesn't necessarily mean we won't see some past-set movies in the years that follow.
After all, there's always the possibility of seeing:
Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos
A '70s set spy thriller, say, featuring a young Nick Fury, and older versions of Captain America: The First Avenger's Howling Commandos...and Peggy Carter?
Throw in a young Howard Stark, Hank Pym and a couple of classic Marvel heroes too old fashioned to make it in the modern day MCU, and you'd have yourself one hell of a movie...
Alternatively, could we see:
A Black Widow and Hawkeye Prequel
It's less-and-less likely as every year goes by, and Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner look less like young versions of themselves - but a pre-Avengers action-thriller starring the two heroes could allow for a far more plausible solo adventure than the modern MCU ever could.
After all, if you can just call Iron Man to come and bust you out of prison, the risks involved in international espionage go waaaay down...
Something in Budapest, perhaps?
Or, alternatively, could we see:
Something Completely Different...like Avengers Forever
After all, Marvel's comics have long been filled with time-hopping adventures - could we see a handful of our heroes actually travel back in time?
An adaptation of a comic book series like the late '90s Avengers Forever (above) could work well, for instance. After all, since it saw a ragtag group of heroes from different time periods pulled together to save the time stream, it'd not only make it possible to bring back long since dead characters (including a certain Age of Ultron star, perhaps?), but open up the possibility of visiting key moments in Marvel history.
A great way to reimagine the Hulk's origin, perhaps, or to finally (rights permitting) add a few more Golden Age comic book heroes to the MCU, via a brief stop in the 1940s...
What do you think, though?