I've been wondering about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a while now, and as we are starting to get a few more details about the remainder of the films slated for a Phase 3 release I am getting more and more excited about what's to come. Phase 3 is slated to unveil films through July 2019, ending with what I anticipate as the pinnacle film to traverse the cinematic Phase 3 into whats coming in Phase 4.
We ultimately know absolutely nothing about what Marvel and Kevin Feige have in store for Phase 4, but my theory is that it will expand the universe and we will see more of the 'galactic' realm and the multitude of stories that we've been exposed to through Guardians of the Galaxy and a few other entities in Phase 3. We could see anything along the lines of in films for Phase 4:
- The Kree & Skrull
- The Eternals & Deviants
- The Celestials
- The New Avengers (as was hinted to on Unleash the Fan Boy [source]),
- There could even be something totally diverging from the comics since we know that the Cinematic Universe doesn't hold 100% accurate to the source material.
Regardless of where Phase 4 takes us, I believe that the Inhumans will be a major part of the next set of movies, and will be a pivotal piece in the grand scheme of Phase 4. If you don't know about the Inhumans, then shame on you! Just kidding!!! -- But let's get you semi caught up since this whole article will be about them, I'd like for you to have at least a bit of the back story before you read too far into my theory.
Who are The Inhumans (inhomo supremis)?
The Inhumans are an offshoot of the human race that ages ago was experimented upon by the Kree and moved off Earth to Attilan. The Inhumans flourished and became far more advanced than their human counterparts back on Earth. The Inhuman race are the byproduct of Kree modifications and selective breeding and as such have certain advantages such as: a lifespan of that can average around 150 years as well as significantly greater strength, reaction time, speed and endurance. The Inhumans are not normally mutated. It's after exposure to the Terrigan Mist, a natural mutagen, that the Inhumans are given their new abilities. Some of the Inhumans believe that the mist only reveals who they naturally are.
The Inhumans have their own reigning Royal Family, and currently seated on the throne is Black Bolt from the House of Agon. Black Bolt is an Inhuman whose terregenetic mutation caused his power to be manifested in his voice, to the extent that even a whisper can demolish buildings. Ages ago a prophecy foretold that an Inhuman, the Midnight King, would bring about the end of the Kree people. Black Bolt is believed to be that prophecy.
The Inhumans in general have already been introduced to the universe as we know it, and if you haven't watched Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. then you've missed their venture into the MCU. I won't spoil any of the specific details other than to say that there have been a few characters outed as Inhumans, but you don't need to know what happened on the show to start seeing the connective threads that Marvel's big-man, Kevin Feige, says was the plan from the beginning:
"It was always the intention that introducing them to the public would be happening quickly, and it would happen in the show." [source]
So the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has set the foundational structure of understanding that some of the Inhumans are already among us. Once you know that then the question becomes:
Where will the MCU take the Inhumans?
Since we now know that there is another mutated subset of humans outside of the X-Men, but outside of that we haven't been exposed to the bigger story of how they could be intertwined with the direction of the MCU, and we can only speculate what the evil genius that is Kevin Feige has in store for Phase 4.
A few possibilities are:
Option 1: The Black Order
We are introduced to an extension of the Thanos story as The Inhumans solo film will be released after The Avengers: Infinity Wars I & II, which would allow for a possible tie in through the Black Order (or Cull Obsidian).
The Black Order is a team of Thanos' own choosing. The group is comprised of 5 lethal aliens:
- Black Drawf - The physical powerhouse of the team.
- Corvus Glaive - Thanos' second in command.
- Ebony Maw - Genius intellect and manipulator.
- Supergiant - Mentally unstable telepathic parasite.
- Proxima Midnight - Masterful combatant.
Through the comic history, both Black Bolt & Medusa (his wife) are members of the Illuminati along with Doctor Strange, Captain America, Black Panther and a few others. So the cross-over could be an option as there is 'lore' to base it off of. I could see The Inhumans facing off against the Black Order if we discover that Thanos' true objective all along was to find his son, Thane (this being the reason for the Infinity Wars).
Option 2: Family Struggle
We are introduced to the Boltagon family, and more directly Black Bolt's brother Maximus as he attempts to usurp the throne and leadership of the Inhuman population from Black Bolt as he is away attempting to help the Avengers defeat Thanos. (This option could be feasible if we see the Inhumans cross-over in Part 2 of the Infinity Wars.)
Maximus the Mad, as he is known has on numerous occasions made it known that he wants the throne of Attilan for his own power. Through the history of the brothers, Maximus has proved to be power-hungry and willing to stoop to making pacts with villainous alien races. He has even enlisted the Alpha Primes (lower class of Inhuman breeding) in a civil war to take the throne by force.
My only reservation with this option is the similarity to the story we have between Thor & Loki.
Option 3: Return of the Ten Rings
This is my favorite outside of the box theory. If you remember the Ten Rings, then this may make some sense to you, but I believe that the Ten Rings Organization will make its return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the overarching villainous entity for Phase 4.
Even though we haven't heard about the rings of power since Iron Man 2 with the Mandarin and Trevor Slattery, I believe that they are bound to make their return to power as they have been rather silent thus-far. There's a fairly wide arching connecting story line linking the 10 rings to various villains within the Marvel Comics. The Ten Rings were distributed amongst 10 individuals until the true Mandarin collected them all in his pursuit of power and knowledge along with the Heart of Darkness.
After re-watching the previous films, and some of the One Shots, something in "All Hail the King" made me remember the Mandarin. When Slattery is abducted by Jackson Norriss saying that the REAL Mandarin wanted to see him, it made me believe that Marvel has something more planned for that story line and could definitely make a return in Phase 4. There is also comic lore that crosses Mandarin & the Inhumans from the 1970/71 release of Amazing Adventures #3 & #4 [source].
How will the Inhumans play into Phase 4?
Depending on how Marvel moves the Inhumans into the Cinematic Universe, I think that the Inhumans will in a timeshare take a solid lead in the films to come, as a sort of New Avengers are formed. Possibly even the Illuminati in a sense could be formed as the protectors of Earth/ this galaxy. We'll already have Black Panther, Doctor Strange & Black Bolt to build stories out of in the next phase.