Having mostly smashed it since the release of Iron Man (2008), things have been pretty much plain sailing for the MCU. The MCU has been able to fall back on beloved heroes Thor, Captain America and Iron Man consistently, delivering hit after hit after hit, which in turn has made it easier to integrate supporting heroes like Falcon and Hawkeye. However, with the characters and actors ageing, finding new projects and ultimately coming to the end of their journeys, Marvel is facing its biggest test as it integrates a new generation of heroes into their beloved universe.
Marvel fans have already been introduced to Spider-Man, Black Panther and Ant Man, and eagerly await both Dr Strange and Captain Marvel, with all signs being of the positive variety. However, the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, and so will be looking towards new heroes for Phase 4 and beyond. So who do we want to see in the next generation of Avengers?
With the Incredible Hulk already tearing up the MCU, it is unlikely that we will see Jennifer Walters make an appearance anytime soon, if ever. Traditionally, however, She-Hulk has always been more of an ever-present in the Avengers line-up than most, including Banner. With Bruce Banner supposedly off-planet at the moment, and awaiting his next appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, the Avengers are minus a heavy hitter! She-Hulk anyone?
Talking of heavy hitters, the character of Hercules offers another god-like power, should Thor leave the MCU anytime soon. Another ever-present, Hercules has a rich history with the Avengers team, including single-handedly fighting the Masters of Evil and briefly leading his own team. Hercules might be a little difficult to explain in the world of the MCU thought, what with the whole Asgard thing, but he would be a welcome addition to the Avengers lineup.
The Captain Marvel film may provide an in for Wonder Man. His huge power set, and witty personality would certainly be a good addition to the team, easing some of the comedy pressure that has been so expertly filled by Tony Stark. His relationship with Captain Marvel might also give the MCU the happy couple that they have been trying so hard to ship (Black Widow/Hulk or Vision/Scarlet Witch). Captain Marvel 2 anybody?
Marvels answer to Aqua Man, Namor was one of Marvels original properties, all the way back in the 1940s, along with Captain America and the original Human Torch. A heavy-hitting, bad-tempered powerhouse, Namor would provide a real wildcard to the MCU team, as well as a possible introduction to Attuma, Namor's arch-nemesis. Compared to the challenges of introducing the kind of cosmic, kind of mythical world of Asgard, recreating Namor's undersea kingdom of Atlantis for the big screen should be a walk in the park for Marvel Studios.
Ronin, and later Echo, was always an intriguing character in the Marvel universe, ever since her surprising appearance on the pages of New Avengers. Her connection to Doctor Strange would make her transition to the big screen considerably smoother, and with Hawkeye in semi-retirement, the Avengers are missing an assassin. Step up Ronin?
Bear with me on this one. A very personal choice, I have always considered Sandman to be one of my favourite Marvel villains, and the character has typically played both sides of the law in his comic book and film history. A brief spell in the Avengers was admittedly short lived, but the character is one that I feel deserves a second chance on the big screen, and an Avengers membership might be the perfect way in to the MCU.
Following the events of Avengers Disassembled, the MCU was built around the story of the Sentry for a good few years. One of the most epic and equally tragic characters, the Sentry played huge roles in New Avengers, World War Hulk and Dark Avengers, before he laid waste to Asgard in the events of Siege, when the villainous persona of the Void took control. In the MCU, Sentry would add a new dimension to not only the spectacular set pieces, but also the character driven drama that was a little absent in the finale of Age of Ultron.