It is always hard to tell what will come next in the MCU, especially given Kevin Feige trademark ambiguous answers. Although a Young Avengers story seems likely, diversity, representation and innovative styles will continue to shape the future of the MCU.
Diversity on screen has proven to be badly needed: Black Panther is the highest grossing solo superhero movie of all time. The aspirational quality of these other-worldly characters is supposed to inspire, empower and entertain: this can be done to the benefit of everyone, only if a variety of characters are presented. Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther, understands this especially well: regal themes and futuristic settings feel decades apart from the problematic representation of black people in cinema. Considering the wide appeal of superhero movies among young children, diversity on screen gains relevance. The MCU definitely seems to be moving in this direction, with the announcement of Shang-Chi, the first Chinese superhero, and of the long awaited Black Widow movie, the only original female Avenger, and incidentally the only one to not have her own movie in the MCU.
Audiences crave instantly recognizable and distinct styles.
Diversity will not only come under the form of representation, but also in genres. The incredible success of movies like Thor Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy have shown that audiences crave instantly recognizable and distinct styles. The third installment of the Thor movies has earned critical and audience approval due to its wild settings and characters. This was all possible because the movie was directed by Taika Waititi, a creator with a recognizable humor and a clear vision. As the volume of the entries in the MCU increases, it is important for each movie to be distinguishable from the others. Diversity and innovation could work well smaller team-up movies, similar to Thor and Hulk in Thor Ragnarok. This will satisfy the fans by expanding the universe through character driven stories, while at the same time not weighting down the entire storyline with unnecessary complexity.
Diversity in characters and styles will need to be an integral part of the universe
In regards to the stories we might see in the future, the latest movies seems to be setting up the scene for a Young Avengers story. In the comics, the team is formed by adolescents who all are somehow connected to the original team. This could be a good way for Marvel to introduce new characters, without completely discarding the original Avengers. There are a number of characters that might become an integral part of this story, with Spiderman and Shuri being the more obvious picks. Among the less established characters, there are several that might become relevant to this potential franchise. Cassie Lang, daughter of Scott Lang, who in the comics becomes Stinger, seems particularly fitting: she is not only the right age, given the 5-year time jump in Endgame, but she has also been set up throughout the Ant-Man movies, with her wanting to help being a consistent theme. Another addition could be Lila Barton, daughter of Clint Barton, who in the comics takes the mantel of Hawkeye as the new archer of the team: given that Endgame’s opening shot is of Clint teaching a talented Lila archery, this is more than likely. An even more speculative entry is Harley Keener, a mechanically inclined boy who helped Tony Stark rebuild his suit in Iron Man 3. His reappearance at Tony Stark’s funeral in Endgame might be significant, especially as a way to set him up for the new phase.
Therefore, whatever the new centre of the MCU will be, diversity in characters and styles will need to be an integral part of the universe, for these stories to continue to be as beloved as they are today.