The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a wide array of characters, and several legacy heroes can continue into the MCU’s Phase 7 and beyond. With the Infinity Saga of the MCU introducing plenty of heroes and subsequently ending some of their respective journeys, the Multiverse Saga began introducing characters to carry on their legacy. This began with the MCU’s Phase 4 in a big way, with Marvel’s first step into the multiverse bringing plenty of new characters with it.
While characters like Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow were either killed or retired during Avengers: Endgame, some other characters are still active in the MCU despite already having legacy heroes to take their place. From the other original Avengers like Thor, Hawkeye, and Hulk to other established heroes like Ant-Man and Black Panther, the MCU is already ushering in replacement heroes for the time beyond the Multiverse Saga. With that being said, every MCU legacy superhero is set up for the end of Phase 6 and the start of Phase 7.
Captain America – Sam Wilson
One of the first legacy heroes established in Phase 4 was Sam Wilson as Captain America. At the end of Avengers: Endgame. Steve Rogers passed his shield on to Sam Wilson after growing old with Peggy Carter. The second project of Phase 4 dealt directly with the aftermath of this decision: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Despite Sam not wanting to accept the shield at first due to believing he could not live up to Steve’s legacy and the internal conflict that comes with a black man becoming the symbol of a nation with historical issues of oppression, the series chronicled his transition from the Falcon to Captain America.
Iron Man – Morgan Stark/Riri Williams as Ironheart
Avengers: Endgame featured the tragic death of Tony Stark/Iron Man, who was arguably the face of the MCU’s Infinity Saga along with Captain America. Since then, the MCU has introduced two potential candidates to become Iron Man’s legacy hero, though one is more likely than the other. The least likely is Morgan Stark, Tony’s young daughter with Pepper Potts. While Morgan could eventually become Stark’s successor, it is unlikely given her lack of appearances after Avengers: Endgame and the MCU’s transition from Infinity Saga characters to Multiverse Saga characters.
This transition is what makes Riri Williams/Ironheart the most likely candidate to become the legacy hero of Iron Man. Riri Williams was introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as a genius MIT student who has built a suit of armor to rival Iron Man’s. Despite some differences to Marvel Comics, the MCU’s Ironheart is still presented as the only one besides Pepper Potts and War Machine with a Stark-tech level suit. While not intrinsically connected to Tony Stark in Black Panther 2, Riri’s next appearance in her own Disney+ show Ironheart, coming in 2023, could further build on the concept of Ironheart becoming Iron Man’s legacy in ways more akin to the comics.
Black Widow – Yelena Belova
Another character whose death was showcased in Avengers: Endgame was Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. The first cinematic release of the MCU’s Phase 4 was Black Widow, a film that provided more backstory to Natasha’s arc before her death and simultaneously introduced her MCU legacy through her sister: Yelena Belova. Yelena is Natasha’s adoptive sister who grew up in the Red Room alongside Romanoff before being freed of Dreykov’s mind control by her sister. Eventually, Yelena was killed by Thanos’ snap in Infinity War before returning in 2023. At some point, Yelena came into contact with Valentina Allegra de Fontane and was told by the latter that Clint Barton had killed her sister.
After tracking down Barton and unintentionally forming a strong bond with his Hawkeye protégé – akin to her sister’s strong bond with Barton’s Hawkeye – Belova was convinced that Natasha’s death was her choice before departing to unknown parts. With Belova expected to be part of Marvel’s Thunderbolts lineup, the 2024 film can establish Belova as Black Widow’s official legacy hero, with her comic book counterpart taking the mantle of White Widow.
Hawkeye – Kate Bishop
The Hawkeye protégé that Yelena bonded with was Kate Bishop. During the events of 2012’s The Avengers, Kate Bishop was saved by Hawkeye during the Battle of New York and grew up keen to emulate her hero through archery and martial arts training. Eventually, after unintentionally coming into ownership of Clint Barton’s Ronin suit, Bishop is embroiled in a crime-gang-filled conspiracy and is helped through it by none other than her hero, Hawkeye himself.
This story was told in 2021’s Hawkeye, which solidly established Kate Bishop as the successor to the Hawkeye mantle after Clint’s likely retirement with his family. The relationship between Bishop and Belova is one of the driving factors of this, with their friendship emulating that of the original Hawkeye and Black Widow, further setting up the two as the successors of these Avengers beyond Phase 6. Also, the ending scene all but confirms this with Kate attempting to come up with names for her hero persona, with Barton saying he has a suggestion before the Hawkeye title card comes into view.
Thor – Love
The first project featuring Thor after Avengers: Endgame was Thor: Love and Thunder. In the film, Thor goes up against Gorr the God Butcher who has been wronged by the gods after the death of his daughter. At the end of the film, Gorr uses the cosmic being Eternity to bring his daughter, Love, back to life. Gorr then dies, but not before asking Thor to take care of Love. The film’s ending scene establishes the film’s title, with Thor and Love becoming known across the galaxy as Love and Thunder.
Thor now becomes the next Marvel superhero to have a kid to carry on their legacy, with Love wielding Stormbreaker after Thor reacquired Mjolnir from Jane Foster. While it is unclear how big a part Love will have in the MCU’s future, she is still the best option as Thor’s replacement given that she is being raised by Thor while coming to terms with the powers of Stormbreaker. Whether Love could be part of the Young Avengers or not remains to be seen, but it is likely her next appearance surrounds an upcoming Avengers movie.
Hulk – Skaar
The last of the original six Avengers to have a legacy hero introduced in the MCU was Hulk. Hulk appeared in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law before disappearing off-world when a Sakaaran ship came looking for him on Earth. At the end of the series, Hulk returned to Earth with a son named Skaar, who was likely conceived during Hulk’s stint on the planet between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnarök. Skaar in the comics is a big part of the World War Hulk storyline and will likely be a big part of the MCU going forward should Hulk retire or be killed by the end of the Multiverse Saga.
Black Panther – Toussaint/Shuri
One of the characters outside the original six Avengers to have an established legacy hero is Black Panther, introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Following the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman and the decision to carry this over to his MCU character T’Challa, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was tasked with dealing with the aftermath and finding a way to carry on the Black Panther’s legacy without Boseman and T’Challa. This was done by introducing Shuri as the next Black Panther after a significantly emotional arc in which she had to overcome her grief and rage to become Wakanda’s protector.
This will likely be a big plot point in the future, with Shuri being the MCU’s next Black Panther going into Phase 5. Also, the mid-credit scene of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduced another potential legacy for T’Challa through his son, T’Challa II/Toussaint. While this is an original character for the MCU, he could be utilized in Phase 7 and beyond as Shuri’s potential successor, carrying on the Black Panther legacy from both his father and aunt.
Ant-Man – Cassie Lang
One of the legacy characters introduced back in Phase 2 but only receiving their real spotlight as a potential MCU hero replacement in Phase 5, is Cassie Lang. Cassie was introduced in Ant-Man as the daughter of the titular hero and has since grown up due to the fact Thanos did not snap her in Infinity War. The first film of Phase 5 will capitalize on Cassie’s potential as Ant-Man’s successor: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. In the film, Cassie will play a large role and be integral to the journey into the Quantum Realm and take on the mantle of Stature.
In the comics, Stature is the superhero name Cassie goes by and wears a suit similar to Ant-Mans. This suit gives her the ability to shrink and grow in size like her father. It is likely that, given Cassie’s much larger role in Ant-Man 3, the film will set up her persona of Stature to take Ant-Man’s place after the events of the Multiverse Saga.
Captain Marvel – Ms. Marvel
One of the later introductions to the MCU’s Phase 4 was Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, who will likely continue the legacy of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. Like the character in the comics, Kamala Khan worships Captain Marvel as her hero and develops superpowers due to her Inhuman heritage. One of the changes to her MCU counterpart was her power base, which has changed from embiggening powers of her body to embiggening through cosmic, crystallized powers. This may have been done to draw comparisons to Captain Marvel before the duo team up in 2023’s The Marvels.
The likely reason behind this power change is to make it so that Ms. Marvel will continue Carol’s legacy. While Captain Marvel is a fairly new character to the MCU and is unlikely to be retired anytime soon, Ms. Marvel is already being established as her legacy hero. Be it through the similarities in powers, the fangirl love Kamala has for Carol, or the team-up between the two in 2023 for the MCU’s Captain Marvel 2, Ms. Marvel will likely carry Captain Marvel’s legacy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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