Secret Wars’ Out the Water in the MCU’s Phase 6

Kang in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania'

Image via Marvel Studios

It’s no question that the Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom is gunning for that sweet endorphin release of Avengers: Secret Wars; with the Multiverse Saga brewing a buildup that looks to be even more packed than the one we got in the Infinity Saga, the size of Secret Wars could be incomprehensible even for the most seasoned MCU fan.

But, while it’s easy to set our sights on things that we know about, we’d be remiss to forget the many projects surrounding the Multiverse Saga’s answers to Infinity War and Endgame, which could very well capture our hearts from out of left field.

On the official Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures release schedule, which was made public just a few days ago, we learned that three mysterious MCU films would be released in the midst of The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars; three of which will release between the two marquee features, with the remaining two releasing in 2026 after Secret Wars makes its theatrical bow.

The MCU fandom, known for their keenness when it comes to fan theories, has no doubt ravaged Reddit with countless daydreams already, but we’re no strangers to speculation ourselves, and now, with nothing but a set number of untitled Marvel projects and a boundless whim, we’ve taken to theorizing who and what could feature in the films surrounding the end of the Multiverse Saga.

Armor Wars and Shang-Chi sequel

Let’s get what we know out of the way first; we know for sure that an Armor Wars film and a sequel to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be gracing us before long, otherwise we likely wouldn’t have the information we have on the projects, such as the writers, producers, and, of course, titles.

Armor Wars was originally intended to be a television series, keeping Yassir Lester as the scribe with Nate Moore and the ever-present Kevin Feige producing, so we imagine there’s quite a bit of confirmed narrative meat in the project already. Since it will be starring one of the MCU’s seasoned veterans in Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes, we assume this will tee up the character to take on a leader-esque role in Secret Wars.

Not only that, but we also know that the film will follow the events of Secret Invasion, which will grace us with a Disney Plus release date any day now. So, barring the up-in-the-air odds that Armor Wars serves as a prequel film a la Captain Marvel, we imagine that Armor Wars could easily sneak its way into one of the three slots between The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars, since a sequel film to Secret Invasion would warrant a minimum amount of in-universe time having passed between the events of the two projects. The only asterisk, however, is whether or not “untitled Marvel” would rule out Armor Wars or the Shang-Chi sequel, but with both of these projects obviously drawing nearer and nearer, we’ll hedge our bets that they’re fair game.

Speaking of the Shang-Chi sequel, this one is practically a shoe-in for one of three slots between The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars; Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton is also confirmed to be helming and writing the Shang-Chi sequel, but more importantly, he’ll also be occupying the director’s chair for The Kang Dynasty. Given his already-established history with Shang-Chi, his directorial presence on The Kang Dynasty leads us to believe that the character will be playing an enormous role in the Multiverse Saga’s first big crossover project, which would logically lead into an even bigger role in Secret Wars, and the best way to beef up such a rise in prominence would be another solo outing between the two films.

Only time will tell for sure, but we’ll be very surprised if the Shang-Chi sequel doesn’t end up making a splash prior to Secret Wars.

Untitled Scarlett Johansson-produced project

Per The Hollywood Reporter, we know that Marvel Studios is working on an egregiously hushed project that, at the time of writing, only has one piece of available info surrounding it; that Scarlett Johansson, an MCU icon known for her turn as Black Widow, will serve as a producer.

Admittedly, we’re not quite sure if the project is a film or a television series, but we’re going to assume it’s a film solely for the sake of this fan theory plunge.

Having played a pivotal role in paving the way for female representation in the MCU, we imagine Scarlett Johansson’s presence as a producer lends itself quite well to the possibility that we’ll get a film featuring some of Marvel’s leading ladies, and with so many of them gearing up for an explosive presence in the Multiverse Saga, there’s quite a few possibilities.

The easiest assumption would be a Kate Bishop solo movie, or a team-up film between Kate and Yelena Belova, a pairing that fans have been begging for since we first saw their uncontested chemistry in the Disney Plus series Hawkeye. The two heroines have the closest ties to Johansson’s Black Widow; Yelena through adoptive sisterhood and Kate Bishop through association with her mentor, Clint Barton, and with Kate set to fill Clint’s shoes in the next generation of Avengers, fleshing her out a bit more would be a welcome move either before or after Secret Wars.

As for filling that third spot between The Kang Dynasty, though, Marvel would be wise to go a bit bigger than that, and tap Johansson to produce a Young Avengers film, which could unite the likes of Kate, Ms. Marvel, America Chavez, Cassie Lang, and others for a regroup/team-up round of shenanigans before they throw themselves into the lion’s den that is Secret Wars.

Indeed, the Young Avengers will, refreshingly, no doubt have a much larger feminine presence than the team’s first iteration, and who better to call the shots on their first film together than the original lineup’s premier heroine?

Doctor Strange 3/Midnight Sons

As we’ve speculated before, we’re being extra careful in our anticipation for a Midnight Sons MCU project; the stage is getting set, to be sure, but at the moment, it’s being done in such a slow, sneaky way, that we won’t hold our breath for this one until after Secret Wars, which just happens to be in the ballpark that we’re speculating in.

In hindsight, it might make more sense to predict a third Doctor Strange outing before jumping right into the idea of Midnight Sons, but we’re already too far gone with this one, so let us lay the pieces before you.

We’ve already got Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night, and Elsa Bloodstone tied firmly (some more firm than others) into the MCU canon, and the team is only growing with every passing day, with Blade and Wolverine set to join the party come 2024. On top of that, Phase Four MVP Wong has a comics history with the Midnight Sons as well, and could very well join Doctor Strange and the rest of these supernatural misfits when the time comes. And, of course, the appearance of Ghost Rider seems like just a matter of time at this point, and whether he’s brought in by way of Doctor Strange or the Fantastic Four, his road will no doubt lead to a Midnight Sons crossover.

The most likely scenario is that the third Doctor Strange film will fill one of the two slots following Secret Wars, which will effectively kick off the Midnight Sons storyline that we seem to be gearing up for, since Strange’s venture into the Dark Dimension will set the stage for a darker ethos that only this team could inhabit. So, in conclusion, Doctor Strange 3 is our technical answer, but Midnight Sons is our starry-eyed answer.

Howard the Duck

Okay, hear me out; an MCU Howard the Duck project needs to happen. Not only does this character need all the justice in the world after that cinematic tragedy back in the ’80s, but he’s the perfect springboard to launch the MCU into brand-new territories; an act that the studio has long been mingling with since the start of Phase Four, and one that Howard in particular would bolster magnificently following the events of Secret Wars.

The character of Howard the Duck (who, by the way, already exists in the MCU canon, having participated in the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame), is a character rooted in satire, which hasn’t quite found its way into the MCU just yet. The franchise’s overarching comedic tones and projects like She-Hulk arguably flirt with this a tiny bit, but the series hasn’t come close to engaging with full-blown satire as the focal point of any project’s genre.

But, with the franchise toying with realms like horror and teen comedies while also venturing into riskier, more adult themes in projects like Moon Knight, we can envision that, by the time Secret Wars has come and gone, Marvel will be all in on embracing the genre Frankenstein that is superhero stories. And with the safety of the world’s familiarity being very much not guaranteed come Secret Wars, what better way to introduce a newly-shattered multiverse, no doubt ripe with existentialist themes that Howard so often toys with, than by jumping into a curveball like Howard the Duck?

Just imagine: a solo outing for a character who’s been around since the Infinity Saga, one who helped fight against Thanos, spearheading the MCU’s first foray into full-blown satire and existentialism in a way that only a character of his caliber could do. Toss in some directorial efforts from Adam McKay with voice acting from Warwick Davis, and you’ve got yourself a film that could draw in even the most snobbish of Marvel detractors.

We cannot, as a society, allow Howard the Duck’s cinematic legacy to stop at four Razzie Awards. I’m officially calling on Marvel to give the misanthropic mallard the resurgence that the world needs, and quite possibly deserves.

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