Guardians Of The Galaxy was just the beginning. Marvel fans most certainly noticed how little the space adventure film had to do with the already-established Marvel universe. And while the movie definitely happened in the timeline, recent news suggests that Marvel's space properties could exist in their own realm, a separate mythology that crosses over only briefly with the rest of the Marvel films. After all, not every superpowered being can be an Avenger.
So, here is the theory, based on rumors, guesswork and a few hunches: Guardians Of The Galaxy is to Marvel's space lineup as Iron Man was to Marvel's "Phase 1": a reminder to its hero(es) that there's a "bigger universe" out there. And with the news about a writer for Inhumans came word that the studio was interested in building "a multiple-film cosmic universe." So what are these films?
Not only do we think we know what at least five of these movies might be, we also know the purpose. Just as Marvel's Earthbound movies keep leading to Avengers films (and just as the Netflix series' will build to The Defenders), the cosmic lineup will build to its own massive interstellar event. What will that event be? Read on, and you'll find out, True Believer!
Note: We do believe that Marvel is interested in a Captain Marvel film, and knowing that she earns her power from Kree soldiers, we considered putting that movie on this list. A Captain Marvel film would give viewers a chance to explore the Kree kingdom in a bit more detail. But she's also likely to join the Avengers and have several Earthbound adventures. As such, Captain Marvel could be one film that unites several different Marvel films.
InhumansThe first domino to fall, Inhumans already has a writer, and may even already have a leading man in Vin Diesel. The characters are basically ancient human lab rats, experiments of the Kree that eventually evolved and formed their own society. In the onscreen Marvel universe, they'd essentially function as "mutants", though their influence would affect the spaceways, and not the Earthbound characters. This would also be an opportunity to establish Black Bolt as a major player in the Marvel universe, and a focus on the Inhuman Royal Family could make this Marvel's answer to Game Of Thrones. And given Quicksilver's association with the Inhumans in the comics (at one point, he had stolen Terrigen Mists from them, which is essentially the greatest Inhuman resource), you have an excuse to tie this film in with Age Of Ultron.
Adam WarlockIn the comics, the evil Thanos is frequently in pursuit of the Infinity Gems (Infinity Stones in the movies). And the strongest force in his way has got to be Adam Warlock. This suave space hero is also the result of an experiment, a creation meant to mimic the ideal man, only for evolution to allow the character to blossom into much more than just a man. Warlock eventually becomes a guardian of the Infinity Stones, forming the Infinity Watch to keep them from being united, to save the universe from the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, a powerful glove that requires all Stones to operate. He was reportedly within the cocoon on display in The Collector's trophy room, and may even be Star-Lord's dad. While his comic persona is relatively dry, the movies seem to have a lot of options, should they choose to develop him. This is, basically, a role for a very handsome leading man. Simon Baker would be an amazing choice were he more bankable. Because he is not, we're all willing to discuss suggestions.
NovaThe Nova Corps are major players in Guardians Of The Galaxy, a noble militarized police force who protect Xandar from outside threats. But they're pretty unreachable characters right now, avatars for justice and little else. This could all change if they introduce a Nova that comes from Earth, specifically Richard Rider. Rider's origin involves him being imbued with the powers and responsibilities of a Nova Corps member by a dying Rhomann Dey (John C. Reilly). You'll notice some similarities with Green Lantern, but one of that film's eight billion problems was setting up that universe and explaining the various rules and conditions. Since we've already met a few Nova Corps members, we're really good to go, and can have Rider (or perhaps the younger Sam Alexander from the comics) learning the ropes alongside a cast that would include Reilly, Glenn Close and Peter Serafinowicz.
Howard The DuckHoward The Duck, who has a forty-plus years existence in the comics, is a beloved character, a snarky cigar-smoking space-traveler who sarcastically travels the space-ways, defending himself through the use of "quack-fu." Oddly enough, with one tiny appearance after the credits in Guardians Of The Galaxy, he's made more of an impression than when he had his own George Lucas-produced film, as he did in the 80's. Other than brand experimentation and vague name-recognition, there's not that much value to making a Howard The Duck movie, though Guardians director James Gunn did leave the door open by saying, "If people think that’s going to lead to a Howard The Duck movie... that’s probably not going to happen in the next four years. Who knows after that?" But Howard's universe, and more importantly, his sense of humor, would be the real lure. He could also serve as something of a tour guide through the intergalactic world of Marvel, a cheaper one-shot film that has him getting into adventures with, say, the High Evolutionary, with Michael Rooker's Yondu, with the telepathic dog Cosmo, or perhaps Benicio Del Toro's Tanleer Tivan?
Infinity WatchJust as the Marvel universe builds to Avengers, the cosmic Marvel world would build up to the Infinity Watch, where Adam Warlock would finally secure all Infinity Stones and delegate a group to protect them. Naturally, these plans go awry because of the corrupting influence of the Stones, so Warlock's leadership skills would be the driving force behind this story. In the comics, Warlock, Drax and Gamora are three of the members of the team, in addition to Drax's wife Moondragon, Pip The Troll, Maxam and, believe it or not, Thanos. For the sake of the film universe, there's no reason why a couple of those characters couldn't be replaced by Black Bolt (or maybe his non-mute wife Medusa), Tanleer Tivan and maybe even Nova. Better yet, you could build a mystery around the final member of the Watch: in the comics, the fact that Thanos was "trusted" with one of the Stones was kept a secret from the readers as well as the other members of the Watch themselves. The movies could pull the same trick, or the final member of the Watch could be an even more unlikely character. Maybe Howard The Duck was introduced for a very specific reason.