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The brutal ending to Avengers: Infinity War quite literally broke the Marvel Cinematic Universe in half, and while all of us fans are still obsessing over how it'll all be put back together in Avengers 4, the higher-ups at Marvel Studios and Disney are already thinking about Phase 4. The next set of films is still a huge mystery, and in an earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that they might table the Avengers franchise for awhile and replace it with something new. That's a pretty big bombshell just to drop right there in the boardroom, but it's certainly an intriguing clue as to what we can expect the MCU to look like in a few years.
The Avengers may be the No. 1 team of Marvel Comics, but there is no shortage of superhero teams -- and only half of them are Avengers spin-offs! Whether these teams are capable of being the new blockbuster franchise cornerstone of the MCU is up for debate, but Marvel has certainly exceeded expectations before. (Groot has made me cry twice now). Here are seven teams that could potentially replace the Avengers.
The most obvious one with probably the least imaginative name, but it's right on the money. After the Avengers had broken up in the comics after a tragedy, they later reformed with an all-star lineup that included popular characters that had never been on the team before, like Spider-Man and Wolverine. The book was a big attempt by Marvel to bring the Avengers to the forefront and it worked, spawning a huge line of relaunches and spin-offs. While a movie version of the team couldn't have the exact same lineup, it would need to capture the overall energy and spirit of the books: a fresh start for Earth's mightiest.
Who says the heroes are the ones who need all the focus? Suicide Squad worked out well for Warner Bros., so maybe it's time for Marvel Studios to cash in with their own super villain team. The Thunderbolts are a group of villains who pretended to be heroes, only for some of them to actually reform. The team then became a program to rehabilitate imprisoned super-villains by sending them out on missions to do some good. The MCU actually has a lot of opportunities to do this at the moment. They've got a super prison in the form of the Raft, and Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross is in a perfect position set this team up. Additionally, Zemo, who founded the team in the comics, is notably still alive. True, the MCU is always light on villains, but there's no reason they can't just introduce a few new ones right off the bat. Or they can finally bring Abomination out of storage.
West Coast Avengers
When in doubt, move to California. The West Coast Avengers is just as it sounds: Avengers but on the West Coast. The West Coast Avengers was the first spin-off comic of the main team and the original lineup featured Hawkeye, Iron Man (James Rhodes), Mockingbird, Tigra, and Wonder Man. They went on similar adventures as the main team, stopping a few familiar villains while tackling some new ones all their own. The team itself had more of B-team vibe that rose to meet the odds, which could make for an interesting concept for a movie, as a new group of heroes tries to fill the gap left behind by the original Avengers (who I'm assuming are all splitting after Avengers 4). If anything, a move to California might be worth it for the locale change.
Even if this one doesn't end up being the main Avengers franchise, I still have a really strong feeling that the Young Avengers are happening one way or another. The team was essentially a group of teenagers who each had some kind of relation to an Avenger -- be it a child or a secret child accidentally brought into existence with reality-altering powers -- and wanted to fill the gap left when the adult team disbanded. It was praised at the time for depicting modern teenage characters, which would make a great concept for a movie. Spider-Man: Homecoming showed how important it is to depict realistic and diverse teenagers, and Young Avengers could do the same, albeit in a less grounded way. The movie also presents the opportunity to introduce a bunch of new characters like Kate Bishop, Wiccan, and Hulkling, and I'd be lying if I said Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) wouldn't be a perfect fit.
The Champions are, admittedly, very similar to the Young Avengers. They are a team of super-powered teenagers striking out on their own, but the difference is that they do it because they feel they can do a better job than the Avengers, who at the time were busy having a second civil war. The Champions are much more socially-minded and actively go out to make the world a better place, whether that means providing disaster relief or just setting a good example, which could make for an interesting subject for a movie. The team was made up of characters like Kamala Khan, Miles Morales, Nova, and the Vision's daughter, Viv Vision.
This is the one I think has the strongest shot both for its name and how it ups the stakes. Originally a part of Marvel's initiative to introduce readers to comics with zero continuity, The Ultimates was a more modern (at the time) and edgier version of the Avengers. A lot of elements of this team and the Ultimate universe as a whole have already served as major inspiration for the early days of the MCU, so we wouldn't really be getting this exact team. Also, I hate the Ultimates, mostly because everyone is really unlikable. If there were to be an Ultimates movie, it would be better to base it off an entirely different team with the same name. These Ultimates consisted of the likes of Black Panther and Captain Marvel and they tackled massively dangerous threats on a cosmic scale that no one else could, making for a pretty good blockbuster. Their first mission was to cure Galactus of his ravenous hunger for planets, which is just a small taste of what they were up against.
*The Fantastic Four *
This one is a bit of a long shot at the moment, but with the way the Disney-Fox deal is going, it looks likely that the Fantastic Four are heading to the MCU. If that's the case, they would make for a pretty sweet franchise, though maybe not on the scale of Avengers. The Fantastic Four has never quite been done justice on the big screen and it would be great to finally see Marvel take a swing at it. The group allows for family-focused adventures in heavy sci-fi settings, which you think would just print its own money. Again, this wouldn't happen for years, but it's something worth considering.