Exciting news came recently when it was announced that a new film, Thunderbolts, is in the works, uniting a team of villains and anti-heroes from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jake Schreir is set to direct with Eric Pearson penning the screenplay – as he also did for Black Widow – and filming will supposedly begin next year. This is just the latest in new developments from Marvel as Wonder Man was also announced as a Disney + series in the works. Thunderbolts are an important team in the comics, yet there are plenty of other exciting and interesting groups yet to be featured in the MCU – though for some, that might be changing soon.
Unfortunately, one of Marvel’s most iconic teams was held up in contract and rights negotiations for years, and thus haven’t been introduced in the MCU. Without the likes of Spider-Man and the X-Men from the beginning, the MCU had to rely on less popular characters like Iron Man and Captain America – but it worked to their advantage and those heroes have become iconic. However, the door is finally now open to bring in the X-Men, and all of its offshoots. There is currently a mutant-centric film in the works, but little is known about it.
Since the announcement that Disney had acquired Fox, and thus ownership to the X-Men reverted to Marvel, fans have been theorizing about when and how they will be introduced. Many expected it in WandaVision – perhaps as a reverse House of M ordeal – while others proposed Eternals could do it. It all came to a head in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness when Patrick Stewart reprised his role as Charles Xavier. Whether the MCU’s X-Men at all resemble Fox’s or not, it seems guaranteed that they will soon be part of the MCU.
9 Fantastic Four
Like the X-Men, Marvel’s first Family, the Fantastic Four, were prevented from appearing in the MCU by Fox. This was despite three previous attempts at Fantastic Four films in the past two decades – both of which’s Human Torches, Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan, found better footing later as popular parts of the MCU. Unlike the X-Men, however, they are far easier to integrate officially into this mass universe.
Of course, most recently John Krasinski cameoed as Reed Richards, aka Mister Fantastic, in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as a member of Earth-838’s Illuminati. He did have the iconic 4 on his costume, implying the Fantastic Four exist in this world – and different Multiverse of Madness easter eggs corroborate that. However, they are clearly not part of the main continuity on Earth-616, and despite losing their director, Fantastic Four is still set to likely close out Phase Four probably in 2024.
8 Young Avengers
Several projects in Phase Four, especially 0n Disney +, have introduced heroes who fans are expecting to team up as the Young Avengers. So far, there’s been Wiccan and Speed in WandaVisionPatriot in The Falcon and the Winter SoldierKid Loki in LokiKate Bishop in Hawkeyeand America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, could also join the team and Cassie Lang, aka Stature / Stinger, is set to feature heavily in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. That only leaves a few important other members, Hulkling, Marvel Boy, and Iron Lad– and each could be arriving soon. Hulking is theorized to be part of Secret Invasionand Marvel Boy could likely arrive in The Marvels. Iron Lad poses an intriguing thought since he is actually Kang the Conqueror in his youth, so he could come in as part of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania too.
7 Dark Avengers
The Thunderbolts are a unique group among the throng of supervillain groups like the Masters of Evil as over the years they had become more of an anti-hero team. The team did become more and more heroic as the years went on – that is until following the Secret Skull Invasion, Norman Osborn took control and transformed it into the Dark Avengers.
He reorganized the team to literally mimic the Avengers, bringing in several iconic villains to serve as his heroes: himself as Iron Patriot, the amalgamation of Iron Man and Captain America; Venom as Spider-Man; Moonstone as Ms. Marvel; Bullseye as Hawkeye; and Daken as Wolverine. Interestingly he also recruited Noh-Varr, until the young hero realized Osborn’s nefarious machinations, as the new Captain Marvel. Perhaps the MCU’s Thunderbolts will go through a similar transformation, or they might be framed this way from the start.
6 Alpha Flight
A highlight from the finale of Moon Knight was the introduction of a new international hero with Layla’s transformation into the Scarlet Scarab – following off from Red Guardian’s introduction in Black Widow. One of Marvel’s most powerful and unique teams is also not based in America. Alpha Flight, is Canada’s equivalent to the Avengers and they deserve their time in the spotlight in the MCU. They are connected to Wolverine’s backstory, so when he arrives, they could follow shortly.
There are several cool members such as Sasquatch, Snowbird, Aurora, and Northstar, who is, importantly, one of the first openly gay characters in comics history. They might not be the most well-known set of heroes to casual fans, but they would certainly make for an enticing Disney + series sometime down the line.
While the final battle against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame is one thrilling moment after another, there was one sequence which received mixed response from fans. This would be the moment when Captain Marvel is joined by her fellow superheroines as she takes the Infinity Gauntlet. While it was certainly exciting at the time, it only lasted a minute – some equated it to pandering, while others are still demanding the MCU actually uses the female heroes as a team in an A-Force film.
A-Force is the all-female contingent of heroes led by She-Hulk that first launched in 2015 – interestingly as part of the Secret Wars storyline. Since that is what many believe Phase Four is leading to, so hopefully A-Force will be given their rightful time in the limelight.
4 Agents of Atlas
Ant-Man and the Wasp introduced Randall Park as the hilarious Agent Jimmy Woo. In the MCU, he works for the FBI rather than SHIELD, but he could be brought back again to introduce another great team of heroes, the Agents of Atlas. In fact, Park is already on board to do so for a Disney + series.
The team was initially an amalgamation of several unrelated characters from Marvel’s predecessor ‘Atlas Company, but it was reintroduced in 2019, bringing in several Asian and Asian-American heroes. Among the roster are popular heroes like Amadeus Cho, Silk, Shang-Chi, and Ms. Marvel. Continuing the good work of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ringsan Agents of Atlas series would be a welcome sight in featuring more POC heroes.
3 Midnight Sons
Excitingly with Moon Knight and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessmore and more of Marvel’s supernatural and horror-centric stories are being introduced into the MCU – with the upcoming Werewolf by Night Halloween special set to continue the trend. With this, the Midnight Sons are likely to be introduced eventually.
Several Midnight Sons members are already part of the MCU or will be soon – including Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Blade, Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night, and Elsa Bloodstone. Whether introduced before the team-up or as part of it, other fan favorites from the Midnight Sons can get their official integration in the MCU, such as Ghost Rider, Hellstrom, Man-Thing, and Brother Voodoo.
2 The Cabal
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduced Earth-838’s version of the Illuminati, the maybe-not-so-secret organization that protects its universe from multiversal incursions. The Illuminati won’t likely feature in future MCU films, since Doctor Strange saw their flaws and hubris take them down one by one. However, their villainous counterpart could still have a life in the films and tv shows.
The Cabal was formed following the Secret Invasion arc and consisted of Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, Loki, Namor, Norman Osborn, and The Hood. This might take a while to come together since Loki is back to being a more heroic figure and Norman Osborn apparently does not exist on Earth-616. However, Namor is set to appear soon in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Doctor Doom will likely be introduced along with his nemeses the Fantastic Four.
1 Pet Avengers
Several teams throughout Marvel comics have been a collection of sidekicks or proteges, but only one is made of the heroes’ fantastic animal companions. The Pet Avengers were formed in a 2010 limited series and featured Lockjaw, the Inhuman Royal family’s pet who can teleport, gathering the infinity stones, forming the team along the way.
He was joined by Speedball’s cat, Hairball; Kitty Pryde’s alien dragon, Lockheed; Falcon’s falcon, redwing; Ka-Zar’s smilodon, Zabu; Aunt May’s dog, Ms. Lion; and Frog Thor aka Throg. The latter was already teased as an easter egg in Loki, and Lockjaw would definitely feature in an inhuman-centric project – though Redwing is a drone in the MCU. However, in the future, it would be entertaining to watch a show in the vein of I am Groot about these characters, as well as bringing in the likes of Cosmo the Spacedog, Alligator Loki, Morris, Ant-Thony, Pizza Dog, and Goose.
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