After Avengers: Endgame delivered a blockbuster ending to the Infinity Saga, fans have been eagerly awaiting answers as to what the next era of Marvel storytelling looks like. Between Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the MCU appears to be in the midst of an all-new Multiverse Saga - one which appears to be leading to Secret Wars.
The famous crossover may be Marvel Comics' biggest Multiverse event as it saw universes fused together, via incursions, to create Battleworld, a place where heroes and villains were forced to fight for the survival of their worlds. Multiverse of Madness began to set the stage for that event as it introduced the concept of incursions and teased them to be integral to Doctor Strange's next outing.
With Secret Wars being a story all about the Multiverse and Variants, the possibilities are truly endless for which characters and actors could appear and return. But who's the most likely to be back for Secret Wars?
Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson's Captain America
Just as Steve Rogers once was, Sam Wilson will soon be at the forefront of the MCU as he takes up a bigger role in The Avengers moving forward. It remains to be seen whether Wilson will serve as the next leader of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but he would undoubtedly have one of the largest roles in Secret Wars.
Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange has essentially replaced Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man as the leading man of the MCU. After appearances in both Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Strange is the expert on all things Multiverse, and his expertise will no doubt be invaluable to the Avengers.
Xochitl Gomez- America Chavez
Doctor Strange 2 established another character with close connections to the Multiverse: America Chavez. With her powers giving her the ability for Multiversal travel, Strange may bring her along for the ride to assist the Avengers, particularly now that she'll have learned some magic at Kamar-Taj.
Simu Liu - Shang-Chi
Simu Liu's Shang-Chi proved to be a popular addition to the MCU when he debuted in his 2021 solo outing. After being introduced to Avengers like Captain Marvel and Hulk in his post-credits scene, the martial arts expert will undoubtedly have an important part to play in the next major crossover.
Tom Holland - Spider-Man
Due to the complicated rights issues with Sony, Tom Holland's Spider-Man doesn't get to crossover into the MCU often, but there's no doubt he will be present for an event on this scale. Secret Wars was famously the event that debuted the wall-crawler's black suit, something which may be translated to live-action after the No Way Home post-credits scene saw a Symbiote crawling into the MCU.
Brie Larson - Captain Marvel
Brie Larson's Captain Marvel sits among the most powerful heroes in the MCU, as she proved in the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. The Kree hero will probably be part of the MCU's Big Three heroes moving forward, making an appearance in Secret Wars almost certain.
Danai Gurira - Okoye
Many were surprised when Okoye and the Wakandans had an unexpectedly important part to play in Avengers: Infinity War, and she may well do the same in Secret Wars. Rumors have suggested Danai Gurira's warrior may even be getting her own Disney+ series, which only furthers the chances her MCU role will continue to grow moving forward.
Charlize Theron - Clea
Multiverse of Madness introduced audiences to Charlize Theron's Clea, a powerful sorceress and potential love interest for Doctor Strange. With the niece of Dormammu having been the one to alert Strange to an incursion he has caused, she may have a role to play in Secret Wars, an event all about said incursions.
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Loki's finale saw the God of Mischief and his Variant Sylvie being responsible for the unraveling of the Multiverse, which may open the doors to his appearance in Secret Wars. Having now had his most significant redemption arc to date, it would be intriguing to see how he interacts with his former Avenging foes as a more heroic figure.
Jonathan Majors - Kang the Conqueror
Speaking of Loki, the Disney+ series established Kang the Conqueror as the biggest threat facing the Multiverse, meaning he may well be the villain of the MCU's Secret Wars adaptation. Jonathan Majors' time-traveler will next be seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania which may offer more hints about the event.
Paul Rudd - Ant-Man
Ant-Man and his Quantum Realm expertise played a surprisingly important role in Avengers: Endgame, and he will soon lead his next adventure in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. With the shrinking sequel set to feature Kang, who may well be the villain of Secret Wars, Ant-Man could slot in with ease.
Evangeline Lilly - Wasp
Where there's an Ant-Man, there's a Wasp, meaning the chances of Evangeline Lilly returning for Secret Wars largely depends on whether Paul Rudd does. The shrinking duo were two of the founding Avengers in Marvel Comics - perhaps they may be more important to this new era of the team than they were the first.
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Chris Hemsworth has had one of the longest MCU careers, and his journey will soon continue in Thor: Love and Thunder. Until that movie releases, there's no telling what his future will look like, but the Australian actor has reaffirmed his commitment to sticking around in the MCU, meaning he will probably be in Secret Wars unless he surprisingly says his goodbyes in Love and Thunder.
Mark Ruffalo- Hulk
Much like Thor, there's no telling where the MCU will be taking Bruce Banner, aka Hulk, after She-Hulk. The Avenger was last seen in the Shang-Chi post-credits scene, offering his consultation regarding the origin of the Ten Rings. Whether it's as the gamma-green monster or the smartest man in the MCU, Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner is a safe bet for Secret Wars.
Natalie Portman - Jane Foster
Thor: Love and Thunder will see Jane Foster transform into a hero of her own right as she becomes The Mighty Thor. When Foster became the Goddess of Thunder in the comics, she also joined the Avengers, meaning she may soon team up with Thor and his other teammates for some Multiversal action.
Sophia DiMartino - Sylvie
Just as Nebula ended up being unexpectedly integral to Infinity War and Endgame due to her connection to Thanos, Sylvie could do the same for Secret Wars thanks to the role she played in opening up the Multiverse. But there's no doubt the Loki Variant wouldn't exactly be popular with her fellow MCU characters after she was almost single-handedly responsible for the chaos unfolding.
Sebastian Stan - Bucky
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier transformed Sam Wilson into Captain America, but it left Bucky Barnes at a curious point. He has undoubtedly completed his redemption arc, but he still appears to be going by the Winter Soldier - a confusing paradigm that ought to see some resolution in Captain America 4 before Secret Wars, where he could meet his demise after over a decade in the MCU.
Benedict Wong- Wong
Almost nobody could have guessed after Doctor Strange that Wong would have the most appearances in Phase 4, right? After She-Hulk, the sorcerer will be sitting at four Phase 4 appearances, which look to be setting him up as the Nick Fury of the supernatural side of things. With that many appearances under the belt of the Multiverse expert, it would be a shame if he missed out on Secret Wars.
Teyonah Parris - Monica Rambeau
Monica Rambeau will soon reappear after WandaVision in The Marvels, a team-up that ought to cement her heroic identity and begin to establish her as the latest addition to The Avengers. Past rumors indicated that the Captain Marvel sequel may tease the direction of the next generation of Avengers, indicating Rambeau could be a part of that future.
Iman Vellani - Ms. Marvel
On the same front as Rambeau, Ms. Marvel will soon debut in her own Disney+ series before teaming up with other heroes in The Marvels. But there's always a chance Ms. Marvel will remain absent from the main Avengers franchise as she instead plays a role in the Young Avengers or Champions.
Letitia Wright - Shuri
The Black Panther will no doubt be a major player in Secret Wars, and all evidence looks to be indicating Shuri will succeed T'Challa in that mantle. Even if she loses out on the mantle to another Wakandan, Shuri will surely be present as one of the smartest people in the Marvel universe and a key player in Wakanda.
Winston Duke - M’Baku
Winston Duke's M'Baku has been another widely discussed contender for the Black Panther mantle, making him a top candidate for a role in Secret Wars. But whether he appears in the Multiversal event probably hinges on him receiving the prestigious heroic title in Wakanda Forever.
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers' Captain America
Chris Evans' Steve Rogers survived the events of Endgame to return to the 20th century to live out his life with Peggy Carter, seemingly marking his departure from the Marvel role. Since then, reports have indicated Evans is eyeing a return to the MCU in an upcoming project, and that could be Secret Wars, either as a Variant or his older self.
Robert Downey Jr. - Iron Man
Fans were shocked and saddened when Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man said farewell to the MCU with his famous universe-saving snap. Many have since been wondering if or when Iron Man will be back, and Secret Wars appears to offer the perfect opportunity for that. But who knows whether Downey Jr. would be up for it, perhaps another actor, such as Tom Cruise, may appear as a Variant.
Scarlett Johansson - Black Widow
Much like Iron Man, Black Widow seems like a surefire guess to make a jaw-dropping comeback in Secret Wars. Scarlett Johansson did recently go through a lawsuit with Disney over Black Widow's Disney+ release, but they appear to have made up with the actress now serving as a producer on an upcoming MCU project.
Oscar Isaac - Moon Knight
Oscar Isaac's Moon Knight debuted in the MCU's most standalone outing since Iron Man, but he probably won't remain a solo hero forever as he joins up with the Avengers. One can only imagine the fun of seeing both Marc Spector and Steven Grant interact with their fellow heroes, and perhaps Secret Wars may be the first time he does that.
Mahershala Ali - Blade
Blade has yet to actually make his first proper appearance in the MCU, something that may hinder his chances of appearing in Secret Wars, but he has already started interlinking with the MCU. The vampire hunter spoke to Dane Whitman in the Eternals post-credits scene, since he has already begun making connections outside his franchise, there may be more to come on a bigger scale.
Tatiana Maslany - She-Hulk
With her Disney+ series right around the corner, She-Hulk will soon join the MCU. The gamma-infused hero already has connections to the wider world through her Avenger cousin Bruce Banner and her career as a superhero lawyer, giving her a reasonable chance of crossing over with other heroes down the line.
Don Cheadle - War Machine
Having spent years playing second fiddle to Iron Man, War Machine is now getting his own Disney+ show, Armor Wars, which may lead to him stepping up into more of a leading role in the MCU. Rhodey has also appeared in every Avengers film since Age of Ultron in a minor capacity, and Secret Wars may well be the same, even with Tony Stark now out of the picture.
May Calamawy - Scarlet Scarab
Layla El-Faouly became the Scarlet Scarab in the season finale of Moon Knight, but it's unclear what the future holds for her as the heroic protector of Egypt. With so many characters to fit into Secret Wars, the Egyptian hero seems unlikely to make the cut. Then again, Layla did prove popular with fans after her Disney+ debut.
Hayley Atwell - Captain Carter
Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter made the jump from animation to live-action for Multiverse of Madness, and even though she was sliced with the shield, there are plenty more Variants of her out there. Rumor has it there may even be a Captain Carter movie in the works, indicating Marvel Studios has an interest in pursuing this character further in live-action.
The Guardians of the Galaxy
After the Guardians of the Galaxy joined the Avengers for the battle against Thanos, most would assume they'd be a safe bet for Secret Wars. But the issue is that it's rather unclear what the status of the team will be after Vol. 3 - with the Guardians expected to either be replaced with a new roster or retired altogether after the film.
The Eternals have been left across the galaxy after their ensemble debut - with several taken by Arishem and the others traveling the galaxy. If this cliffhanger can be resolved before Secret Wars, then there's a chance they will play a similar role to that of the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War.
Jeremy Renner - Hawkeye
By all accounts, Hawkeye, at least as we know him, appears to have been retired from the MCU. As his Disney+ show opened, the archer had already said farewell to his heroic lifestyle, and by the end of the series, the torch and mantle had been passed to Kate Bishop, indicating a potential step back from the universe for Jeremy Renner.
Hailee Steinfeld - Kate Bishop
Speaking of Kate Bishop, she stands a slightly higher chance of appearing in Secret Wars. Unlike Clint, Kate is expected to remain active as a hero in the MCU, although her future is expected to be with the Young Avengers, as opposed to the main team.
Charlie Cox - Daredevil
With Daredevil very much being a street-level hero, it's hard to imagine him fitting into a blockbuster Multiverse event. Charlie Cox's blind lawyer has shot up in popularity in recent years and there is comic precedent for Daredevil joining the Avengers, so perhaps if his series comes before Secret Wars then he may make an appearance.
Florence Pugh - Yelena Belova
The MCU looks to be setting up Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova to become the next Black Widow, potentially indicating she may one day be an Avenger. Yelena still has a long way to go before she has been completely redeemed, and since she was last seen trying to kill Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, an Avenger, it's hard to imagine her joining the team anytime soon.
Elizabeth Olsen - Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch is in a confusing position in the MCU at the moment, as Doctor Strange 2 left it unclear whether she was dead or alive. Either way, Wanda may need some time out of the MCU after her villainous turn to avoid destroying the impact of that movie, and Secret Wars may either come too soon for that or be the perfect opportunity to bring her back.
Paul Bettany - Vision
After WandaVision, the future of Vision in the MCU is less clear than ever. The Vibranium synthezoid met his demise in Infinity War, but a rebuilt version with all the memories of the original is now roaming the world, and there's no clear place for him to appear next. Because of this lack of clarity, it's impossible to determine whether White Vision will ever unite with the Avengers
Owen Wilson - Mobius
Given the role Loki and the TVA played in opening up the Multiverse, Owen Wilson's Mobius could appear in Secret Wars. With Kang ruling over the TVA and Mobius occupying a significant role in the organization, an appearance from him to offer his insight to the team is far from out of the question..
Ryan Reynolds - Deadpool
Secret Wars is an event that sees an incursion between multiple universes and the heroes of each are then forced to battle it out. If one of those universes were to be the Fox X-Men world, then there would be a clear path to bring Deadpool into the MCU and destroy that reality altogether.
Josh Brolin - Thanos
Thanos largely completed his MCU arc with his final showdown with the Avengers in Endgame, but that's not to say the character has to be gone forever. The Mad Titan already showed up in What If...?, his corpse was spotted in Multiverse of Madness, and he was rumored to appear in Eternals. Perhaps a Variant from another universe may pop up in Secret Wars.
Kathryn Hahn - Agatha Harkness
WandaVision's villainous witch Agatha Harkness may seem like an odd contender to appear in Secret Wars, but there is some basis for believing she might. Her magical experience ought to make her somewhat knowledgeable when it comes to the Multiverse, and Marvel Studios clearly wants to turn her into a lead of her own as she will soon feature in her own Disney+ series.
Jeffrey Wright - The Watcher
Jeffrey Wright's The Watcher made his debut in What If...?, and fans have since been clamoring for him to make the jump to live-action. With him being the overseer of the Multiverse, it makes sense that he would be observing an event on the scale of Secret Wars. Perhaps he could even deliver his iconic What If...? narration through the big-screen event.
Tessa Thompson - Valkyrie
As the ruler of New Asgard, Valkyrie ought to have a much more influential role in the MCU moving forward, one which will become much clearer after Love and Thunder. Much like in Endgame, any role she may have in Secret Wars would probably be contained to a brief action moment, but it's unclear how much fighting she'll be doing herself now that she's ruling New Asgard.
Kathryn Newton - Cassie Lang
Marvel Studios clearly has big plans for Cassie Lang in the MCU, as the original actress was just recently recast with Kathryn Newton. Many expect she will become the Young Avenger Stature in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and if she does, there's a reasonable chance she will fight alongside her father in Secret Wars.
Dominique Thorne - Ironheart
With other Young Avengers having a shot at a role in Secret Wars, so does Riri Williams' Ironheart. Not only will she soon lead her own Disney+ series and don her own Iron Man-inspired suit, but she will also meet the Wakandans in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. These connections to major MCU players may well set her up to appear in the next big team-up.
The Fantastic Four
After years of waiting, the Fantastic Four will soon join the MCU with their own blockbuster reboot, but with the film expected to release in 2024, it may be too soon for them to crossover with the rest of the MCU. It's worth noting that Reed Richards could appear as he and Doctor Doom have a key role to play in the original Secret Wars story, while Mr. Fantastic is also a distant ancestor of Kang in the comics, offering up the potential for some interesting dynamics between him and the villain.
Alaqua Cox - Echo
Coming off her breakout role in Hawkeye, Alaqua Cox's Echo will soon spin off into her own Disney+ series. With Maya Lopez being a more down-to-Earth street-level character, it's tough to imagine her fitting into Secret Wars, especially given she has no strong connections to any of the other heroes.
Kit Harington - Dane Whitman
Kit Harrington's Dane Whitman will no doubt one day be a major player in the MCU as he makes his transformation into the Black Knight with some help from Blade. But for now, Dane only has connections to the Eternals and is, more or less, just an ordinary working man, leaving no obvious place for him in a major crossover.
Tenoch Huerta - Namor
Tenoch Huerta is expected to make his debut as Atlantean ruler Namor in this year's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. His chances of appearing in Secret Wars largely hinge on when it releases, since it may come too soon for Namor to crossover since he will probably need his own solo outing before eventually joining the Avengers.
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
Despite having been first introduced as the founder of the Avengers, Nick Fury hasn't had much to do with the superhero team since Age of Ultron. The Secret Invasion Disney+ series ought to give a better indication as to where the MCU will take Fury next, but perhaps Samuel L. Jackson is preparing to wind down his time in his Marvel role.
Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man
Tobey Maguire reprised his classic wall-crawler role for No Way Home and was rumored to do so once again in Multiverse of Madness, but that didn't pay off. The classic Spider-Man could well come back once again for Secret Wars, however, it's tough to imagine there being enough room for him, not to mention the licensing complications with Sony.
Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man
More than any other Marvel character, Spider-Man is famously associated with the Multiverse due to the many drastically different Variants out there. With so many characters already expected to be involved in Secret Wars, there is unlikely to be room for any more than one Spider-Man, if Maguire and Garfield were to return, it would probably just be for brief cameos.
Avengers 5's Full Cast & Characters
After Infinity War and Endgame raised the standard for what's expected from an Avengers crossover event, Marvel Studios have a tough task ahead of matching that with Secret Wars, if that is indeed the next big storyline for the MCU.
With Secret Wars being the biggest Multiverse event to come out of Marvel Comics, there is no better choice for a storyline to conclude the Multiverse Saga with. But as usual, fans should prepare themselves for Secret Wars to play out very differently on the big screen than in the comics.
Of course, Avengers 5 will be packed with characters, but as they should have for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, fans should manage expectations to avoid disappointment. The Multiverse offers plenty of opportunities for cameos and surprises, but at the end of the day, the focus will always be to tell a cohesive story with the core cast.
On top of the central cast of MCU heroes, there will no doubt be appearances from Variants of fan favorites - mostly played by their usual actors just as fans saw with Benedict Cumberbatch's four Doctor Strange's in Multiverse of Madness.
As audiences saw with Infinity War and Endgame, some of the love interest and best friend characters from the various franchises will probably be there in the opening and ending to set the stage for what the heroes were doing before. Some of the most likely ones to show up could include Shang-Chi's Katy, Spider-Man's Ned and MJ, Ant-Man's Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, and more.
Avengers 5 has yet to set an official release date, but it is expected to still be several years away.