There is something special about Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige stepping on stage in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con and presenting new logos on a blank projector screen. As simple as that sounds, that graphic of logos will shape the expectations of one of pop culture's biggest and most passionate fanbases. The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been laid out and while there are many gaps yet to be filled, the destination is clear.
As Captain Jack Sparrow once said... "We have our heading." With two Phase 4 projects remaining in Phase 4 (She-Hulk and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), 12 projects announced in Phase 5, and 3 of the 11 slots filled for Phase 6, all roads are leading to Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
There will be a variance of "importance" with each movie and show to the overarching MCU storyline leading to The Kang Dynasty. Some projects will be more vital to the throughline than others though. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 looks to be a more personal story for the titular heroes, while Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantamania is set to star Jonathan Majors as Kang himself.
Of the 15 projects already announced and possibly over a dozen more on the way, here are the 8 most important movies and shows that will play key roles in setting up Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, ranked from least to most important.
8. Secret Invasion
Secret Invasion is the first-ever "crossover event" to take place on Disney+. That distinction alone is enough for this series to become one of the most important pieces in the MCU puzzle. While it will tackle one of the most impactful storylines in Marvel Comics history, the return of Nick Fury can't be understated.
While Secret Invasion may not influence Avengers 5 directly, Earth's Mightiest Heroes are currently scattered to the winds, leaving Earth without a concrete team of supers. Nick Fury could be the key to assembling the MCU's next supergroup as he did all the way back at the start of the Infinity Saga.
7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Importance can be defined in a number of ways and virtually every one of them applies to the Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever. While the characters in the movie will be dealing with the loss of their King T'Challa, fans will be sharing in that grief and celebration of life with the loss of Chadwick Boseman. Along with that emotional weight, director Ryan Coogler and his team are rumored to also be contributing to the overarching MCU in a major way.
It is being rumored that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever could introduce Doctor Victor Von Doom, one of the most impactful villains in the Marvel Universe. While Doom's role in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is yet to be determined, his role in the next Avengers film, Secret Wars, is all but a lock to be vital. If Doom appears in Wakanda Forever, it could retroactively be the debut of the REAL big bad of The Multiverse Saga.
With a New Avengers team presumably on the way, there is also a team of rogues that could prove to be a great Phase-ending battle for them. Thunderbolts has been teased and sprinkled throughout Phase 4, with major players like Yelena Belova and John Walker stealing scenes of their respective projects. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Valentina Allegra de Fontaine seemingly collecting villains, this is set to be the major crossover event of Phase 5.
Kang is shaping up to be a formidable foe all on his own, but what if he needs lackeys? Thunderbolts should pave the way for a lower-level threat for the new team of Earth's Mightiest Heroes to fend off against before their mettle is truly tested in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
5. The Marvels
Sometimes the characters are more important than the story, and when showrunners can blend those two necessities together, magic is made. The Marvels is in a position to take the Captain Marvel franchise and give it a boost similar to what the Captain America franchise saw in 2014's Winter Soldier. Here is the checklist of things that The Marvels will be doing that gave Winter Soldier such a high-ranking spot in the Infinity Saga run:
- Bring in fan-favorite characters from across the universe (Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan)
- Be directly involved with a larger threat, and Nick Fury
- Starring a character that is on an upward trajectory after an Avengers movie (Carol Danvers)
4. Captain America: New World Order
Much like The Marvels, Captain America: New World Order is the highlight project for what many assume will be one of the faces of the franchise moving forward, Sam Wilson's Captain America. "Who are the Avengers?" is one of the main themes of Phase 4. New World Order could be in a great spot to answer that question.
After the in-depth character study that is The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson is ready to hit the ground running in his big screen leading man debut and build a new team of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Cap 4 could play as another Avengers-lite movie with a ton of crossover, while also establishing the new leader of Marvel's main supergroup.
3. Fantastic Four
The final piece of the puzzle for any story worth its salt involves Kang or Secret Wars. With Fantastic Four still searching for its director and the cast yet to be announced, this is probably the least known project on the list. However, with the lore of Marvel Comics, the First Family of the red brand will surely be a huge factor in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
Kang is directly tied to Reed Richards, being a descendant of the world's smartest man. Reed will likely not only play a role in discovering the threat of whatever Kang is bringing, but also in creating a solution to stop it.
2. Loki Season 2
Loki Season 2 is in an interesting spot. Season 1 arguably did more than any Phase 4 project to set up what will eventually be the climax of the Multiverse Saga. After the events of WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Season 2 is in a similar position in Phase 5 as it is being looked at to explain even more about Kang.
Loki is the character that has the hardest time fitting in with Earth-616, but that does not mean he isn't in line to play a huge role. The biggest question ahead of Season 2 is how much of Jonathan Major's Kang can be expected. If Kang is running his own TVA, controlling the flow of time, and is front and center in the series, Loki Season 2 is certainly one of the most crucial pieces of the Multiverse Saga's puzzle.
1. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
The most of important inclusion on this list is, of course, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania. The third Ant-Man movie is set to star Jonathan Majors as Kang, giving audiences the first look at what He Who Remains was warning about in the Loki Season 1 finale. This is where Kang will begin to build the Dynasty he holds by the time Avengers 5 rolls around. If early reports are any indication, fans are in for one of the most intimidating presences in MCU history.
Adding Kang to Quantumania is a way to bolster the Ant-Man franchise and hopefully bring it to the top tier of MCU content. Unlike Thanos, The Multiverse Saga appears to be making its main villain well-established with audiences well before his ultimate plan comes together. Ant-Man and The Wasp had a mild reception compared to other Phase 3 projects but introduced the Quantum Realm, which played a key role in the overall plot. This time though, the film won't introduce the solution to the problem. They will introduce the problem itself.