With Avengers: Endgame, the first era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is over.
The last decade has seen a grand, 22-part opera that revolutionized modern cinematic storytelling. But now the first three phases of the MCU, collectively termed the Infinity Saga, is over -- and several of our beloved characters are gone too. This means there's an opportunity to shake things up and really redefine what it means to be an MCU movie moving forward.
Here's what I want to see from Phase 4 of the MCU now that Endgame is over.
Warning: Big spoiler territory going forward. Proceed at your own risk.
Fewer CG battles
Countless sci-fi and fantasy films end with massive conflicts between computer-generated armies. From Starship Troopers in 1997 to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we've long grown bored with faceless, nameless hordes crashing into each other. Just look at DC's Man of Steel to see how boring city-smashing CG can be.
Endgame's ending ambitiously brings together every MCU hero in a final clash with Thanos and his CG pets. It's an even denser retread of Infinity War's final battle, and while visually impressive, it's a jarring departure from the film's earlier intimate focus on the core Avengers. After sharing emotional moments with the characters we've come to love over the last decade, glorified cameos for the likes of Black Panther and the Guardians of the Galaxy make things less relatable, detaching me from the experience.
Seeing all these guys in action is cool as hell, but we don't need to end every superhero movie with a massive battle anymore.
Bring the A-Force to the silver screen
What's the A-Force? An all-female version of the Avengers that appeared in Marvel comics in 2015. For a brief moment, we got a glimpse of what A-Force could look like in Endgame when Scarlet Witch, Shuri, Okoye, Wasp, Valkyrie, Mantis, an armored Pepper Potts and Gamora backed up Captain Marvel on her push to return the Infinity Stones to their proper timeline.
Okay, it's unclear why in the midst of a grand battle, only the female heroes would gather at a specific spot. But it's an awesome moment so we're not going to question it that much.
Sadly, the team-up was missing a key Avenger. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow was last seen dead on an alien world -- but she's also set to finally headline her own movie in coming years, so maybe we'll see yet another hero resurrected.
Asgardians of the Galaxy
Thor's journey into space in Ragnarok reinvigorated the series and made me actually care about the Norse god of thunder. Now that Chris Hemsworth has tapped into his comedic side, he hefted around some heavyweight humor in Endgame.
The tease at the end showing Thor joining the Guardians of the Galaxy is just perfect. I anxiously await seeing Hemsworth spar with Chris Pratt's Star-Lord under the direction of James Gunn.
Hasbro's Avengers: Endgame figures showcase heroes' new suits, weaponsSee all photos
A new Captain America
The peaceful final moments of Endgame saw an aged Steve Rogers pass the baton (or shield) to BFF Sam Wilson. Even Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, gave Wilson the nod. Wilson has taken on the mantle in the comics, so let's see it on screen too.
I'm keen to see the Captain America franchise continue with a character that doesn't have the super-soldier serum, but possesses the same spirit and integrity as the original Cap. Oh, and metal wings are cool too. It's unclear whether Captain America will continue, but having a new character take on the mantle breathes new life into the franchise.
Until then, there's still the upcoming Falcon and Winter Soldier show on Disney Plus. Here's hoping the shield comes along for the ride.
Recruit the X-Men and Fantastic Four
Not all Marvel comic book characters are part of the MCU. Previously Fox had its own X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, but since Disney bought Fox those could now be unified under Marvel.
The Avengers tapped the Quantum Realm for time travel. Maybe they can travel to parallel universes too?
But I don't want a clean reboot of the Fox franchises. I'd like to see Marvel Studios find a plausible way to incorporate the existing properties. I'd like to see an MCU where the Fantastic Four and X-Men are already out there, even if those films have proven hit-or-miss. And don't you dare reboot Deadpool.
We're all tired of origin stories -- particularly for well-known properties like the X-Men. Marvel wisely skipped that aspect with Spider-Man, and I'd like to see a similar move with the former Fox properties.
This may be a controversial request. Part of the MCU's appeal is the way each movie builds upon the next, with intertwining plot points and Easter eggs for fans. But as much fun as that's been, it also often took focus away from individual films. Watching Captain Marvel, for example, I was bracing to see how it fit in with Endgame.
Sure, let's get the X-Men in there and keep combining characters in interesting ways. But I'd love to enjoy a superhero film as its own standalone experience -- even if it means dialing back on the connections.
The original Iron Man didn't need a cinematic universe to offer a fun time. I'm hoping with the next phase, the fresh start will offer that kind of experience again.
Fingers crossed that the next Marvel movie to hit theaters -- Spider-Man: Far From Home -- will offer just that.
This story originally published on April 27 at 4 a.m. PT.
Update, 4:30 p.m. PT: To add further background.
Update, April 30 at 6 a.m. PT: Adds further background.