• Many of Marvel Studios’ cosmic superheroes face uncertain futures after recent disappointing MCU projects.
  • One game-changing storyline from Marvel Comics could be adapted to continue these characters’ stories without the need for direct sequels.
  • This massive MCU event could include Captain Marvel, the Eternals and Thor, as well as the popular Guardians of the Galaxy and a new MCU hero, Nova.



Following the disappointing performances of several recent projects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one massive and game-changing storyline from Marvel Comics could resolve the uncertain futures of many of Marvel Studios’ cosmic heroes. In the wake of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame and the conclusion of the Infinity Saga, Marvel Studios hit something of a lull, with several projects in Phases 4 and 5 not achieving the same levels of success as their Infinity Saga predecessors. Unfortunately, this has put the future of some of the MCU’s most powerful superheroes in jeopardy, as the prospect of direct sequels has become increasingly questionable.

Even though the MCU’s Phases 4 and 5 have included some hits for Marvel Studios, such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, Werewolf by Night, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, WandaVision and Loki, among others, the Multiverse Saga has been the MCU’s most divisive chapter. Projects like Secret Invasion, Thor: Love and Thunder, The Marvels and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have become some of the franchise’s lowest-rated installments ever, which poses a problem for Marvel Studios going forward. However, there is still a clear way that some of these stories can be resolved without the need for direct sequels.


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The Futures Of Several Cosmic MCU Projects Are Uncertain

Angelina Jolie's Thena suiting up in Eternals

Back in February 2024, Disney CEO Bob Iger posed a solution to the MCU’s recent disappointments by suggesting that, going forward, Marvel Studios would be slowing down its releases, and focusing more on popular, low-risk franchises (via The Wrap). This has led to speculation that some unannounced MCU projects may have already been canceled or postponed, potentially leaving the future of several characters in jeopardy. Most notably, this could include the likes of the Eternals, Captain Marvel and Thor, whose Phase 4 and 5 projects all faltered at the global box office and received criticism from audiences and critics alike.

Marvel is starting to focus on some of its stronger franchises going forward, but I’ll leave it at that. And I think given the environment and given what it takes to get people out of their homes to see a film, doing that, leaning on franchises that are familiar is actually a smart thing. So, we’ve got work to do still. In our zeal to greatly increase volume partially tied to this wanting to chase more global subs for our streaming platform, some of our studios lost a little focus. So the first step that we’ve taken is that we’ve reduced volume, we reduced output, particularly in Marvel.

After the disappointing performances of 2021’s Eternals, 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder and 2023’s The Marvels, it’s possible that these three projects might not actually receive direct sequels. Eternals 2 and Captain Marvel 3 haven’t yet been announced, so they could be two projects that Marvel Studios has quietly canceled, while Thor 5 has been rumored, but is also yet to be confirmed to be in development. It would be a shame for these projects’ titular characters to not get resolutions to their stories, but Marvel Studios can adapt one major Marvel Comics event to bring these three stories together.

Marvel Comics’ Annihilation Event Explained

Marvel Comics’ Annihilation was a 2006 crossover event that focused on the cosmic, space-faring characters of the Marvel Universe. The primary antagonist of Annihilation was Annihilus, the insectoid ruler of the Negative Zone, who leads an armada of warships into Marvel Comics’ primary reality in an effort to assume control of the positive matter universe, adding it to his territory. An army of superheroes dubbed the “United Front” team up to battle Annihilus and the Annihilation Wave as the villains spread across the universe, destroying hundreds of worlds on their hunt for the Power Cosmic, a source of unlimited energy.

After 220 days of Annihilus and the Annihilation Wave causing destruction across the universe, the United Front finally managed to defeat the villain, killing him and ending his onslaught. An armistice was called among the remaining members of Annihilus’ army, while new heroes rose in the place of some that had fallen. This was a massive event that changed the shape of Marvel Comics’s cosmic storylines forever, so Marvel Studios adapting Annihilation for the live-action MCU could do the same, providing the perfect opportunity for many of the MCU’s recently-disappointing cosmic heroes to embark on a more action-heavy, substantive adventure.


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MCU’s Annihilation Could Connect Misused Phase 4 & 5 Heroes

Thor and the Mighty Thor in Phase 4's Thor Love and Thunder

Captain Marvel, Thor and the Eternals weren’t involved in Marvel Comics’ Annihilation event, but their roles in the MCU may have perfectly set them up to protect the universe from the Annihilation Wave. Thor became a more cosmically-focused hero from 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok onward, even traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a time between Endgame and Love and Thunder, while the Eternals’ origins have been changed to make them the products of the Celestials, built in the World Forge. This means Thor and the Eternals are intrinsically connected to the MCU’s cosmos, and Captain Marvel is following suit.

2023’s The Marvels took place primarily in space, with Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan teaming up with Carol Danvers to take on the Kree villain, Dar-Benn. While Danvers ended The Marvels back on Earth, her connections to the cosmos make her a clear main character in a future Annihilation adaptation. The Marvels even introduced the Quantum Bands in the MCU, which have a huge part to play in Annihilation. An adaptation of Annihilation in the MCU would mean Eternals 2, Thor 5 and Captain Marvel 3 wouldn’t need to happen, as they could be folded into the expansive crossover storyline.

The New Guardians Of The Galaxy Can Return In An Annihilation Storyline

New Guardians of the Galaxy team at the end of 2023's Vol. 3

While an Annihilation adaptation could be delivered as a crossover sequel to Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder and The Marvels, the project could also continue the story of the MCU’s new Guardians of the Galaxy team. Following the release of 2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and James Gunn’s departure from Marvel Studios, the future of the MCU’s premiere cosmic superhero team is still unclear. The Guardians of the Galaxy have a crucial role in Marvel Comics’ Annihilation storyline, so it would make sense for the team to return in a live-action adaptation, connecting them to new MCU heroes.

The MCU’s new Guardians of the Galaxy team is comprised of Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Kraglin, Phyla, Cosmo the Spacedog and Adam Warlock, along with his pet, Blurp.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, just like its predecessors, was a huge success for Marvel Studios, but a potential Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 still hasn’t been confirmed. This means the Guardians team’s story could continue in a crossover event instead, akin to when the team appeared during 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, or perhaps mirroring Tony Stark’s MCU storyline after 2013’s Iron Man 3. This would allow the Guardians of the Galaxy to continue in the MCU without a new director muddying James Gunn’s fantastic work on the popular franchise, and could make the MCU’s Annihilation more comic-accurate.

Marvel Studios’ New Cosmic Hero Could Be Important To Annihilation

Nova showing his power in Marvel Comics

Arguably, the main character of Marvel Comics’ Annihilation event is Richard Rider, a.k.a. Nova, the last surviving member of the Nova Corps. Richard Rider is expected to make his MCU debut in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Nova project, the development of which was recently confirmed by Marvel Studios executive Brad Winderbaum (via The MCU’s Nova project is expected to include cut scenes from Avengers: Infinity War, which show Thanos destroying Xander during his quest to collect the Power Stone, but in Marvel Comics, it’s the Annihilation Wave that destroys Xandar and the Nova Corps, leaving Nova as the sole survivor.

We love Nova. We are in really early development on Nova. We have a new system behind-the-scenes at Marvel Studios. We’re more like a traditional studio now. We’re developing more than we actually will produce. There are plans to develop Nova. I love Nova, too. I love Rich Rider, too. I hope it gets to the screen. The world is always chaos. There’s always things. You gotta conjure these things to make them happen, but I would love to see a Nova show one day.

Richard Rider is the hero who brings together the United Front to battle the Annihilation Wave in Marvel Comics, and the one who lands the final blow on Annihilus, killing the villain and ending his rampage. Nova is an essential part of the Annihilation event, so he must be included in the MCU’s live-action adaptation, and since there is concern about the success of Marvel Studios’ upcoming Nova project, including him in this storyline alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, the Eternals and Thor, would help to bring gravitas and presence to the new Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero.

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