It’s all change in the MCU, as the devastating events of Avengers: Endgame are still being felt. While the early days of the series saw Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man leading the way (though mostly by virtue of his colossal wealth), his noble sacrifice in Endgame means someone new needs to steer the ship.
If RDJ hanging up his armor weren’t bad enough, superhero stalwarts like Chris Evans’ Captain America and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow have also stepped aside, leading to rumors of a “New Avengers” lineup. Every team has a leader, and from firm favorites to new additions, who is destined to lead the MCU Avengers next?
Let’s look through the top candidates’ CVs.
The idea of someone new taking over to lead the Avengers comes from a seemingly throwaway line in Chloé Zhao’s Eternals trailer. Richard Madden’s Ikaris tossed his hat into the ring to take over from Tony Stark, and to be honest, it’s not a bad idea.
In the comics, Ikaris has held the title of Prime Eternal–meaning he’s already led a team of immortal deities. Possessing superhuman strength, flight, and shooting cosmic energy from his mind, Ikaris’ Stark-esque charisma makes him a beefed-up Iron Man.
Let’s remember the Eternals are packed with other potential Avengers candidates. As well as Angelina Jolie’s Thena looking like a senior member of the team, the movie has deviated from the source material to gender-flip Selma Hayek’s Ajak AND make her the leader of the Eternals in the MCU.
Fresh off the success of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a new version of Captain America is taking flight. While fans were already teased Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson would pick up Cap’s vibranium shield, the series debuted a very different version of the star-spangled hero.
Evans’ Captain America might have been a cornerstone of the OG Avengers, but it always felt like he lived in the shadows of Iron Man. With the world behind Wilson and ready to embrace a new Captain America that isn’t John Walker, he has the support of more than just the Avengers.
Captain America 4 is already confirmed, and ahead of a potential Avengers 5, fans can’t wait to see what’s next for the man who’s been–ready for this?–waiting in the wings.
The most likely candidate to step up to the plate is Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers might have adopted the Eternals’ mantra of “leaving them to it”, but that hasn’t stopped her cementing herself as a potential figurehead of the MCU.
As easily one of the most powerful Avengers, it’s already been established Carol could have probably taken out Thanos on her own. Those at the top have promised a female-first focus in Phase 4 and beyond, and aside from heading up that rumored all-female Avengers movie, Captain Marvel is a prime candidate to kick the men of the Avengers into touch as well.
Carol might have scuttled off at the end of Endgame, but with her reunion with Monica Rambeau mapped out in WandaVision and The Marvels, this is one spandex-clad supe who isn’t going anywhere.
The youngest Avenger leading the group might seem as likely as Star-Lord beating Thor in an arm wrestle, however, there are a lot of merits for Peter Parker leading the New Avengers. For a start, let’s remember Tony Stark himself selected the brainbox vigilante to be his successor.
Who was it that Nick Fury turned to when the world needed saving from the Elementals? Even if Spider-Man wasn’t Fury’s first choice, he proved he was the man for the job. The end of Spider-Man: Far From Home would’ve probably put Web-Head in the driver’s seat – if not for Mysterio stitching Parker up for his death and exposing his identity to the world.
All bets are off when it comes to Spider-Man: No Way Home, and with each of his solo movies debuting a more mature version of Spider-Man, we think he’d be an honorable head of the Avengers. If not as leader (yet), the wall-crawler should at least work closely with whoever is in charge.
Peter Parker’s favorite wizard also has an impressive CV to take charge of the disbanded Avengers. Effectively debuting as a cocky Tony Stark wannabe, Doctor Stephen Strange soon ditched his boozy ways and embraced the tutelage of the Ancient One.
The Master of the Mystic Arts might not possess the raw power of Captain Marvel, but with the smarts and the dark arts, he’s an altogether bigger threat. Strange is also the man behind the convoluted plan to topple Thanos, so the rest of the Avengers already have a lot to thank him for. But another middle-aged white guy as the boss? It’s 2021, guys.
Kevin Feige has promised that Benedict Cumberbatch sitting out WandaVision was for the best, so we’ve got high hopes for what Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness can bring. Even if Strange isn’t destined to be the head honcho of the Avengers, he’s also a viable candidate to lead the shady Illuminati.
No longer just that mean, green, fighting machine, Avengers: Endgame brought rise to Mark Ruffalo’s Professor Hulk. Combining the best bits of the Emerald Giant and Bruce Banner, the movie finally represented a cohesive version of the long-standing Avenger who wasn’t likely to rip everyone’s head off without warning.
Alongside Hawkeye and Thor, Hulk is one of only three OG Avengers still likely to remain on the team. Hulk looked pretty beaten up when we last saw him, but stepping away from the demons that plagued him, he would be a great mentor to more junior members of the team.
Complicated rights issues mean we still don’t know where things are up to with the idea of a Hulk standalone, so for the time being, he’s stuck in ensembles like the inevitable Avengers 5. It’s about time Hulk got to flex his muscles and his brainpower as the leader of the Avengers.
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