Kevin Feige has famously said that Marvel Studios already has plans through 2028. With the roster of heroes Marvel still has left, we can believe it. This is Part four of a five part series. Part 1 is the Marvel Retro Realm. Part 2 the Marvel Horror Realm. Part 3 is the Marvel Cosmic Realm. Part 5 is the potential of the Inhumans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Though Marvel has a full universe, it’s generally segmented into specific realms; high science, street crime, magical horror, and more. Even now, Marvel Studios is paving the way for multiple realms within the MCU. James Gunn has said that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY will lead to a distinct Marvel Cosmic realm, unattached to the Avengers. Marvel’s Netflix series, beginning with DAREDEVIL, Marvel’s building a street-level realm, focused on crime, drugs, and vigilante violence.
AGENTS OF SHIELD started life as a spinoff of THE AVENGERS, but really grew into its own after CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. AGENTS OF SHIELD has strong footing as Marvel’s premiere spy program, examining the geopolitical landscape of the MCU after the rise of Hydra. The show continues to grow into new territory, bringing the Inhumans into the MCU years before the film’s debut. Since it seems CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR will focus more on the Avengers, AGENTS OF SHIELD looks to remain Marvel’s leader in the espionage realm.
SHIELD is so well-established that this article focuses exclusively on existing characters, rather than hypothetical. Marvel has such a strong roster of spies and soldiers that AGENTS OF SHIELD can be the staging point for a new wave of spy-oriented films and TV shows.
Mockingbird is definitely the breakout of SHIELD’s second season. Agent Bobbi Morse, played by Adrienne Palicki, is AGENTS OF SHIELD’s most charismatic agent. She’s deadly with a pair of batons, and incredibly smart: before she was Agent Bobbi Morse, she was Dr. Bobbi Morse, with a PhD in biology. It’s tough to say what a MOCKINGBIRD TV series would be about, since her arc on AGENTS OF SHIELD isn’t finished yet. Bobbi is known to be collaborating on a top-secret project with another SHIELD agent, Mack Mackenzie. It’s possible that the two could could leave SHIELD to pursue their own agenda, investigating threats separate from the SHIELD/Hydra war.
One thing we’re pretty confident about is that of all the Agents of SHIELD, Morse is the most likely to join the Avengers. Mockingbird is a long-time Avenger, and Palicki has the charisma to stand alongside Marvel’s premiere superheroes. With Scarlett Johansson’s contract set to expire soon, it’s very likely that Mockingbird could be the Avengers’ replacement for Black Widow. A MOCKINGBIRD TV series would be the best way to highlight the character before shipping her off to the big leagues.
If Mockingbird does join the Avengers, she’ll have some very interesting dynamics with the other team members. In the comics, Mockingbird is the ex-wife of a very prominent Avenger…
Hawkeye is Marvel’s misfit Avenger, completely absent thus far from Phase Two, and definitely the least memorable character in THE AVENGERS. In a film with super-soldiers, super-geniuses and super-gods, it’s hard for a mere archer to stand out. That’s unfortunate, because comic readers know how special Hawkeye is. In the comics, Hawkeye is the sort-of guy who was reluctant to join the Avengers because he was worried they would slow him down. Jeremy Renner doesn’t seem too expensive for a HAWKEYE miniseries, and the best place to start is Matt Fraction’s acclaimed comics run.
Clint Barton might be an Avenger, but more importantly, he’s just a regular guy. He foils a criminal conspiracy, but spends weeks in rehab(Fhe Rehab)working off his injuries. He wears hearing aids because a sonic weapon rendered him mostly deaf. He tries to mentor Kate Bishop, a teenage prodigy with a bow, but she winds up being a better partner than a student. He feeds his dog exclusively pizza, he drinks coffee out of the pot, and calls Tony Stark to help him fix his DVD player. What makes HAWKEYE special is watching what one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes does in his off-time.
Though HAWKEYE would be a light-hearted slice of life, our next hero is about as angsty as they come…
Winter Soldier remains one of the most enigmatic, mysterious & unpredictable characters currently in the MCU. Though we know his origins and backstory, we don’t really know what direction Bucky will travel in the future. Brain-damaged and traumatized, Bucky is seemingly running into the wind, with Captain America not far behind. Early word is that Bucky will be a major player in CIVIL WAR; though we don’t yet know if he’ll survive, Marvel’s not really in the business of killing its heroes.
Our ideal WINTER SOLDIER TV series would be a blend of contemporary action and flashbacks. We would see a Winter Soldier assassination decades ago, and flash forward to the modern day as Bucky tries to atone. All the while, he tracks down the elements of Hydra that lead to his creation, and makes sure that there will be no further Winter Soldiers.
In the comics, Bucky eventually becomes the new Captain America after Steve Rogers’ death. Though we have a hard time seeing Marvel kill Rogers in the MCU, if Rogers goes into hiding, Bucky could very well “borrow” the shield until Cap resurfaces.
Though Marvel is the one debuting these heroes, all of them have something in common: each of them start their cinematic life as villains.
Loud, mean and ugly, the Thunderbolts are a team of reformed villains. Or sometimes, not-so reformed. The Thunderbolts’ roster is very flexible, since most of the team is generally on their way back to prison or planning their next criminal scheme. The Thunderbolts are usually lead by a hero barely managing to keep the chaotic team in line.
Unlike the rest of the items on this list, THUNDERBOLTS really seems like it would be better as a film (directed by James Gunn?). The roster of the team would pull from the best of Marvel’s super villains. Mockingbird would lead the team, trying to wrangle a group of the biggest egos in the universe. We don’t know which of these characters will be alive in the future, but our ideal team would be…
- Tom Hiddleston’s wily Loki;
- Sebastian Stan’s haunted Winter Soldier;
- Guy Pearce’s egotistical Aldrich Killian;
- Tim Roth’s psychotic Abomination;
- Karen Gillan’s vicious Nebula.
It’s hard to imagine the circumstances that bring this team together, especially Nebula, but we can dream. The Thunderbolts would absolutely shred anything standing in their way, if they don’t tear each other apart first. Sequels, of course, would change and expand the roster. Characters like Punisher, Ghost Rider, Venom and Elektra have passed through the Thunderbolts.
What’s exciting about AGENTS OF SHIELD is how deep its roots run throughout the MCU. With strong ties to Captain America, and the debut of the Inhumans, SHIELD is already building Marvel’s densest sub-universe. Given how large it already is, and given how many heroes we left off this list (Deathlok! Spider-Woman! Falcon!), it’s very easy to imagine how much larger Marvel’s Espionage Realm can truly get.
Which of Marvel’s heroes are you ready to see graduate into their own solo adventures? Sound off in this Reddit thread or the comments below.