The writing’s on the wall for Thanos in the MCU. Whether he’ll survive Endgame or not remains to be seen, but who/what’s going to pick up the mantle when he’s inevitably defeated? I’ve been giving some thought to this and have a few theories:
1. Red Skull
In Captain America: The First Avenger we last see Red Skull picking up the tesseract (containing the Space Infinity Stone), seemingly screaming in pain, being transported somewhere across the universe and leaving the tesseract behind on earth. Much later, in Avengers: Infinity War we learn that Red Skull is on Vormir, where he has been forced to act as “guide” to the Soul Stone. This may not be the case though… Red Skull could be lying to Thanos. The first clue to this is when he knows exactly who Gamora, Thanos and Thanos’ father is. It is his “curse to know all who journey here [to Vormir]”. Does that mean he knows his motives, his history and even his downfall? In that case - Red Skull could be using Thanos to obtain the Soul Stone, knowing that this road will only lead to Thanos’ ultimate demise at the hands of the Avengers (and 6 infinity stones ripe for the taking in the universe without a Mad Titan to deal with). Is Red Skull still seeking the Infinity Stones, could we even see him wield the gauntlet?
So I’ve suspected that Marvel Studios will use Galactus as soon as they re-acquire the rights to the F4 characters. Disney has now acquired 21st Century Fox and with the rights to The Fantastic Four, X-Men and all associated characters. Why Galactus? Galactus is a planet-eating (yes you read that right) cosmic entity who serves as a perfect common enemy for the Avengers and… The Fantastic Four. In case you’re unaware, fans of the comics have been longing for more Fantastic Four from Marvel for a LONG time. Ever since the MCU plans took off, there has been a general feeling that Marvel has been neglecting the fantastic four (few comic series, few toys, merchandise etc.) In fact, many fans believe there was an active “boycott” of everything F4 and x-men in effect ever since Fox has owned the characters. By bringing the fantastic four and Galactus back into the fold, Marvel will make a lot of fans happy. Consequently kicking off a lengthy arc introducing characters like Doom and the Silver Surfer. That’s not all - there’s also a fan theory floating around that suggests Thanos knows Galactus is coming and furthermore that his home planet Titan’s life force was devastated by Galactus (not famine and drought as Thanos explains). This would explain it spinning off its gravitational axis (currently a mystery) and Thanos wiping out half the universe. Galactus tends to only consume planets that are thriving and “ripe”. Thanos’ snap would have changed this. Is Galactus coming?
3. Something else?
Marvel has a rich catalogue of villains/malicious entities to pick from and I don’t doubt Marvel Studios’ ability to surprise us. Ultron could always return. When the x-men are introduced there’s so much potential for a fresh take on Apocalypse and Phoenix. Maybe things will get really bad and The Beyonders will end the multiverse… I don’t think we’ll get any answers this week when Avengers: Endgame premieres globally but I can’t contain my excitement to see the likes of Thor, Hulk and Cap triumph over Thanos (please don’t die).