Could ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ lead to an MCU reboot?

Avengers Secret Wars
Image via Marvel

Will Avengers Secret Wars lead to an MCU reboot? It could be on the table, along with some crowd-pleasing moments that have the potential to top Endgame’s emotional finale.

The Phase Six mystery

When Kevin Feige and the Marvel crew descended upon San Diego Comic-Con last month, they brought heavy artillery that sent shockwaves through the Marvel fandom, and the chatter has not quieted since. Fantastic Four, Blade, Thunderbolts, and The Marvels were given release dates, and Marvel set Hall H on fire with the first Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer. 

For all the confirmations, Feige and company have plenty of secrets left to reveal. It’s made the MCU’s next three years ripe for fan theories, many of which revolve around the mystery of the next two Avengers films: Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars

When it comes to Phase Six, it’s all speculation at this point. Between Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, the former’s title gives us at least a few clues. We know that Jonathon Majors’ Kang the Conqueror will be the driving force that connects the Multiversal stories. Feige has said that we will meet many versions of the Conqueror on the path to MCU glory. Since the next Avengers installment is named after Kang, we can assume he will be the film’s antagonist. Marvel could take a page from Infinity War and Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo and feature Kang as the protagonist on his way to interdimensional domination.

Logic would dictate that The Kang Dynasty would wrap up Phase Six as the Avengers have their final showdown with the time-traveling warlord. Instead, Secret Wars will be the grand finale of The Multiverse Saga, and that the question of whether Kang will meet his demise at the conclusion of Dynasty or will he pull a Thanos and need two films to dispatch? With so many Kang variants in the comics, that could be a possibility.

While it’s all a guessing game, we at least have some idea where Dynasty could be headed. Secret Wars is a much different story.

Super-secret Secret Wars

With a title like Secret Wars, all we have to do is look to the comics to know exactly where the film is headed, right? Not so, True Believers.

Feige and the Marvel Studios crew have been steering further away from the comics for years. They aren’t averse to using some popular titles or taking a little inspiration from the pages, but that’s been where it ends. Age of Ultron and Civil War had fans lining up for true comic adaptations of those popular stories. Once the projector rolled, it was clear that those were adaptations in name only. 

More recently, Thor: Love and Thunder borrowed from Jason Aaron’s dramatic and epic Mighty Thor comics. Jane Foster’s cancer treatments, her becoming worthy of Mjölnir and the power of Thor, and even her fateful demise were all in the comics. That was where it ended, much to the dismay of Aaron’s fans. Director Taika Waititi has been heavily criticized for taking Love and Thunder full slapstick, with critics saying that it diminished the emotional impact of Jane’s story in favor of unbridled silliness and camp. It helps explain why Love and Thunder didn’t perform as well as expected at the box office.

That being said, the Secret Wars title means very little to the cinematic story being told. It could go in any possible direction. If Marvel takes anything from the comics, it most likely will come from Jonathan Hickman’s updated Secret Wars from 2015. Regardless of whether or not Feige uses this story as the movie’s basis, it is worth your time to find it on the Marvel Unlimited app or grab a cheap trade paperback simply for the joy of reading. The combination of Hickman’s plot with Esad Ribic’s gorgeous artwork is mesmerizing. Who knows? This could be your preview of things to come in the MCU.

A tale of two Wars

The original Secret Wars published in 1984 and 1985 was created with the sole purpose of selling action figures. According to former Marvel Comics editor in chief and SW writer Jim Shooter, toy giant Mattel had made a deal with Marvel Comics, and they needed a comic series to help market the Secret Wars line of figures. 

If the story feels a bit childish with a simplified plot, that’s exactly why. Since the current line of MCU projects has been more geared toward children, it wouldn’t be unlike Marvel to do a modern spin on the ‘84 classic. The much better version with bigger MCU implications came about in 2015.

Thirty years later, Hickman gave the concept an adult makeover with depth and plot twists galore. As he wrote the script, Hickman must have been binging Game of Thrones because his story was basically GOT meets Marvel. That may not sound enticing, but he created magic.

At the core of the story is incursions between Earths in the Multiverse. One Earth must be wiped from existence or else they both perish, a concept established in the MCU during Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In the comics, that leads to the Multiverse itself collapsing, and Doctor Doom seizes The Beyonders’ power for himself. The supercharged Doom, now rechristened God Emperor Doom, saves what he can from the Multiverse, and builds his version of GOT’s Westeros. The reborn Sheriff Strange even rocks a fur cloak in full GOT fashion, so there’s no denying the inspiration here. 

The big reset

The foundation of Hickman’s Secret Wars plot was resetting the Multiverse, and that is where this theory finds its base. After all, SW’s calling card, like so many crossover events, is an adventure down an alternate route through the timelines. 

Doom’s version of The Beyonder’s 1984 Battleworld, his “Seven Kingdoms” as it were, is a mashup of some of the most popular alternate-reality tales in all of Marvel. House of M, Age of Apocalypse, Marvel 2099, and many more were spread out over 41 sections of Battleworld, also dubbed “Doomworld.” It was complete with a GOT-inspired wall that kept out the armies of symbiotes, the Annihilus horde, and the Ultrons. Still holding a grudge against the FF, Doom created his wall out of the “Ever-Lovin’, Blue-Eyed” Thing and took Reed Richards’ place as Sue Storm’s husband. 

Hickman found a way to include almost every major event of the past 30 years into the nine-issue limited series. Miles Morales met Peter Parker, Black Panther wore the Infinity Gauntlet, Franklin Richards rode Galactus, and Captain Britain was fed to the White Walk…er…symbiote army. No doubt, this Secret Wars had a little of everything, and it was amazing. 

The crowning moment was God Emperor Doom, clad in white to reflect his godhood, dug his hand into Thanos’ chest and ripped out the Mad Titan’s skull and spine. That’s serious Predator vibes, and Ribic’s cinematic art style captured the moment in exquisite detail.

Image via Marvel Comics

Skipping to the end, Mister Fantastic, who took the whole Doom-literally-stealing-his-wife thing personally, discovered the secret to God Emperor Doom’s power, an old 1960s Fantastic Four villain, the Molecule Man. Since he can control and rearrange molecules of any type of matter and energy, the Molecule Man was Doom’s conduit for the Beyonders’ immense power. Reed Richards convinced the Molecule Man to side with him to rebuild the Multiverse, and this is where Avengers: Secret Wars could reset the MCU.

After defeating Doom, with some help from the Molecule Man, Reed used the godly power to reset the Marvel Universe. Actually, Franklin, who is an omega-level mutant in his own right, used The Beyonders’ limitless magic to create seeds of entire universes, which Reed then hurled into the cosmos. That is how, in a sense, Secret Wars reset the Marvel-616. With a few tweaks to the story, likely subbing Kang for Doom and minus the GOT elements, this could be how Marvel Studios gives its sprawling MCU what many would consider a much-needed reboot.

Give the audience what they want

What’s more, an SW adaptation could give fans the ultimate gift.

An SW-inspired reboot would put the Fantastic Four at the center of a revamped MCU while allowing for many fan-favorite heroes and villains to return to the screen, perhaps with new casting choices. More importantly, it would open a door to introducing the X-Men. It’s possible that is why they weren’t included in Phases Five or Six; they have a much bigger introduction coming. But that’s not all.

The last time we saw an Avengers film, Endgame gave the MCU fandom its greatest moments from Captain America lifting Mjölnir to the triumphant returns of all the lost heroes in Infinity War. Nothing compares to Cap finally saying the classic line, “Avengers, assemble!” and leading the full charge. Even now, that scene still gives us all chills, especially when you hear the theatrical crowd reaction.

After the Russos set the bar so high for the Avengers franchise, what could Marvel Studios do to top Endgame’s finale? By bringing back the original Avengers lineup for one last go. 

Seeing Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlet Johansen make a dramatic return to reunite with Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, and Mark Ruffalo to shift the tide of war a final time would bring fans to tears, especially if Cap utters the line, “Avengers, assemble!”

In case that prospect isn’t enough to get the dopamine and endorphins flowing, here’s what else I can see happening in Secret Wars. Just when things are getting ugly for Marvel’s heroes, snikt, bub, but that’s a theory for another day.