Every tease Marvel still needs to pay off, in theory

Over the past 15 years, Marvel Studios has used its superhero films to build a cinematic universe. Across 23 movies in the Infinity Saga, Marvel weaved cliffhangers, crossovers, and connecting threads that culminated in a blockbuster two-part Avengers event. It all started with a post-credits tease in Iron Man that introduced Nick Fury to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and started the ball rolling for crossovers, cataclysmic conflicts, and multiversal mayhem.

Since the Infinity Saga wrapped officially with 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, Marvel Studios has continued to tease new team-ups and new world-ending threats. Many of them have yet to fully pay off, and Marvel’s many hints and promises of sagas to come has become hard to keep track of.

So in case you find yourself wondering, Hey, whatever happened to that all-white Vision that went missing three years ago? or Wait, Harry Styles was in a Marvel movie? here’s a helpful rundown of all the cliffhangers and post-credits sequences that Marvel still needs to pay off.

[Ed. note: The following contains spoilers for almost every Marvel Studios project from 2021 through today, including the recently released movie The Marvels and TV series Echo.]


The cliffhanger: Vision is alive, in a different form

The original Vision created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner was killed by Thanos during the events of Avengers: Infinity War. In WandaVision, Wanda Maximoff revives Vision as a manifestation of her grief. Separately, the government agency SWORD rebuilds another Vision as a weapon, with the intention that their white version would destroy Wanda and the other Vision within the reality bubble of Westfield.

SWORD’s White Vision and Wanda’s revived Vision battle each other, and the latter helps the former see his existence from a new perspective. White Vision gains the memories and experiences of the original Vision and just… takes off. He hasn’t been seen since.

The eventual payoff

White Vision was reported to return in a new series, Vision Quest, intended to serve as a sequel to WandaVision. The series was slated to stream on Disney Plus, but Marvel Studios hasn’t officially announced it and it’s unclear if the series is going forward. WandaVision will definitely get a spinoff in the form of Agatha: Darkhold Diaries, starring Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha Harkness.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The cliffhanger: Shang-Chi is recruited by Wong and the Ten Rings are reborn

In a mid-credits scene, Wong summons Shang-Chi/Shaun (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) to Kamar-Taj. There, they meet Bruce Banner and Carol Danvers, who are teleconferencing in as holograms, to discuss the origins of Shang-Chi’s superpowered rings. The rings, our Avengers pals say, are an ancient beacon transmitting an unknown message to an unknown recipient.

In a post-credits scene, Shaun’s sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), is revealed to be the new leader of the Ten Rings organization, despite saying that she would disband it. Xialing is modernizing the group and making it gender-inclusive.

The eventual payoff

Shang-Chi 2? Director Destin Daniel Cretton is said to be working on a sequel to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, having bowed out of helming Avengers: The Kang Dynasty — which has its own problems. Cretton is also executive producing Marvel’s new Wonder Man series for Disney Plus, which will feature Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery, an important character in Shang-Chi. Maybe Simu Liu will show up in Wonder Man?

What we don’t know yet is who or what the magical rings are calling out to (Fin Fang Foom, perhaps?!), and Marvel hasn’t put a sequel to Shang-Chi on its schedule yet.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The cliffhanger: Two Captains America

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), was stripped of his title as the star-spangled superman after a botched mission. Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), formerly known as The Falcon, becomes the new Captain America — and is clearly superior, because he can fly. But Walker gets a new costume and a new identity, the U.S. Agent, thanks to Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

The other cliffhanger: Sharon Carter, ex-SHIELD agent, is up to no good

During the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it’s revealed that Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) has evolved from SHIELD super spy to the mysterious Power Broker. In the end, however, she’s pardoned by the U.S. government for crimes committed during the events of Captain America: Civil War and is offered a position at the CIA. She’s later shown having a conversation about selling government secrets, weapons, and technology — you know, real Power Broker stuff.

The eventual payoff

Sam Wilson’s new role as Captain America will be explored further in the 2025 movie Captain America: Brave New World, which co-stars Harrison Ford as Thaddeus Ross and brings back The Incredible Hulk’s Leader (Tim Blake Nelson). U.S. Agent will also return in 2025 with Thunderbolts, the closest thing Marvel has to a Suicide Squad.


The cliffhanger: Harry Styles is Thanos’ brother — and is that Blade?!

The ending of Eternals exposes the people of Earth to Celestials — there’s still a giant marble Tiamut hand and head sticking out of the Indian Ocean! — and sees Thena (Angelina Jolie), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), and Druig (Barry Keoghan) traveling through space in search of other Eternals. While traveling, the Eternals’ ship, Domo, is boarded by two newcomers to the MCU: Eros (aka Starfox), who is the brother of Thanos (and played by Harry Styles), and Pip the Troll, voiced by Patton Oswalt. Eros warns Thena that her friends “are in big trouble” and offers to help find them.

In a post-credits scene, we see Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) opening a mysterious box that contains the Ebony Blade. Off screen, we hear Marvel’s vampire-hunter Blade (Mahershala Ali) ask, “You sure you’re ready for that, Mr. Whitman?”

The eventual payoff

Eternals’ final scenes strongly hint at the continuing adventures of the ancient superheroes, though the film wound up being one of Marvel Studios’ worst-rated releases to date. Marvel does not have a sequel on its current list of announced projects, but director Chloé Zhao has said she’d return for a follow-up.

The post-credits scene positions Whitman to become the superhero known as Black Knight, who has been a member of the Avengers in Marvel Comics (and has roots in Arthurian legend, which would be a whole new thing for the MCU). But the Black Knight and his Ebony Blade will likely be a component of Marvel’s upcoming stand-alone Blade movie, which is slated to hit theaters in 2025.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

The cliffhanger: The world has forgotten Peter Parker and the MCU gets a drip of Venom

Doctor Strange and Peter Parker royally screwed things up in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the fix involved a big old mindwipe. The end result? No one knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker in the MCU. In fact, no one knows who Peter Parker is, forcing our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to start his superhero life from scratch. No fancy nanotech suit. No friends or family. No high school diploma, even!

And in a post-credits sequence, the effects of Strange’s messy multiverse manipulations mean that Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his symbiote BFF Venom enjoyed a brief vacation in Earth-199999, the core MCU reality we know and love. Strange’s spell eventually sends Eddie and Venom home, but a teeny-tiny piece of the symbiote stays behind.

The eventual payoff

A fourth MCU Spider-Man film. Producer Amy Pascal has strongly hinted that there will be a new trilogy of Spider-Man movies from Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, with Tom Holland returning. The stakes would certainly be different this time, with Spider-Man returning to his roots as a street-level crimefighter.

Will the MCU get its own version of the Spider-Man black suit saga and its own version of Venom? That’s also now in the cards, thanks to No Way Home’s stray symbiote goo.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The cliffhanger: Stephen Strange gets another eye, Clea joins the MCU

After developing a spooky third eye as a result of utilizing the Darkhold, Strange is approached on the street by the sorceress Clea (Charlize Theron). She warns him that his actions have triggered an incursion that Strange needs to fix. Strange follows Clea into the Dark Dimension, home of Doctor Strange villain Dormammu — who is also Clea’s uncle.

The eventual payoff

Stephen Strange and Clea are an off-again-on-again item in Marvel comics, so a future cinematic (and romantic) team-up seems likely. Multiverse of Madness also introduced America Chavez to MCU lore, and she seems perfect for a future Young Avengers project (more on that later).

Moon Knight

The cliffhanger: This is getting out of hand. Now there are three of them!

Moon Knight’s mid-credits scene reveals a secret the show had been teasing throughout its six-episode run: Marc Spector and Steven Grant are not the only people in their head. There’s a third personality neither of them are aware of: Jake Lockley. Khonshu, who still has influence over Jake, has Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) murdered in the back of a limousine. With the god Ammit inside of Arthur, that would presumably mean the end of Ammit, too. Jake and Khonshu drive off, hinting at further adventures for Moon Knight.

The eventual payoff

Marvel hasn’t confirmed a second season of Moon Knight, but it’s possible that the character could show up in future Marvel projects. He seems like a good fit for the mystical and horror side of the MCU, which has been explored in Werewolf by Night and will be further expanded by 2025’s Blade movie and Disney Plus series Agatha: Darkhold Diaries. It would certainly be a shame not to bring Oscar Isaac back as Moon Knight and May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly/Scarlet Scarab.

Thor: Love and Thunder

The cliffhanger: More kids

In addition to Thor now having an adopted daughter who wields Stormbreaker, the fourth Thor movie introduces a whole bunch of gods — with Zeus (Russell Crowe) sending his son Hercules (played by Brett Goldstein) on a quest to kill Thor.

The eventual payoff

Thor 5? Sure. Chris Hemsworth seems to be down for more Thor, with his only condition being that the next movie be “unpredictable.” But it doesn’t sound like Ragnarok and Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi will return. One thing’s for certain: We can’t just let Marvel tease Brett Goldstein as Hercules — a member of multiple teams in Marvel comics, including the Avengers — and then do nothing with him.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

The cliffhanger: Bruce Banner has a kid and the Abomination has busted out of prison

Jennifer Walters, after getting her season finale rewrite, is in a pretty good spot at the end of She-Hulk.

Also, her cousin Bruce Banner, The Hulk, has a kid! Apparently, while on Sakaar (during or before the events of Thor: Ragnarok), the Hulk got someone pregnant — in the comics, that would be the alien Caiera — and now we have Skaar. Yes, Skaar from Sakaar. Also, Wong popped up again with a portal to zoot Emily Blonsky (aka the Abomination) out of his supermax prison cell and straight to Kamar-Taj.

The eventual payoff

Hopefully more She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. We deserve that. But Skaar could show up again, possibly as a Young Avenger. It’s unclear where Abomination will end up, but he seems like a good fit for the Thunderbolts as its Hulk stand-in or in a future Hulk movie. We’ve got quite a few Hulks now.

Maybe Wong and Blonsky are just going to host a rewatch podcast of The Sopranos. The possibilities are endless.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The cliffhanger: Black Panther will return

The closing credits of Wakanda Forever clearly state “Black Panther will return.” Who will carry the mantle remains to be seen, as the film’s mid-credits sequence introduces the late T’Challa’s son born in secret with Nakia. That may be less of a future Black Panther sequel tease than a heartfelt nod to the late Chadwick Boseman and the original version of Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s story for Wakanda Forever. Coogler and Cole originally envisioned the Black Panther sequel as a father-son adventure in which “T’Challa has to go save the world with his son on his hip,” Coogler told the New York Times in 2022.

The eventual payoff

Marvel has more stories set in Wakanda in the works, with the animated series Eyes of Wakanda coming to Disney Plus. Another character introduced in Wakanda Forever is going to get a spinoff, too: Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) will return in the Disney Plus series Ironheart, which could debut as early as 2024.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

The cliffhanger: Ant-Man kills Kang, and everything is fine. Maybe.

Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) gets sucked into a power core and dies, potentially ushering in something cataclysmic. A mid-credits scene reveals that disaster to be The Council of Kangs (Jonathan Majors). We see hundreds of variants of Kang, led by Immortus (Jonathan Majors), hooting and hollering and frothing at the mouth as they prepare for multiversal domination.

The eventual payoff

Boy, is that the big question! Kang was positioned to be the Thanos-sized bad of Marvel Studios’ Multiverse Saga. He was even getting his own Avengers movie, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. But a lot’s changed. Jonathan Majors was dropped by Marvel after a jury found him guilty on assault and harassment charges. The Kang-led multiversal problem also appears to have been pretty neatly nipped in the bud during the course of season 2 of Loki. And Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is now being referred to as simply Avengers 5 by Marvel. So, like one of the massive teases of Eternals, maybe this is going nowhere.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The cliffhanger: Chris Pratt will be back

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 wrapped up the trilogy nicely, so don’t expect a Vol. 4 — even with the mid-credits tease of a new team composed of Rocket, Groot, Kraglin, Cosmo, Adam Warlock, Phyla, and Adam’s pet Blurp. But you can count on more Star-Lord. Vol. 3’s ending and post-credits scene show that Peter Quill is now back on Earth, eating cereal and contemplating moving his neighbor’s lawn. An end title card promises “The legendary Star-Lord will return.”

The eventual payoff

Guardians director James Gunn won’t be making any more Marvel movies, and it seems like some of the core cast has moved on. But there is at least one team of Guardians still out there, and the Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone)-led Ravagers who seem to have been prepped at one point for their own spinoff.

If Star-Lord’s coming back, it’s not clear how. Maybe for 2027’s Avengers: Secret Wars, or some other cosmic Marvel project further down the line.

The Marvels

The cliffhanger: Young Avengers! X-Men!

Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) has her Nick Fury moment, recruiting Hawkeye’s Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) for her new “kid superhero” group. Kamala also implies that she’s going to add Ant-Man’s daughter, Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), to the roster of young Avengers candidates. And while Marvel Studios has not announced any sort of Young Avengers project, it sure has introduced a lot of young people with superhero potential in recent years.

In a mid-credits sequence, Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) wakes up in a parallel universe where she is greeted by Binary — an alternate version of her mother, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) — and mutant scientist Hank McCoy/Beast (the Kelsey Grammer version) from the X-Men. They’re apparently in Charles Xavier’s X-Mansion.

The eventual payoff

Well, a lot. There’s the future team of Young Avengers taking shape, which could extend to characters like Skaar, T’Challa Jr., America Chavez, Riri Williams, and others. Then there’s the MCU X-Men, which have been teased in WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with more mutants rumored to show up in Deadpool 3 this summer. All of those X-Men, however, are carryovers from the 20th Century Fox era. Marvel will need to move on from those characters and actors at some point in the future, with 2027’s Avengers: Secret Wars looking like a pretty good candidate for a universe-resetting event.


The cliffhanger: Wilson Fisk, Kingpin of Crime… and mayor of New York?

In Echo’s final mid-credits scene, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) becomes entranced by a news segment in which the hosts are debating who could be New York City’s next mayor, describing an anti-establishment, bare-knuckle brawler as the ideal candidate. Fisk’s face screams “Hey, that could be me!” as he ponders a new leadership role.

The eventual payoff

D’Onofrio’s Kingpin will return in Daredevil: Born Again for Disney Plus, during which Daredevil/Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) will almost assuredly face Fisk on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and in the courtroom.

What’s next for Marvel Studios? Here’s a rundown of the current slate of upcoming confirmed Marvel movies and TV shows for Disney Plus.

The post Every tease Marvel still needs to pay off, in theory appeared first on Polygon.

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