Is Secret Wars the next big Avengers crossover movie?

We expected Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to deliver a critical MCU development…

We expected Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to deliver a critical MCU development from the moment Kevin Feige announced the sequel in late July 2019. Nearly three years later, we know what happens in Doctor Strange 2, and the film does indeed set up a potentially massive story. It’s all in the post-credits scene that matters. That’s Secret Wars, of course, and we can’t but wonder whether that’s the Avengers 5 story we’ve been waiting for.

That’s likely the first thing many MCU fans thought of at the end of Doctor Strange 2. And it turns out that Marvel might have had Secret Wars on its schedule before the pandemic changed everything. Before we can explain, you should know that big spoilers might follow below.

Why is there no release date for Avengers 5?

Marvel never announced Avengers 5 after Endgame because it had no way of matching or topping it. If anything, a soft reboot of the franchise might be due. Of the original six Avengers, two died and three others have either retired or are toying with the idea.

Moreover, Marvel wanted to introduce brand new heroes and villains to the MCU before getting to any more crossover events. And now that Thanos (Josh Brolin) is dead, we need a similar threat to emerge so that the Avengers have a reason to get back together. Well, Secret Wars would certainly qualify as a valid reason to reassemble.

Not to mention that Marvel’s most difficult task was adding the Fox characters to the MCU seamlessly before even thinking about an Avengers 5 storyline. We have yet to see the Fantastic Four, Deadpool, or the X-Men in the (real) MCU.

(L-R): Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange and Benedict Wong as Wong in Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Image source: Marvel Studios

Add to all of that Disney’s focus on Disney Plus, which already carries plenty of MCU TV shows, and you have a clear picture of why Marvel wasn’t ready to announce Avengers 5 in the summer of 2019. Or at any point since.

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After all, the pandemic forced Marvel and Disney to rethink how they’re making movies and TV shows. The studios had to deal with restrictions that prompted waves of release delays. Even Doctor Strange 2 hit theaters much later than expected. Therefore, any schedule leading to Avengers 5 has suffered massive changes because of the pandemic.

Why Secret Wars has to be an Avengers story

Even now, Marvel isn’t willing to announce release plans for a new Avengers movie. The pandemic delays gave Marvel more time to finish the current slate of movies and TV shows before having to worry about the next wave of adventures.

Moreover, Kevin Feige might make misleading remarks along the way. On the one hand, he did say that the next big MCU storyline is currently underway, hinting that an Avengers 5 crossover might follow. On the other hand, he seemed to imply that Endgame might have been the last Avengers movie.

However, it makes little sense for Disney to kill such a powerful franchise. Avengers movies are billion-dollar movies that can’t just go away.

Avengers
Screenshot from Avengers: Endgame showing the Avengers team planning the daring mission to retrieve the Infinity Stones from the past. Image source: Marvel Studios

With that in mind, Avengers: Secret Wars makes the most sense as the next big superhero crossover in the MCU. We learned from Doctor Strange 2 that messing with the multiverse tends to have side effects. These are called incursions, a phenomenon that involves two realities colliding with one another and risking the destruction of both. We have already explained the rules of incursions and what they might mean for the MCU.

These incursions could lead to a variation of the Secret Wars comics storyline. It could be an actual secret war between two realities hoping to survive an incursion. The most obvious candidates are Earth-838 and Earth-616. But if these two worlds are at odds right now, and a multiversal war is about to begin, then the Avengers will have to be a part of it.

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When will Secret Wars come out?

We do know from Shang-Chi that the Avengers are very much active. They’re still keeping tabs on threats, and they will take action when needed. We just need a massive, immediate threat for them to tackle together.

Then, Clea (Charlize Theron) appearing in the Doctor Strange 2 post-credits to seek the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) indicates that we should see this development unfold sooner rather than later.

All this suggests that an incursion might happen in the not-too-distant future. So it would make sense for Marvel to include Secret Wars in the Avengers franchise.

This brings us to the tweet below that resurfaced an old Secret Wars release rumor. Charles Murphy from Murphy’s Multiverse addresses Marvel’s purported plans for Secret Wars:

The massive crossover might have had a tentative May 2024 release date in Marvel’s MCU calendar. But that was before the pandemic delays. Marvel is at least a year behind, so that release estimate must be way off.

But that’s just speculation for now. Time will tell whether Marvel will indeed adapt Secret Wars as an Avengers story. And whether Avengers 5 is coming soon or whether we should expect additional delays.