Here’s How The Marvel Cinematic Universe Should End

If you aren't at least vaguely familiar with the existence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), there's a strong possibility that you've lived under a rock for quite some time.

Based on the iconic characters, concepts, and stories from the pages of Marvel's ever-popular comic books, the movie franchise is one of the most successful entities in pop culture history.

It can't go on forever. As popular as it is, many film fans have been complaining about superhero fatigue for several years already. But it deserves a fitting send-off when it finally does end. In this piece, we'll discuss how the MCU got to where it is now and, therefore, the best way to bring it to a satisfying conclusion.

The Story So Far

The MCU began in 2008 with a brilliant platform from which to grow in the form of Iron Man. Leading man Robert Downey Jr. was returning from being blacklisted in Hollywood, and the eponymous superhero was a mere B-list character in Marvel's comics, so the movie's success was far from guaranteed. However, it was a success in every sense. Fans and critics loved it, and it made a killing at the box office. The franchise was off to a flying start.

Iron Man
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Since then, the Avengers have assembled, the franchise has ventured into space, other dimensions, and alternate universes, and we've traveled through time and encountered aliens, sci-fi technology, magic, monsters, and gods. It's one of the most diverse movie franchises ever.

At the time of writing, there have been 32 films in the MCU. The franchise has also expanded onto the small screen, with new spin-off shows regularly hitting streaming services.

The MCU has generated an incredible $30 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time. Ten of its films are in the top 50 highest-grossing list, and 2019's Avengers: Endgame is the second-highest-grossing movie ever.

New films and television shows will be released soon, and more will undoubtedly crop up. The MCU is a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of popular culture.

The Current State of Play

The Avengers and their allies have seen off various threats, and power on a cosmic scale made it happen. Timelines have been broken, exploration of the multiverse has occurred, there have been tears in the fabric of reality, and we've met alternate versions of established MCU characters, including those from other Marvel movie universes we never thought we'd see again.

Beloved characters have come and gone, whether because their superhero exploits have run their course or they've perished in their battles to thwart evil threats.

Avengers: Endgame showed us how messing with time can be dangerous. Loki showed us the craziness of timeline fracturing and the fact that there is an end to existence in the MCU's multiverse. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home showed us how fragile the borders between realities are, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania showed us there are cosmic threats in the subatomic world that are far too small even to perceive. The potential for a cataclysmic event that could end or reset the MCU as we know it is enormous.

The Future

There's always a plan laid out for the future of the MCU. Sometimes, the schedule is only vague, tentative, and subject to change, but there's a plan no less.

Right now, fans are awaiting the release of eleven movies — 2023's The Marvels, 2024's Deadpool 3, Captain America: Brave New World and Thunderbolts, 2025's Blade and Fantastic Four, 2026's Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, 2027's Avengers: Secret Wars. There’s also the as-yet-unscheduled Armor Wars, Spider-Man: No Way Home sequel, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings sequel. The latter three of which will be released sometime before Avengers: Secret Wars.

shang chi teaser trailer 14
Image Credit: Marvel Studios – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

There are also six television shows awaiting release. This includes 2023's Echo and the second season of Loki, 2024's Ironheart, Agatha: Coven of Chaos and Daredevil: Born Again, and the as-yet-unscheduled second season of What If…? Again, the unscheduled series will hit the small screen before the release of Avengers: Secret Wars.

Bearing all that in mind, Avengers: Secret Wars could be the last movie in the MCU — or at least the final one in the MCU as we know it. If that's the case, considering what we know about the franchise up to now, how should it bring things to a climax? What should happen between now and then to perfectly conclude the MCU? Let's discuss that.

What Needs To Happen Between Now and Then

The established idea is that Kang and his variants will be the main antagonists of the MCU's heroes going into the next phase of movies and television shows. Whether or not it will be Jonathan Majors continuing in the role, given his recent legal problems, remains to be seen. Still, the character is in place as the “big bad,” and not just because his name is in the title of the next Avengers film.

The Council of Kangs needs to establish itself as a more potent threat than anything seen before in the MCU. That won't be easy, given we've already seen a Hulk-pummelling despot wielding objects that grant him control over every aspect of existence. If the end of the franchise sees the heroes having to face anything weaker than they've already faced, it'll make the whole thing incredibly anticlimactic.

On that same note, should Kang be usurped as the “big bad” before the MCU ends, the character who replaces him in the build-up must be even more powerful and iconic.

Fans also need to see several key Marvel characters appear in the MCU before they'll be satisfied when it concludes. We already know icons like the Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Wolverine, and Blade are coming, which is brilliant. Still, nobody wants the franchise to end without the likes of Galactus, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Red Hulk, Squirrel Girl, and Sentry appearing, whether they're involved in the actual finale or not.

How Should The MCU End

If Avengers: Secret Wars is the final movie in the MCU, we can guess what the general story will be from our knowledge of the comic book arc of the same name, published from May 2015 until January 2016.

In Secret Wars, the Marvel 616 Universe collided with the Ultimate Marvel 1610 Universe, destroying both. Mysteriously, pieces of the two universes are salvaged and combined with other post-collision universes, creating the patchwork quilt that is “Battleworld.”

Notably, the collision of the 616 and 1610 universe is referred to in the story as an “incursion” — a word that was used at the end of 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, further hinting towards a similar fate for MCU Earth and a similar storyline going forward.

If Kang or the Council of Kangs get established as a significant enough threat in the MCU, he/they could lord over the live-action Battleworld, which would be satisfying. However, ideally, it will be the same character lording over it as in the comic book arc — the one and only Doctor Doom.

It would be fantastic to see Doom impose himself on the MCU by defeating the mighty Kang and becoming its ultimate villain. The most fitting end for the franchise would see Marvel's foremost iconic villain providing the “boss fight” for the MCU's heroes.

Doom is a potent threat at his base level — he's a master of magic and technology — but he'll need more than that to be the franchise's final villain. In Secret Wars, he used his vast intellect to figure out how to steal the power of the nigh-omnipotent Beyonders. He'll need to do something similar in this franchise if he's the one to salvage pieces of the MCU and different universes to create Battleworld and lord over it.

When Doom gained the Beyonders' power and ruled Battleworld, he had a version of Galactus as his guard and an army of Thors as his police force. Something similar to this in live-action would be unspeakably cool.

Marvel Studios also need to get the character right. The MCU needs its flagship villain so it can end satisfactorily, but the actor and portrayal must be spot-on. Both live-action versions in previous Fantastic Four franchises have been disastrous. The actors — Julian McMahon and Toby Kebbell — were undoubtedly wrong for the role. The character didn't have the correct powers, and his personality wasn't right. Cillian Murphy, Rami Malek, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau should all be under consideration, and Doom should have a high-tech suit of armor and mastery over the mystic arts.

Regarding the islands of Battleworld, the inhabitants should be a mixture of existing MCU characters, newly introduced Marvel characters, and, most notably, for the big finish, characters from other Marvel movie universes. Imagine a vampire island inhabited by Wesley Snipes' Blade and thousands of vampires. Imagine an area called Westchester County, with the X-Mansion from the X-Men movies and the mutants from Fox's X-Men franchise.

The possibilities are endless. We could see past movie and television versions of the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man the Punisher, Ghost Rider, Howard the Duck, Daredevil, Elektra, their respective villains, and more. Granted, there'll need to be heavy usage of de-aging technology for some actors, but that's another matter.

On a related note, wouldn't it be perfect live-action closure for the Doctor Doom character if the MCU version was to kill the versions played by Julian McMahon and Toby Kebbell, having brought them to Battleworld as part of his salvage operation? It would garner a massive audience reaction but also exorcize the specter of shame haunting such an iconic villain.

Ultimately, the MCU's grand finale should see live-action heroes from every Marvel movie franchise joining forces to dethrone Doom and put things right. Picture the awesomeness: Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, Eric Bana's Hulk, Lou Ferrigno's Hulk, Tatiana Maslany's She-Hulk, Harrison Ford's Red Hulk, and maybe even a Hulk from a different reality played by Ed Norton, all teaming up to smash.

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Wesley Snipes' Blade slaughtering a load of henchmen. Ben Affleck and Charlie Cox's Daredevils working in perfect tandem. Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and the different versions of Spider-Man smack-talking each other as they kick every villain's collective behinds. And it would be incredible to see the final nail in Doom's proverbial coffin getting hammered in by a team-up of live-action versions of Reed Richards.

The icing on the cake would be to see Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson back in some capacity. Alternate versions of Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow are possible ways to make that happen. Downey's inclusion, in particular, would see the franchise going satisfyingly full circle from its first installment.

The ideal final scenes could see the sun rising over a restored, unusually peaceful MCU Earth and other Marvel movie universes, our heroes' collective jobs done. It would have echoes of Thanos' retirement scene following his temporary victory at the end of 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, only this time it would be the fans, rather than a giant purple lunatic, feeling satisfied.

Whether or not that would result in a reset of sorts of the MCU or a complete lull in superhero movies for a few years remains to be seen, but it would be a perfect end for the franchise as we know it.

If that all happens, what on Earth could ever top it? A live-action crossover between Marvel and DC? We can but dream…

Writer and Editor | + posts

Writer and editor with ten years of experience working full-time in this capacity. I've written over 2000 pieces of published work and managed teams of 50+ writers. I've produced content for some of the world's most prominent entertainment and sports platforms. My published work includes feature articles, news and opinion pieces, listicles, quizzes, voice-over scripts, viral content, and more. I'm a British 80s kid who loves movies (horror, superhero stuff, and all things 80s are my favorites), boxing, and football (soccer), a former business owner and executive headhunter, and a Tottenham Hotspur FC fan for my sins.