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Just when audiences thought the yet untitled Avengers 4 couldn’t pack any more characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 3 conclusion, Marvel Studios surprises with another casting addition. Although additional shooting concluded earlier this month, news broke Friday that Golden Globe-nominated actress Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) filmed scenes for the upcoming Avengers movie in an undisclosed role. Until the first teaser trailer lands, hopefully soon, much of the plot surrounding Avengers 4 is pure rumor and speculation at the moment. But set photos suggest a time jump, and previous comments from producer Kevin Feige and directors Anthony and Joe Russo confirmed that the film will serve as a conclusion to the MCU fans have known for the past decade and an entry point to new characters, stories and concepts. With those things in mind, here are a few ideas about which Marvel character Langford might portray in Avengers 4.
Where is Clint Barton? That was one of the biggest questions audiences had leaving Avengers: Infinity War this summer. While the film briefly mentions that he, along with Scott Lang, were under house arrest after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) the answer was a less than satisfying one given the world-ending stakes and the fact that Lang managed to slip his security detail as seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Set photos and leaked promotional art suggest that not only will Clint Barton be receiving a new costume when he shows up in Avengers 4, he will also adopt a new moniker to replace Hawkeye: Ronin. Barton also took on the guise of Ronin in the comics after Civil War, but in the MCU his reasons might be more tragic – the loss of his family in the aftermath of Thanos’ snap. Whatever the reason, Hawkeye may be no more, which would be a perfect means to introduce Kate Bishop, who took the name Hawkeye in the comics after Civil War. Bishop has become a key player in Marvel Comics, largely as a result of her role as a member of the Young Avengers, and Matt Fraction and Alex Aja’s Eisner-nominated Hawkeye series, which explored the student-teacher relationship between Bishop and Burton. With fellow Young Avenger Cassie Lang already established in the MCU, and rumored to be a teenager thanks to a time jump in Avengers 4, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to believe Langford will be joining her to establish the next generation of Avengers and serve as their resident badass.
We already know that the Skrulls are set to play a huge role in next year’s Captain Marvel, which sees the shape-shifting aliens set their sights on world domination. Fans have speculated that the Skrulls have already been around in the MCU for years, disguised as a recognizable face. Undoubtedly, a postcredit stinger for Captain Marvel will see one of the aliens slipping away to set up a life on Earth, perhaps as an Avenger or key member of SHIELD. That plot point would share similarities with Secret Invasion, the 2008 comic book event in which it was revealed that the Skrulls had kidnapped and replaced a number of Earth’s heroes years ago, raising the question: “Who do you trust?” At the center of this arc was Spider-Woman, who was revealed to really be Queen Veranke, who had infiltrated the Avengers to weaken their position for the upcoming invasion. While Thanos will still be the central threat in Avengers 4, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a secondary threat emerge in the form of Veranke (perhaps with Spider-Woman ties) to set up a future adaptation of Secret Invasion. The Avengers have yet to face a female adversary as their central threat, and Veranke’s power set and plight to find a new home world for her people in the aftermath of an attack by Galactus could create an interesting moral conundrum for Marvel’s heroes going forward and allow Langford to show us her dark(er) side.
In the absence of Doctor Strange after his death in Avengers: Infinity War, the Earth needs a protector to deal with mystic threats. While Wong is confirmed to return in Avengers 4, he can’t hold down the fort by himself and the role of Sorcerer Supreme must eventually be filled. Perhaps in the absence of Strange, Wong takes on the role of mentor, becoming the new Ancient One, and training an apprentice to protect the world’s magic and alternate dimensions. In the comics, Clea is the daughter of Dormammu, and the partner and eventual wife of Stephen Strange. But the MCU has a history of changing character relationships and updating them, and it would be more interesting to see Clea repositioned as Doctor Strange’s replacement, and perhaps a true rival to his claim on the title of Master of the Mystic Arts. While these threads may be best explored in full in a sequel to Doctor Strange (2016), there should be some significant changes in store for our heroes when they inevitably return, especially if a significant time jump takes place. There’s perhaps no better way to test Strange than have him return and find out he no longer holds the position he once had and has been replaced by a younger, more attentive sorcerer. And Clea, with her connections to the yet unexplored Dark Dimension, could open the doors of the cosmic MCU in a way that goes beyond space travel and aliens.
It’s no secret that Marvel Studios is hot on Jack Kirby’s Eternals for the future of the MCU. The project, which is being set up as Marvel’s next big thing, already has a script from Matthew and Ryan Firpo, and will be directed by Chloe Zhao. It seems likely that Eternals will be one of Marvel’s 2020 projects and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the seeds for that film planted in Avengers 4, especially given the connection of the characters, who are actually a race of superpowered beings, to Thanos. In September, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Eternals would partly center around “the love story between Ikaris, a man fueled by cosmic energy, and Sersi, who relishes moving among humans.” The Eternals are still kind of difficult to grasp by way of brief synopsis, and we expect both Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics to make the effort to bring these characters to the forefront in a digestible way over the next couple of years. Simply put, Sersi is an immortal with the ability to rearrange the molecular structure of objects – which could be quite the handy power when it comes to resurrecting the heroes disintegrated in Avengers: Infinity War. While Sersi has her own expansive mythology related to the Eternals and their war against the Deviants (the race Thanos stems from), she has played a central role in aiding the Avengers numerous times over the years, including joining the team briefly and helping them defeat Nebula. Perhaps the key to easing audiences into the Eternals will be the Avengers. In any case, Langford looks strikingly similar to Kirby’s depiction of the character, who stood out among the key Eternals with her dark hair and high cheekbones.
One of the surprising omissions from Thanos’ characterization in Avengers: Infinity War was his unrequited love for Death, who in the Marvel Comics is personified as a raven-haired beauty – and sometimes, more alarmingly, a skeleton in a purple cloak. While the Red Skull’s appearance did tease audiences with the concept, and his role played a similar part to Death’s, the real entity remained missing. Perhaps this was because Thanos had yet to gain her attention. While Infinity War’s Thanos is logical and calculating, an evil mathematician with a god-bod, it would be interesting to see Avengers 4 give us the Mad Titan interpretation that has loomed over the comics. Haunted by visions of death, Thanos’ peace may be brief and see him return slightly insane and speaking to an entity that only he and few others can perceive. Langford’s casting, by way of her youth and ability to quickly create warmth, may create an interesting wrinkle to one of the oldest and most frightening concepts in the universe.
Whoever Katherine Langford ends up playing, she’s sure to add something interesting and exciting to the MCU, and hopefully she’ll stick around for a while as the franchise explores new corners of Marvel lore.
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