The latest Marvel blockbuster ends with a nod to the past and a tease for the future.
Warning: This story contains major spoilers for The Marvels.
The Marvels ends with a throwback to the past and a major tease for the future.
The Nia DaCosta-directed superhero flick unites three of Marvel's leads — Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani — sending them on a chaotic, planet-hopping journey through the stars. Not only does the film serve as a sequel to past entries like Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, but it also looks ahead, setting up a future for not one but two iconic superhero teams.
EW breaks down that Marvels ending and how its end-credits scene might shift the future of the MCU.
Kamala, meet Kate
The Marvels ends with a playful nod to the first-ever Marvel end-credits scene, looking all the way back to 2008's Iron Man.
In a surprise cameo, we see ace archer Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), last seen in 2021's Hawkeye Disney+ series. As Kate enters the room of her New York City apartment, she sees Kamala sitting in a chair, shrouded in darkness. Kamala has access to all of S.A.B.E.R.'s intel on other heroes, and she's been doing some digging. Specifically, she's noticed a lot of young heroes, all around her age. And she has an idea.
"I'm putting together a team," Kamala tells Kate. "And I want you on it."
It's a fun throwback to 2008, when Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury first popped up at the end of Iron Man to recruit Tony Stark for the original Avengers. (It's worth noting that Vellani herself has cited Iron Man as her all-time favorite Marvel movie.) Kamala's doing her best Fury impression here, and she tells Kate that she wants to, ahem, assemble a team of young heroes. She doesn't mention any of the others by name, but she does reference "Ant-Man's daughter," a nod to Cassie Lang, played by Kathryn Newton in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
That's right: It's Young Avengers time!
For the last few years, Marvel has slowly been introducing a number of young heroes, seemingly laying the foundation for an eventual Young Avengers team-up. Now, that team-up is finally becoming a reality, with Kamala and Kate as the founding members. The Young Avengers have a long history in Marvel comics, created by writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung back in 2005. They've since become a fan favorite, with the lineup shifting over the years.
Marvel has yet to announce a Young Avengers film or TV show, so it remains to be seen whether the teenage team will be getting their own show or movie, or if they'll show up in an already announced project, like Avengers: Secret Wars. Still, there are plenty of potential heroes who could join the team. Here are some of the most likely candidates.
Cassie Lang: As Kamala mentions, Cassie Lang (Newton) is the daughter of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). She's got her own shrinking tech and super suit, so she's an obvious choice for Young Avengers recruitment.
America Chavez: In the comics, America Chavez is a key member of the Young Avengers, and Xochitl Gomez played the teenage hero in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Her abilities allow her to literally punch holes between different dimensions. Useful!
Patriot: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced Eli Bradley (Elijah Richardson), the grandson of super soldier Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly). Eli played a minor role in the TV series, but in the comics, he's a major part of the Young Avengers as the Captain America-esque Patriot.
Wiccan and Speed: Wanda Maximoff's twin sons Billy and Tommy each have powers of their own. Billy, primarily played by Julian Hilliard, has similar powers to his mother, and Tommy, played by Jett Klyne, is a speedster like Wanda's brother in the comics, Quicksilver. Both boys are expected to pop up again in the upcoming Disney+ series Agatha: Coven of Chaos. Heartstopper's Joe Locke has long been rumored to be playing grown Billy in the next witchy spinoff, but that casting has not been confirmed. In any case, they are very likely candidates for any Young Avengers team-up.
Kid Loki: Another key name from the Young Avengers comics, this youthful version of Loki showed up in the first season of the Loki TV show, played by Jack Veal. Could he return to make mischief?
Ironheart: Chicago teenager Riri Williams isn't a member of the team in the comics, but she's a major part of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Up next, she'll be starring in her own Disney+ show Ironheart. Her intelligence and powerful inventions would make her a worthwhile addition.
An X-citing development
The Marvels has one more tease, which comes after the credits start to roll. The film ends with Carol, Monica, and Kamala facing off against the villainous Kree revolutionary Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). In an effort to save the Kree home planet of Hala, Dar-Benn rips a hole in the universe. Monica sacrifices herself to close it, trapping herself on the other side of the wormhole. The mid-credits scene reveals that Monica is still alive, and she wakes up in a stark white hospital bed.
She sees a woman who appears to be her mother, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). Maria was a former Air Force captain and Carol's best friend from Captain Marvel who died of cancer while Monica was Blipped by Thanos. Monica is overjoyed to see her mother, but the woman doesn't recognize her.
Then a strange blue figure walks in. It's Beast, a.k.a Hank McCoy!
Kelsey Grammer reprises his role from the X-Men movies, once again playing everyone's favorite hairy blue scientist. Beast explains that Monica was found floating in space, only to be rescued by someone named Binary. That's this universe's version of Maria Rambeau. Monica has become trapped in a parallel universe, one where the X-Men exist (or at least some version of them).
Just to drive the point home, Beast tells Monica that someone named Charles wants to see her — presumably Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, leader of the X-Men. As Beast exits the room, the camera lingers on Binary in her full costume. She's standing in front of the familiar "X" sliding doors, similar to the ones from Xavier's mansion in the previous X-Men movies. The Marvels also incorporates elements from the scores of 2003's X2: X-Men United and 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, as confirmed in the credits.
It's a scene with major implications for the future of the MCU. Ever since Disney acquired Fox's film and TV assets in 2019, fans have speculated about when and how Marvel might weave the X-Men into the ongoing Avengers-forward franchise. There have been hints along the way. In the Ms. Marvel series, Kamala is confirmed to be a mutant, and Patrick Stewart popped up for a short-lived cameo as Professor X in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But this is the franchise's first major reference to the X-Men, and it's official confirmation that they exist in an alternate universe.
The introduction of Binary is also a major development, one that deviates slightly from the comics. Lynch has now played three different roles in the MCU: Maria Rambeau in the main timeline, an alternate universe version of Captain Marvel in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and now Binary. In the comics, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel takes the name Binary after she shifts into a powerful energy form, capable of generating the power of a star. The MCU imagines a different reality where it was Maria who gained powers instead of Carol, and in this universe, Maria has become a hero in her own right, adopting the name Binary.
So, what does this all mean for the future? In short: We don't yet know! Right now, the X-Men are still relegated to a parallel universe, and it may be a long time before we see them cross over with the rest of the MCU. Up next, Ryan Reynolds will be starring in Deadpool 3, and he'll be joined by one of the most iconic X-Men of all, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. (Given Deadpool's frequent fourth-wall breaks, we can probably expect plenty of jokes about the Disney-Fox merger.)
But even with all those unanswered questions, it's safe to say that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has big things planned for the X-Men. Long before he launched the MCU, Feige built his early career working on X-Men, X2, and X-Men: The Last Stand, and he's long cited Marvel's mutants as some of his favorite comic characters. In an interview with EW earlier this year, Feige opened up about Marvel's careful approach to bringing mutants into the MCU.
"Part of the fun is that I've been at this company for half my life, and we're just now tapping into arguably one of the biggest aspects of the publishing history," he said. "It's pretty remarkable, and it's a testament to the house of ideas and what Marvel publishing has done these 80 years. The question is how to do it and when to do it, and that's something we've been working on for years."
Now, it looks that "when" is finally happening.
The Marvels is playing now in theaters.
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