The Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Is Hiding In Plain Sight

in Marvel

Tom Holland as Spider-Man

Credit: Marvel Studios / Sony Pictures

Disney might be teasing us with the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — and it’s right under our noses.

Andrew Garfield (left), Tom Holland (middle), and Tobey Maguire (right)
Credit: Sony Pictures / Marvel Studios

On the weekend of September 9-11th, The Walt Disney Company will be holding their annual convention for all things Disney, the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Called “the ultimate Disney fan event”, D23 will likely feature several big Disney-centric announcements, during panels for the Disney Parks, Animation, and of course, Marvel Studios.

d23 expo 2022
Credit: Screenshot via D23

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This year, Disney has released an official Gold Member poster for the D23 Expo, and it features an astonishing 58 hidden Disney references!

Marvel Studios and Marvel Cinematic Universe hints have not been left out at all — with some prominent and some more subtle references that might end up featured during the Marvel panels, potentially indicating the future course of the MCU as a whole.

Robert Downey, Jr,. as Iron Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

The first reference is the most obvious: an upside down Spider-Man hangs from the leftmost gate of the castle in the poster.

This could be be a hint at a Spidey-related announcement — with Marvel head Kevin Feige announcing during SDCC that Spidey and Daredevil are being set to lead the MCU’s “street level” team of superheroes. We might hear more on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s whereabouts, considering that the world has forgotten his entire identity as Peter Parker and, well… existence, post Spider-Man: No Way Home (2022). No Way Home saw Peter Parker continuing to superhero on the “down low”, following Aunt May’s (Marisa Tomei) death at the hand of the Green Goblin/Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe).

We might see something about Spider-Man: Freshman Year or even Holland’s Spider-Man 4.

Spider-Man: Freshman Year logo
Credit: Marvel

Another hint that can be seen in the D23 poster is the Black Panther logo on the far right brick wall. It’s possible that Disney and Marvel fans might see more info about or another trailer for somewhat controversial Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), after the first trailer set to an emotional cover of No Woman, No Cry by Nigerian artist, Tems.

King T'Challa mural in 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Shang-Chi is another Marvel Studios property with an unknown future within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Luckily, Shang-Chi’s symbol has also been spotted in the D23 poster, somewhat hidden by the tentacles coming out of the water, on the brick wall at the bottom left corner. Perhaps a Shang-Chi 2 announcement is in the cards?

Shang Chi Simu Liu wielding all Ten Rings in fight with Wenwu
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: ‘Deadpool 3’ Could Be “Reimagined” For The MCU Under Disney

Lastly, Captain America’s shield is also visible on the top right, next to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Cap’s shield could hint at a multitude of things — from the new Thunderbolts movie wrapping up Phase Five (and a hint at “Evil” Captain America, AKA U.S. Agent), to an actual “Captain America 4”, Captain America: New World Order, slated currently for May 3, 2024. Maybe we’ll hear about Chris Evans potentially returning to the MCU as Steve Rogers/Captain America.

Chris Evans as Captain America
Credit: Marvel Studios

Hopefully, there will be big announcements on the level of, or even exceeding, that of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) this year. SDCC saw the introduction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s entire Phase Five roadmap (and some of Phase Six), confirming rumors about Multiversal Kang the Conqueror and Secret Wars storylines.

Who knows what might be in store for the MCU this D23? Stay tuned for Inside The Magic’s coverage of the event!

What kind of MCU news do you think will be announced this D23 Expo? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s dramatic ending to Phase Three, Avengers: Endgame directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, saying goodbye to Marvel heavyweights Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America. This led to the beginning of Phase Four with the Disney+ Original WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision) back in 2021. Marvel went full steam ahead, releasing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) starring Simu Liu (Shang-Chi), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) with Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire all as their own separate, Multiversal version of Peter Parker, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) with Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and recently, Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) with Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson) and Natalie Portman (Jane Foster/Mighty Thor).

Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe wraps things up with Tatiana Maslany as the eponymous She-Hulk: Attorney at Law this August 18, 2022, and Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa send-off Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, November 11, 2022 later this year.

The newly announced MCU Phase Five kicks off with Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania with Scott Lang as Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Janet van Dyne as the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) hitting theatres on February 17, 2023, before May 5, 2023 brings us the final James Gunn-directed Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 with Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and July 28, 2023 takes us to new cosmic heights with The Marvels, a direct sequel to Captain Marvel (2019) starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers and newcomer Iman Vellani (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel).

We can expect the Disney+ Original Ironheart featuring Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) Fall 2023, as well as the brand new Blade in November, with 2023 ending in Agatha: Coven of Chaos and 2024 starting with Daredevil: Born Again – both Disney+ exclusives.

Phase Six will surely break new records with Fantastic Four in November 8, 2024, and likely the biggest announcements to date – a return to an Avengers-level threat with the Multiverse Saga’s conclusion in May 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and November’s Avengers: Secret Wars.

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