Say Goodbye to the Avengers as Marvel Shifts Focus to New Heroes

in Marvel

Age of Ultron

Credit: Marvel

After a lackluster slate of Phase Four projects, Marvel Studios is finally making some much-needed changes—which looks like it might involve dusting some of the franchise’s most beloved characters for good.

Marvel's Avengers including Thor, Black Widow, Captain Avenger, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and the Hulk, look up at the destruction of the city.
Credit: Marvel Studios

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With the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes bringing Hollywood productions to a standstill, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the MCU at the moment. Upcoming Disney+ shows like Daredevil: Born Again and the long-awaited Blade (2025) movie have been put on pause, with writers and actors withholding labor in solidarity with the fight for better wages.

Strikes aside, Marvel has experienced somewhat of a trial and error period ever since the hugely successful Infinity Saga concluded with 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. With the superhero studio’s parent company placing a particular emphasis on expanding its catalog of Disney+ originals, the MCU’s Phase Four kicked off with a string of less-than-impressive movies and TV shows that didn’t always hit the mark with fans.

Anthony Mackie as MCU's Captain America
Credit: Marvel Studios

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While there were some winners, including Emmy darling WandaVision and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), most would agree that this transitional era for Marvel put quantity over quality in hopes that something new and exciting would stuck with audiences the way Thanos and the Infinity Saga did.

Fast forward to today, and Marvel is pretty much unrecognizable from where it left off post-Infinity Saga. As the franchise continues to move further into Phase Five with the “Multiverse Saga” on the not-so-distant horizon, the studio is starting to accept the difficult truth that old dogs can’t always learn new tricks, which seems to be the case with characters who have been a quintessential part of the MCU since its earliest days.

Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man getting ready to fight Thanos in Endgame
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel has been subtly swapping out classic Avengers like Tony Stark’s Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers’ Captain America (Chris Evans) since they took their final bows in Endgame, with the Disney+ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series setting up Sam Wilson’s (Anthony Mackie) new Captain America. At the same time, the Hawkeye miniseries saw Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) handing over the mantle to Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), among others.

And now, according to the newly-unveiled Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia Updated Edition from publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK), the MCU is changing the face of the entire franchise moving forward—literally.

(L-R) Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johannsson in 'The Avengers' (2012)
Credit: Marvel Studios

DK recently revealed the newest edition of its Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia, which acts as the definitive guide to the many heroes and villains of the MCU. But when compared to the original 2019 book, only some Avengers remained present and accounted for, with new big-name, high-profile characters on its cover, proving that the franchise is ready and willing to remove even the most beloved heroes.

The original version of the book, which was published in 2019 on the heels of Avengers: Endgame, featured OG Avengers like the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) on the cover. In contrast, the new book highlights more controversial additions to the MCU, like She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) and Shuri’s (Letitia Wright) Black Panther.

Check out the covers for each Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia below:

Marvel Character Encyclopedias
Credit: DK Publishing / Marvel

However, not all legacy characters have been dusted from this new era of Marvel, with Sam Wilson’s Captain America, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and even Tony Stark’s Iron Man gracing the new cover, among others. And even though Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff might not be on the front of the book, rest assured that you can find their appropriate sections in the pages.

Still, fans shouldn’t expect to see every character from the franchise, given that the sharing agreement between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios prohibits elements specific to the Tom Holland-led Homecoming trilogy from being showcased in consumer products, including, oddly enough, publishing. Using this logic, we probably won’t see Tom Hardy’s Venom or even Jared Leto’s Morbius side-by-side with the Avengers anytime soon.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man
Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

While it might be out with the old and in with the new, it’s important to note that, sadly, many characters have either left the MCU by this point in the timeline or have taken on more minor roles. However, this doesn’t mean they’re not pivotal to Marvel history, and it’s nice to see characters from all eras still being honored in these more recent publications.

The Marvel Studios Character Encyclopedia New Edition is available for pre-order and will officially release on April 16, 2024.

What do you think of Marvel abandoning classic characters on the cover of their latest book? Let us know in the comments below.

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