Viewers of Avengers: Endgame likely noticed a moment in the final battle against Thanos when most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s big name women came together to fight as a team – a key popcorn moment that was one of several such group team-ups.
But this team-up, between Captain Marvel, Okoye, Shuri, Valkyrie, Scarlet Witch, Wasp, Gamora, Nebula, Mantis, and Pepper Potts, might be a little different than some of those other fan moments – it could be a glimpse at the future of the MCU.
And it all goes back to Marvel’s all-women Avengers, A-Force.
Like the group in Endgame, A-Force formed in a critical moment for Marvel Comics in Secret Wars, a 2015/16 crossover that remade the Marvel Universe.
In Secret Wars, A-Force was an army of female Avengers in the strange domain of Battleworld, an alternate universe where Doctor Doom reigned supreme and Marvel’s heroes played different roles and had different lives until reality was set right.
On Battleworld, A-Force consisted of dozens of women, with Captain Marvel and She-Hulk playing key leadership roles and a new character, Singularity, providing the key link to bring A-Force into the mainstream Marvel Universe once Secret Wars wrapped. Thanks to her unique physiology, Singularity, a universe given consciousness, was one of the few beings whose memory of Battleworld survived the rebuilding of Marvel’s multiverse, and with her arrival in a strange new world, Singularity made it her mission to assemble a group like the army of heroes that populated her former home.
She assembled a core roster of She-Hulk (who served as leader), Captain Marvel, Medusa, Dazzler, and Nico Minoru, who remained a team until She-Hulk was gravely injured in Civil War II, with some heroes placing the blame on Carol Danvers, leading A-Force to disband.
Of course, a movie version of A-Force would look a little different. For one thing, some of the characters such as She-Hulk and Dazzler haven't been introduced yet (though there's plenty of room in the MCU for both - especially with mutants now on the table), and Singularity likely wouldn't work the same in a movie world.
But that key scene from Avengers: Endgame laid out a blueprint for how the MCU A-Force might look - especially anchored by Captain Marvel, one of the cornerstones of the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alongside Carol Danvers, one of Marvel's biggest guns overall, there's Wanda Maximoff, a veteran Avenger; Okoye, the leader of the Wakanda special forces; Valkyrie, the new monarch of Asgard; Wasp, the first MCU female title character; Nebula, the core woman on the current Guardians roster, and more.
Sounds like an Avengers-level squad to us.
The Future is Female
It might be a bit of a stretch to suggest a cool visual moment and a few seconds of screen time is the launch of a franchise for an all-woman Avengers – but we’re not pulling this out of thin air. There’s plenty of evidence that a movie featuring the most prominent women of the MCU is in the works, with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, Nebula actor Karen Gillan, and even Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson, advocating for such an idea.
“I'm still really into this idea of an all-female Avengers movie,” Larson told CNet after Endgame’s release, referencing the team-up scene directly. “Getting all the women together and getting them to work as a team ... would be so powerful and iconic. Just because having just seen Avengers: Endgame, getting to see all of those characters on screen, you realize the beauty of these new superhero movies is that everybody has their own special skills they bring to the table. Their own, you know, superpower. And to see women work together, and in that way as a team, is not something we've seen enough of on screen.”
And this isn’t the first time Larson’s brought the idea to the public – or to Marvel Studios.
“I think that was something that we were just talking about casually,” Karen Gillan said in 2018. “We’d all taken this big photo, like a Marvel class photo and all of the women got together afterwards and we were talking and we were like ‘Wouldn’t it be so nice if every day was like this and we were just all around each other,’ and we were like ‘Let’s make it happen!’ And then I think Tessa Thompson and Brie Larson marched up to Kevin Feige and said ‘You need to do this!’ and then we all surrounded him. But that’s the last I heard of it, so who knows?”
For Feige’s part, he’s repeatedly stated the importance of women to the future of the MCU.
"I think we're getting to the point soon where we have so many great female characters that those are just our heroes as opposed to when are they all female, all male," Feige said in June, 2018. "It's just the Marvel heroes, more than half of which will be women."
Feige later stated he expects female-led superhero movies to eventually be "the norm" at Marvel Studios, and has more than once mentioned the women of Wakanda as good candidates for a group film.
As for A-Force (or an all-female team like it), Feige seems to be keen to the idea.
“It was a pretty amazing moment to be somewhere and have your shoulder get tapped and turn around every female hero we have is standing there going, ‘How about it?’” Feige said, referencing the moment when Brie Larson and Tessa Thompson brought the idea to him. “And I said, ‘Yes.’”
Most of Marvel's upcoming film slate remains a mystery, with Feige last stating that announcements of the studio's next few years of movies would come some time after the release of Avengers: Endgame - perhaps even waiting to draw on the fervor of concepts presented in the movie to drum up excitement.