Well, as Marvel fans we have now experienced and (mostly) survived the “Endgame.” After 10+ years and 20+ movies, Marvel Studios has brought this stage of storytelling to a close with a finale that broke box office records and was generally well received by critics and fans. The question we are left with now is, of course, “What next?”

(Warning: Lots of spoilers for “Endgame” are ahead, in case you have not yet seen the film.)

Even though it feels weird to picture a Marvel Cinematic Universe without Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and many of the other original characters, I am thankful that “Endgame” was a definitive ending. Franchises and TV shows should always quit while they’re ahead — they should leave the audience with a sense of bittersweet satisfaction.

It’s hard to predict what will happen with the MCU going forward, because we’ve never really seen a franchise like this before. How do you follow up a film that’s essentially one big, epic conclusion to a 22 film arc?

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It’s possible that some audiences and fans may use “Endgame” as a jumping off point, and interest in subsequent films may start to wane over time. Everyone showed up for “Endgame” to see how the story would end, but will they continue to show up for new films feeling the same level of hype?

Or, will “Endgame” continue to fuel interest in this franchise, and the MCU will basically become its own genre, producing many films for years to come? Although characters come and go, people know they can trust the MCU brand and will keep buying tickets.

Honestly, I have no idea what will happen in regards to the future of the MCU, and that’s both exciting and scary. I could definitely see some of the audience wandering away now that Iron Man, Black Widow, and other original characters are gone, and especially since Disney did such a good job marketing “Endgame” as a must-see conclusion to this massive story.

But I also heard how loudly people cheered for newer characters like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange while watching “Endgame.” And the box office numbers for these characters’ solo films were pretty impressive on their own.

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In the end, I think the future of the MCU is pretty much up to Marvel Studios. If the writing remains strong and people keep connecting with the characters, fans will keep showing up to the theater. It may be a very long time before we see another domestic opening of $350 million, but even if later films *only* open at $100 million, that’s still a lot of cash.

I think that “Spider-Man: Far From Home” will provide some important clues about what we can expect from the future of the MCU, both in terms of box office and storytelling. I’m not quite sure how I feel about introducing the concept of the multiverse to the MCU, but then again I was also worried about the concept for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and that turned out to be my No. 2 favorite MCU film. And “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is all about the multiverse, and it’s one of my all-time favorite superhero films. Having a multiverse concept could also provide a little more storytelling freedom, since not every film will have to fit into the same timeline.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I’m actually not in a huge hurry for Disney to bring the X-Men into the MCU, even though they’ve officially acquired Fox. I’m open to a Fantastic Four film, but what I really want to see is some new characters that have never been featured on screen before. I know there are plenty of cool, lesser-known characters that can be pulled from the original comics.

I’d love for the MCU to just take its time and focus on smaller films for a while. We don’t necessarily need three movies a year, either; two sounds just about right. Make us wait another decade for an “Endgame”-level event film. I’d like to see some smaller-scale team-ups, like Thor + the Guardians, or Winter Soldier and the new Captain America + Black Panther. I also hope that the MCU will give us more female-led superhero films.

I was already planning to sign up for the Disney+ streaming service because of their new Star Wars content, but I’m looking forward to the MCU content on this platform as well. Technically signing up for this service does make me a hypocrite, because I’ve regularly complained about the explosion of streaming services and the fact every provider wants you to sign up for theirs separately. But Disney found my weakness, and I just can’t say no to Star Wars and Marvel.

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Beyond that, I don’t feel like I can make any concrete predictions about the future of the MCU because, as I mentioned before, we’re in uncharted territory here. But I’m looking forward to finding out what’s next! I’m ready to meet some new characters and see some new stories that I’ll come to love just as much as the originals.