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Dark Avengers for Phase 4, Doctor Strange meets Tobey Maguire, and more: The week in fan theories
Welcome to The Week in Fan Theories, your guide to what fan theories, good and bad, are taking the internet by storm!
With so many fan theories floating around the web, it can be hard to know which ones to take seriously and which ones are wildly off the mark. Some theories are brilliant breakthroughs that reveal a whole new understanding of what a work of fiction means, or they're spot-on predictions about what's going to happen in the next installment. Others are specious bunk, deeply flawed theories that nevertheless get aggregated by some of the less scrupulous news sites.
Marvel dominated San Diego Comic-Con by unveiling the movies and Disney+ shows that will make up the MCU's Phase 4, as well as teasing a couple of later titles, like Mahershala Ali as Blade and the Fantastic Four's long-awaited arrival to the MCU. However, while fans might now know the titles, stars, and release dates of the upcoming films, Marvel hasn't released much in the way of specific plot details. Makes sense, since some of the movies are years away, but some pretty wild fan theories have sprung up in the meantime. Many of these theories are essentially inventing entire plots, which is creative, yes, but not necessarily a realistic prediction based on facts. There just aren't really enough facts for any serious, big-picture speculation.
Nevertheless, we've got theories to deal with. First, there's a Dark Avengers prediction that's too ambitious and specific too early, a Spider-Man and Doctor Strange crossover (but not the one you think), and we'll wrap up with a Star Wars theory, just to give another Disney-owned property some attention.
MARVEL'S PHASE 4 IS SETTING UP THE DARK AVENGERS
Curiously, there isn't a big team-up movie on the docket for the MCU's Phase 4. But, while there might not be an Avengers 5 (not yet, at least), at least one fan theory is proposing that the next several movies are setting up the Dark Avengers. The team, an evil-opposites version of Marvel's premier crime-fighting team, made its debut in Marvel's comics in 2009. Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn, who had managed to trick the world into thinking he was a good guy in the wake of a secret Skrull invasion, built himself a superhero team consisting of morally dubious fellows with similar powers to the original Avengers.
The fan theory argues that there are a lot of characters or possible characters in the announced Phase 4 movies who could make up a Dark Avengers team. For instance, actress Florence Pugh is rumored to play Yelena Belova, a character who replaced Black Widow in Russia after Natasha defected to the United States. David Harbour is playing Red Guardian in the Black Widow movie. Assuming the character survives, Red Guardian could be the Dark Avengers' ersatz Captain America.
"Could be" is the operative phrase here. This is possible, but we have no idea if the character will survive, and it's still unconfirmed whether Pugh is even playing Yelena. The other Dark Avengers counterparts the theory posits are even further reaches. Plus, Norman Osborn is a pretty essential part of the Dark Avengers as they exist in the comics, but the Spider-Man villain hasn't made an appearance in the MCU, and it seems odd that he'd make his debut in a non-Spidey film.
While it's possible that the MCU could be building toward the Dark Avengers, that possibility does not make for a solid theory.
DOCTOR STRANGE'S SEQUEL WILL CROSS OVER WITH THE SAM RAMI SPIDER-MAN UNIVERSE
Spider-Man: Far From Home used the multiverse as a red herring, but the Doctor Strange sequel, amazingly subtitled The Multiverse of Madness, seems like it's going to actually make what Mysterio was bulls***ting about canon. Perhaps, this theory suggests, one of the mad multiverses Doctor Strange visits in the film will be the universe of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films? Doctor Strange did get a shout-out in Spider-Man 2 when J. Jonah Jameson and a Daily Bugle staffer were trying to think of a good nickname for Doc Ock. And Far From Home's post-credits sequence already brought J.K. Simmons back into the fold.
Would this really happen, though? Director Scott Derrickson is billing Multiverse of Madness as a horror movie, and while Tobey Maguire's dancing in Spider-Man 3 was terrifying, I'm not sure that counts. Plus, Into the Spider-Verse already made jokes about visiting Rami's Spider-Man universe, and that movie is essentially perfect. Do we really think Marvel is going to go to that well again, especially since Doctor Strange is a wholly Marvel Studios-owned production? To bring not one, but two Spider-Men into the mix means working with Sony (which owns the web slinger's film rights) in a way that seems needlessly complicated for a Doctor Strange sequel.
KYLO REN KILLED HAN SOLO TO GET CLOSE TO SNOKE AND PALPATINE SO HE COULD STOP THEM
There have been variations of this theory making the rounds since Star Wars: The Force Awakens first premiered, but this newest spin is getting some traction for whatever reason. Essentially, the theory argues that Kylo Ren killed his father, Han Solo, because he needed to get close enough to Snoke (and, as the new theory adds, the apparently revived Emperor Palpatine) to stop them. Basically, the theory makes Kylo out to be someone who was sacrificing others (and himself) in order to stop a greater evil, making him the ultimate double agent.
While it wouldn't be unusual as far as Star Wars goes for Kylo to ultimately come back to the Light Side in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the idea that he has secretly been good the whole time just feels wrong. How much greater can the good be in order for Kylo's role in the destruction of the Hosnian System to have been worth it? In The Force Awakens, he plays a key part in Starkiller Base's destruction of several planets, an act of genocide that killed, what, billions of people? Trillions?
Hopefully, Kylo Ren's story ends with some sort of redemption and he'll end up doing the right thing. But, narratively, the idea that he's always been working for good just doesn't hold up. Would it be an unexpected plot twist? Sure, but that asks audiences to excuse the deaths of countless people just so Kylo can be a tortured hero rather than a fascinating, fallen antihero.