The MCU Just Cast Its Best Kang Replacement

Kang the Conqueror’s MCU future is looking shakier than ever, but the MCU might have just cast the perfect replacement if it decides to pivot.

A split image of Alanna Mitsopolis from Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Pt 1, Sam Wilson from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Daredevil from Daredevil season 2

The MCU is set to have a loaded 2025, and I’m already excited to see how the franchise will pass some unique tests put forth by the year’s movies and TV shows. After several years packed with content, the MCU has taken a bit of a step back in 2024, which will see Deadpool & Wolverine as the only Marvel Studios project to hit the big screen this year. However, that lull won’t last, and I’m ready for the MCU to

Though Disney has implemented a new cap on MCU content, which will see 2–3 movies and 2 TV shows per year moving forward, that still leaves plenty of room for exciting stories. As of now, 2025 actually has 4 MCU movies set to release, along with two small-screen projects: Daredevil: Born Again and Ironheart. However, most interesting to me is that several of these movies and shows are “firsts” for the MCU. As such, they’ll act as big tests as to whether the MCU has what it takes to transition into a new golden age.

Captain America 4, Daredevil: Born Again & The Fantastic Four Are Massive Tests For The MCU

Sam Wilson in his new blue Captain America suit in Captain America Brave New World

While Blade and Ironheart pose their own challenges for the MCU, it’s Captain America: Born AgainThe Fantastic Four, and Daredevil: Born Again that I think create the most interesting “tests” that need to pass. Each one is doing something for the first time in the MCU, at least to me; how well Marvel Studios pulls each one off is big in establishing if they can pivot the franchise in three crucial ways. The MCU is no stranger to new ideas, but these three come from necessity and will each have to be repeated again.

First, Brave New World is the first MCU to feature a legacy hero. While characters in Marvel Comics can continue being heroes without an expiration date, the nature of live-action movies starring real people means that even the most famous characters won’t stick around forever. The MCU has already seen several of its original Avengers die or retire (Iron Man, Black Widow, and Captain America), but only Steve passed down his superhero moniker officially. Many, including me, are curious if the successful Captain America sub-franchise can keep its momentum with a new leading man.

Clint Barton has also seemingly passed the Hawkeye name to Kate Bishop, but she has not yet starred in her own project without him. It’s also unclear if he’s fully retired or not.

Daredevil: Born Again is a different – and perhaps more important – test. Daredevil seasons 1-3, which originally aired on Netflix but are now exclusively on Disney+, are regarded by many (including this writer) to be some of the best live-action Marvel content ever produced. Moreover, it excels in ways that the MCU has earned recent criticism for falling behind on – namely, a tight script, wonderful fight choreography, and a serious, character-driven story. With such a high-quality template to follow, whether or not Marvel Studios can reach the same high bar will be telling.

Last is The Fantastic Four, the rights to which previously belonged to Fox (along with the X-Men). The team has starred in three theatrical films to date, none of which have been particularly well received. The upcoming The Fantastic Four is the first Marvel Studios project rebooting a franchise previously owned by Fox. The titular team has proven difficult to get right, and it’ll be interesting to see if the apparent retro, 60s-era setting can breathe new life into Marvel’s First Family.

Deadpool & Wolverine will continue a Fox franchise in 2024, but unlike The Fantastic Four , it’s a sequel instead of a reboot.

I’m Already Optimistic About Daredevil: Born Again

Kingpin threatening Matt Murdock in Daredevil season 2

Given that it’s a close continuation of something beloved by audiences, Born Again perhaps has the most pressure of any upcoming 2025 MCU project. While news of behind-the-scenes changes and drama may be cause for concern, it’s actually what has me feeling the most optimistic about Matt Murdoch’s next adventure as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Famously, Daredevil: Born Again underwent a complete top-to-bottom rework after filming had already begun, with new behind-the-camera talent and a new script replacing what wasn’t working.

I, like many, had the immediate reaction of “Things aren’t looking good for Born Again!” However, with time, the decision to scrap something not working gives me hope that Marvel Studios is serious about nailing the series. The Born Again rework came at an immense cost, and it would have been much cheaper to simply do some reshoots and make the show the best it can be in its current form. Now, with a new script seemingly centered on Fisk’s ascendency to Mayor of NYC and the return of fan-favorite characters like Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Bullseye, and the Punisher, it feels like something special is on the way.

Captain America 4’s Reception May Shape The Future Of The MCU

Sam Wilson flying as Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Captain America: Brave New World is a very different test for the MCU. Instead of looking back to see if Marvel Studios can continue the past, Sam Wilson’s big screen re-introduction needs to convince audiences that it knows how to handle the future. If Brave New World proves to be a critical hit, it potentially opens the door to replacing other MCU heroes. Time is ticking for characters like the Hulk and Thor, but does Marvel Studios have what it takes to have another hero take their place – even if only in spirit and not in name?

More than just a new Captain America, though, Brave New World seems like it’ll be setting the groundwork for the MCU’s next Avengers team. Will a new group ever be able to become as popular as the original six of Captain America, Tony Stark, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Thor? I honestly have no idea, but I can’t wait to finally get an idea of which heroes may be the narrative focus in upcoming Avengers movies.

I Believe The MCU Can Fix The Fantastic Four’s Cinematic Struggles

The Fantastic Four team standing together in uniform in 2005;s movie

To be completely honest, I’m more nervous about The Fantastic Four than I am about Brave New World and Born Again. In the absolute worst-case scenario, in which the latter two projects are terrible, there are still plenty of hours of high-quality Captain America and Daredevil content to watch that isn’t going anywhere. That’s not the case for the Fantastic Four.

For whatever reason, the Fantastic Four have proven difficult to get right in live action. Given the success of other superhero teams like the Avengers and the X-Men, it’s unclear why this particular family unit eludes success in live-action. However, I think the movie going retro and seemingly taking place in the 1960s is perfect. The Fantastic Four as a concept can sometimes feel dated, and leaning into that as a strength instead of a weakness may be just what the franchise needs.

I still love the MCU, but the franchise needs to prove that it can evolve and adapt as new franchises are introduced and new versions of heroes step up by choice or necessity. Breaking new ground in three ways across a year is a gamble for a cinematic universe struggling to find its footing, but risks and the refusal to simply repeat what’s already been done simply won’t do. I have faith that Marvel Studios can rise to meet new circumstances, but only time will tell if I’m right.

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