SAN DIEGO — With Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially wrapped up, Marvel Studios is expected to reveal its Phase 4 plans at a Comic-Con panel this Saturday. But before then, Jim Starlin, the comics artist and writer who created Thanos, has a few predictions for what could be coming in Phase 4 of the MCU.
Starlin, who also came up with Guardians of the Galaxy members Drax and Gamora, tells Inverse that he doesn’t have any inside information about Marvel’s Phase 4 movies. But as the mind behind one of the most iconic villains of the last decade, he may be best suited to predict what could be next for the MCU.
In a Thursday morning interview at San Diego Comic-Con, Starlin sips his coffee as he tells Inverse what he expects to see from another one of his creations, Shang-Chi, who’s expected to play a big part in Phase 4, along with one other Marvel character he’s hoping for in future movies.
Now let’s get into it. Here are three predictions for Marvel Phase 4 from the one and only Jim Starlin.
3. The Mandarin vs. Shang-Chi
This seems like the most obvious of the bunch. Ben Kingsley’s take on The Mandarin still exists in the MCU after his introduction in Iron Man 3, and rumor has it the character could return in some capacity to play the villain in Shang-Chi’s cinematic origin story. As Starlin notes, this would have the added bonus of circumventing Marvel’s problematic kung fu character, Fu Manchu.
“I suspect they will jettison Fu Manchu,” Starlin says. “They could bring Mandarin back. Ben Kingsley is still out there, but you know that’s just speculation on my part.”
Starlin adds that introducing Shang-Chi to the MCU won’t be an easy task for a variety of reasons.
“I’m not quite sure how you are going to do it because there are about a million kung fu movies out there,” he says. “So you’re going to have to do something to differentiate itself, and also work it into this universe. He’s probably the most out on the edge character that they’re going to have inside that particular universe. I think they’re probably going to give him more of a humorous edge than the book had.”
2. Adam Warlock and Pip the Troll?
It’s no secret that Marvel hinted at the arrival of Adam Warlock at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, and while Starlin didn’t create that character, he did write some major stories for him. He also views the introduction of Warlock as an opportunity to bring another of his own originals into the MCU: Pip the Troll.
“I see with them bringing Adam Warlock into the Marvel universe,” Starlin says, “and if they use him beyond the Guardians movie, which I suspect they will, he’ll probably go from villain to hero. Pip would be someone for him to chat with. His own personal little perverted degenerate.”
Starlin adds that the cigar-smoking alien is “comic relief, which all the Marvel movies are real good at.”
1. Shang-Chi vs. Midnight?
Assuming that Shang-Chi gets more than one Marvel movie, Starlin has another suggestion: Pit him again Midnight Sun, also known simply as Midnight.
“Where he goes from there could be anybody’s guess,” Starlin says of Shang-Chi’s future in the MCU. “We had a couple of characters I worked on, one called Midnight, that they could use who probably would be very effective in the film.”
To be fair, Shang-Chi 2 probably won’t happen until Marvel’s Phase 5, but if it does you can probably expect some sort of post-credits tease during Phase 4.
Beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Starlin says he’s actively looking to develop something using his character, Vanth Dreadstar. The Dreadstar series was published by Epic Comics, a creator-owned imprint of Marvel, so he’s not technically a part of the MCU.
“I’m talking to some folks about Dreadstar, a book that I did for 10 years,” Starlin says. “There’s nothing I can say about that at this point, but it’s something I’m working on.”
Vanth Dreadstar is the only living survivor of the entire Milky Way Galaxy, who is thrust into an ongoing war between two evil empires. It’s classic cosmic Starlin.
Back in 2015, Variety reported that Dreadstar would be adopted for television, but it’s unclear if Starlin is still working on that project or has a new plan for bringing this creation to life. Either way, we’re excited to see yet another Starlin character appear onscreen, even if it’s not part of the Marvel universe.