Has the Marvel Cinematic Universe already peaked? After Saturday’s raucous announcements, you might think MCU fans have plenty to celebrate — including the first new Avengers movie since 2019’s Endgame — but a closer look at the story of Secret Wars revealed why Marvel may be setting itself up for a major disappointment.
Secret Wars 101
Predicting what a Secret Wars movie will entail is difficult for a number of reasons. For one thing, there have been three different Secret Wars comic book crossover events in Marvel history. The first one was released in 1984 and 1985 and is still considered an all-time classic. A follow-up Secret Wars happened again in 2005, but it was widely panned by fans and critics alike. Then, in 2015, Marvel tried again with a third Secret Wars comic, which was arguably a success both commercially and critically.
The original premise of Secret Wars is that a super-powerful interdimensional being called the Beyonder pulls heroes and villains from across the multiverse and drops them into Battleworld, a pocket dimension he creates by pulling chunks of other planets from across space and time. The Beyonder tells his new prisoners to fight, promising to give the winners whatever they desire most. Ultimately, it does not go well for Beyonder.
Behind the scenes, Secret Wars was commissioned by Mattel to sell action figures — and it shows. It’s basically just Marvel grabbing all its best toys and smashing them together repeatedly. The result is a fun story that’s not particularly deep, and subsequent Secret Wars were generally unable to break free from that original mold. (Not that they didn’t have their positives, too.)
Secret Wars vs. Avengers: Endgame
Compared to Secret Wars, the source material for Avengers: Endgame is practically Shakespeare. Written by Thanos creator Jim Starlin, the original Infinity Gauntlet comics were a space opera about a genocidal alien whose only true motivation was a romantic obsession with a female version of the Grim Reaper.
And while credit is due to the many screenwriters, directors, and producers who helped craft Marvel Studios’ Infinity Saga, it’d be silly to discount the importance of Starlin’s source material. The MCU’s version of Thanos might not be in love with a skeleton lady, but the pathos that elevated his character beyond so many one-note Marvel villains can be tied directly back to the original comics.
Compared to all that, does Secret Wars stand a chance?
Secret Wars and Kang the Conqueror
Marvel’s greatest weapon in this “Multiverse Saga” may be Kang the Conqueror, a new big bad played by Jonathan Majors. After his small but memorable role in the Loki Season 1 finale, Majors has already proved himself as one of the best actors in the MCU right now. Originally created by Marvel godfathers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the time-traveling warlord Kang truly does seem like a worthy successor to the big purple guy.
It’s worth noting that while Kang does appear in the original Secret Wars, he doesn’t play a particularly large role. Of course, Marvel Studios has never been afraid to change the comics before, and before Avengers: Secret Wars we’re set to get another film titled Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. So there’s plenty of room for Kang to do his thing.
With all that in mind, it’s certainly possible that Kang (and Kevin Feige) can sculpt Secret Wars into an Avengers movie on par with Endgame. But if you’re going off source material alone, the MCU’s Multiverse Saga is already looking like a big step down from the Infinity Saga.
Maybe Thanos really was just a fluke after all.
Avengers: Secret Wars is scheduled to premiere on Nov. 7, 2025.