Avengers: Secret Wars Will Reportedly ‘Soft Reboot’ The MCU, And I Have Mixed Feelings About This

 Avengers Endgame poster.
Avengers Endgame poster.
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Right now, the furthest out of the upcoming Marvel movies is Avengers: Secret Wars, which is dated for May 7, 2027. Although the Michael Waldron-penned Secret Wars will wrap up the Multiverse Saga, which began in early 2021, the popular superhero franchise is expected to continue afterwards. In fact, word’s come in that plan is to have Secret Wars “soft reboot” the MCU, and as a longtime fan of superhero comics, I have mixed feelings about this.

During her appearance on The Watch podcast, Joanna Robinson, who cowrote the new book MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios with Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards, shared when she and her co-authors spoke with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, he indicated that Secret Wars will serve as a platform to at least partially reset MCU continuity. As Robinson put it:

We have a quote from Kevin Feige sort of implying that, like, Secret Wars will serve as a soft reboot in which they can prune everything... That's not to use a Loki-ism. [They'll] prune everything that's not working and just keep what is [working], or bring back people you thought were gone forever.

Robinson, Gonzales and Edwards also addressed the MCU going through a reboot within MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios’ final chapter, “How Much We Have Left.” As one of the passages reads:

As the MCU spilled over into streaming programs and the Multiverse Saga, Feige had to learn different lessons from the comics: how superheroes periodically needed to be rebooted, how to stop variants and spinoffs from spiraling out of control, how an annual mega-crossover event could unify a disparate line of characters.

Assuming Avengers: Secret Wars isn’t moved from its current release slot, we still have four years to go until its arrival. So if Feige and his MCU braintrust intend to stay the course with this “soft reboot,” then obviously it’ll be a long time until we learn what this will specifically entail. Still, I can’t help feeling conflicted about this being enacted.

MCU's Avengers getting ready to fight Chitauri
MCU's Avengers getting ready to fight Chitauri

Why I Understand The MCU Needing To Soft Reboot

Anyone who’s spent any significant amount of time reading Marvel and/or DC Comics is well aware of reboots, i.e. when a fictional universe goes through major continuity changes in order to rebrand and/or become more easily accessible to newcomers. Granted, Marvel traditionally goes the retcon route with adjusting its continuity, but it did employ a reboot of sorts with the 2015 Secret Wars storyline, which ended with aspects of the Ultimate universe being merged into Earth-616, most notably Miles Morales and his supporting cast of characters.

By the time Avengers: Secret Wars comes out, it’ll have been almost 20 years since the MCU began with Iron Man. Between at least 40 movies and however many MCU shows have been released exclusively to Disney+ subscribers by that point, that’s a lot of continuity that’s been established. I completely understand why Kevin Feige would want to clear the board a bit, and it’s only fitting that this is done in a Secret Wars adaptation, which, like its predecessor The Kang Dynasty, will lean heavily on the Marvel multiverse.

After all, it’s not like we’re talking about starting from scratch with this franchise. As Joanna Robinson explained, MCU elements that are working will be retained, and the ones that aren’t will be tossed out. Plus, along familiar actors potentially returning to reprise their roles after a long time away (we’re looking at you, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans), this could also be a good opportunity to hire new actors to perform their takes on established characters, akin to what’s been done with variants in recent years. And yet…

The cast of Avengers: Endgame
The cast of Avengers: Endgame

Why I’m Concerned About The MCU Soft Rebooting

One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the MCU so much is how much more streamlined its continuity is compared to the comics. Yes, there are still a lot of facts, events and other pieces of information to keep track of, but it’s still a far cry from what the actual Marvel comics have been working off of for close to a century. So if I’m to be honest, I was hoping that the MCU would never have to resort to implementing a reboot, even if it’s just a partial one.

It’s one thing to tweak aspects of history through a time travel adventure, but to hit the reboot button on the MCU makes this franchise feels more like the comics, and not in a way I necessarily I wanted. It’d be foolish for me to say there isn’t a lot to keep track of with this franchise, but at least there’s a relatively straight line to follow. I acknowledge that partially rebooting will make it easier for people who haven’t been following along with the MCU since its early days to come aboard, but it’s been nice to have such a straightforward progression of events.

Another reason I’m not totally enamored with the idea of an MCU “soft reboot” at the moment is because it plays into the idea of how there’s never really an end for Marvel and DC stories. Barring some monumental shakeup in the publishing landscape, Marvel and DC will not stop releasing comics anytime soon, which means their respective continuities will continue to expand. If you want to enjoy these printed page stories, you need to make peace with that and hope that there are enough “standalone” series published that can be enjoyed without need to deep dive on continuity if that isn’t your thing.

With the MCU, while I’m not advocating for it to end anytime soon, but I expected it would end someday. Maybe that won’t be for another 10 years, maybe not for another two to three decades, but I’d envisioned that someday we’d reach a point where this Marvel saga would wrap up and make way for a new shared continuity that’s wholly unrelated to this one, akin to how Warner Bros. is transitioning from the DCEU to the new DC Universe. But by softly rebooting the existing MCU, this indicates that the franchise could seemingly never end, even if it doesn’t exactly resemble what we started off with in the late 2000s.

All this being said, I may end up feeling more positively about this “soft reboot” coming in Avengers: Secret Wars as more details about it come in, but again, that’s a long ways off. As far as the present goes, in addition to Loki Season 2 continuing its run on Disney+, the next Marvel movie up is The Marvels, which is scheduled for a November 10 premiere on the 2023 movies schedule.