How ‘Wakanda Forever’ Could Set the Course to the Savage Land in ‘Thunderbolts’

With the revelation that Wakanda is no longer the only nation with access to Vibranium, the landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe changed dramatically. For all the reasons clearly outlined by Queen Ramonda in her speech to the UN and seconded by Everett Ross in his conversation with his ex-wife and current CIA Director, Valentia Allegra de Fontaine, it seems best if Vibranium is kept out of the hands of other nations. Fortunately, the two known locations of Vibranium on Earth now seem safer than ever with Wakanda and Talokan forging an alliance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. However, if Vibranium could be found buried in the ocean floor, who is to say that’s the only place outside of Wakanda where deposits of it might exist?

An increasingly popular fan theory posits that it won’t be long before Vibranium’s history in the MCU is revised once more and that another deposit of the alien metal will be discovered in another place, like Wakanda and Talokan, thought to only exist in legend: the Savage Land. Hidden away in Antarctica, the Savage Land is a tropical game preserve created by an alien race over 200 million years ago that first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1941. Over the years, several individuals stumbled upon the Savage Land, filled with prehistoric flora and fauna such as dinosaurs, saber-toothed tigers and early hominids, allowing legend of it to spread among mankind and into “fictional” accounts. In addition to the wild array of creatures that inhabit it, the Savage Land from the pages of the Marvel Comics is also the only known location of an alternate form of Vibranium known as Anti-Metal. While Savage Land Vibranium shares some properties with Vibranium, its unique properties could make it, in many ways, a more dangerous alternative.

By embracing the more fantastical elements of Namor and Talokan, Marvel Studios kept the door open to introducing the Savage Land in the MCU. And if the Savage Land does exist in the MCU, it could provide a fascinating opportunity to make good on Namor’s promise that one day the world would come for the resources of Wakana and Talokan. As eager as Val is shown to be to get her hands on Vibranium in Wakanda Forever, she’s not foolish enough to think her team of Thunderbolts could possibly be well enough equipped to take on either Wakanda or Talokan, much less their combined strength. However, the uncertain fate of Riri Williams’ Vibranium detector in the film could be just the type of unresolved plot point that could set the course of the Thunderbolts’ mission in the 2024 film: a trip to the Savage Land.

Sending a few Super Soldiers, a cyborg, a spy and a sneaky quantum-phase shifter into the Savage Land to bring back some Anti-Metal might sound like a relative day at the park; however, as fans of the comics know, it isn’t just the dinosaurs and Man-Apes of the Savage Land that the Thunderbolts would have to deal with. The Savage Land has its own protector, Ka-Zar, and it’s unlikely he and his Smilodon companion Zabu would take kindly to a group of outsiders coming to raid his land.

Since the Disney-Fox merger was completed, I’ve consistently heard whispers that Marvel Studios One-Above-All Kevin Feige was eager to bring the Savage Land to the MCU. Fox never explored the potential of it and its inhabitants, making it ripe for Marvel Studios. Feige found a way to include a “Savage World” in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which served as a Savage Land Easter egg. Is it possible it also served as a way to prime audiences for the eventual inclusion of the location within another project?

While on the surface, the group Val has assembled to be her Thunderbolts doesn’t really inspire much awe; however, putting them in the Savage Land and pitting them against Ka-Zar and/or the elements does seem to spice things up a touch. In the comics, Anti-Metal’s unique properties allow it to liquefy other metals. So much for John Walker’s shield. Could Anti-Metal do the same to Wakandan Vibranium? Bucky’s arm would make for an interesting experiment. Savage Land Vibranium also has unique vibrational properties. Could those be used to disrupt Ghost’s phasing abilities?

Of course, Ka-Zar is no villain and if Thunderbolts was going to follow along this “hunt for Vibranium” path, the team wouldn’t spend the entire film locked in battle with him, but the idea of that team on a mission to the Savage Land is much more palatable than them taking on Wakanda, Talokan or really any group of powered people. The current makeup of the team is pretty weak and couldn’t handle any sort of Avengers-level threat. So who else could be in the Savage Land that would make a formidable and realistic threat to the team? Skrulls have been known to be interested in Anti-Metal in the comics and would provide just the kind of threat the Thunderbolts could handle while teaming up with Ka-Zar. It could also provide a great opportunity for Marvel Studios to adapt the big Savage Land battle from the Secret Invasion comic event into a smaller-scale third-act brawl that would make Thunderbolts a whole lot of fun.

Another, less exciting option for a big bad in Thunderbolts could be the MCU’s Power Broker, Sharon Carther. It’s worth noting that the D+ series Secret Invasion is said to lead right into Armor Wars, which is now being developed as a feature film. Having competing parties searching for Vibranium in the Savage Land is a lot less exciting than having Skrulls there, but it could also be said that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I’ve not heard exciting things about the big bad of the Thunderbolts’ film, however, so this is just one boring place my mind goes while pursuing the possibilities.

Again, it’s all just speculation generated from what’s become a fairly well-shared fan theory about what Val’s team will get up to in Thunderbolts, but there are certainly enough dots to connect to make up the bare bones of a boring story. However, given its slot as a July film, Marvel Studios will certainly want Thunderbolts to look and feel like a blockbuster and a trip to the Savage Land would go a long way in that regard.

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