Marvel Studios is only one-third of the way through its Multiverse Saga and with the onset of Phase 5, fans will soon learn the true nature of the saga’s big bad. Though the Multiverse Saga won’t wrap up for another few years (if it keeps its current pace), Disney has already planted flags for four post-Secret Wars theatrical projects meaning, to nobody’s surprise, that they plan to continue phasing and saga-ing beyond the Multiverse Saga. Whatever that new saga holds, it will ultimately have to culminate in a major event worthy of drawing heroes from every corner of the universe to help save the day and while any number of comic book events could be adapted to provide such a threat, an epic multi-event run from the late 00s and early 10s might not only be the best bet but also already be in the earliest stages of being established in the MCU. It’s possible that Marvel Studios could be teeing up Phases 7-9 to become the MCU’s Annihilation Saga.
What is Annihilation?
Much like the Infinity Saga and the Multiverse Saga, the Annihilation Saga wouldn’t be the direct adaptation of one of Marvel Comics’ major events or any particular run, but rather inspired by several different runs and centered on a threat worthy of large-scale team-up films on the level of Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars and while there’s no shortage of such threats, one might be closer to making his way into the MCU than the rest: Annihilus.
Originally introduced as a Fantastic Four villain, Annihilus has grown in power over the years and has become a threat to the existence of the entire universe. The ruler of a pocket dimension known as the Negative Zone, Annihilus, with the power gifted to him by wielding the Cosmic Control Rod, set his sights on conquering Earth and then the entire “positive” galaxy. Thus, in 2006, Annihilus was the main antagonist of the Cosmic crossover event, Annihilation, in which he lead his Annihilation Wave out of the Negative Zone and wreaked havoc on the galaxy as he attempted to extinguish all life within it. Should the MCU wish to make The Living Death That Walks the main antagonist of its next saga, Annihilation would be cornerstone content for it; however, a significant amount of groundwork would need to be done ahead of time and it looks like Marvel may already be pouring the foundation.
The Fantastic Four
Matt Shakman‘s Fantastic Four will introduce the First Family to the MCU along with opening the door to hundreds of characters and settings closely associated with them. No details about the film but the Fantastic Four have such a rich history with Annihilus and The Negative Zone that it would be a shame to allow the character to be introduced any other way. That said, there’s no reason for the First-Born Son of Oblivion to be introduced in the 2025 film when there’s plenty of time over Phased 7 through 9 for him to make his debut.
Galactus and His Heralds
A Silver Surfer solo project is heavily rumored to be headed to Disney Plus at some point in the Multiverse Saga and while the Sentinel of the Spaceways would certainly be a major player in an Annihilation Saga, his master and the horde of heralds who served him over centuries were a major part of the Annihilation event as Annihilus coveted the Power Cosmic. Rumors of Galactus’ presence in 2025’s Fantastic Four have recently heated back up and it’s been said that the Silver Surfer project would stream prior to Galactus’ appearance. Marvel Studios could use that solo project as a way to deliver the rich and complex history and mythology of Galactus and his heralds ahead of Fantastic Four which would allow for those characters to move smoothly into their roles in the Annihilation Saga. While his former heralds served as soldiers in the war against Annihilus, the “Galactus event” turned the tide of the war.
There was no greater hero in the war against the Annihilation Wave than Richard Rider and it was Rider who ultimately ended the war by killing Annihilus. Xandar, home to the Nova Corps, was one of the first planets to fall to the Annihilation Wave. Rider survived and allowed the Xandarian Worldmind to merge with him while also agreeing to host the entirety of the Nova Force. With the help of many friends and heroes, Rider formed the United Front which brought members of some of the galaxy’s fiercest civilizations together in the fight against the Bug King. Though it’s currently unclear what format it will ultimately take, a solo Nova project is in the works at Marvel Studios which means Rider could be introduced and set up just in time for Annihilus to give him the push he needs to become Marvel’s greatest Cosmic hero.
Adding these characters to the mix during the Multiverse Saga would allow them to join forces with whichever Guardians of the Galaxy survive Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to defend both the galaxy and Earth against an incredibly powerful threat.
How Would It Take Shape?
As has been the case through the first two sagas, not every second of every project needs to serve the endgame of that saga. While there are sure to be connections in nearly every project, what’s important is that the characters get put in the right places in time for the main event and that’s just a matter of smart scheduling. Following (or even prior to) the events of Avengers: Secret Wars, the concept of the Negative Zone could be introduced in any number of ways. Reed Richards discovered it and its anti-matter properties in the comics and could easily do so here. Having the Fantastic Four visit the Negative Zone and be perceived as a threat by Annihilus, however, is a pretty simple first step. All Annihilus has ever desired is to conquer all there was, so upon learning of there being more to conquer other than the Negative Zone, the wheels are set in motion.
Any number of events either during or after Secret Wars could be used to explain how Annihilus locates The Crunch, the physical meeting point of the 616-universe and the Negative Zone and the portal through which he launches the Annihilation Wave. Should the first Nova project be one of Marvel Studios Special Presentations, it could tell the tale of how Xandar fell to Thanos, how Richard Rider became Nova and how Xandar was rebuilt. Depending on how grand their plans are for the character, Marvel Studios could use use the next project, Nova: Annihilation Day, to show how Annihilus grew in power and the sheer might of the Annihilation Wave.
Marvel Studios seems to love two-part conclusions to their sagas and that’s where the creatives at the studio could get…creative. Thanks to the heroics of Richard Rider and the United Front, the Annihilation Wave never reached Earth in the comics but Annihilus attempted to conquer and/or destroy the planet plenty of other times. The Fantastic Four and Adam Warlock played a hand in stopping Annihilus in several of those stories and could team up with Nova and The Avengers, respectively, to stop The Lord of The Negative Zone in the two-part finale to the Annihilation Saga: Avengers: Annihilation and Avengers: Annihilation Earthfall. It’ll all come together much better when talented people get involved.
Of course, there are any number of other major villains and events that could shape the next saga, including the impending arrival of the X-Men, so don’t start etching this in stone just yet. However, Annihilus is one of a handful of villains whose means, motive and opportunity have been on par with those of Thanos and Kang in the comics, putting him at least on the list of possible big bads set to star in his own saga.