Where Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Plot Thread Currently Stands As Phase 5 Kicks Off
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a very busy franchise for a long time, its scope expanded dramatically after Avengers: Endgame with a large slate of TV series to go along with the never-ending flow of mega-budget blockbuster films. New characters are flooding the franchise while only a few of our older heroes have exited--and now there's so much more MCU than anybody could have imagined a decade ago.
This glut of content hasn't been the best experience for fans, though, because they've set up so many things and paid off very little the past few years. Stories have rarely crossed over or even referenced each other, and so we're left with dozens of dangling, ongoing story threads and no sense of how they might interact with each other in the future. It's making it difficult to even care about it all, much less actually keep track of it.
But we can help with that. What you're about to read isn't a full recap of the MCU's story so far or anything like that--I have a life beyond writing nerd blogs. Instead, this is just a quick trip around the MCU to give a refresher about where each outstanding plot thread currently stands and what all the major characters were last up to as far as we know. That's up to and including Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, so be warned that there will be spoilers here.
Let's dive right in, starting with the newest film.
Kang the Conqueror
An alternate version of He Who Remains from Loki season 1. He came to be because Sylvie killed He Who Remains in the finale. Now, the multiverse is ruled by many Kangs, but they don't all get along. The so-called "Council of Kangs" exiled the one we met in Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, and then Ant-Man and the Wasp (the characters) apparently killed him. Whether that particular one is actually dead is immaterial at this point--there are plenty more Kangs where that one came from, and we're gonna meet them very soon. In addition to the previously mentioned Council, the Quantumania post-credits scene showed that Loki will have an encounter with a 19th Century version of Kang known as Victor Timely in season 2.
Ant-Man and the Wasp and the rest of their family
After this Quantum Realm incident that we saw in Quantumania, Ant-Man and his family are once more living their normal lives in the real world.
Ghost and Dr. Bill Foster
These characters have never been referenced since they played key roles in the second Ant-Man movie. Last we heard they were in hiding, with Foster (Laurence Fishburne) attempting to stabilize Ghost, who had become a quantum entity because of experiments her father had done with Foster and Hank Pym decades earlier. It's possible they'll never return.
Loki and Sylvie
The MCU's primary Loki died in Infinity War, but the alternate version who stole the Tesseract in Endgame was pulled out of time and recruited by the Time Variance Authority to help keep the multiverse under control. This was all a trick of sorts by He Who Remains, the oldest man in all reality, to get Loki and Sylvie to kill him. Sylvie obliged, Kang the Conqueror came into existence and instantly took over the TVA, and Loki is still working in the TVA but nobody knows who he is. Sylvie is on the run.
Natasha Romanoff's family
While the Black Widow herself is dead, her family lives on and will continue to be a part of the MCU. The last time we saw her "parents"--David Harbour's Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz's Melina--was at the end of the Black Widow film, set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. They helped Natasha take down Dreykov and the whole Widow program, and then they left with the rest of the surviving Widows. Their whereabouts are otherwise unknown.
Natasha's "sister" and fellow Black Widow Yelena Belova, on the other hand, has been active in the present, after being snapped by Thanos and being returned at the end of Endgame. Yelena showed up in Hawkeye to confront Clint, having been told by Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Valentina that he killed Natasha. But the truth came to light, and Yelena teamed up with Clint briefly before disappearing once again.
Hawkeye and Kate Bishop
Hawkeye's sins came back to haunt him on his Disney+ series, when some criminal elements he dealt with during the Snap are trying to take him out in the present. He teamed up with a young archer named Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), whose mother was also involved with these criminals, to deal with that threat and the one posed by Yelena mentioned above. Hawkeye is currently hanging out with his family and Kate, who he brought home as his protege/bonus daughter.
Captain America and the Winter Soldier
Sam Wilson, once known as the Falcon, has taken on the mantle of Captain America, though without the super soldier serum that Steve Rogers benefitted from. To do that, he and Bucky Barnes--the Winter Soldier--had to take down a different Captain America. That man, John Walker, is still alive and has rebranded as US Agent and works for Valentina now.
We last saw Sam and Bucky hanging out with Sam's family in Louisiana.
Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch battled across the multiverse in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, all for control of the Darkhold, a book that offers the power to rule the multiverse for the greatest possible cost. Wanda was eventually defeated, and she fell on her metaphorical sword, so to speak, killing herself and destroying the Darkhold for good.
Doctor Strange and America Chavez
But Doctor Strange didn't come away unscathed--dabbling with the Darkhold left him with a third eye, and then a mysterious sorceress named Clea showed up and told him about a new dimensional incursion that he caused. And the multiverse-hopping America Chavez decided to stay in the prime MCU reality and train at Kamar-Taj with Wong.
After the original Vision was killed by Thanos in Infinity War, he was resurrected twice in WandaVision. One of them was Wanda's magical recreation of Vision using her Chaos magic that was unlocked by the Mind Stone that had given the original Vision life. The other was a government reconstruction of the original Vision's body that was intended as a weapon. But Wanda's magical Vision restored Vision's old memories to his rebuilt body, and the result was a new person that we know as White Vision.
The magic version of Vision was removed from reality when Wanda ended the hex on Westview, and White Vision is still at large.
While we met alternate versions of Mordo in Multiverse of Madness, the Mordo from the prime MCU world--the one from the first Doctor Strange film--remains at large and presumably still wants to kill Strange.
7,000 years ago, a group of super beings were created and sent to Earth supposedly to shepherd humanity and protect the world from monsters known as Deviants. But it turns out they were actually designed for a secret other job: to protect the Earth itself, which was actually the seed for a new Celestial. It partially emerged--a giant hand reached out of the ocean--but the surviving Eternals went against their programming and prevented this world-destroying birth from taking place. That hand is still sticking out of the ocean, presumably, but it has not been mentioned anywhere else in the MCU yet.
Shang-Chi defeated his ancient father and the Dweller-In-Darkness that was locked away near Ta Lo, and now he possesses the powerful Ten Rings artifact. He was last seen in the company of Wong at Kamar-Taj, where he, Bruce Banner and Captain Marvel discussed the magical nature of the rings and what their origin might be.
Shang-Chi's sister Xialing took a different path. She chose to take control of the Ten Rings criminal organization that their father had been running for centuries. To be clear, there's the Ten Rings artifact that gives people magic power, and there's the Ten Rings organization, and these are completely separate.
The upcoming film The Marvels will focus on three characters. Captain Marvel is the one we've known longest, since she got her own movie and a featured role in Avengers: Endgame. She's appeared twice since the battle with Thanos, both times coming in post-credits scenes. The first was in Shang-Chi--Wong consults with Carol and Bruce Banner about the nature of the Ten Rings artifact, but none of them have a clue what its deal is.
Carol's other post-Endgame scene was at the end of the Ms. Marvel series on Disney+, and of course the young Kamala Khan is herself one of the upcoming titular Marvels as well. This teenaged hero dealt with a lot over the course of her six-episode series, including a time travel adventure and an incursion from another dimension. But by the end of the finale she's still a kid who lives at home on Earth. Until the post-credits scene, anyway, when her cosmic bangle lights up and she switches places with Carol. Leaving Captain Marvel in Kamala's bedroom, and leaving Kamala who-knows-where.
The third Marvel is Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Carol's old best friend Maria, who died offscreen. Monica gained her cosmic abilities from Wanda Maximoff's hex on the town of Westview in WandaVision. At the end of that series a Skrull was attempting to recruit her on behalf of Nick Fury--who's been living in outer space. She doesn't have a code name yet in the MCU, but in the comics she's held a bunch of different titles--including Captain Marvel.
After pursuing Gorr the God Butcher to the center of the universe and handling the threat that he represented, the being Eternity resurrects Gorr's daughter just as Gorr himself dies. Thor, wielding the reassembled Mjolnir, gives the young girl his axe Stormbreaker, and the two now patrol the universe as the new superhero duo Love and Thunder.
Meanwhile, Thor's old girlfriend Jane Foster has died of cancer after her own stint as Thor and now resides in Valhalla with Heimdall and the other Asgardian dead. Valkyrie, after being injured in the fight against Gorr, once again rules New Asgard on Earth.
The Guardians of the Galaxy
After Endgame, the Guardians left Earth with Thor, and they had some adventures together between movies. Near the beginning of Thor: Love and Thunder, the Guardians parted ways with Thor and returned to the space station Knowhere, previously owned by the Collector, and bought it to use as their headquarters. And then they celebrated Christmas with Kevin Bacon there in the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
Also, there's a Gamora from an alternate universe out there somewhere.
Thanks to all the multiversal shenanigans that occurred during Spider-Man: No Way Home, Spider-Man's secret identity is fully secure--meaning Peter Parker is fully on his own in the world with no friends and nobody who knows he's a superhero. MJ and Ned are now dating each other, and Peter's whole family is dead.
Nick Fury and the Skrulls
After being returned to life in Avengers: Endgame, Nick Fury took a "vacation" to outer space with his Skrull pals from Captain Marvel, with the shapeshifter Talos taking his place on Earth during the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home and WandaVision. His last scene was the Far From Home post-credits scene, where he said it was time to get back to work. The last update we got on what he was doing was at the end of WandaVision, when a Skrull recruits Monica Rambeau on Fury's behalf.
The Black Panther, Namor, and the Wakandans
With T'Challa dying of an unknown illness at the beginning of the film--a nod to the late Chadwick Boseman--his sister Shuri has taken over the mantle of the Black Panther. But she decided to travel the world instead of staying in Wakanda, leaving the throne to M'Baku. In Haiti, Nakia raises the secret child she had with T'Challa, a boy named Toussaint.
And Namor still rules Talokan, but now in alliance with Wakanda, as he expects they'll need to unite against the nations that would exploit them.
After being quite prominent in Phases 2 and 3, Colonel James Rhodes has made only one MCU appearance since Endgame: in the premiere episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, when he questioned Sam Wilson's decision not to take on the Captain America role. Sam did eventually become the new Captain America, but we haven't seen Rhodey since--he's set to appear next in the Disney+ series Secret Invasion.
Pepper Potts and Morgan Stark
Neither Pepper nor Morgan, her daughter with Tony Stark, have been seen since Avengers: Endgame. But they aren't necessarily gone for good--Lexi Rabe, the actress who played Morgan in Endgame, apparently had some kind of appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home that ended up being cut.
The Moon Knight, whose real name is Marc Spector (or Steven Grant or Jake Lockley, depending on the circumstances) and who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, remains trapped in the service of the Egyptian god Khonshu after defeating and killing the villainous Arthur Harrow and his genocidal patron deity Ammit. And in a similar fashion, his romantic interest Layla now serves the god Tawaret and has become the hero Secret Scarab. Moon Knight featured no connections to the rest of the MCU, but if this version of Khonshu is like his comics counterpart, then he should be very well acquainted with Kang the Conqueror.
When we last saw Jennifer Walters, she was physically bursting through the fourth wall to make the computer that runs the MCU rewrite the ending of her series finale while it was happening in order to prevent her billionaire stalker Todd from also becoming a Hulk. Then she started dating Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil).
With Jennifer Walters being his cousin and sharing his green affliction, Bruce Banner naturally popped up multiple times on the She-Hulk series. In the final scene he shows up, having freshly returned once more from Sakaar, the planet he was living enduring Thor: Ragnarok. It turned out he fathered a muscular green son, named Skaar, while he was there and had just found out about it. Bruce remains in his Professor Hulk form, meaning he's big and green but with Bruce's mind intact.