What's next after Infinity War

This is it. We're in the home stretch. Everything Marvel Studios has been building toward, teasing, and setting up for nearly a decade will come to a head in The Avengers: Infinity War. The heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will come together to fight Thanos who, using his Infinity Gauntlet studded with those baller infinity gems will…do something bad. Presumably. Who knows, really? All we know for sure is that the movies are going to be packed with superheroes and they'll cost enough money to buy the moon. But where does Marvel go after Infinity War? Don't worry. We've got it covered. Here are some other major comic book events Marvel can turn into their next big cinematic storylines.

Secret Wars

In the mid-'80s, Marvel wanted a reason to group all their biggest characters together into one story…so they could make toys out of it. No, seriously. That's why Secret Wars, one of the comic book industry's first and biggest cross-title events, even exists.

In the story, a mysterious cosmic entity known as the Beyonder has been observing the Earth and all its mighty superheroes for years. One day he decides to cosmically kidnap them all and transport them to Battleworld, a planet of his own creation. His plan: to force the heroes to duke it out. The winner will, essentially, be granted anything they so desire.

Secret Wars was never considered a particularly great story, but its premise is perfect for a MCU adaption. Imagine, in addition to post-credit scenes, small cameo appearances where the Beyonder is hidden away as an Easter egg in the background as he observes the events of each and every Marvel movie (and show) after Infinity War. He can be the Marvel version of the Observer from Fringe. He's always there, always watching. By this point, all the major players in the MCU will have long since been established. They're all regularly showing up in each other's movies and are all deeply involved in each other's lives. After various philosophical differences between them all raise tensions to their peak, they're all whisked away to Battleworld to settle their scores once and for all.

But what if the Beyonder has always been there, lurking in the background of EVERY Marvel movie? How could this make sense? According to a fun fan theory, Stan Lee, with his many cameo appearances, is the Beyonder, and one day he will transport all of his creations to another planet to watch them fight. It'll never happen, but if it did, it'd be one of the best twists ever.

Secret Invasion

Continuing the theme of major company-wide events with the word "secret" in them, Marvel unleashed Secret Invasion in 2008, which saw the alien race known as the Skrulls execute a, well, invasion of the earth…but one undertaken secretly. The Skrulls are shape-shifters. Over the course of many years they slowly replaced prominent members of the Marvel universe with the intent of weakening their defenses and bringing them all down from the inside. Think about it: Earth has way, way too many people with superpowers. An invasion would lead to instant death. But if you slowly rip those superheroes apart clandestinely over time, a full-on Independence Day-style invasion becomes much easier to pull off.

Once Marvel heroes discovered there were Skrulls in their midst distrust spread through their various factions. This eventually led to the massive superheroes vs. aliens brawls we love to see in our superhero movies.

As a major plotline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the invasion could start innocently enough. Let's say that Tony Stark dies at the end of Infinity War. It's tragic and everyone cries. Then we get to the post-credit scene. There's Tony's body in a coffin. With a ripple, his face changes to a chiseled, craggy pastel green. He was a Skrull! At some point Tony Stark was kidnapped and replaced. When? How long has be not been the Tony we all love? Is the real Tony even alive? From there, more and more Marvel heroes encounter Skrulls during their own movies, until someone finally discovers what's been going on…but it's too late. The invasion is already well underway. The Skrulls have infiltrated every level of the MCU, from the movies to the Netflix shows. The only way they can be stopped is if the heroes fight through their distrust and band together.

Fear Itself

Thor's adventures through Asgard get brushed aside in the Marvel movie-verse, but Fear Itself would put Asgard front and center. The 2011 crossover event saw the rise of an Asgardian deity named the Serpent as he sought to destroy the Earth and overthrow Odin as revenge for having been usurped when he was the ruler of Asgard. The Serpent's release also triggered the fall of seven celestial hammers, each of which granted its holder evil godlike powers of destruction. All of them fell into the hands of some of Marvel's most physically imposing dudes, like the Juggernaut, the Thing, and the Hulk. To ultimately defeat the Serpent a core group of heroes, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine and Iron Fist, are given armor and weapons made of Uru, the same metal used to make Thor's hammer.

In the end, Thor kills the Serpent…and dies doing it, along with Bucky Barnes, who had assumed the mantel of Captain America.

Everything going on in Thor-ville in the movies is big, epic, and Shakespearian. Imagine that spilling out onto the Earth. The best thing about this storyline is the shake-up it causes between characters and relationships central to the MCU. The hammers can play a role similar to the infinity gems—once every third MCU movie, a hammer can fall into the hands of someone who shouldn't have it. Their fall heralds the coming of…something big. But no one knows what, not even Thor, whose father Odin has withheld information about how he assumed the throne. This can also pave the way for a resurgence of the MCU's best villain, Loki. He doesn't have much to do in the comic version of Fear Itself, but he's a rockstar in the MCU. He's a wildcard with allegiances to no one. So what happens when MCU Loki meets an Asgardian who hates Odin as much as Loki? Don't forget Thor: The Dark World, ends with Odin turning out to be dead and Loki posing as him. Maybe Loki has been secretly working with the Serpent all along?

Avengers vs. X-Men

Hypothetically, let's say Marvel reacquires the rights to the X-Men franchise. What then? Avengers vs. X-Men, that's what! This 2012 crossover event saw, well, the Avengers fight the X-Men.

The Phoenix Force is returning to Earth. It's coming for the mysterious Hope Summers, who may or may not be a mutant messiah, and who may or may not one day bring about the end of the world because she has a little bit of the Phoenix Force in her. The Avengers and the X-Men get word of the Phoenix's incoming, so Captain America suggests Hope be taken into protective custody. Cyclops thinks she should stay with the X-Men. They brawl over this, and BOOM—the war is on.

The Phoenix Force takes over five X-Men, who use the power to make the world a better place by providing everyone with food and water. But they're too powerful and everyone, including Professor X and Magneto, agree the Phoenix Five need to be taken out. That's the gist of a long, complex event that drags most of the Marvel universe into a battle against itself.

As the main driving force for a series of movies, this is everything a person would want from a major Marvel cinematic event, even if it is (for now) unrealistic to expect. Every movie starring an Avenger would have a little X-Men whisked in, and vice versa. Since we can assume this would probably be the X-Men's first appearance in the MCU, this would be a great story through which the X-Men's philosophies can be displayed, especially in contrast to the Avengers' tendency to quickly take out anything they deem a potential threat. The X-Men often opt for peaceful solutions and high purposes. They offer a compelling ethical contrast to the movie Avengers, who tend to be more of a global police force.