With Avengers 4 rumored to involve time travel and alternate realities, the MCU has the perfect opportunity to introduce new versions of familiar heroes. Avengers: Infinity War is rooted in the idea of Thanos unleashing the power of each Infinity Stone, but that plot doesn't end with this year's film. In fact, Thanos may have broken time itself when he snapped his fingers and obliterated half of all life in the universe.

There's no telling exactly what the fallout will be of that event, but we know heroes like Spider-Man and Black Panther aren't gone for good. That means either Thanos' actions will be undone, a Marvel hero will wield the Infinity Gauntlet and bring everyone back, or the MCU will dive deep into messing with time, space, and reality. Numerous set photos have teased Avengers 4 reliving moments from The Avengers, specifically the Battle of New York and Loki's capture. And while these events could take place within a B.A.R.F. simulation akin to Tony's memory of his parents in Captain America: Civil War, we could also be glimpsing time travel in the MCU.

We'll naturally see some new heroes step up in Avengers 4 to fill the gaps left by the vanquished, but Avengers: Infinity War also teased the idea of new takes on established heroes. Steve Rogers is operating more or less as Nomad, while Bruce Banner became the first Avenger to realize anyone can pilot one of Tony's suits. But with Black Panther, the Sorcerer Supreme, and others no longer protecting Earth, some heroes may decide to take new mantles for Avengers 4 and honor the comic book source material in the process.

Shuri May Become the New Black Panther

Shuri is actually a relatively new character in the comics, debuting in 2005's Black Panther #2 as part of Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.'s run. Before long, however, she was forced to step up as not only the new ruler of Wakanda, but the Black Panther as well when T'Challa went off to New York (to take over for Daredevil, naturally). Her time as queen and protector of Wakanda saw her deal with regular Black Panther antagonist Namor and even serve alongside her brother when Thanos' army invaded the nation. Elements of that story somewhat inspired Avengers: Infinity War, so the idea of Shuri taking her brother's mantle in the next film makes sense.

We know Letitia Wright wants to be Black Panther, and Shuri as the ruler of Wakanda in T'Challa's stead makes sense. After all, she's the next in line for the throne and as far as she or anyone else inside the MCU knows T'Challa is gone for good. Knowing that, it would only be fitting for Shuri to don her own version of the Black Panther suit - especially considering she designs them. Though Black Panther 2 hasn't officially been announced, it's assured to arrive in Phase 4. So while T'Challa will be back in the role soon enough, there's comic book precedent for the siblings to rule and protect Wakanda together.

Hawkeye as Ronin

It'd be an understatement to say fans were a little disappointed with the absence of Hawkeye in Avengers: Infinity War, but the original Avenger seems ready for a meaty storyline in the movie's follow-up. We've had set photos of Jeremy Renner in a new look and rumors Hawkeye and Black Widow are hunting Skrulls in Avengers 4. Regardless of their target, a team-up between the comrades seems a safe bet for the movie, especially if it seeks to balance some ground-level action with all the cosmic chaos. And fighting Skrulls is something Hawkeye spent a lot of time doing while operating as Ronin.

Theory: Here's Why Hawkeye May Become Ronin in Avengers 4

In the comics, Clint Barton returns from the dead and dons the Ronin mantle, adding twin swords to his repertoire and working more in the shadows than ever. With Thanos wiping out half of the universe, there's a chance Clint's family was amongst the fallen. That could lead to his new suit - and haircut - and a more cutthroat approach to fighting villains. Whether he's actually called Ronin or not is up in the air (after all, he's barely called Hawkeye in the films). But out of all the alternate versions of heroes that could be in Avengers 4, Hawkeye's arc is sure to see him honor his comic book history in some key ways.

PAGE 2: Tony Stark, Sorcerer Supreme?

A New Sorcerer Supreme

When the Ancient One died and left her post as the Sorcerer Supreme, newcomer Stephen Strange quickly took the role. But Wong is far more qualified for the job and may just gain the title now that Doctor Strange is gone. Though the Eye of Agamotto is no more, the Sanctums Sanctorum of the world still need guarding and there's likely plenty of magical threats to deal with. Of course, not much would change if Wong became the new Sorcerer Supreme, given the Eye and Cape are gone and his powers will already be used to fight evil. There is a more interesting option, though.

In the comics, Tony Stark has become a version of the Sorcerer Supreme a few times. Aside from matching Doctor Strange in attitude and appearance, the contrast between science an magic in the comics makes Iron Man an intriguing opposite to the Sorcerer Supreme. One version of the future saw him wielding the power of magic and using many of Strange's artifacts. But in the MCU, the idea makes even more sense.

We know magic is merely advanced science in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for a while, Tony was only exposed to the Asgardian version of this. Meeting Strange and Wong in Avengers: Infinity War, however, opened up a new world for the futurist. While we're sure to check in on Wong in Avengers 4 and see what the state of the mystical world is, it would be thrilling for Tony to team-up with the wizard and merge his tech with the inter-dimensional science that seems to create magic in the MCU. Whether or not Tony actually becomes the Sorcerer Supreme, it would be a waste for Iron Man to not incorporate a few spells into his arsenal.

Avengers Theory: Doctor Strange's Plan Needs [SPOILER] Alive to Work

Nomad and the Secret Avengers

While most character arcs in Avengers 4 are unclear, what we do know is that Captain America will have more screen time. Along with Black Widow, Steve Rogers is said to get more of a focus in the new movie. And, of course, rumors have swirled that he may even die. Before that happens, though, it would be great to see more of him in his Nomad persona as he leads the Secret Avengers.

Steve's time leading the Secret Avengers in the comics came while Bucky was Captain America and Rogers was running black ops missions in a new uniform. His Nomad mantle, meanwhile, dates back to an even earlier period when he ditched the shield. Still, the combination of the two storylines would work perfectly as Steve leads Widow, Falcon, and others on covert missions. We know the group spent time between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War doing just that, but fans are eager to see the more streamlined team in action. Whether tamping down on crime in the wake of the chaos or outing Skrulls following Captain Marvel, there's plenty of plots that could keep the Secret Avengers busy. The arc would also serve as a great jumping off point for a future film that could let Marvel keep things grounded and gritty even while they explore the cosmic side of the MCU more.

Avengers 4 will only have so much time to bring aboard new heroes, switch up old ones, and tie up the entire MCU to date. But if the film wants to distance itself from Avengers: Infinity War, checking in on new takes on familiar characters would be an interesting tactic. With the movie less than a year away, we won't have to wait long to learn just what the film will be about. Whatever happens, expect Avengers 4 to shake up the status quo and pull some deep cuts from the comics.

MORE: New (& Old) Marvel Villains That Could Be Introduced In Avengers 4

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