But because the internet has killed all our attention spans, interest is already turning to what’s next from Marvel, be that spin-off films like Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel (out this summer and next February respectively) or, more pertinently, Infinity War’s direct follow-up Avengers 4, which will be released next May and is sure to resolve Infinity War’s shocking final moments.
So in that spirit, we’re going to take a spoiler-filled look at what happens at the end of Infinity War and get on with some good old-fashioned speculating about what’s coming in the mysteriously untitled Avengers film next year.
Obviously, spoilers are to follow so back out if you’ve not seen the film – though to be honest, if you read this article’s title and thought “well, this seems like a safe, plot detail-free space for me to enjoy” then you need to take a good, long look at your ability to glean meaning from collections of words on a page.
First up, let’s talk about those final scenes. Avengers: Infinity War concludes with Thanos (Josh Brolin) collecting all six Infinity stones, defeating the combined teams of Avengers and finally carrying out his grand plan – erasing half of the universe’s population with the snap of his fingers, and thus “solving” the issue of overpopulation
Sure, he probably could have just redistributed the galaxy’s wealth or just MADE MORE FOOD with his godlike powers, but the mass death thing is what he went with, and the heroes we see dusted are (deep breath)…
Meanwhile, the heroes killed BEFORE the finger snap were
Loki – if he counts as a hero?
And those left largely unscathed at the end of the film are:
And we’re currently unclear about characters like Ant-Man and Hawkeye, who weren’t in the film, or Shuri and Wong who we didn’t see disintegrate onscreen. Apparently, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok survived though! So that’s something.
So who’s really dead?
Let’s get one question out of the way – will these characters stay dead? Well, we’re going to go with a hard NO on this one. Characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther already have sequels to their solo films coming out (as do the Guardians of the Galaxy), and even if they didn’t it’s not like Marvel would cheerily murder half its IP just to make a neat cliffhanger.
With that said, it seems likely that the characters who were killed pre-dusting – Vision, Loki, Gamora – WILL stay dead, because they weren’t part of Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet snap so may not be as easily brought back. Also, it might seem a bit cheap if literally everyone came back to life. SOMEONE has to die to justify the story’s massive stakes, right?
So that’s almost definitely Vision and Loki, and probably Gamora too – though we’d be surprised if she doesn’t get some sort of mystical goodbye scene at least, considering her death was somewhat Infinity stone-related and we already saw a projection of her younger self talk to Thanos.
For now, as we’ve written elsewhere the mass culling of the film’s cast does do Marvel a bit of a favour, clearing the deck for the unnamed sequel next year that focuses on the core Avengers – who all coincidentally survived – while having a plausible and dramatically satisfying explanation for why all the other heroes can’t be there. Very nice.
What about the other survivors?
Though of course, a few other characters apart from the core Avengers also survive. Pretty much everyone from the “spin-off” franchises goes, but we keep Rocket Raccoon from the Guardians as well as Nebula, which suggests to me that the Avengers might enlist the pair to help them travel into space and take down Thanos. Who better to track him down than his daughter and the best furry pilot in the galaxy?
We also have War Machine (Don Cheadle) still among the solid, and we presume he’ll be joined by Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). Both these latter characters were absent from Infinity War while under house arrest, but directors the Russo brothers suggested to us that they might be back in the sequel and given the mass exodus at the end of the latest film there’s certainly room for them now.
And like Rocket and Nebula, these characters’ inclusion could tell us something about what we can expect from Avengers 4. For example, Hawkeye coming back nicely rounds out the original Avengers line-up, drawing a line under the last decade of superhero filmmaking and providing a fitting end for this era of the MCU.
Ant-Man, meanwhile, could fill a more plot-specific purpose. We already knew (and the latest trailer confirmed) that the Quantum realm would play a big part in Ant-Man and the Wasp after being set up in the original film, where it was the presumed resting place of the original Wasp (after she shrunk too small and went between molecules) and a final challenge for Ant-Man that he managed to return from.
Given that the film has now cast Michelle Pfeiffer as the OG Wasp and scenes in the trailer show both Dr Pym (Michael Douglas) and Ant-Man back in the Quantum realm, it seems likely we’ll be seeing them get her back – so could this access to a new dimension help the Avengers battle Thanos?
It might sound a bit weird, but we DO know that since last year rumours have abounded that Avengers 4 will involve time travel in some capacity, with directors Joe and Anthony Russo even hinting obliquely that fans might be on the right track with that speculation. It could be that access to the Quantum realm facilitates this in some way, or it could be something incidental to Ant-Man entirely, but we’re still very intrigued to see how it plays out. If nothing else, Ant-Man is sure to have some cool Avengers-related post-credits scenes.
And Captain Marvel?
Among Avengers 4’s heroes will also be Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, whose first solo movie hits cinemas next February. The film’s set in the 1990s so won’t mess with Infinity War’s cliffhanger, but it’s bound to lead into Avengers 4 given that we saw Captain Marvel being summoned in the Infinity War post-credits scene.
It’s hard to guess much more considering we haven’t even seen a trailer for Captain Marvel, but it seems likely that it’ll at least have its own post-credits tease for Avengers 4 – or maybe even a scene of Larson’s Carol Danvers flying to the rescue in the present day…
What was Doctor Strange’s plan?
Speaking of the “snap” survivors, it’s interesting to note exactly how Iron Man came to be among them – because it could have massive repercussions for Avengers 4.
You see, while we don’t really know what will happen in Avengers 4, we do know who does – Doctor Strange! In Infinity War the sorcerer supreme swaps the Time Stone for Iron Man’s life, before making some cryptic comments about how this was “the only way” and that they were “in the endgame now”.
Earlier in the film, Strange had looked into the future and seen just one way for the heroes to triumph – so was keeping Tony Stark alive part of that? Perhaps completing Thanos’ gauntlet would be the easiest way to defeat him and reverse his changes, and perhaps Strange saw that Iron Man needed to be alive to do that.
After all, the “endgame” in chess is when there aren’t many pieces left on the board, just like at the end of Infinity War – so maybe Strange was trying to make the best of what he had, and keeping Tony for a significant role in a later battle.
With that in mind, don’t be surprised if Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark manages to find the solution to Thanos’ terrible actions next year – even if he does end up sacrificing himself to do so. There’d be something very circular about that.
What else will happen in Avengers 4?
These are all very rough impressions, but what seems certain is that by the end of the next film the Avengers will have reversed Thanos’ actions somehow, and brought back all the heroes for a scene where we’ll finally see every single character onscreen together and battling Thanos.
Actor Sebastian Stan (who plays Bucky) has hinted at such a scene himself, and it’d be the logical conclusion to this culmination of Marvel’s massive cinematic universe.
“There was one scene, I think, we had where everybody was there,” Stan said at Ace comic-con earlier this year.
“I can’t really talk about that scene, but I knew it took them three months in planning this scene to have everyone there.”
“You look around and you just saw everyone from Samuel L. Jackson to Michael Douglas to Michelle Pfeiffer. Everybody was there.”
So yeah, that’s happening.
More general predictions? Some space-travel shenanigans, the return of the (proper) Hulk, a bigger role for Chris Evans’ Captain America (and his reunion with Iron Man post-Civil War), an important story for Karen Gillan’s Nebula – she had a big part to play in the comics – and a scene where the original six Avengers take control of an Infinity stone each, finally ending Thanos’ threat once and for all.
No, that last one doesn’t make much sense, but it’d be cool, right? And the numbering seems like too much of a coincidence to mean nothing.
We’ve gone into more detail elsewhere about what directions Marvel could go in post-Avengers 4, but in the short term there are plenty more films already confirmed like the Spider-Man sequel, Black Panther 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Rumours abound that Avengers 4 will see the departure of longstanding heroes like Captain America and Iron Man – but there are plenty of new heroes like Captain Marvel and Black Panther coming through to lead the Avengers and keep that franchise going, alongside rumours that characters like the Eternals, Fantastic 4 and the X-Men could be coming into the fold.
In years to come we could see more deep-cut storylines from the comics, or we could just finally get that Black Widow movie we’ve been waiting eight years for. We could see Marvel get more cosmic with Captain Marvel and the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, or even more grounded with Black Panther 2.
Whatever happens, we’ll be here to watch, theorise and enjoy the lot of them. Though for now, we’re just counting down the days til Avengers 4.
This article was originally published on the 2nd May