Avengers: Infinity War leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a difficult place. Here's what to expect going forward.
This article contains major Avengers: Infinity War spoilers.
Avengers: Infinity War is over. Thanos won. Half the population of the universe has been eliminated. And we have to wait a year for Avengers 4?
Yes. And considering how successful Marvel was with keeping the tarp of secrecy on Avengers: Infinity War, we’re not likely to learn a whole hell of a lot about Avengers 4 (beyond its title) between now and next May. Which means it’s my job to try and piece this all together.
The first thing to wrap our heads around is how there are two other Marvel Studios movies on the calendar before Avengers 4. It’s not like those are going to be side missions where we see heroes dealing with the aftermath of Thanos’ victory, so…
Ant-Man & The Wasp
Ant-Man & The Wasp opens in July. Can you believe that the first Marvel movie after the BLEAKEST Marvel movie is likely to be one of the bouncier entries in the MCU franchise? The first Ant-Man was a lot of fun, Peyton Reed took on a potentially thankless, difficult job as director after Edgar Wright and Marvel parted ways, and shepherded a genuinely fun movie. He’s back in the director’s chair for the sequel, and the trailers for this look like the same kind of superheroic high adventure.
Both of the title characters were notably absent from Avengers: Infinity War, which could be explained any number of ways. After all, it’s not like Ant-Man is the most high profile hero around, and when shit hit the fan in Infinity War, there wasn’t really much time (or need) to call in Scott Lang, let alone an even more inexperienced hero with The Wasp.
The most likely scenario here is that Ant-Man & The Wasp takes place before Avengers: Infinity War, probably at the same time as the events of Thor: Ragnarok or within a few days after. The only question is whether or not these two heroes vanish into ash at the end of their film, or get to join the fight in Avengers 4. My guess is the former, as the surviving Avengers right now seem to be mostly limited to the original team, but Marvel has been throwing fans some filthy curves lately, so anything is possible.
The Infinity War post-credits scene is our first indication that Carol Danvers is coming. Nick Fury gets off a distress signal to Captain Marvel, and it’s marked as received, which means that she’s coming to back up the original Avengers team and lay a serious hurting on Thanos. And she definitely can, since Carol is an absolute tank when it comes to raw power.
But that won’t be happening until Avengers 4, because the Captain Marvel movie is a flashback, much like Captain America: The First Avenger was. Captain Marvel takes place in the 1990s, and will tell the story of how Carol Danvers went from being a regular old Air Force officer badass into a cosmically powered, flying, energy projecting badass. Perhaps The First Avenger parallels will continue with something explaining how she ends up in the present day…and what she was doing when she answers Nick Fury’s distress call when everyone is disintegrating.
So, we know that Captain America, Iron Man, War Machine, Bruce Banner (and maybe the Hulk), and Black Widow are coming back for Avengers 4, as well as an assortment of supporting players. We can also confirm that Hawkeye will be around, too. And Captain Marvel is also on her way. We really just need to figure out if Ant-Man and the Wasp will be around, but this is as clear a picture of the Avengers 4 roster as we’re likely to get.
Of course, the big worry here is that any on screen deaths in Avengers 4, ones that don’t involve someone vanishing in a flurry of special effects, are likely to be permanent (well, at least as permanent as anything can be in a superhero story). It’s no coincidence that the last Avengers standing are the ones who starred in the first film.
This might not go well for them. Or the audience.
How Will The Avengers Defeat Thanos?
Well…they’re going to need help, for one thing. Considering how much brute force was used in Infinity War to little effect, I’m not really sure what they can do. After all, Thanos has already won, and it’s not enough to administer a beatdown (however cathartic that might be) here. Instead, the team has to not just beat Thanos, but figure out a way to reverse the effects of the last few minutes (or more) of Infinity War.
But one thing that hasn’t been touched on yet is that in the comics, Thanos often plants the seeds of his own defeat. Subconsciously, Thanos doesn’t believe he’s worthy of ultimate victory, and always finds a way to shoot his own dick off.
Were there clues in Infinity War that we missed?
Marvel’s untitled Spider-Man sequel was announced over a year ago, so we know for sure that Peter Parker will return from the dead (as if there was ever really any doubt). Black Panther 2 is confirmed, too, but doesn’t have a release date. There’s still no word on Doctor Strange 2, but given how Infinity War seems to have cemented the character in everyone’s minds, that’s a safe bet. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is a lock (and don’t be surprised if Gamora returns to life for that one), but doesn’t have a release date, either.
But really, don’t read too much into any of this. Marvel is simply being coy about discussing any of their Phase 4 plans until after the release of Avengers 4 in 2019. Why? Because as anyone who saw the Avengers: Infinity War ending can tell you, these movies are full of surprises right now, and announcing just when everyone is coming back isn’t likely to help raise the stakes for Avengers 4. But right now, I wouldn’t get my hopes up for Iron Man 4 or Captain America 4…but that’s just me.