The fourth and yet-unnamed Avengers movie will complete “Phase Three” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie will have to resolve Infinity War’s cliffhanger ending.
Ever since he first appeared in a Guardians of the Galaxy post-credit scene, Thanos (Josh Brolin) has been after the six Infinity Stones, powerful gems that could allow him to destroy the universe. Marvel fans will recall these gems from previous Marvel movies, like the Time Stone in Doctor Strange or the Power Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy. In Infinity War, he got his hands on all six stones—with dire consequences. Now the Avengers team must figure out what to do next.
Expect few of the original squad to survive this next film. Several of the stars’ contracts will expire with that movie, including Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye).
Evans has been open about wanting to leave the franchise, though Hemsworth has also said he won’t play Thor again after Avengers 4. Johansson will presumably survive the film since Disney has finally hired someone to write a standalone Black Widow movie. Still, fans have speculated that one or more heroes will meet their end in the upcoming Infinity War sequel.
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has confirmed as much. “Certainly as we get to Infinity War there is a sense of a climax if not a conclusion to, by the time we’re at untitled Avengers 4, the 22 movies that will have encompassed the first three phases of the MCU,” he told Collider. “And what happens after that will be very different. I don’t know if it’s Phase 4, it might be a new thing.”
The Russo brothers, for their part, have kept the details of Avengers 4 entirely under wraps. But note that both Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel are set before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, which means the 2019 sequel to Infinity War can pick up at the exact moment the previous film ended or shortly thereafter.
Whether or not fans must say goodbye to Cap and Thor, Marvel certainly has plenty of new characters to play with, including Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters if they decide to incorporate them into the universe. The studio could also promote some of the sidekick characters to lead roles: Anthony Mackie’s Falcon could become Cap or Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie could replace Thor.