Marvel Studios has always been willing to try new things. After the success of movies like Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger, the film studio could have just kept producing more and more sequels that followed this same exact formula.
Instead, they have re-invented themselves many times since 2008. Over the years, Marvel has shifted focus away from fan favorites and onto new characters. They’ve also occasionally changed genres and tones entirely, as with Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok. Now, according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, the upcoming two Avengers films will be different from most superhero movies in one big way.
Avengers 4 hits theaters a year after Infinity War
Fans should not confuse Avengers 4 with Avengers: Infinity War. Infinity War is the forthcoming Marvel sequel that hits theaters on April 27, 2018. That film will see the Avengers teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to take down Thanos, a cosmic threat who has been after the Infinity Stones. When Thanos combines all of these stones into his Infinity Gauntlet, he will be unstoppable.
Infinity War is one of three movies Marvel is releasing in 2018. First, we had Black Panther in February. There’s also Ant-Man and the Wasp in July.
However, Infinity War is only the beginning. A year later, Marvel will release a fourth Avengers movie in May 2019.
It will continue the story of Infinity War
Originally, Marvel was going to title the third Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 and the fourth one Infinity War – Part 2. But they later decided to retitle the sequels, feeling that the two are different enough to have their own distinct names. It seems they don’t want people to think Infinity War is only half a story.
That being said, it appears that the two movies are still highly connected, much more so than The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron are, for example. Josh Brolin is back as Thanos in Avengers 4, and so the two films are presumably telling the story of one conflict, with not everything being resolved at the end of Infinity War. Kevin Feige does insist that it’s not just one story cut in half, though. Avengers 4 still doesn’t have an official title.
It’s the culmination of everything Marvel has been building up to
In July 2017, Feige suggested that Avengers 4 is what Marvel has been building to for years. He told the Toronto Sun, “This original 22-movie arc ends with the untitled Avengers in May of 2019…”
This quote was significant, as it suggested that Avengers 4 would be the end of an era. However, it wasn’t entirely clear just how final it would be. Would this movie feel like the end of one chapter and the opening of another chapter? Or would it truly feel like a TV series finale, with a different TV show beginning afterward?
Feige says the movie will provide something few superhero films do: a finale
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Feige doubled down on this talk of Avengers 4 being a definitive ending. He emphasized that what they’re doing will be something entirely unique, telling Vanity Fair that the movie “bring things you’ve never seen in superhero films: a finale.”
Feige has a point. With most superhero movies, the goal is always to set up what’s to come, as is the case with comic books. Rarely do we see a superhero movie that feels like it has a true ending. After all, the story is always in motion, and there are almost always more movies to come.
One of the only counterexamples that comes to mind is The Dark Knight Rises, which was a definitive conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s era of Batman that did not set up the Zack Snyder era in any way. However, Avengers 4 would be offering a finale on a much larger scale after 22 films.
Many of the Avengers will likely die or retire
Fans have speculated for a long time that at least one Avenger will die by the end of Avengers 4. The most likely candidate has always been Tony Stark. However, after this Vanity Fair article, fans are now wondering whether the movie will say goodbye to more cast members than just one. It now seems possible that almost every original hero will be killed off or go into retirement.
After all, there’s one section in the Vanity Fair article in which Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, and other Avengers are hanging around on set together playing Words with Friends. Hemsworth then tells the Vanity Fair journalist, “We’re all aware that this is going to be the last time we get to hang out like this.”
That quote is quite ominous and suggests a much bigger change of cast post-Avengers than just losing a single actor.
It will usher in a new era for Marvel
In another fascinating quote from the Vanity Fair article, Kevin Feige said that a new era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will begin after Avengers 4. “There will be two distinct periods,” Feige said. “Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after. I know it will not be in ways people are expecting.”
The article then notes, “‘Everything after,’ without these Marvel mainstays, will be hard work,” implying that Marvel will be forced to rebuild after Avengers 4 without many of its biggest draws.
Feige also said that Marvel has another 20 movies on the docket, and these will be “completely different from anything that’s come before—intentionally.”
Anyone could die, other than Spider-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Black Panther
So who will live on into the next era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? That’s not entirely clear. Marvel has intentionally not detailed all of the movies they’re planning after Avengers 4.
Marvel has only announced three films for after Avengers 4, the first being the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel. Not only do we know that Spider-Man lives past Avengers 4, but Feige says that he will usher viewers into the next era.
It’s also unlikely that any of the Guardians of the Galaxy will die. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to hit theaters in 2020, a year after Avengers 4. James Gunn has said that you’ll be able to watch the whole Guardians trilogy by itself and it will make sense even if you haven’t seen the Avengers movies. That probably wouldn’t be true if one of the main characters died in an Avengers film.
Finally, a Black Panther sequel is on the way, so T’Challa is also safe.
It seems possible that most, if not all, of the primary Avengers — Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye — will either die or retire. Some of these characters already have replacements set up. For example, the new Captain America could be Sam Wilson, and the new Iron Man could be James Rhodes.
If the majority of the main characters of the first Avengers said goodbye in the fourth one, this would truly mark the end of an era as Kevin Feige is promising.
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