SPOILERS AHEAD for Avengers: Infinity War. This post discusses the end of the new movie in detail, so you should stop reading here if you haven’t seen it.
Whether or not you saw it coming, the explosive “basically everyone you love is dead now” ending to Avengers: Infinity War spells major implications for the events of Avengers 4.
Here’s what we know: Thanos won, assembling the Infinity Gauntlet and completing his goal of wiping out half the population of the entire universe. He snapped his fingers and it was done.
Following the finger-snap, we saw a group of key heroes and other important players melt away into dust. They’re probably not dead dead, but all indications suggest they won’t be around to save the universe in Avengers 4, at least not right away.
That group includes: Bucky, Black Panther, Groot, Wanda Maximoff, Falcon, Mantis, Drax, Star-Lord, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man (plus Nick Fury and Maria Hill). We also got to see Heimdall, Loki, Gamora, and the Vision eat it earlier in the movie. They’re more likely to be dead dead than the others, but no one really knows at this point.
Now that Infinity War is here, we can all start wondering who will be around to save the day in Avengers 4. The “big three” heroes — Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor — are still kicking, and the next movie will likely amount to a franchise send-off for all three, whether or not their characters actually die.
But what about the rest?
Bruce Banner/Hulk: Poor Bruce. We don’t know what’s up with him being stuck in his puny human form. His Hulk alter-ego doesn’t want to play and no amount of raging was able to draw him out. Expect Avengers 4 to explore this, and possibly position Mark Ruffalo as a new key player for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Rocket Raccoon: His whole squad got wiped out during Infinity War and he’s Thor’s “rabbit” pal now. Rocket was low-key a major player in Infinity War and he’s definitely crewing up with whoever’s off to fight Thanos next.
Nebula: One of the adopted daughters of Thanos, last seen with an understandably morose Tony on the surface of Titan. When Thanos assembles the Infinity Gauntlet in the comics, Nebula is the one who saves the day. Will that history repeat in the MCU? No one knows, but Nebula’s story is far from over.
James Rhodes/War Machine: Rhodey’s MCU presence has been trending downward for some time, and Infinity War doesn’t really change that. He’s also just not a space guy, and space is Thanos’s thing. If Avengers 4 splits everyone up again, don’t be surprised if Rhodey ends up with the home team on Earth.
Okoye: Another prime “home team” player. Okoye could be so overcome with rage at the loss of T’Challa that she insists on chasing Thanos to the ends of the universe (which, to be clear, would be awesome). But Wakanda lost its leader. Odds are Okoye’s sense of duty, the same one that led her to obey Killmonger after he stole the throne in Black Panther, will keep her in Wakanda.
Black Widow: Black Widow has been a core Avengers player since the first of these came out. She has her own solo movie on the way and her future in the MCU is bright. Space isn’t really her thing, but adapting to any circumstance is. We’d bet on her joining the A-plot team in Avengers 4.
Shuri: Shuri got owned by Corvus Glaive before she could extract the Vision’s Infinity Stone, but she didn’t die. She was then off-screen when everyone turned to dust, so she might still be around. If she is, duty will probably keep her in Wakanda as T’Challa’s next of kin. But her tech knowhow sure would make her an asset in the fight against Thanos.
M’Baku: Same as Shuri, we never get to see what happens to M’Baku after Thanos does his thing. He was only a bit player in Infinity War and he’s likely to remain that way, or not appear at all, in Avengers 4. Sad, because M’Baku rules. But there’s always Black Panther 2.
Scott Lang/Ant-Man: This summer’s movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is set after the events of Captain America: Civil War but (presumably) before Infinity War. The movie itself should answer some questions about how or if Ant-Man (and the Wasp!) factor into Avengers 4. But he never appears in Infinity War, so we have no idea how he fares after Thanos’s culling.
Clint Barton/Hawkeye: Similar to Ant-Man, Hawkeye is an Infinity War no-show. We learn during the movie that both heroes are under house arrest. Who knows if either of them turned to dust? Maybe Marvel’s been saving Hawkeye for a big second act moment in Avengers 4. Or maybe he’s just done, and content to wile away retirement with his family.
Wong: Doctor Strange may be gone, but we left his pal Wong back in NYC, guarding the New York Sanctum. Assuming he didn’t get dusted, it’s a safe bet that Wong will show up in Avengers 4, given his knowledge of the mystic arts. But he’s a very likely home team candidate, since someone has to stick around to guard the Sanctum.
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel: Captain Marvel is 100 percent for-sure going to be in Avengers 4, and will play a major role in the same. If you stuck around for Infinity War‘s post-credits scene — you did do that, right? — that’s where it’s made clear. The symbol that appears on Nick Fury’s space-age beeper in the final seconds is the Captain Marvel logo. The Captain Marvel movie, a prequel, is coming out a couple months before Avengers 4 in 2019. This is easy math, folks. The entire plot of the next Avengers may turn on the actions of Captain Marvel.
Adam Warlock: To be clear, the character named “Adam Warlock” is a comic book creation who hasn’t ever been named in an MCU product. But! The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 post-credits scene brought us back to Sovereign, where Ayesha was cooking up a “next step” in her people’s evolution (and also a being capable of defeating the Guardians, now her sworn enemies). We only see the weird sci-fi cocoon that’s growing him, but we do learn Ayesha named her creation “Adam.”
The comic book Adam Warlock plays a significant role in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline and in Thanos’s life in general. How that relationship shifts in the MCU remains to be seen, but it’s a near-certainty he’ll play a key role in the events of Avengers 4.