It is time to discuss the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, and what to expect from the sequel
This article is Spoiler City: Population Spoilers from this point on.
As Marvel and Disney have been telling everyone "Thanos Demands Your Silence" in an effort to keep the many plot twists and surprises in Avengers: Infinity War a secret, we will double-down here and say that there are some BIG TWISTS AND SURPRISES discussed below, so only keep reading if you've already seen the movie!
You can also check out the best SPOILER-FREE review of Avengers: Infinity War by clicking right here.
Okay, still here?
Good. Let's begin...
We're going to be talking about the events of the movie, what it means for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and our guesses with where it will all be going next.
First up, those DEATHS.
In the week leading up to the release of Avengers: Infinity War, we did our best to predict who would die in the movie, and it turns out our guesses were more than a little on the conservative side.
This was a movie that literally opened with the death of Idris Elba's Heimdall, and within the first five minutes, killed off everyone's favourite MCU villain, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston.
Additionally, with the destruction of Thor's shop, we can assume that everyone from Thor: Ragnarok who isn't Thor is also dead. PLUS we find out that Thanos has killed everyone from the Nova planet before this movie even began. Yes, they killed John C. Reilly off-screen. That's cold.
Between the beginning of the movie and the climax, we only really get two other deaths. Benicio Del Toro's The Collector is most likely dead, with Thanos having already collected an Infinity Stone from him, and then Gamora, who Thanos throws off a cliff to collect another Infinity Stone, following the instructions of the Red Skull, who hasn't been around since The First Avenger.
That she died and he was alive was a back-to-back jaw-dropper that would've been hard to top in any other movie, but as we would soon come to learn, Infinity War is far from any other movie.
Once he retrieves the final Infinity Stone from Vision, and killing him in the process, Thanos clicks his fingers and kills off half of all life in the universe.
So who does that involve in the MCU?
Deep breath: Bucky Barnes, Scarlet Witch, Star-Lord, Groot, Drax, Mantis, Doctor Strange, Falcon, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Black Panther, and ... most heart-breakingly of all ... Spider-Man. They all kick the bucket.
It was, for lack of a better term, absolutely fucking shocking. But also more than a little problematic, which we'll get back to in a little bit.
For now though, let us see what it means for the FUTURE OF MCU.
So, who have we got left?
A slightly-less-deep breath: Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, War Machine, Rocket, Nebula, Black Widow, and ... chillin' like a villain ... Thanos.
Hawkeye and Ant-Man may or may not have survived Marvel's version of The Leftovers, and the post-credits scene shows Nick Fury putting a space-page out for Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
That is your lot, but this is where we begin to play the guessing game with what happens next, and our problems with the movie begin to rear their heads.
So follow us here for a bit:
1. Scarlet Witch manages to destroy the Infinity Stone in her boyfriend Vision's head, but Thanos just uses Doctor Strange's time-stone to reverse time and take it anyway.
2. Earlier in the movie, we see Doctor Strange having a bit of a fit, but it turns out he was previewing over 14,000,000 potential scenarios for the upcoming fight against Thanos. When Tony Stark asks in how many do we win, Strange replies "just one."
3. Following on from the finger-clicking mass-genocide, Stark asks Strange, "what have you done?", to which Strange tells him it was the only way. You might think at the time it was the only way for Strange to save Stark, but it is obvious that this course of action was the only way Strange could see them all defeating Thanos.
How that plays out is difficult to predict, because there a number of factors at play here, which brings us to WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
Up to a point, the MCU has had a bit of a Game Of Thrones cheat-sheet vibe, where if you didn't know what was going to be happen next, you could just consult the source material and stay ahead of the game. However, just like GOT breaking away from George R. R. Martin's fantasy bible, The Russo Brothers are no longer playing within the confines of what Marvel had previously set up.
In the comic book version of the Infinity War, Thanos has the same nefarious plot, but he does it to appease the love of his life, the physical embodiment of Death itself. Also, the heroes of that story are the Silver Surfer (who Marvel don't currently have the rights to) and Adam Warlock (who was hinted in a gestation pod at the end of GOTG Vol.2, but probably won't appear until GOTG Vol.3).
So if you're looking to the comics for help, that is a lost cause.
However, big fans of the series do have some other hints as to where this is all going.
For one thing, no series of movies has ever had as much scrutiny over multi-movie contracts as those within this franchise. Robert Downey Jr. has been on borrowed time since Iron Man 3, Chris' Evans and Hemsworth are both at the end of their obligational runs, whereas Sebastian Stan and Samuel L Jackson had both signed up for NINE movies each.
Plus, Marvel and Disney have been very coy about the confirmed movies that will follow Infinity War, as the other ones we know for definite are Ant-Man & The Wasp (due this July), Captain Marvel (due March 2019), the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel (due July 2019), Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 (due sometime in 2020), and the currently untitled Infinity War sequel (due April 2019).
All that knowledge combined gives us at least some indication as to who will actually survive the end of this Infinity War, and considering some of those have already died in the first part - *waves at Peter Parker and the majority of the Guardians* - we can assume that they're not gone for good.
Which brings us down to Avengers: Infinity War's biggest problem: for all of those stakes, there is a sense that the movie is potentially completely lacking in them.
We're going to venture a guess that the upcoming Infinity War will feature the survivors of the first movie, with a few new additions, finding Thanos, taking the Gauntlet, and using it to go back in time to undo his 50% genocide.
How far back they go, and how much they can undo, will be the make-or-break for a series that has a had a very hard time in actually killing anyone for good so far.
We see it going one of three ways:
1. They get the Gauntlet, go back to before he killed everyone, destroy one (or more) of the Stones, and all is well. This, loyal readers, would be a TERRIBLE ending.
2. They get the Gauntlet, but discover they can only go back to the point he clicked his fingers, therefore un-killing all those who got dusted away, but everyone else who bit the bullet up to that point - Loki, Heimdall, The Collector, Gamora - would stay dead. Plus, we imagine, a few more will die in the process of defeating him, which will see (most likely) Iron Man and/or Captain America finish up their Marvel contracts. This would be the MOST LIKELY ending.
3. There was a conversation had in Civil War, when Vision tells the group that ever since Tony Stark outed himself as Iron Man, the number of catastrophic events has climbed to match the number of Avengers joining the ranks. So there is a chance they'll click themselves so far back that it will undo everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done so far, but it still allows room for several of the actors to bow out, as an alternative path sends the Avengers on a different journey altogether, with different members and different famous folks inside the different spandex suits. This would be the MOST BALLSY ending.
Which of these they decide to go with, or if they'll do something different altogether, we'll have to wait another year to find out.