This is what you’ve been waiting for. The culmination of nearly twenty films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to be a two-part theatrical event over the course of 2018 and 2019 that will bring together nearly every corner of the Marvel Universe, including Thanos and the Infinity Stones. In short, this is going to be gigantic. So gigantic that Marvel had to break precedent and split the film into two parts. This is Avengers: Infinity War.
That we’ll see an adaptation of Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet was a foregone conclusion the moment we got our first glimpse of Thanos’ craggy purple face at the end of 2012’s Avengers. As Kevin Feige remarked during today’s event, “We’ve always had a plan since Nick Fury broke into Tony Stark’s house and told him he’s part of a bigger universe. Avengers: Infinity War Part I is the beginning of the culmination of everything that has come before.” The fact that it’s being broken into two films, though, comes as something of a shock. It had been rumored that the film would be split into two parts earlier this year, but the nature of Marvel’s complex multi-film contracts seemed to indicate that such an arrangement would be impossible. Evidently, nothing is impossible for the House of Ideas’ big screen machine.
That being said, there’s still plenty of ground work that needs to be laid. As of now, we have only seen three of the six Infinity Stones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — the Power Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Reality Stone (the Aether) in Thor: The Dark World, and the Space Stone (the Tesseract) in Avengers — which leaves three to be uncovered. (Note: some people posit that we’ve seen four — e.g. the Mind Stone in the form of Loki’s staff — but I’m not totally convinced.) Granted, there are seven movies between now and Avengers: Infinity War Part I, so there’s plenty of time between now and then for our fair heroes to uncover all manner of cosmic reality-altering artifacts.
Things get well and truly interesting once we consider what we know thus far about the events building towards Avengers: Infinity War. We already know that the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron will shake up the roster of the team in a way we hadn’t expected. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, which will introduce Black Panther into the MCU as well as pit Captain America and Iron Man against one another, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see Cap hang up the shield for a spell. The scenes we saw of Iron Man battling the Hulk in his Hulkbuster armor in the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer have me thinking that we may see poor ol’ Bruce Banner blasted off of our pale blue dot into the furthest reaches of space, effectively removing him from the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes equation, and setting the stage of a Planet Hulk-style storyline or, perhaps, a rendezvous with the Guardians of the Galaxy in Guardians 2. Likewise, the events of Thor: Ragnarok, which many comic readers know does not portend good things for our favorite Asgardians, could take Thor out of commission too.
So where does that leave us? Well, Feige mentioned that Infinity War is very much space-based, which would seem to indicate that we’ll see Captain Marvel stepping into the fray, perhaps, to lead a new team of Avengers against the looming threat. Hell, the Guardians of the Galaxy may even get into the fray as well, but without heavy hitters like Captain America, Thor, or the Hulk, the heroes will be helpless against the Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Thanos and Part I will likely end on a dour note with our heroes bruised, battered, and on the run before they bring the full might of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Inhumans and all — to bear on Thanos in Infinity War Part II. This is all speculatory, to be fair, but based on the shreds of evidence we have so far, it isn’t too far-fetched.
As for the aspects of the Marvel Universe that exist on television (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and the Netflix series (Daredevil, etc.), Feige was a bit more enigmatic. He acknowledged that the shows take place in the same larger shared universe and will definitely be impacted by events taking place on the big screen, but he wouldn’t disclose whether or not we could expect to see The Defenders get embroiled in the impending intergalactic slugfest. “There is certainly the opportunity,” said Feige — and while it’s hardly a confirmation, it is certainly better than nothing.
Avengers: Infinity War Part I hits theaters on May 4, 2018, so there’s still plenty of time before we have to really worry about any of this. Still, what would the Marvel Cinematic Universe be without the rampant speculation? It’s half the fun, after all. Then, we’ll finally have all of our answers once Phase III concludes with Avengers: Infinity War Part II on May 3, 2019.
Want even more Marvel Cinematic Universe? Jessica Chobot broke down all today’s announcements on Nerdist News:
Who do you think will be in the lineup for Avengers: Infinity War? Let us know in the comments below or tell me on Twitter.