Superhero epic Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel, the still unnamed Avengers 4, are promising a sort of end for the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it.
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige told Vanity Fair Avengers 4 will bring a “finale” to the shared universe launched with 2008’s Iron Man, explaining the sequel will serve as the point of demarcation for “two distinct periods” in the MCU: “Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after,” Feige said, adding it will “not be in ways people are expecting.”
Feige later told Entertainment Weekly dead characters will stay dead, which could potentially include “the big ones.”
Marvel Studios has refrained from revealing much about their projects planned for 2020, 2021 and 2022 following Avengers 4 in 2019, but we know the studio has Captain Marvel and sequels to Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther in the works.
The following list doesn’t mean we expect all these characters will die — they’re just the ones who have a higher probability of biting the dust than their superhero colleagues.
SLIDE 1/7 – VISION
Synthetic android the Vision is in possession of the Mind Stone — which just so happens to be one of the six massively powerful Infinity Stones highly coveted by Thanos, an alien warlord who comes to Earth to finally assemble the Stones and wield the power of a god.
Vision can be seen screaming in the first Infinity War trailer, and the latest trailer also hints at bad things to come for the robo-Avenger — suggesting the hero’s status as a prime target for Thanos and his villainous Black Order means he won’t be making it out of Infinity War alive.
Captain America star Chris Evans said the arrival of the purple-skinned Mad Titan is the Avengers’ worst fears coming to reality, with Infinity War showing “the worst case scenario when you find out all the potential of someone trying to destroy your planet.”
SLIDE 2/7 – LOKI
The latest Infinity War trailer also hints at a potentially doomed Loki, the usually traitorous half-brother of Thor, who in Thor: Ragnarok proved there is good in him after all.
The trickster demigod also swiped the Tesseract, which contains the Space Stone — which just so happens to be one of the Stones Thanos comes to possess.
Loki can be seen surrounded by Thanos’ children — Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive and Cull Obsidian — likely under threat of surrendering the Space Stone or watching Thor die. (The Asgardian Avenger can be seen in Thanos’ grip, literally, unleashing a terrible scream.)
We’ve seen little of Loki outside this location, and he was warned of Thanos’ vengeance as far back as The Avengers in 2012. If Thanos confronts his old lackey over his early failure, even the wily Loki might not be able to get himself out of this one.
SLIDE 3/7 – NEBULA
Nebula, Thanos’ adopted daughter, is out for blood. She wants Thanos destroyed — even if she has to do it herself.
Nebula played an important role in the Infinity Gauntlet comic book, where Thanos nearly killed her, transforming her body into a severely disfigured and zombie-like husk.
That story serves as partial inspiration for Avengers: Infinity War, and could hint at Nebula’s possible fate — especially if her obsessive hatred sees her seeking vengeance on Thanos without back up.
Actress Karen Gillan teased Nebula could play a big role in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but first her half-cybernetic alien mercenary will have to survive Infinity War and Avengers 4.
SLIDE 4/7 – HAWKEYE
Bow-wielding sharp-shooting Avenger Hawkeye is nowhere to be found.
Hawkeye’s significant absence hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans, who believe the complete lack of Hawkeye could signify an awful fate for Clint Barton.
We know Hawkeye and Jeremy Renner will be involved in Avengers 4 where he will be sporting a wildly different look, but set photos from the Infinity War sequel reveal some intriguing changes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — suggesting misuse of the Infinity Stones could lead to a time travel or reality-altering situation come Avengers 4.
SLIDE 5/7 – BUCKY
Infinity War catches up with former brainwashed Hydra assassin Bucky Barnes in a “very different place,” actor Sebastian Stan tells EW.
Roughly two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the former Winter Soldier has been released from stasis, having found his way back through the care of Wakandan scientists lead by Shuri.
Best friend Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, never gave up on him — and it’s clear the buddies will be with each other until the end of the line, which very well could come in Infinity War.
Though the actions of the wicked Winter Soldier weren’t his own, Bucky Barnes feels a tremendous amount of guilt over a century’s worth of kills. Will he find redemption helping save the universe in Infinity War? And if he does, at what cost?
SLIDE 6/7 – IRON MAN
Iron Man, once Marvel Studios’ flagship superhero, is poised to take quite a beating come Infinity War.
Thanos effortlessly lays him out in trailer #1, and trailer #2 teases a wrecked Tony Stark on an alien planet. Things aren’t looking good for the Avenger, but actor Robert Downey Jr. is looking forward to “whatever resolution is in the cards” when it comes to his decade-long tenure as Iron Man.
Tony Stark was on the receiving end of a traumatic vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron in which he witnessed all of his team mates laying dead at his feet, a vision that has been confirmed to be driving the genius inventor and technological benefactor come Infinity War.
Stark has had a hang up over the whole alien situation ever since an encounter with the Chitauri in The Avengers almost cost him his life, giving him PTSD as explored in Iron Man 3.
Now that Stark’s worst fears have become realized in the form of Thanos and yet another invading alien army, could Marvel’s original hero make the ultimate sacrifice — especially as a way of making amends with Captain America?
Downey shared a potentially spoiler-ish set photo from Avengers 4 showing Stark alive and well, but there are more than a few hints within the photo that suggest all may not be as it seems…
SLIDE 7/7 – CAPTAIN AMERICA
Captain America can be seen struggling to hold his own against Thanos in the latest Infinity War trailer, mirroring a famous moment from the comic books where Cap similarly opposed Thanos as the last man standing.
The moment came after Thanos — wielding the combined power of the Infinity Gauntlet — simply snapped his fingers and wiped out half of all life in the universe.
Cap was among the heroes struck down by Thanos, but the star spangled Avenger and his fellow superheroes were eventually resurrected.
He can be seen in that same Avengers 4 set photo shared by Downey, but he’s sporting his costume from The Avengers — suggesting the Time Stone or the Reality Stone come into play, affecting time or reality in a big way.
Will Captain America defy Thanos and live? Or will the soldier make his last stand in Infinity War and go on to fight another day through the Infinity Stones come Avengers 4?
We’ll soon find out. Avengers: Infinity War opens April 27.