Image via Variety.com
*CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS*
So, it’s finally here. When this blog is posted, the Thursday night showings of Avengers: Infinity War will be less than a week away. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a film. Well, actually I can…it was The Avengers in 2012. I, like millions of others, have plenty invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe too much.
It is easy to become consumed with the franchise. Not just films. There have also been shows, internet shorts and supplemental comics. Add those to the 18 movies that I have all seen at least a dozen times, with the exception of Black Panther (that’ll change when the Blu-Ray drops), and you can come to the conclusion that you spend way too much time with Marvel.
Along with the actual product, I have watched dozens of fan videos, read countless articles and engaged in fan discussions on forums and Twitter (*Obligatory Twitter plug: follow me @dalanoverstreet).
When you have invested this much of your life force into something, you create ideas. “What’s next?” is the dominant question, given the episodic nature of the MCU. Fans have spent years forming fan theories, especially concerning the events in Infinity War. I am neither ashamed or embarrassed to admit I’m one of those people, so I wrote a way too long explanation of my theories.
Thanos Will Win… At First
Thanos will win. He has to. I am not sure what a victory would look like in this movie. I assume he will attain a full gauntlet at some point in the two films, because it would be kind of a rip if he doesn’t. Maybe he’ll have all the stones and the movie will end on a snap, but I think that’d count as a cliffhanger, which the Russos swear isn’t there. Maybe a win would mean collecting all the stones we’ve seen (Space, Mind, Power, Reality and Time) and the sequel is a race to the Soul Gem. Whatever it is, Thanos will come out on top.
The first film will be a W for Thanos. The Mad Titan kinda has a way of losing, even when he’s omnipotent. There’s a popular fan theory that he has a subconscious desire to fail, seeing himself unfit to rule the Universe. That doubt would be within character and even more understandable in the movie, given his motivations are less selfish than in the Comics. I imagine some self-sabotage will be in play and someone will use a full Gauntlet against him to win.
The Soul Stone
I’ll level with ya: I have no idea where it is. Marvel has done a pretty good job keeping its location close to the chest. I can still speculate wildly though, so I’m throw out some ideas. Although we did not see it in Black Panther, it could still be in Wakanda. Its powers could explain Black Panther’s access to the Ancestral Plane. I doubt it however, thinking that the Outriders are invading to find Vision.
There’s a couple of other possible locations I can think of. One would be Thanos’ home world Titan. We see a team fighting Thanos on the planet, which has been deserted (maybe the Eternals & Deviants are extinct?). That makes me wonder why he would need to return to the Planet if there wasn’t something to gain. If it was on Titan, I’d imagine he’d have the stone in his possession already, but they could just have edited it out of the trailer. Still, I’m not entirely buying it.
It could also be in the possession of the Sovereign, namely with Adam Warlock. He was eluded to during a post-credit scene after The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 and has a history with the Soul Stone and Thanos. Still, it seems like he is being saved for GOTG Vol.3 and Vision will play the Warlock role in this one.
Like I said, no idea.
The question everyone, from noobs to casuals to die hards, is most preoccupied with is who will die in Infinity War and its sequel. It would seem like people expect, and actually want, their favorite characters to die. I don’t think that is the case. I believe people are just looking for some finality, a conclusion. With a film of this scope and of its magnitude within the MCU, some deaths are necessary. So, just who do I think will die? Well…
- Loki & Heimdall– Not only do I think they will die, I don’t think they’ll live through the first scene. It is within reason the film starts on the Asgardian ship, based on the mid-credit scene from Thor: Ragnarok. According to the Russo Brothers, we get to see Thanos’ power in the first five minutes. I imagine it’ll include dispatching The Hulk, killing Loki and Heimdall (along with many of the Ragnarok survivors), and beating Thor. There are others that I think could go in this scene, like Korg and Miek (please not Korg and Miek), but Loki and Heimdall would be the most substantial way of immediately demonstrating Thanos’ strength.
- The Collector- We haven’t seen much of the Collector, only a Thor: The Dark World mid-credit scene and in Guardians of the Galaxy. He has a Stone which puts him in direct contact with Thanos, more than enough reason to see him being killed. His death would be inconsequential to the Universe we have seen so far and I’m not sure if that makes him more or less likely to get an axe.
- Vision– He has the Mind Stone in his head. We all wanna see Thanos use a completed Gauntlet. Simple as that. It doesn’t mean he has to remain dead. If he really is the Adam Warlock substitute, his consciousness could be retained in the Mind Stone & be rejoined with his body at the end. That said, yeah, he’s gonna die.
- Captain America– Cap has been my favorite character in the MCU pretty much since the beginning. It hurts me to say he probably won’t make it. We need these deaths to have larger meaning and no death, other than Tony Stark’s, would hit as hard. Death is the only fitting end for Cap, given his arc in Age Ultron that demonstrated he can’t imagine a life outside of conflict. Not to mention Chris Evans’ recent statements and there are two possible replacements.
- Nebula– She has about as much of a grievance against Thanos as anyone. It wouldn’t surprise me if gets herself killed doing something reckless. Her narrative thread is also as dependent on her relationship with Thanos as anyone, so a satisfying end for Thanos could be a way to put a bow on her story. I think we all just want her to get something out of it.
- Pepper Potts– This is the one I consider a wildcard. I know there is a strong case for why I may be wrong here, but I don’t think Tony Stark dies in Infinity War or its sequel. I do, however, think his role in the MCU will dramatically change (more on that later). Pepper’s death could be the event that gives Tony the motivation to take a different path in this Universe. Also, Pepper has been spotty in the MCU since Iron Man 3 and is becoming more of a loose end.
- The Black Order– Thanos’ children (Generals in the comics) will die. They are fairly recent characters and wouldn’t figure to have much to do after Infinity War. After both films, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian (aka Black Dwarf) will definitely be dead, and I bet at least one won’t make it through Infinity War.
- Thanos– He is the only character that will both 100% live through Infinity War and 100% die in its follow-up in 2019. It really is the only way these two films can end, right? It’s a given, but he’ll radically change the MCU before he’s done.
After Thanos’ death, what will happen to the Infinity Stones? Maybe the Mind Stone will be used to reanimate Vision, but that still leaves five stones. It would make sense for some of the most intelligent, powerful, well-resourced people on the planet to guard them. The Illuminati, like in the comics, will be formed to guard the stones and monitor cosmic threats. The two characters most likely to join are Black Panther and Doctor Strange, because they will certainly be in the MCU for a while. I also believe this will become Stark’s new purpose the studio could save him for, keeping him on for future films in a reduced role.
Other members are less clear. Thor would make sense (I’ll expand on that later). Namor could be introduced. Black Bolt is a frequent member, but could we get him a reboot first? The two most fans would hope for are Reed Richards and Professor Xavier, but their property rights are still in the air. If they cannot join, they could be substituted with Nick Fury, Hank Pym, Hulk or maybe Steve Rogers if he makes it out alive (he won’t). No matter who joins the Illuminati, the group could play a huge part in the next few phases.
Have I made it clear that I think Steve Rogers will die? Well, he is. As I mentioned earlier, there are two possible replacements: Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky (The Winter Soldier). There is a case to be made for both of them, but I think Bucky makes the most sense. Having him take the mantle of Captain America would be the best justification for not just killing him in Infinity War. Besides, does anyone dispute that Bucky deserves a redemption arc? To do so, the Winter Soldier identity has to be shed.
Asgard on Earth
Assuming Thanos doesn’t kill all of the Asgardians on the ship, they were on their way to Earth. If there is still an Asgard left, the plan is still to resettle on Earth. There is a comic precedent, with Thor rebuilding Asgard in Oklahoma, of all places. I bet we’ll see this, Thor settle into his role as King and someone replace him as protector of the realms. Speaking of that…
New Thor/ Warbound
Thor being king will create a hole. There have been a couple characters that we know that could fill that void, including Beta Ray Bill. I doubt we see that, but it wouldn’t disappoint anyone. A move that would disappoint everyone though would be Jane Foster taking the role. It happened in the comics, but Natalie Portman (and the fans) don’t seem particularly in favor of such a move. Sif is also a possibility, but who even knows where she is in the MCU right now. The clear answer would be Valkyrie.
A less likely move, but one I would love to see, would be the creation of Warbound. The group is usually associated with the Hulk, but no reason they couldn’t become a team used by Thor for missions benefiting Asgard and Earth. Valkyrie, Hulk, Korg, Miek and others could make for a fun team. It would be a good way to utilize Hulk going forward. Marvel has had success with other obscure properties, so there doesn’t seem to be a risk large enough not to try.
Much like a dry well, we don’t appreciate what we had til it’s gone…or at least left out of the marketing. A minor theory, I bet Clint Barton switches identities to become Ronin. Set photos seem to suggest the switch is a strong possibility. His absence from the trailers and posters would make more sense if this turns out to be true. The move seems to be inconsequential fan service, so why not?
I’m willing to bet that U.N. Council will give The Avengers go ahead to act. Still, there are a lot of characters that have not signed the Accords, and some of them are fugitives. Where will Infinity War leave them? I am going to take a leap and say certain records will be expunged and charges cleared, but the Accords will largely remain in place. Some characters will still refuse to sign, but may find a work around. On that note…
New Avengers/Secret Avengers
The Avengers will become two cooperating teams, but with largely different functions. The New Avengers will be the official replacement for The Avengers as we know them. This team will still be restricted to the limits placed by The Sokovia Accords. Possible members are Iron Man, War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain Marvel, Ronin, Falcon, Thor and Spider-Man. Star Lord is an outside chance as well if the current version of the Guardians disband.
As for those who do not sign the Accords, there is still a path to contribution. It is my guess that The Secret Avengers is created and takes the Form of Wakanda’s Special Op’s team, under the supervision of Black Panther. This team will not be a private organization, which was a major issue raised in Civil War. T’Challa is a head of state, so some of the accountability issues will be resolved. Membership could include Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Bucky, Black Widow, Ronin, Okoye, Nakia, Ant-Man, Vision, MBaku and Black Panther himself.
In the trailers, we see that Thanos has the Power Stone. That means he paid a visit to Xandar and the Nova Corp before the Asgardian Refugee ship. That’s probably not a good look for the Corp. It wouldn’t surprise me if a depleted Avengers team looks for allies elsewhere. Revealing Richard Rider would make for an incredible mid-credit scene.
Avengers films usually have the most exciting mid-credit scenes. The Avengers first introduced Thanos and Age of Ultron revealed the Gauntlet. Again, I think the Avengers will need some reinforcements and there will be a few characters not yet seen that may have inherit interests in stopping Thanos, even without a proper introduction. The aforementioned Nova is a candidate, but there’s Captain Marvel, who we already know will have her own movie soon and already exists in the MCU. There is also Beta Ray Bill (just give me Beta Ray Bill). An extremely outside candidate is Adam Warlock, who played a big part in the Infinity War comic, but probably wont be introduced til Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Namor is the last best guess. This could also lay the groundwork for the Illuminati, but that is more likely to happen in 2019.
Infinity War and the untitled Avengers movie in 2019 will likely tie off the story surrounding the MCU as we know it. Kevin Feige even stated that the films will satisfy every current narrative thread. So where do they go from here? To the benefit of Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics has several large scale events. A popular one to adapt would be Secret Invasion. The story sees the planet invaded by shape shifting aliens, the Skrulls, who will be introduced during Captain Marvel. The event is large and expansive enough to carry a large arc and could give us an Annihilation film in a similar mold as Infinity War.
Sorry about the length. I did put “comprehensive” in the headline. Whether you read all 2,000+ words or just skimmed, thanks for giving me your time. You could use this time to re-watch the films or read someone else’s ideas, So I appreciate your attention and your click.
Something important to keep in mind: I am not clairvoyant. I am also not a Marvel executive nor did I work on the screenplay. These are theories. The nature of theories is not to be correct 100 percent of the time, but to make us consider something new with objective evidence as its basis. In all honesty, I love telling people I was right, so I want fairly decent aim here. I also want to be largely incorrect. I want payoff but that involves suspense and surprise. Hopefully, Marvel will give us something new to think entirely too much about on April 27th.