Warning: Contains major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
Avengers 4 is going to be a turning point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The untitled Avengers movie will complete the story that began in Avengers: Infinity War, centring around the machinations of the giant, purple space villain Thanos.
Infinity War made some earth-shattering changes to the MCU status quo that set the stage for everything that will happen in its sequel...
Consider this your final spoiler warning.
Avengers 4 release date
The untitled Avengers movie will be out in the UK on April 26, 2019, and in the US on May 3, 2019.
Avengers 4 title
We're still waiting to learn the title, which was originally given as 'Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2'.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige hinted that the title of the movie could be a spoiler. 'Avengers: Half the Universe is Dead', perhaps? He has since said that he regrets not revealing the name sooner, feeling that speculation detracted from the attention given to Infinity War – although not enough to prevent it from receiving the biggest opening weekend of all time.
As it stands, not even the cast of the film seem to know what it will be called.
Avengers 4 cast
Avengers: Infinity War had the biggest superhero movie cast ever, and even though a load of them are apparently dead, we still expect most of those actors will be back for part two.
The Infinity War survivors are sure be back – that's the somewhat ragged looking lineup of Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Don Cheadle (War Machine), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Chris Evans (Captain America), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and perhaps the unaccounted for Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Letitia Wright (Shuri).
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) is expected to make a return, and will appear along with Evangeline Lilly (The Wasp), Michelle Pfeiffer (the other Wasp) and thus, presumably, Michael Douglas (Hank Pym). Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan) has also filmed scenes for the movie.
And don't forget Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye (or is it Ronin now?). If he doesn't show up, people will riot.
Josh Brolin (Thanos) has been promised to return too, although he'll be in the market for some new sidekicks.
And what of our fallen heroes – Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Dave Bautista (Drax), Pom Klementieff (Mantis) and Groot (Vin Diesel)? Can they really be gone?
Brie Larson's Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) – the MCU's most powerful superhero – was only hinted at in Infinity War. Her first appearance will be in the '90s-set Captain Marvel, after which she can finally join the other MCU heroes in Avengers 4.
Ty Simpkins, who played the kid Harley Keener from Iron Man 3, is reported to be returning too. And there's a rumour that Natalie Portman could even make an unlooked-for return as Jane Foster, who were led to believe survived the Infinity Snap.
Just don't expect Adam Warlock to make his debut.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo are returning after Infinity War. Well, 'returning' isn't quite the right word, as they filmed the two movies back-to-back. And Brolin hinted that it might be their final project for Marvel.
Avengers 4 plot
Infinity War dealt with the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy battling against Thanos, who (with his lieutenants/children the Black Order) was out to collect those superpowered MacGuffins the Infinity Stones for his Infinity Gauntlet in order to erase half the life in the universe.
And shock! horror! He succeeded!
Avengers 4 follows on from that in what we can only imagine will be a desperate attempt to restore to life everyone that turned to ash and disappeared.
We've been told that it's a different genre from Infinity War. The stories were said to be separate enough that the original 'Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2' title had to be abandoned – although we would argue that Infinity War still feels like the first half of a longer story.
Speculation that the film could have something to do with the comic book event Secret Invasion – in which Earth was revealed to have been thoroughly infiltrated by shapeshifting Skrull aliens – has apparently come to naught. We're not surprised, even if the aliens are introduced in Captain Marvel.
The rumours of a time-travel plot feel more convincing than ever. How else to bring a load of superheroes back from the dead? The evidence for this includes various actors spotted in their old costumes, including Hemsworth holding Mjolnir and back in his wig.
Tony's BARF technology was thought to be an alternate explanation for their retro looks, but we're not sure how that could help undo Thanos's destruction.
We seem pretty convinced that our heroes will be back, right? Well, considering the two movies we know will follow Avengers 4 are a Spider-Man sequel and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, they'll be in for a hard time if most of their leads are still dead.
What we do know for certain is that the untitled Avengers movie will mark an ending to what will be an 11-year-old, 22-movie-long story at that point (kicked off in the distant past by 2008's Iron Man).
Chris Evans has said that Avengers 4 is "going to wrap everything up". It marks the end of Marvel's Phase Three, and leads directly into the first Phase Four film, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming. And we mean directly – Spider-Man 2 is set mere minutes after the end of Avengers 4.
What form will this end take? It's a safe bet that some long-time MCU stars will take Avengers 4 as a good opportunity to bow out. Evans has hinted that this is his last outing as Cap. Will Downey Jr finally retire from the franchise too, as has been teased repeatedly over the last few years? Or maybe Hemsworth is on his way out?
And how will these exits happen? It's a toss-up between walking off into the sunset for a well-earned retirement, being murdered brutally to spur on their allies, or the tried and tested Noble Sacrifice™.
Phase Four, we're promised, will mark a big change for the MCU. Whatever form those changes take, Avengers 4 is where it all starts.
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