Ever since Nick Fury first spoke to Tony Stark in the post-credits scene of 2008’s Iron Man, the concept of The Avengers has tied the Marvel Cinematic Universe together. With part one of the final Avengers film, Infinity War, set to come out next year, the days of ensemble Avengers movies seem numbered. What could possibly come next for Earth’s mightiest heroes?
The End of an Era
Even before 2012’s The Avengers broke box office records, semi-independent franchises like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor held the Marvel Cinematic Universe together. However, Iron Man wrapped up his solo career in Iron Man 3 and Captain America ended his franchise with Civil War. With the release of Thor: Ragnarok, the third and final film in the Thor franchise, we have reached the end of the era where Marvel makes movies about its established heroes.
With three of the major players out, Infinity War will be the last time some of these characters will appear on our screens.
In a recent interview with Good Morning America, Mark Ruffalo revealed that some established characters will die in Infinity War. While the MCU has gotten gradually darker over the years, Marvel has never gone as far as killing one of its big stars. Infinity War looks likely to change that, reinforcing the idea that the current Avengers lineup will be irrevocably changed.
The Avengers Are a Constantly Evolving Team
If there’s one thing to be learned from the Marvel universe, it is that the idea of the Avengers as a team transcends the membership of individual characters. This is even more evident in the comics where dozens of heroes have fought under the Avengers banner at one time or another, dropping in and out as circumstances dictate. There have even been multiple versions of the Avengers team running around at once, with groups like the Great Lakes and West Coast Avengers forming in response to specific threats or as a result of disagreements between superheroes.
Having two sets of Avengers going at once might be more than Marvel is willing to ask their audiences to keep track of, but the MCU has grown to include a whole new line-up of key Avengers who could take the place of departing characters, both in the team and as stars of their own franchises. Ant-Man has already starred in his own film and has a second on the way, while Spiderman: Homecoming is rumored to be the first of three movies centered on Peter Parker. It’s unclear if Doctor Strange or the upcoming Black Panther will get sequels, but both characters have the potential to headline their own successful franchise.
New Heroes Need a New Villain
The Avengers tie the MCU together, but the team’s existence is only justified by the threat of super-villains that no individual hero is strong enough to defeat. So far that villain has been Thanos, the Mad Titan. However, it’s hard to see him surviving Infinity War given that the entire MCU has been building up to a climactic fight between him and the Avengers.
The best way to justify more Avengers films post-Infinity War would be to introduce a new mega-villain for the re-formed team to face. There is no way of knowing who that might be, but the comic universe has no shortage of candidates. Galactus, Annihilus, Kang, and Doctor Doom are just four possibilities from a long list of potential big bads.
Infinity War will change the status quo irrevocably, but it won’t be the end for the Avengers. The Marvel universe is rich and vast and full of storylines that will keep fans assembling in theatres for many years to come.
Avengers: Infinity War hits screens in the UK on April 27, 2018, and in the US on May 4, 2018.