9 questions about Avengers: Infinity War and its ending, answered
By now, if you’re a Marvel fan, or even someone who’s Marvel-curious, you’ve seen the studio’s biggest, wildest movie yet. Avengers: Infinity War goes out of its way to let you know that everything will change, and even if it seems likely the next film will undo some of those changes, the immediate effect of Infinity War is a little exhilarating.
But the movie also probably left you with some big unresolved questions. Allow us to step in and offer our own takes on what’s going on. If you still don’t quite understand the movie’s ending, or if you’re wondering just what Marvel’s plans are for the future, or if you want to know if Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are ever going to get married, you’ve come to the right place.
Here, then, are the nine questions you might still have about Avengers: Infinity War after watching it. And if you haven’t seen it, needless to say, SPOILERS FOLLOW!
1) What exactly happened with Infinity War’s ending? That last scene?
Infinity War does a surprisingly good job of laying out just how Thanos intends to use a fully powered Infinity Gauntlet, then follows through once he obtains all six Infinity Stones (after a sprinkle of time trickery).
Thor stabs Thanos and seems as if he might have narrowly averted catastrophe, but Thanos tells Thor he should have aimed for the head, snaps his fingers, and wipes half the sentient beings in the universe from existence.
Over a protracted sequence, heroes major (Spider-Man) and minor (Groot) are wiped from existence, largely leaving the original Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and Black Widow), as well as a few stragglers (Rocket Raccoon, War Machine, Nebula, etc.) to gape in horror at what’s happened. Thanos effectively retires to the countryside, his dream of stopping universal overpopulation achieved.
It’s shocking and gutting, but the film sneakily lets viewers know it has a “get out of jail free” card in its post-credits scene, which teases the arrival of the powerful Captain Marvel. (This is followed by a card promising, “Thanos will return.”)
Probably, this will all just be reversed, but for a moment … it feels like everything has changed.
2) So which deaths in Infinity War are going to stick?
I (Alex) will fully admit that I was completely wrong about my death predictions. Completely, absolutely wrong. But there’s a silver lining to my wrongness, which was rooted in a methodology that factored in the number of movies a superhero has appeared in. By that calculus, I thought characters like Star-Lord, Black Panther, and Spider-Man were safe, and I was mistaken.
But those deaths aren’t going to stick. The reason? These characters have sequels coming up.
A Black Panther sequel has been confirmed (more or less), as has an untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel in 2019 and an untitled Guardians sequel in 2020. As much as I think the universe needs a break from Peter Quill (whose tantrum over Thanos killing Gamora to get the Soul Stone set this whole universe decimation into action), the Guardians, Black Panther, and Spider-Man will be back.
Things look a little bleaker for Loki, Heimdall, and Gamora because their deaths weren’t the result of the Infinity Gauntlet. Though it should be said that the baby Gamora scene at the end muddies the waters a little and possibly opens the door for her return.
3) WTF happened to Black Panther?
The most surprising thing about Infinity War, aside from that massive ending, is that it gave Black Panther — the superhero at the center of one of Marvel’s most successful movies of all time and the first black superhero to get a solo movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — so little to do before killing him off.
Just from a business standpoint, it seems extremely bizarre to kill off such a popular character, even temporarily. It’s yet more baffling when you factor in how much Black Panther matters when it comes to representation in the MCU.
But there might be an explanation.
The filming of Black Panther ended right around when Infinity War began shooting, meaning that Marvel had no idea just how popular Black Panther would become before its characters were written into Infinity War. This could explain T’Challa’s relatively unremarkable death — compared to that of, say, Spider-Man, who gets a tearful final moment with his mentor Tony Stark — and why the Black Pantherhad so few lines and little to do.
The good news is that there’s a Black Panther sequel confirmed, and we’ll most likely see Black Panther return from his surprising demise.
4) Where was Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie?
At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Thor, the Hulk, Loki, and the rest of the “Revengers” — Miek, Valkyrie, and Korg — are on a ship fleeing a destroyed Asgard. And the end of Ragnarok is actually where Infinity War begins.
With the way Thanos is portrayed in the movie, the assumption would be that half the Asgardians are dead and the other half joined him (part of the speech that Ebony Maw gives and Thanos’s “half of humanity” worldview). Valkyrie, along with Korg and Miek, would probably be alongside Thor, Heimdall, and Loki instead of joining Thanos, ostensibly putting her in the dead category.
But while the movie makes a point to show us the deaths of Loki and Heimdall on screen, it doesn’t show what happens to Valkyrie, Miek, or Korg.
Since the movie doesn’t go out of its way to show that Valkyrie is dead, she could come back — possibly with the excuse that she zipped out of there on the Grandmaster’s ship. But just like with Black Panther, it seems like this movie didn’t take into account how popular her character was going to be before it went into production, which would account for her absence in this already overstuffed movie.
5) Who were the bad guys with Thanos?
The non-Thanos villains in Infinity War weren’t really explained. Only one got a name-check (Thanos asks Doctor Strange if he killed “the Maw”). So it would be understandable if there’s some confusion over them.
The villains in Infinity War are actually a cabal of villains called the Black Order who appear in the 2013 Infinity comic book arc. They consist of Ebony Maw (the character who fights Doctor Strange), Proxima Midnight (the spear-throwing character who tangles with Black Widow and Okoye), Corvus (the villain who stabs Vision), and the Black Dwarf (the hammer-chain-wielding muscle of the group).
They each have different powers and have their own motivations in the comics (for instance, Corvus and Proxima are husband and wife), which makes them more dynamic than regular henchmen. But with how crowded Infinity War already is, and with some of Marvel’s prime characters — Captain America, Black Widow, Black Panther — only getting a few lines here and there, it seems like there was no room for Thanos’s Black Order to get their own origin stories and character development.
6) Does the entire Marvel universe, uh … depend on Ant-Man?
One of the funniest things about the conclusion of Infinity War is that it sets up universe-shattering stakes — but if you follow Marvel’s output at all, you know the next film the company is due to release is July’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. Say what you will about Ant-Man and/or the Wasp, but their vaguely comedic capers might seem a bit off-key coming so soon after such a gutting ending.
Or maybe not! Marvel followed up its last Avengers film (2015’s Age of Ultron, which ended in a fairly dark place for several characters) with the first Ant-Man. And while that movie wasn’t Marvel’s finest work, its goofy situations and size-bending superpowers served as a mostly effective palate cleanser. Maybe the same will be true under even graver circumstances.
But really, the funniest thing about this is that Ant-Man isn’t in Infinity War because he — along with original Avenger Hawkeye — is under house arrest. Thor restarts a dead star and a hero known for being able to get microscopically small can’t escape house arrest? C’mon, Marvel. Just have one of the characters say, “Ant-Man doesn’t appear because Paul Rudd needed to be filming Ant-Man and the Wasp.”
7) What’s going on with Marvel’s sequels?
As mentioned, new chapters in the Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Guardians of the Galaxyseries have already been announced, and though Marvel could always set those stories in the past or something, it seems unlikely that it will do so. (Also, conceivably, Marvel could split off all the characters Thanos “killed” into an alternate universe — and maybe the presence of Carrie Coon, of HBO’s The Leftovers, in a minor role is an Easter egg pointing to this very solution — but, uh, we doubt it.)
In contrast to when Marvel announced essentially the entirety of its Phase 3 in 2014 at a grand presentation in Los Angeles, the company has been playing things very close to the chest with Phase 4, which will kick off with the third Guardians film in 2020. Presumably, it wanted to do that to keep viewers unaware of the end of Infinity War (and to preserve some suspense about, say, Doctor Strange, who dissolved at Infinity War’s end and doesn’t have an announced sequel).
And there are perpetual rumors of new films centered on Black Widow, or involving a team-up of the Marvel Universe’s increasingly large number of superwomen — to say nothing of the March 2019 film Captain Marvel, which will be a flashback to the character’s origin story in the ’90s, setting up her presumed appearance in Avengers 4.
We’d bet that after the next Avengers film releases in spring 2019, Marvel will make some big announcements about the futures of various characters. But one thing you likely shouldn’t expect are new Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor movies, at least anytime soon. The contracts with those actors will mostly expire with Avengers 4.
8) Who’s in trouble in the next Avengers movie?
It would be tempting to say everybody, but the characters who are in the most trouble are the core three Avenger guys — Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. All three actors are reaching the ends of their contracts with Marvel, and all three would presumably like to do other things after spending so many years playing the same characters. (Robert Downey Jr. has now played Iron Man in at least one movie in every year but 2014 between 2012 and now.)
Presumably, only some of these characters will die — we’d bet on a nice retirement for Tony Stark, in the event that Marvel ever wants to bring the character back once box office receipts start to sag — but if you’re placing bets on high-profile deaths, it will likely be one of the three characters mentioned. There will also likely be a bunch of smaller-stakes deaths (we’d bet on Nebula, since Karen Gillan’s career seems to be taking off), but those are less likely to change everything.
9) What are some other cliffhangers the film suggests?
Yes, the biggest cliffhanger is the whole “Thanos wipes out half of the universe” thing, but there are a bunch of smaller, more character-based cliffhangers dangled in Infinity War that the next Avengers movie will presumably resolve. They include:
Just what was Pepper trying to tell Tony when he got sucked away aboard Thanos’s ship? The two have had a tortured path to wedded bliss, and this seemed to be teasing another impediment — or at least Pepper’s mild irritation with Tony once again heading off into space to do battle.
Why won’t the Hulk come out anymore? After a short scene featuring the character at the movie’s very beginning, Bruce Banner can’t seem to get his green alter ego to emerge anymore, for what seem like pointed reasons the big guy won’t share. Presumably, this exists for some payoff.
Is everything going according to Doctor Strange’s plan? Using the Time Stone, Doctor Strange looks forward in time and sees but one scenario (out of 14 million!) where the Avengers stop Thanos. When he then pointedly gives up the Time Stone to Thanos, it seems as if it’s all part of him trying to nudge the universe onto the right track.
If you’re really worried about whether Pepper and Tony get married, you’ll just have to wait until Avengers 4comes out in spring 2019.