When Avengers 4 hits theaters on May 3, 2019, it will be the culmination of all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's 22 films that have either been released or are currently in production. Filming kicked off in early August, so we're compiling our notes on what we know thus far. As more news drops, you’ll see it added here. So bookmark this page if you want to keep up with what's going on with Avengers 4!
The officially untitled film is the 10th and final film of Phase 3 of the MCU, and is the second half to Avengers: Infinity War, which will be released May 4, 2018. It remains untitled because the title itself is supposed to contain spoilers. (Or does it?) Regardless of what they're called, both upcoming Avengers films promise to have a running time length between 120 and 150 minutes. There's a lot of characters and moving pieces, so expect these to be epic in every way.
On the production side, Joe and Anthony Russo will direct both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, their third and fourth films in the MCU, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War being the other two. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are writing both films, and have worked on all of the Russo Bros. MCU films in addition to Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The First Avenger, and were both executive producers on Agent Carter. Kevin Feige, Jon Favreau, James Gunn, Victoria Alonso, and Jeremy Latcham will produce.
Now, we can’t avoid talking about Avengers 4 without talking about Avengers: Infinity War, since it’s really the first half of the film. This will be the Marvel Cinematic Universe adaptation of many comic book stories, including The Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity, Infinity War, and maybe Thanos Quest. With only a few post-credit sequences and a cameo here and there, Thanos is still a huge mystery for non-comics readers, and much of Avengers: Infinity War should be about establishing a boss villain of this level. We’ll have close to 20 films' worth of character development for our heroes, so it’s reasonable to consider that Thanos and his quest to track down the six Infinity Stones to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet will make up a bulk of the story.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Avengers are divided after the events of Civil War. Tony Stark is regrouping at the Avengers Compound, trying to abide by the Sokivia Accords. The Vision and Rhodes (recovering from paralysis with the assistance of a Stark exoskeleton) are among those still on his side. Black Widow and Black Panther have gone rogue, but Tony still has that ace Spider-Man up his sleeve. Peter Parker turned down Stark’s offer to join the Avengers in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but is willing to jump back into a new suit Stark created for him when the time is right.
Meanwhile, Steve Rogers has hidden The Winter Soldier in Wakanda, and placed him under cryostasis while being remedied of his brainwashing. Rogers also freed his imprisoned supporters, including Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and Falcon. And Cap told Stark in a letter that he regrets not being able to agree to the Sokovia Accords, but knows that the Avengers will assemble when the time is right.
As a reminder of all of the prizes in play (and their locations), the Infinity Stones are the yellow Mind Stone (currently on Vision’s forehead), the blue Space Stone (aka the Tesseract in Asgard’s vault), the purple Power Stone (Nova Corps Vault in Xandar), the green Time Stone (currently embedded in the Eye of Agamotto hanging around Dr. Strange’s neck), and the red Reality Stone (with the Collector in Knowhere). The only one unaccounted for is the orange Soul Stone, which may make an appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, since having three Infinity Stones on Earth in so vast a universe would just be silly. When used together, Thanos plans to rule the universe wielding unimaginable, ultimate power, including teleportation throughout the universe, mind control, immense strength, the ability to warp reality, and the ability to control time.
Up until now, there have been separate corners of the MCU. The Avengers corner has been rooted on Earth, Thor has traveled the Nine Realms, and then there’s the far reaches of the cosmic space and its inhabitants. Thor: Ragnarok is where we may see the Avengers corner of the MCU fold toward the Guardians of the Galaxy corner, since Hulk is on planet Sakaar, where Thor finds him and is forced to fight his co-worker as a gladiator. The post-credit sequences in GotG2 alone had plenty crammed in there, which previews what’s to come in both Infinity War and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Most importantly, Thanos finally gets off his throne to put on the gauntlet (that's missing some bling).
Here are the confirmed cast members that we know of in Avengers: Infinity War:
James Brolin - Thanos the Mad Titan
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Benicio Del Toro - The Collector
Robert Downey Jr. - Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers/Captain America
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner/Hulk
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner - Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Elizabeth Olsen - Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch
Don Cheadle - James Rhodes/War Machine
Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson/Falcon
Paul Bettany - Vision
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
Cobie Smulders - Maria Hill
Chris Pratt - Peter Quill/Star Lord
Zoe Saldana - Gamora
Dave Bautista - Drax the Destroyer
Sean Gunn/Bradley Cooper - Rocket Raccoon
Vin Diesel/Terry Notary - Teen Groot
Pom Klementieff - Mantis
Karen Gillan - Nebula
Tom Holland - Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Isabella Amara - Sally
Paul Rudd - Scott Lang/Ant Man
Benedict Cumberbatch - Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange
Benedict Wong - Wong
Sebastian Stan - Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
Chadwick Boseman - T’Challa/Black Panther
Letitia Wright - Shuri
Danai Gurira - Okoye
Winston Duke - M’BakuTessa Thompson - Valkyrie
Stan Lee - cameo
Jim Starlin - cameo
Terry Notary - Cull Obsidian (rumored)
And that’s just who's known! Peter Dinklage is rumored to be in this as well, and if motion capture actor Terry Notary does play Cull Obsidian, then other characters could include Black Dwarf, Corcus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, and Supergiant of a group of aliens called the Black Order, who Thanos used in the comics storyline, Infinity. Magus/Adam Warlock and the Watcher are also thought to be logical players at some point. Maybe Howard the Duck? Be certain there will be some surprise guest stars, too.
As for who will show up in Avengers 4? Who knows, but Evangeline Lilly told us The Wasp will be in it (back when we were called Blastr):
We don’t know how many of the above characters are going to survive into Avengers 4 yet. But that is the pool from which we can see making up a bulk of Avengers 4, with room to introduce new characters, too.
Not that contracts are usually a part of the discussion of film universes, but we should note that Downey is contracted through Avengers 4, but none after, as are Evans, Hemsworth, Ruffalo, Johansson, Renner, Hiddleston, and many others.
Some of the notable actors who are obligated for more films after Avengers 4 include Sebastian Stan, who after the next two Avengers films and probably Black Panther will still be contracted for three more films. Boseman and Cumberbatch are expected back for at least one sequel to their solo films, potentially more. Holland is expected to do at least two Homecoming sequels. Of the supporting characters, Smulders has the most left on her slate, signing an eight-picture deal, of which she's appeared in just three thus far. Jackson is close to burning through his nine-picture deal, but there's never a time where he couldn't show up out of the shadows.
Ultimately, too much stock shouldn’t be put into the actors' contracts, as they can easily sign up for an additional film(s). But what it does provide is a clean break if both or either side wants that. Many theories are banking on either RDJ or Evans walking away. Downey in particular is an expensive cost for the studios, and now is entitled to a piece of the box office. While superhero franchises offer a great paycheck, stability, and notoriety with a massive audience, actors don’t always want to play one role for the rest of their lives. A character’s death could have great meaning if it’s against the baddest dude in the universe, armed with one of the most powerful weapons in comic book history.
For whom the bell tolls
What’s the one thing we haven’t seen much of in the MCU? Consequence and high stakes. You always know that the main heroes are making it out alive. Characters like Quicksilver and Yondu get tagged, old age finally got Agent Carter. So let’s assume that Avengers: Infinity War is purely set up for Avengers 4; we have to assume that some loss in this massive collection of characters is imminent. Death is almost certain, that is if the source material means anything. But how extensive, and just how permanent, will it be? One or two of the Infinity Stones could change that.
Contracts again could be foretelling who's on the death watch, but where’s the fun in that? Just remember this: One Infinity Stone is nested in Vision’s head. Just saying.
In the comics, Rhodey has filled the Iron Man mantle during the “Demon in a Bottle” stories. Currently Riri Williams is using a Stark suit. The Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson have both carried Captain America’s Shield after Steve Rogers. Mjolnir is currently held by Jane Foster, not Thor. So if they want a different generation of actors to fill the roles of the heavy hitters, there’s an established foundation for that.
They said it
A lot can be drawn from the media and press circuit surrounding each release of a new MCU film. For example, Spider-Man: Homecoming gave MCU fans a lot to chew on regarding what lies ahead.
When Kevin Feige says something, we all listen. And he has gone on record to say that he's not sure what will happen beyond Avengers 4, that it’s going to be a different MCU, and that the “Phases” may be retired after Avengers 4. To me, that means that the films afterward won’t be building towardsomething, like in this case an all-hands-on-deck against an omnipotent, power-thirsty Thanos. Team-ups are probably likely, but constructing 20+ intertwined films again is probably not.
Then there’s the Russo Bros., who posted “Beginning the end” with a picture of a purple hand signifying the start of Avengers 4 filming. What does that mean? Could it mean the end of Phase 3? Could it be the end of the Marvel MCU in its current state and structure? Or could it mean that end is near for some characters, and this goes back to who is contracted beyond Avengers 4?
Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 is supposed to be the bridge between the aftermath of Avengers 4 and what the MCU will become afterward. Feige also stated that beyond Homecoming 2 and Gurdians of the Galaxy 3, nothing has been actively discussed.
So the current slate of Marvel Studios films includes: Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Ant Man and the Wasp (2018), Captain Marvel (2019), Avengers 4 (2019), Spider-Man Homecoming 2 (2019), and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBA).
Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel would be the characters the franchise builds upon, or as stated above, new characters taking the mantle of those considered the cornerstones of the MCU. Also, remember one of the stones has the ability to warp reality, and that could have huge implications for whatever the MCU will evolve into.
Stay tuned as we continue to build and add to this article as more MCU news falls into place.