Much like what B.C. and A.D. did for history, Avengers 4 will mark a new measurement of eras in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s timeline.
Marvel Studios president and executive producer, Kevin Feige, told Vanity Fair that Avengers 4 will be the first time a superhero storyline has a true finale. Feige doesn’t expand on what that means, staying away from giving any hints about whether characters will be killed off en masse. Instead, Feige reiterated that Avengers 4 will mark a quintessential period for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the films set to be released after May 3, 2019 completely different from the 22 films that will end with Avengers 4.
“There will be two distinct periods,” Feige told Vanity Fair. “Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after. I know it will not be in ways people are expecting.”
There isn’t much more information to assuage what will happen to Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, Star-Lord or the other medley characters we’re met over the last decade, but quotes from the cast seem to hint at rough times ahead for the characters.
Hemsworth told Vanity Fair while on the set of Avengers 4 that it would be the last time they’re gathered together “like this,” while Scarlett Johansson remarked that it was bittersweet coming to the end of an era.
“I feel a lot of joy for the next generation,” Johansson said. “It’s a bittersweet feeling, but a positive one.”
Here’s what we can safely assume is going to happen: the original six — Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye and Thor — won’t be returning for any movies after Avengers 4. Spider-Man, the Guardians, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange and maybe even Ant-Man will continue beyond the fourth Avengers movie. They’ll bridge the gap between this current generation of Marvel movies and the incoming age of unknown heroes yet to be introduced.
Most of the original superheroes we’ve met will have their arcs come to an end; including Hulk, who will complete his own three-movie personal arc that began in Thor: Ragnarok. The future of these characters, whether they live forever peacefully in Stark Tower or die during the impending war with Thanos, is unclear. It is apparent, however, that their time on the big screen is coming to an end.
The first part of the two-part Avengers finale, Avengers: Infinity War, will be released on May 4, 2018. Avengers 4, which still does not have a proper title, will be released the following year on May 3, 2019.