What. The. Hell. Chances are, you walked out of Avengers: Infinity War with a similar reaction — but fear not, dear readers, because we're going to work through these feelings of confusion and despair together. So if you don't want to know what happened, consider this your big, fat spoiler warning.
After years of waiting, Earth's Mightiest Heroes faced off against the Mad Titan Thanos, and let's just say the odds were not in the Avengers' favor. As Thanos and his "children," the Black Order, traversed the universe collecting Infinity Stones, things went from bad to worse to absolutely catastrophic for Tony Stark, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Peter Parker, and the rest of our heroes.
In the end, the team suffered major losses — not to mention, a devastating defeat — and Thanos for all we know is still on the loose, sitting pretty in paradise while half the universe was being vaporized into ash at the snap of the Titan's fingers. We know it's a lot to process, so we broke down the biggest questions we still have after the Avengers' big battle with Thanos... and some possible answers.
Are the people who vanished really dead?Marvel Studios
In the film's final harrowing minutes, Thanos brought "balance" to the universe by wiping out half of its population with the snap of his fingers. We watch as individual Avengers evaporate into dust, while the realization of Thanos's victory dawns on the surviving members. Among the vaporized? Scarlet Witch, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Black Panther, Star-Lord, Doctor Strange, Groot, Mantis, Drax, and Spider-Man. (Peter Parker clutching onto Tony Stark in his last few moments on Titan was absolutely devastating.) The post-credits scene even added S.H.I.E.L.D. members Nick Fury and Maria Hill to the growing list of goners.
While that ending was shocking — and truly affecting — it doesn't feel final. After all, Spider-Man and Black Panther already have sequels in the works. We have to believe that some, if not all, of these characters will be brought back to life. Whether that plan involves the Time Stone — and/or a time-jump — remains unclear, but there's no way King T'Challa is gone for good.
Who's still left?Marvel Studios
The untitled Avengers 4 is looking like an opportunity for the OG Avengers — Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and most likely Hawkeye — to team up one last time to save the universe. It will also give survivors Tony and Steve the chance to finally reconcile after the events of Captain America: Civil War two years ago tore them apart. I have to hand it to the Russo Brothers; temporarily "killing off" half of the cast was the perfect way to remove some of the superhero glut and focus on the characters that are nearing the end of their MCU journeys.
When does Hawkeye join the fight?Marvel Studios
While we don't know for certain that Clint Barton is among the remaining Avengers — its revealed that he and fellow dad Ant-Man struck a deal with the government and have been on house arrest since the Accords — we do know that actor Jeremy Renner was on set filming. This would imply that something brings Hawkeye back into the Avengers fold, and that something is most likely the vaporization of his family.
Where was Valkyrie?Marvel Studios
In the mid-credits scene following Thor: Ragnarok, Thor, Loki, and their Asgardian ship encounter Thanos's spacecraft en route to earth. Needless to say, the Asgardians never make it to earth — or do they? In Infinity War, Thor very clearly says that "half" of his people are dead. So what happened to the other half? And what about Valkyrie, Korg, and Miek, who also escaped Asgard before it was decimated? The most logical explanation is that Valkyrie escaped the doomed ship with some of the Asgardians to safety. Given the fact that Tessa Thompson was spotted on the set of Avengers 4, it's likely that Valkyrie wasn't among the vaporized.
Will Shuri now take up the mantle of the Black Panther?Marvel Studios
If there is a time-jump between Infinity War and Avengers 4, Wakanda is going to need a new protector. In the comics, Shuri took up the mantle of Black Panther after T'Challa was gravely injured, so this would be a great way to honor the character's comic-book legacy. Though, the MCU version of T'Challa's little sister has no desire whatsoever to adhere to royal tradition, so maybe she'll forego the claws and pass the honor down to Nakia instead.
Will Miles Morales don the Spidey suit?Marvel Comics
He was hinted at in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but Peter Parker's "death" could signal Miles Morales's anticipated arrival in the MCU. It's a long-shot, sure, but with so many heroes presumably departing in Avengers 4 — even if Tony doesn't die in the Infinity War follow-up, his retirement is imminent — the Avengers are going to need new blood. And while they're at it, they can add Kate Bishop, a.k.a. the other Hawkeye, to the line-up.
Why did Doctor Strange give Thanos the Time Stone to save Tony?Marvel Studios
In order to save Tony's life, Doctor Strange made a deal with Thanos: He'd give him the Time Stone if he spared Tony. The act was surprising, considering that just a few hours prior to landing on Titan, the Sorcerer Supreme warned Tony that the stone was his first and only priority; he'd let Tony and Peter die if he had to. So what made Strange change his mind?
Before evaporating into particles, he calmly told Tony, "There was no other way." We know that when Strange used the stone to look into the future, he saw 14,000,605 possible outcomes for their fight against Thanos — and out of all those possibilities, there was only one reality where they won. So Tony Stark must play a crucial role in Thanos's destruction in that reality. Maybe the only way to save the universe was to let Thanos win — for now. Perhaps Strange saw that the Avengers as they were weren't capable of defeating the Mad Titan.
My best guess? He saw Captain Marvel, and the only way to bring about Captain Marvel's arrival, as we saw in the post-credits sequence, was to let things get so bad that Nick Fury had no choice but to put the call out into the universe.
Where were Captain America and Black Widow?Marvel Studios
With so many characters and story lines, it's only natural that a few characters are going to fall through the cracks — but Cap and Natasha barely got anything to do in this one. Thor, Iron Man, and Star-Lord all had their own individual quests, which pushed their characters and their arcs forward. But Captain America and Black Widow were all but sidelined. Sure, they got to save Vision and Scarlet Witch in Scotland in one of the film's most thrilling action sequences, and they even joined T'Challa, Okoye, and Bucky on the front lines in Wakanda, but there was no real character development.
Seeing as Chris Evans has made it more than clear that Avengers 4 will be his last appearance as Captain America, here's hoping that it's a Cap movie at its heart. After all, someone has to pass the baton to Captain Marvel, a fellow fish-out-of-water from another decade.
Are Loki, Gamora, and Vision gone for good?Marvel Studios
It's a good rule of thumb to never believe a fictional character's death unless you see a body. (And even then, in the superhero universe, you never really know!) Unfortunately, Infinity War boasted the largest body count of any MCU flick to date. In the film's opening five minutes, Thanos killed both Heimdall (spear to the heart) and Loki (strangled to death), and although Loki has cheated death before, this time it appeared to be final. Thanos then sacrificed his daughter Gamora — the only person he's ever loved — for the Soul Stone, and in the end, he ripped the Mind Stone right out of Vision's head, rendering him lifeless.
At this point, resurrecting any of them from the grave would feel like a cop-out. But if any of these dearly departed characters did have a chance of coming back, it's most likely Gamora. We know that some version of her exists in the astral plane Thanos's subconscious created when he activated the Infinity Gauntlet. "Did you do it?" she asks, followed by, "What did it cost?" If this otherworldly plane was actually the inside of the Soul Stone, then perhaps Gamora's spirit is trapped there as well.
Were the Infinity Gauntlet and the stones destroyed?Marvel Studios
It certainly seemed that way when Thanos snapped his fingers after Thor's Stormbreaker attack and activated the gauntlet, didn't it? We know Eitri has a spare Infinity Gauntlet on Nidavellir, but Thanos doesn't seem in a hurry to rush into battle — again. After all, he already accomplished his mission, so what need does he have for the stones? They were simply a means to an end, or so he says. If the stones have been destroyed, then what does that mean for the Avengers? Is there a way to get their friends back without manipulating time with the Time Stone?
Will Captain Marvel answer the call?Marvel Comics
Short answer? Yes. Brie Larson is set to appear in Avengers 4. But first, some context: There are only two MCU films between now and Avengers 4 — Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel. The former will most likely take place before, or at the same time, as Infinity War; the latter, however, takes place in the 1990s.
So where has Captain Marvel been for the past few decades while the Avengers were avenging? The popular theory is that the former Air Force pilot has been in space. Her powers were the result of her genome being spliced with alien DNA, giving her super strength, flight, and the ability to manipulate energy. Given her Kree physiology, she can survive in outer space. And judging from the amount of time that's passed, it would make more sense that she's been spending that time in the Quantum Realm, the alternate dimension where space and time are irrelevant. (After all, there has to be a reason that she hasn't aged since the 90s.) In fact, the Quantum Realm may just hold the key to how the Avengers are going to get their evaporated comrades back, which makes Captain Marvel essential to the future of the MCU.