Like everyone, I’m incredibly excited about Avengers: Infinity War, which will finally be released on April 26th. After an 18-film build-up, it appears as though we’re about to get a spectacular pay-off for all of the investment that we, as an audience, have put into Marvel Studios. And given Marvel’s near-perfect track record for delivering fun films, it seems almost impossible that we’ll end up leaving the cinema disappointed (hey, even Thor 2 wasn’t bad).
At the time of writing, we’ve got pretty much exactly a month to go, so I thought what better time would there be to give some predictions about what I think might happen in the film.
To be clear, these aren’t spoilers for IW - but below are spoilers for all of the Marvel films up to and including Black Panther. The predictions are entirely wild speculation on my part. But hey, if I’m right, you might feel a little cheated that I ruined something - even though it will be brilliant for me.
Here’s the list:
1. Thanos Will Kill Loki Near The Start
Sorry, fans of posh, British men - but it seems inevitable to me that Thanos is going to kill Loki early on in the film. Why? Because it will help establish the stakes — Thanos killing the big, scary villain from the first film (and with some ease, I would imagine) will immediately establish how big and scary the Big Bad is, in a way that the audience will immediately understand.
This would also make sense in terms of what I expect are the behind the scenes shenanigans: Tom Hiddleston will surely want to go and win his Oscar doing something worthy now, and won’t want to consign his career to signing photos at comic conventions.
My guess is that the film will start with Thanos attacking the Asgardian ship that Thor and his pals escaped on at the end of Ragnarok. Maybe Loki will even redeem himself in death, giving his life to either save the rest of Asgard or his brother in particular?
2. Tony Stark Will Sacrifice Himself To Save Steve
What’s amazing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s achievement isn’t just the individual films, but the way characters are given arcs that span across the entire decade’s of the MCU.
In Tony’s character journey, for example, we’ve seen him go from carefree and cocky arms-dealer, to someone racked by PTSD after a traumatic experience, to paternalistic worrier about the chaos he has in part created (Ultron).
Similarly, Steve Rogers has gone from a patriotic soldier supporting his country, to a sceptic of his own government’s authoritarianism (Project Insight, and Ultron).
In Civil War, these two meta-threads obviously came to a head, a the pair faced off taking roles that are the polar opposite of what you might have expected given the first films in their respective franchises.
The last thing we saw in Civil War was the tension between the two characters being largely unresolved: Cap and his team went to Wakanda, Tony stayed in the US.
Most fan speculation centres around either Tony or Steve dying - which seems likely for the meta reasons that one or both actors will have fulfilled their contracts, and that Robert Downey Jr in particularly, demands spectacularly huge fees for his continued appearances.
So who will die? Though a lot of people expect it will be Cap, my money is still on Tony Stark: it would enable Marvel to kill the cash blackhole and provides an ending to Tony’s story (which feels about done). Though Chris Evans might also be done with the MCU at this point, at least he would be cheaper to get back for a cameo appearance in the next film when Bucky takes on the Captain America mantle.
But most importantly: How is Infinity War going to make this happen and resolve the tension between the MCU’s biggest heroes? The grand finale is surely - surely - going to be Cap lunging to deliver the final knock-out blow to Thanos, only to have Tony jump in front of him taking whatever bullets/lasers/magic glowy rays emanate from Thanos in response.
3. Peter Quill Being Back On Earth Will Have Consequences
Obviously one of the most exciting things about Infinity War is that it is finally going to tie the Guardians cast more closely into the wider MCU. But this also means that for the first time since he was abducted, Peter Quill will be returning to his home planet.
This strikes me as a big deal - and I expect it will make for a big, emotional moment in the film. Not least because he can upgrade his Zune to an iPhone with a Spotify subscription.
Maybe it will get hand-waved away (see above), but if not, even if the fallout from this doesn’t get much coverage in IW, this will surely have implications for Guardians 3? In Guardians 2, he says that there’s nothing for him on Earth as his parents are both dead - so perhaps he’ll continue saving the galaxy? Or maybe he’ll decide to stay so that Marvel don’t have to give big star Chris Pratt a bigger payday next time around?
4. Hawkeye Will Show Up And Save The Day At A Critical Point
One of the running jokes about Hawkeye is that whereas the rest of the Avengers have fantastical powers or technology. He’s just really good at archery. This plot thread was even touched upon in Age of Ultron during the scenes back with his family.
What’s curious about IW is that - weirdly - Hawkeye is nowhere to be seen either in the trailers or on the publicity material. But… he’s definitely going to show up, surely? My guess is that at some critical juncture - when someone (Black Widow?) is pinned down and looks doomed - an arrow will fly in and Hawkeye will save the day, proving that he is an important part of an otherwise superpowered team.
(Similarly, I would expect something along these lines from also-MIA Ant Man. He’ll just pop up from being tiny at some point, punching someone in the process.)
5. Stan Lee will deal damage to Thanos or one of his minions
Given that this film will effectively be the crowning moment on his lifetime - and that (to put it euphemistically) Stan Lee may have to retire in the not too distant future - his cameo in Infinity War should be a particularly special one? I think we’ll see whichever character he plays somehow helping out the Avengers rather than simply crack a throwaway gag. Nothing massive - maybe he’ll throw a rock and hit Thanos on the nose, distracting him, or he’ll press a button to launch a missile at an important moment. But I’d be surprised if he was just doing his entirely normal thing.
6. There Will Be A Deus Ex Machina Ending
Though we all expect certain characters to die (see above), I suspect that the end of the film will see the universe reset somehow. Why? Because the stakes in this film are so damn high. If Thanos’s intention is to destroy or wipe out large swathes of the universe, left unfixed this could have a big knock-on effect with future films (Guardians 3, Thor 4).
Heck, recall how much the Battle of New York has fed into other Marvel projects: it provided a premise for Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man Homecoming. The Netflix shows reference it too, and it more broadly provides the backdrop for many events in the universe: Essentially, the Chitauri Invasion has caused Earth to start freaking out about aliens.
From the trailer, it looks as though New York will face something similar, with Thanos’s ship descending on Manhattan. Inevitably, as the film progresses, everything is going to kick off in a big way.
But for Black Panther 2 and the Spider-Man sequels to take place in a vaguely sane setting, not to mention future instalments of all of the Marvel TV shows, Marvel will need to wave away all of the damage Thanos has caused.
So my expectation is that as Thanos is defeated, the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet, with its power to manipulate time, matter and everything else in the universe, will be used to do some sort of reset that will mean Peter Parker can go back to High School and Luke Cage can continue to live in Harlem without constantly worrying and talking about the imminent threat of the universe being destroyed.
Now why does the next 30 days feel like an infinity?