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Even as fans eagerly await the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, we're also looking to the future of the #Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, next year, the MCU will celebrate its tenth anniversary in style, with Avengers: Infinity War promising to pit our heroes against the deadliest threat yet. Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4 are the climax of Marvel's ongoing story, with the Mad Titan set to wreak havoc in pursuit of the Infinity Stones.
Marvel visionary #KevinFeige is doing the rounds on the interview circuit to promote Homecoming right now, but naturally he's also fielding a lot of questions about the future of the MCU. Over the weekend, we learned that Infinity War and Avengers 4 will see a dramatic change in the shape of the MCU — and that many of our favorite characters will be saying goodbye for good.
Who will die in 'Avengers: Infinity War?'
Interviewed by JoBlo, Feige was asked a simple question: would Infinity War be the final chapter for some of our beloved characters? His answer was terse but informative:
All eyes are now turning to some of the MCU's staple heroes. After all, Chris Hemsworth is coming to the end of his contract, so does that mean the God of Thunder's days are done? Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark has stood front-and-center of the MCU to date, but he's a very expensive actor, and his character arc logically climaxes in Infinity War. Ten years after the release of Iron Man, will we see the death of Tony Stark?
Whoever is set to bow out of the MCU, we'd advise bringing tissues to the theater with you next year, Marvel fans...
A New Hero Steps Up
Kevin Feige is the architect of the MCU, and naturally he's not going to kill characters for no purpose. No; he's planning a changing of the guard. As he told io9, there's a reason the Homecoming sequel comes out only two months after Avengers 4.
"So much happens in [the 3rd and 4th Avengers movies], as you can imagine, and so much is affected by it that we felt what better person to hold your hand and lead you into the next incarnation of the MCU, in a grounded, realistic manner, than Peter Parker? So, coming out two months after Untitled Avengers, [that’s what] much of what the next Spider-Man film will be about.
It was purposefully done like this. Like how the events of Captain America: Civil War impacted Peter as he was dropped off by Tony and expected to go back to continue his sophomore year, how the hell are the events of Infinity War and Untitled [Avengers] going to affect him as he, yes, goes back to his junior year?"
The Homecoming sequel is designed to launch the MCU in its post-Thanos direction, and it will do so through the eyes of Tom Holland's Peter Parker. We know that the sequel will feature another prominent Marvel Studios character, and they too will likely be central to the future of the MCU.
It's worth noting that, even as Phase 3 comes to an end, we're seeing Marvel launch whole new franchises. Next year will see Black Panther, one of the most intriguing films in Marvel history, and the first trailer was thrilling. Ant-Man and the Wasp will continue to develop the Ant-Man franchise, with Evangeline Lilly's Hope Pym suiting up. And, of course, we're due to see Brie Larson's Captain Marvel. We can safely assume all of these characters will be central to the MCU going forward.
So, some of the old guard will die. Other heroes will step up, with Spider-Man central to the MCU's relaunch. That's an interesting decision in itself, given that Tom Holland is only signed up to six films, and the Homecoming sequel would be his fifth. In strategic terms, this sounds like something Marvel would only do if they were becoming increasingly confident their deal with Sony will be extended, and Tom Holland will choose to stick around.
Kevin Feige's comments suggest that we should see Infinity War and Avengers 4 as the end of one story — and the beginning of another. Key characters will be written out; heroes will die. But whole new champions will also step up, and make their presence felt as the MCU moves on. These are definitely exciting days for Marvel fans.