By Joyell Nevins

Avengers: Infinity War left us with half of the population decimated–which shocked movie goers as much as it shocked comic readers when “The Infinity Gauntlet” started with Thanos snapping his fingers and wiping out half of the world.

Which character turning into dust did you gasp at the most? I may have audibly moaned when Spiderman, played by cutie newcomer Tom Holland, disintegrated before my eyes.

But have no fear! Iron Man and the few Avengers left – Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk–weren’t given the task of saving the world for nothing. But while Avengers: Endgame may conclude with Thanos getting his just desserts in what is now called “The Infinity Saga,” it will also conclude phases 1 through 3 of the Marvel cinematic universe (MCU): a movie arc 22 films in the making. 

This marks the end of an era and the Avengers team as we know it. Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige told Empire Magazine, “We wanted to bring a conclusion to a series of movies in a way that had never been done before.”

The Players

Like your favourite show reunion, the final chapter of the current MCU means a star-studded explosion. All of the survivors from Infinity War are coming back, joined by the oddly absent Hawkeye. The arrow-slinging Avenger reappears wielding a sword and turning into a later version of comic persona, ninja-style Ronin.  

Wisecracking Paul Rudd makes his Avengers debut to bring in Ant-Man, who has just escaped from the Subatomic Realm he entered in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Don’t let Captain Marvel sneak past your viewing list, as she plays a major role in Endgame, too. 

We didn’t see Pepper Potts alive or dead at the end of Infinity War, but it is totally possible she makes an Endgame appearance thanks to a symbolism-heavy line in the trailer, where Tony Stark refers to “no hope of rescue.” The hint? Pepper’s iron man suit is called Rescue Armor in the comics. 

The Story Arc

Whatever it takes.” That’s the tagline behind Endgame, whose title was referenced by Dr. Strange in Infinity War and Tony Stark in Age of Ultron. Marvel is keeping the plot tightly under wraps – hackers with no ethical qualms, where are you now? – but if they’re following the comic books, Thanos’ own ego will ultimately be his demise. 

Nebula, who survived the Infinity War, will also have a major part to play in the stopping of Armageddon. Another key may be the soul stone, hinted at when Thanos was speaking to a young Gamora at the end of Infinity War, which contains its own dimension in the comic books.

One recent teaser leak did hint to a showdown between Thanos and Bruce Banner, possibly in his crimson “Hulkbuster” suit. Let’s bring it on, green (or red) Hulk! 

A New Phase Begins

Endgame may be the last hurrah for some of the actors and actresses ending their Marvel contracts. Chris Evans told Good Morning, America last year that his, Robert Downey, Jr.’s, and Chris Hemsworth’s contracts were up after 2019, and they were hanging up their superhero costumes. Downey, Jr.’s Twitter announcement, much later, officially ending his contract (rumours of renegotiation had been circling for ages) brought an onslaught of memes and pop culture references lamenting his demise.

Tom Holland’s star is on the rise though, with Spider-Man: Far From Home kicking off the new MCU era in what Marvel leaders are calling “phase 4.” Black Widow, possibly as Scarlett Johansson, will be getting her own film, along with sequels to Dr. Strange and Black Panther. Rumors are flying (comic book lovers are worse than your high school’s clan of ‘mean girls’) about the appearance of Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom. Guardians of the Galaxy are hanging in there, with Chris Pratt locked in and a third sequel in the works.

But the original MCU storyline that started 10 years ago with Iron Man will conclude with Avengers: Endgame. This is a bittersweet ending for fans who have cut their teeth on icons like Robert Downey, Jr.’s version of Iron Man and Chris Evans’s Captain America. Twenty-two films later, it’s time to introduce a new generation and open up a whole new fanbase.

So, who are you excited to learn is sticking around in the MCU? Who do you hate to see go? And which series are you voting Marvel heads turn into the next film? Comment below or set fire to the gossip train with your own fantastical conclusions.