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The stakes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are about to get higher than ever with the arrival of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Couple that with the fact that several principal Marvel actors are coming to the end of their respective contracts, and many fans have begun to take bets on which MCU heroes won't make it to Avengers 4. There has been quite a bit of speculation on this front recently, but Robert Downey Jr. has just posted a photo from the set of the film suggesting that Cap (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and his own Iron Man will all appear. Check out the picture below.
There are no significant plot details to be gleaned from a simple shot of some chairs, but the fact that Scott Lang, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff and Tony Stark are all set to appear in Avengers 4 seems vital. Among them, Lang arguably seems like the only no-brainer because the Ant-Man franchise is only just getting started (it will continue with Ant-Man and The Wasp next year), and he has quite a bit of room left in his overall character arc. However, as this picture officially confirms: some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 1 heavy-hitters will appear as well.
Now for the part where things get a little trickier. Even though we can now confirm that Avengers 4 will see all of these characters return, the nature of their return remains to be seen. As seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark is no stranger to hallucinating Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff, so their presence in the fourth Avengers movie doesn't inherently guarantee that they survive the events of Infinity War.
The possibility of someone going down in a blaze of glory before Avengers 4 seems even more likely when we consider the sheer scale of the footage already released to a select group of fans. The Infinity War trailer that debuted at D23 and San Diego Comic-Con portrayed Josh Brolin's Thanos as a pure world-destroyer (literally, he uses the Infinity Gauntlet to destroy a planet or moon and bring it hurtling down on The Avengers), and it appears that these heroes will be in more danger than we have seen them in before. Fans have speculated about who will die before the end of Phase 3, and it still seems incredibly likely that some of these casualties will take place in Infinity War.
Avengers: Infinity War will hit theaters next blockbuster season on May 4, 2018, and Avengers 4 will premiere the following year on May 3, 2019. Until then, Thor: Ragnarok will hit theaters this weekend on November 3. Make sure to get your tickets for the highly-anticipated Thor threequel, and check out our movie premiere guides (for 2017 and 2018) to keep yourself in-the-loop on everything debuting over the course of the next year!