Needless to say, there are going to be spoilers in the following article, so turn back now if you want to head into Avengers: Infinity War knowing nothing at all.
It's a word that we heard time and time again, from every member of the Avengers: Infinity War creative team. "Culmination." This movie -- and, to a certain extent, Avengers 4 that will follow next summer, serves as a culmination to the MCU, the ongoing comic-book cinematic series that began with Iron Man back in 2008. But what, exactly, does that mean?! It was the last question that we posed to directors Joe and Anthony Russo after a long day of filming, a long day of learning everything that we could about Infinity War while on the movie's set. And they told us:
Anthony Russo: I think as storytellers, what it means for us is that while you're always looking for cataclysmic events in a film, to change a character [or] to challenge a character, and to sort of explore who that character is and test who that character is, it gave all of us in this film an opportunity to figure out, well, what were those ultimate tests for these characters, you know what I mean? To go one step further even than how you would normally test the character in one of these films, because we had the freedom to sort of think of it in many cases as sort of a final test.
Joe Russo: If you were to think of the Marvel universe over the last ten years as a book, this is the ending of the book. And then, there may be new books written. But this is certainly the ending of this book.
So ominous. We learned that information nearly a year ago, and it has been very difficult to sit on it for this amount of time. But since we learned it, we have picked up more pieces of information that shape the narrative. While Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 will be the "ending of this book," as Joe Russo calls it, there are other movies on the docket that will continue the MCU, from a Spider-Man sequel to a third Guardians of the Galaxy and a planned Black Panther 2.
But this means that the MCU as we know it I ending. Which likely means -- though we can not confirm -- that core members like Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) might be hanging up their capes, and passing the baton to a new phase of Avengers. What will the battle against Thanos lead to? West Coast Avengers? New Avengers? There are a number of ways Marvel Studios can go. For now, the future is unwritten, even though the past is coming to a close.
We'll know more once Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on April 27. More set visit content is on its way. In the meantime, bookmark our Upcoming Marvel Movies guide to stay up to date on all of the relevant happenings in the MCU.