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Warning: spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War are in play. If you haven't seen the film yet, and want to remain unspoiled, please hop out of this article and check out one of our non-Marvel articles!
By time the credits were rolling and Avengers: Infinity War started to allow the audience to breathe again, there was one question that a lot of people asked when all was said and done: "Is that how Marvel is really going to end it?" Even with the foreknowledge that the film was always meant to be the first part of a two-part arc, pockets of the film's audience still can't believe that they would leave such a cliffhanger unresolved. It's that reaction that got me to thinking about whether or not scheduling the two Avengers films a whole year apart was really a good idea. Now, both sides have merits, but ultimately there's one camp I clearly fall into. For now though, let's play devil's advocate and look at both cases.
The Case For A Months-Long Gap
When you've got a pair of sequels that are produced back to back, telling a story wound so tightly that the second film finishes the other's sentences, it's often been the tradition to only schedule those films a few months apart. Seeing as The Lord of the Rings were all fully produced adaptations of a three novel setup, I'm not counting it in this situation. But if you look at The Matrix Reloaded / The Matrix Revolutions and Back To The Future Part II and III, you see the sort of film that Avengers: Infinity War seems to be taking after.
As the story of Avengers: Infinity War ends on a dark note, with half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe zapped out of existence, and the villain apparently satisfied with his work, Avengers 4 would have been at an advantage if it was scheduled for release in the fall or winter of this year's box office calendar. Not only would that sort of strategy help crush the box office records of 2018, it would also allow the audience gratification a little earlier, as viewers would get to see the story wrapped up in a more timely manner. Not to mention, it'd solve that whole problem surrounding how the hell Sony is going to advertise Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, However, there are also two good reasons for Marvel Studios to put space in-between their Avengers films.
The Case For The Gap Year
If Avengers: Infinity War were a more traditional two-part arc, it would make infinitely more sense to have both parts play out closer together, with only a span of months between them. However, this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means that this story isn't going to just span across the two Avengers films bookending each other. With two more Marvel Studios movies, Ant-Man and The Wasp and Captain Marvel, making their way to theaters in-between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, the events of those films are inevitably going to be affected by the events we've just seen unfold on the screen this weekend, and in one case it's more readily apparent.
The moment the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War showed us that Nick Fury was contacting Carol Danvers for her origin story close-up, the threads started to sew the next year of Marvel Studios films together all the more closer. With Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, and The Wasp all absent from the proceedings of the latest Avengers movie, they're more than likely going to be around for Avengers 4, filling the gaps of the heroes that were vaporized in Thanos's usage of the Infinity Gauntlet.
Which Works Better
Again, if Avengers: Infinity War wasn't being used as a part era closer / part platform for future heroes to launch off of, it'd make more sense to schedule the films closer together. With two more films being affected by, and ultimately playing into, the fate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it makes more sense to give the films space to play out the ultimate story being told. So in this scenario, pushing the resolution to the larger cliffhanger makes perfect sense in terms of the storytelling. Even better is the fact that Marvel Studios has some really solid business reasons to engage in this sort of long game, as well.
Not only will Avengers 4's May 4, 2019 release date help it capitalize on the same sort of massive box-office opportunity that Avengers: Infinity War has enjoyed, but it'll also undoubtedly boost the prospects for both Ant-Man and The Wasp and Captain Marvel's grosses to excel in similar fashion. Both films will hold clues and plot points to fulfill the promises Infinity War has made, and everyone will be hungry for answers in the year in-between, so they'll be must sees for all.
At this moment, the delay makes a lot of sense; but we'll only really know next year when Avengers 4 takes the stage on May 4, 2019. But in the meantime, we'll have Ant-Man and The Wasp to enjoy on July 6th, with Captain Marvel debuting in theaters on March 8th, 2019. If you're interested in reading up on the upcoming release dates for Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks beyond those two, you can head over to our Marvel release date schedule for further information.