Warning: SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp are ahead!
Now that Avengers: Infinity War has arrived on Digital HD and is hitting Blu-ray/DVD next week, talk has resumed about the blockbuster event and its effect on the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Within minutes, half of all life was erased thanks to Thanos and the six Infinity Stones, and the survivors stood shocked at what happened. It's not exaggerating to say that everything's changed after Infinity War, but this particular story isn't over just yet, as Avengers 4 arrives next year. Which begs the question: when we reunite with the surviving MCU heroes (and a certain purple-skinned villain) again, what will they be up to in this new reality?
Even with eight months to go until Avengers 4's release, Marvel is staying quiet about specific details concerning that movie. Sure there's the occasional rumor and report that finds its way online, but it's still hard to piece together what's in store. Nevertheless, given everything that went down in Avengers: Infinity War and what little we know about Avengers 4, we've taken it upon to speculate on where all of the major surviving characters will find themselves when the final Phase 3 installment begins, including a few folks who weren't around for Infinity War.
If Gwyneth Paltrow is to be believed, then the next time we see Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, they'll be parents, something Tony dreamt was going to happen right before Avengers: Infinity War. Tony's a much different man than the apathetic weapons manufacturer we met a decade ago, so seeing him raising a child would be another opportunity to show how he's developed for the better. However, it's also possible that Tony is having trouble moving on from the events of Infinity War. It was rumored last year that there's a scene in Avengers 4 where Tony is using his B.A.R.F. technology to look back at the Battle of New York with Harley Keener, the kid from Iron Man 3, for clues about Thanos. While that hasn't been confirmed yet, it's hardly difficult to imagine that Tony feels responsible for everything that happened, and knowing that Doctor Strange saved his life for a reason, he's become obsessed with undoing everything the Mad Titan did.
While we may see Tony Stark as a dad in Avengers 4, the family life isn't necessarily for Steve Rogers, as he acknowledged at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. He's dedicated his life to keeping humanity safe, whether publicly or in the shadows. It remains to be seen if the events of Avengers: Infinity War somehow result in the Sokovia Accords being overturned, but with half of Earth's population gone, the population needs superheroes more than ever, so we can undoubtedly count on Steve still fighting the good fight regardless of his legal status. Like Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans is also expected to make his last MCU appearance in Avengers 4, so if that isn't enough for us to see Steve in the Captain America uniform and wielding the vibranium shield one last time, I don't know what is.
If Thor had aimed for Thanos' neck instead of his chest, he might have prevented the Mad Titan from wiping out half of all life. Unfortunately, that's not what happened, and I expect Thor will still feel guilty about failing to prevent genocide when Avengers 4 rolls around. But Thor is also still king of the Asgardians, and although half of his people were slaughtered by Thanos and the Black Order at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War and some others presumably faded away from the Thanos snap, one would imagine there's a scattering of survivors out there. So it's a good bet that Thor will be working to bring the remnants of Asgard back together, and with Stormbreaker in his hands, traveling across the universe is easier than ever.
Hulk would have come in handy during the Wakanda battle in Avengers: Infinity War, and the movie's first trailer had a shot of the Green Goliath charging into battle with his comrades. However, after getting a beatdown from Thanos aboard the Statesman, Hulk refused to come back out for the rest of Infinity War, leaving Bruce Banner to do his best in the Hulkbuster armor. While not clarified in the movie, the Russo Brothers noted that Hulk's stubbornness stems from him not wanting to "save Banner's ass" anymore. While Bruce might be glad to finally have some peace and quiet, allowing him to resume his scientific studies, Avengers 4 has also been said to be the final chapter of the loose Hulk "trilogy" that began with Thor: Ragnarok. So when Avengers 4 starts, maybe Bruce is still trying to reawaken his monstrous counterpart, knowing that there will come a time when he's needed.
Like Tony Stark, there have already been rumblings about what Black Widow is up to during Avengers 4. When the movie was shooting last year, it was reported that Scarlett Johansson was on an overnight shoot happening around the same time as another shoot that involved Japanese gangsters. Assuming these two are connected, then it seems the events of Avengers: Infinity War didn't deter Natasha Romanoff from continuing her spy work, as evidently she'll cross paths with the Yakuza. If she's willing to still beat bad guys to a pulp, then you'd think that she'd be game for jumping back into action with her superhero allies on Avengers 4's main mission.
Although he approved of the Sokovia Accords during Captain America: Civil War, James Rhodes gradually had a change of heart, so when Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon and Bruce Banner showed up at the Avengers base, Rhodey ignored Secretary Ross' orders to arrest them. Rhodes admitted that would probably mean he get a court martial, and if half of humanity hadn't faded away, maybe that would have happened. However, the world is changed now, and given both his military standing and his experience as War Machine, maybe Rhodey will get a pass so that he can continue serving the United States and eliminating evildoers with a powerhouse suit of armor. If not, then assuming he didn't surrender himself to be disciplined, then he's probably on the run, just like Steve and the anti-Sokovia Accords gang were after Civil War.
Although he's still cynical and sarcastic, being with the Guardians of the Galaxy changed Rocket Raccoon for the better, so one can only imagine how losing all of his family is going to affect him, particularly where Groot is concerned. Rocket already watched the tree friend die once, and this time around, he'd become Groot's father figure. It's certainly possible Rocket could remain on Earth with his new allies and to learn about our raccoons, but I suspect that in Avengers 4, Rocket is back to traveling around the galaxy and getting into trouble in order to deal with his pain. His version of coping will include shooting criminals and causing as many explosions as possible.
Thanos killed Gamora so he could obtain the Soul Stone, but the Mad Titan's other "daughter" survived his snap of death. Nebula vowed at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to kill Thanos, and given what he did at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, no doubt she's more determined than ever to fulfill that goal. Rather than stick around Earth, Nebula is likely traveling the galaxy when Avengers 4 begins trying to find Thanos so she can finally have her revenge. It's also worth noting that in the comics, Nebula is responsible for undoing Thanos' actions when she wielded the Infinity Gauntlet, but given how damaged the Gauntlet was at the end of Infinity War, it's hard to say if Karen Gillan's Nebula will get to harness that power for herself.
When Thanos' minions arrived on Wakanda to take the Mind Stone from The Vision, Okoye was on the battlefield alongside the Avengers and Wakanda's warriors to drive back those monstrous hordes. Unfortunately, they lost the battle when Thanos rewound time and took the Mind Stone, and minutes later, Okoye watched as King T'Challa faded away instantly. Despite heavy losses, both during and after battle, Wakanda still stands, so while T'Challa may still be on her mind when Avengers 4 starts, it stands to reason that Okoye will still be leading the Dora Milaje and making sure the African nation stays safe in these troubling times.
M'Baku and T'Challa weren't on great terms at the start of Black Panther, but by the end of the movie, the two men developed newfound respect for one another, and M'Baku was given a spot on the Wakanda nation council to represent his tribe, the Jabari. So it was hardly surprising to see M'Baku and other Jabari warriors charging into battle in Avengers: Infinity War, but along with losing many of his men, M'Baku also had to watch with horror as more of the Jabari and other Wakandan warriors turned to dust. It's a lot to take in, but like Okoye, M'Baku has a duty to look after his people, so he'll likely still be leader of the Jabari when we reunite with him.
What, did you think we weren't going to mention that guy who's responsible for all this devastation? In an instant, Thanos used the six Infinity Stones to wipe out half of all life in the universe, and although he acknowledged to his vision of Gamora that finally accomplishing his mission "everything," he seemed content with what he'd done. Thanos was last seen watching a sunrise on another planet, fully healed from his injuries. However, it's important to note that when Thanos committed genocide, the Infinity Gauntlet was damaged, and co-director Joe Russo suggested that using the Gauntlet also damaged Thanos. When Avengers 4 picks up, Thanos will presumably be leading a quiet life and unwilling to undo what he's wrought. Could he have a change of heart later? Maybe, but at the start of the movie, don't expect him to be helpful in the slightest. In fact, if he gets wind of the surviving heroes trying to change reality back to normal, he'll probably jump back into action to stop them.
After Captain America: Civil War, Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, took a deal from the U.S. government to be placed on house arrest in exchange so he could be with his family, hence why he didn't appear in Avengers: Infinity War. Unlike the last time Clint tried to retire from superheroics, this time it probably would have stuck, but Thanos' snap changed everything. Clint will be back in Avengers 4, only instead of picking up his bow and arrow again as Hawkeye, it's rumored he'll now be going by Ronin, and that identity change is the result of something happening in Infinity War that leaves him "in a very dark place." If this is true, and given how Infinity War ended, it's not a stretch to assume that Clint's family faded away, and with them gone, he's thrown himself back into vigilantism and adopted a new moniker.
Like Clint Barton, Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man, took a house arrest deal with the U.S. government, which he completed at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp. During that movie's post-credits scene, Scott went into the Quantum Realm to collect quantum energy that would help Ava Starr, a.k.a. Ghost, with her condition. Unfortunately for him, that visit happened right as Thanos snapped his fingers, and since Hank Pam, Hope van Dyne and Janet van Dyne all dusted away, that left Scott trapped in the Quantum Realm. We know that Scott will eventually break free from the Quantum Realm during Avengers 4 (possibly through one of those time vortexes Janet warned him to avoid), but who knows how much time will have passed when he gets back to our reality.
Although Carol Danvers hasn't debuted in the MCU yet, we got our first tease of her when the pager that Nick Fury activated before he turned to dust displayed the Captain Marvel symbol. Next March, the Captain Marvel movie will show audiences how Carol became a superhero in the 1990s, and then she'll reappear in the present day, be it in the Captain Marvel post-credits scene or at the beginning of Avengers 4. Whatever the reason for her being gone from Earth for the past 20 or so years, Fury's signal will be draw her back home, and while we don't know yet how she'll meet the other surviving heroes, given that she's the most powerful of them all, she may hold the key to defeating Thanos for good and/or reversing what he did with the Infinity Gauntlet (perhaps by wielding a different Infinity Gauntlet herself).