Avengers: Infinity War has just wrapped up production, and we can hardly wait to see the finished product once post-production magic has been added to the raw footage. Directors The Russo Brothers have kept fans on the hook with a steady stream of pics from the set, and at Disney's D23 Expo, fans finally got their first glimpse of the movie's first trailer.
The Russo Brothers – Anthony and Joseph V. – are also responsible for Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016), both of which were well received by fans, critics, and the box office. It's led to high hopes for Infinity War, the two-movie story that will be the culmination of MCU Phase 3.
It's an epic undertaking by any sense of the word, a story line where the Avengers must battle their greatest foe yet -- Thanos and his quest to gather all the Infinity Stones and dominate the universe. So far, 29 cast members have been confirmed, including the usual suspects, including Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, Chris Evans's Steve Rogers/Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy gang, and Peter Dinklage in a yet to be announced role. How they all come together, along with the many more characters yet to be announced, in a story that juggles their story lines, is what we're all waiting for.
In the meantime, here are the latest secrets and rumors.
15 War Machine Is Back
Don Cheadle is one of the cast members confirmed to be in the movie, so we know that James Rhodes, aka War Machine, is back in action. Last we saw Rhodes, he was left paralyzed at the end of the battle in Captain America: Civil War, but if you know anything about Marvel Comics, you know that death is usually just the beginning of a new phase. Cheadle recently confirmed to an audience on Good Morning America that Rhodey would be back and mobile at that, but he added that it was due to the engineering virtuosity of Tony Stark. He described the tech involved as "somewhat bionic." Observant fans are wondering if the slick new armor Iron Man is sporting in pics released from the set has anything to do with it. As it appears in the comic books, Tony's Bleeding Edge technology would explain the new armor, along with the new arc reactor that's implanted in his chest. Bleeding Edge tech could be used to heal Rhodes and give him the bionic implants he needs to walk and fight again.
14 Does Everyone Die?
Actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce Banner/the Hulk in the MCU, went on Good Morning America to plug his various upcoming MCU projects. He made the visit alongside Don Cheadle. To Cheadle's horror, Mark seemed to blurt out a little too much detail when asked about Thor: Ragnarok. First, he mentioned that Ragnarok "doesn't end well for the superheroes" -- and that's before the Infinity War story line even begins. Then, unasked, he continued, saying, "Wait till you see this next one. Everybody dies." Cheadle yelled, "Dude!" in panic. Or so it seemed. Some are calling the supposed leak a mere publicity stunt. But it raises some intriguing possibilities. Do the Avengers "die" in one form, only to be transformed into another? Back in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony had that horrifying vision of all the Avengers lying slain on the ground. It looks like Infinity War may see that scenario come true.
13 Steve Rogers Becomes Nomad
One detail fans noted at the screening of the Avengers: Infinity War trailer and footage at D23 Expo was that Steve Rogers was sporting a beard. Hmm... Now, Steve Rogers has been synonymous with Captain America since his first comic book appearance in 1942. But we saw him put down his shield after that colossal battle with Iron Man at the end of Captain America: Civil War. Is the beard a clue to Steve Rogers’s new identity? Some fans have noted that it looks kinda like Steve Rogers in Dimension Z, as written by Rick Remender for Marvel Comics in 2012. But rumor has it that Steve will instead be donning the blue and yellow caped costume of Nomad. Nomad – the man with no country – is who Steve Rogers became in Captain America #180 to 184, which ran from 1974, and CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON: NOMAD, a paperback anthology, which came out in 2006.
12 Title Changes
Once, not so long ago, we thought there would be two movies: Avengers: Infinity War -- Part 1 and Part 2, each release separated by a year. Now, the title for the next Avengers film is simply Avengers: Infinity War, with the subsequent movie currently listed as "Untitled Avengers" so far. The Russo Brothers have gone on record as saying the Part 1/2 titles were "misleading" and that their vision saw the two movies as having very different and separate story lines. That affects the movie we'll see in various ways. With a two-part scenario, the ending would have implications that couldn't really be fully assessed until Part 2 came along. As a stand alone effort, by the end of Avengers: Infinity War, we should have an idea what shape the MCU will take beyond the end of MCU3 and into Phase 4.
11 How Many Characters?
About a year ago, the Russos claimed they were dealing with a storyboard that had 67 characters on it. So far, we largely know about the heroic side of the equation, which includes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon, Ant-Man, Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Mantis, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Okoye, Wong, and Maria Hill. Benicio Del Toro reprises his role as the enigmatic Collector. On the villain's side, so far, the cast includes Nebula, Josh Brolin as Thanos, and Loki in his much-awaited return to the screen. The fearsome Black Order was revealed at D23 as the major villains in the script, although no casting announcements have been made. They include Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, and Black Dwarf. Conspicuously absent is Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, who hasn't been ruled out but hasn't been confirmed either. It's also been confirmed that Marvel's TV wing -- the Defenders, or Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage -- won't be joining their cinematic superhero counterparts, even though they live in the same city as Peter Parker and Stephen Strange.
10 Spider-Man/Doctor Strange Bromance
With so many characters on screen, there will be crossing story lines to watch out for. One that seemed to intrigue director Joe Russo was the chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Russo spoke about it in a TV interview. "They both have a proximity to each other, if that’s a hint that I can give. But anybody who’s a Marvel fan would know that they both reside in the same city, and I think Tom and Benedict have a really wonderful chemistry and we wanted to exploit that." So, look for a budding bromance between the master of the mystical arts and the young scientific mind with the Spidey senses. Since they both live in New York City, it makes sense that they’d come into contact at some point. Maybe it’s Doctor Strange who puts Spidey in touch with those semi-supernatural senses.
9 Spidey Sense Is Back
One thing fans were really thrilled to notice in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer is that Peter Parker's hairs stand on end as he senses Thanos's proximity, all while riding the bus to school. Spider sense is back! After a conspicuous absence from Spider-Man: Coming Home, critics and fans alike wondered about the lack of spidery precognition that has marked previous versions of Peter Parker. Would this rebooted Spider-Man live by technology alone? Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige spoke about spidey sense in an interview. "No, I think he has it. And I think he has it with or without that suit." Apparently, Feige wanted to part ways with previous versions of the Spider-Man story, which relied a great deal on the whole concept of spider sense in their plots. Maybe it's the encounter with Thanos, and whole new dimensions of villains and heroes, that brings Parker's acute spidey sense to life.
8 New York City Gets Smashed Again
Some of the images seen of the Avengers: Infinity War shoot so far have involved streetscapes that certainly look a lot like the New York City sidewalk scenes we’ve seen before during that great battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In some of the scenes, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, and Wong are seen working together on ruined streets. Now, in real life, it took over 13 years to replace just the World Trade Center buildings alone after they were destroyed by terrorists in 2001. In the MCU, somehow, block after block of downtown Manhattan was destroyed just a few years ago, and then rebuilt, only to be blown to smithereens yet again. Or are the buildings a little deceptive? It could be another city with similar architecture – are they picking on Chicago this time?
7 The Iron Spider Suit
The first glimpse at the trailer only gives fleeting shots of various characters, so not a lot of detail is known. But, certain elements are unmistakable. For instance, we see Spider-Man in an action scene in what looks like the Iron Spider suit. Spider-Man: Homecoming took Spidey's story in some different directions than it's gone so far in the comics or books. At the end of the movie, Peter Parker is introduced as an Avenger, and Tony Stark offers him an upgraded version of his suit. It looks like fan speculation was right -- it's an exoskeleton in Stark's trademark red and gold colors. At the end of Homecoming, Peter Parker rejects Tony's high-tech version of the suit, but it's clear from the trailer clip that he reconsiders that decision somewhere down the line.
6 Thor And The Guardians
We haven't even seen Thor: Ragnarok yet, but we already know how it fits into the MCU as it careens along the road to Infinity War. Marvel Studios creative head Kevin Feige went on the record as saying that Ragnarok would "build directly" into the Infinity War story. The Infinity War teaser trailer video begins with Star-Lord and the Guardians in the Milano encountering an unconscious Thor as he floats alone in space. Once he's woken up by Mantis, he demandingly asks, "Who the hell are you guys?" Dave Bautista, who plays Drax, has said in interviews that the scene unfolds with a lot of comedy playing off between Thor and Star-Lord. The important detail is that Thor's hair is still cut short, the way it is in the scenes of Ragnarok that we've viewed so far, and that he seems wounded. That means the Infinity War story picks up pretty much just after Ragnarok ends. Now, how does Hulk get back to Earth..?
5 Winter Soldier And Black Panther Connection
Sebastian Stan, who plays the Winter Soldier, finally put months of speculation to rest recently when he confirmed that his character would not be appearing in Black Panther. The last we saw of him, his bionic arm had been ripped off, and Steve Rogers was entrusting his care to T'Challa and Wakandan technology as Bucky/Winter Soldier was put into a state of cryo-sleep. Stan mentioned in a television interview that his story line would be resolved in Infinity War, and the teaser trailer bears that out. It shows the Winter Soldier working together with T'Challa and an army of Wakandans. It's nice to have Bucky back in action, and we're guessing that the Avengers simply needed all hands on deck to battle all-powerful Thanos.
4 Doctor Strange Brings The Cap And Tony Back Together And More
Since his casting’s been confirmed, Benedict Cumberbatch has been in the spotlight again, doing the rounds of media interviews, and it appears that Doctor Strange will take a unique role in Infinity War. Cumberbatch has got a firm grasp on what he can’t reveal – in fact, he seemed to stop Tom Holland from spilling Infinity War beans during a panel discussion at D23. But he’s hinted at Stephen Strange’s role in the MCU after the events of Infinity War clear the deck for a new phase. He’s said that Doctor Strange is "literally going to open up the dimensions" to usher in the new era of the MCU. Are we looking at a multiverse situation for Phase 4? Finally, Cumberbatch also let it drop that Doctor Strange is the one who helps to bring Captain America and Iron Man back working on the same side. Does it take magic to bring the two superheroes back together?
3 Vision’s Transformation And The Scarlet Witch Romance
We all saw the signs of a budding romance between Scarlet Witch, she of great powers, and Vision, the creation of great powers, in Captain America: Civil War, even if they ended up on opposite sides of the battle. Photographs taken from the set of Avengers: Infinity War confirm it with a shot of the two locked in a kiss. But wait a second... Vision is actor Paul Bettany without visible special effects makeup and no motion capture tech either. Is this what happens to Vision once Thanos has taken his Mind Stone? It seems like the logical conclusion. Once he’s stripped of the magic, he becomes more or less human. Given the kind of passion in that kiss, it looks like he and Scarlet Witch are ready to take it to the next level in Infinity Wars. We’re just hoping the path of their romance is at least a little smoother than the one the couple has had to endure in the comic book world, where they’ve suffered through mental illness, devil children, amnesia, death, and more.
2 Thanos’s Quest For The Infinity Stones
The release of the teaser trailer and the flurry of interviews has given us some clues to work with when it comes to figuring out the Infinity War storyline. From Josh Brolin’s interviews, it seems like Infinity War will largely revolve around the Mad Titan's quest to collect all six of the stones. When asked about the Infinity Stones, Brolin kept it vague, saying there would be "a few" in Infinity War. He also implied that Thanos wouldn't be in possession of all the stones until the beginning of the as yet untitled fourth Avenger movie, not due till May 2019. It stands to reason. At the moment, the Infinity Stones are scattered across the universe, from the Tesseract in the vaults of Asgard to the Mind Stone in Vision's forehead, with the Collector holding the Reality Stone, and the Nova Corps entrusted with the Power Stone. We've yet to see the Soul Stone, but we're thinking, given that Thor: Ragnarok sets up the beginning of Infinity War, it will probably make an appearance in the Asgardian's story. Fans photographed a battle scene being filmed between Doctor Strange and an actor in a full-body motion-capture suit with the label "EB-MAW," as in Ebony Maw. Presumably, that’s how Thanos comes into possession of the Time Stone.
1 A Very, Very Different Universe
What lies beyond Avengers: Infinity War and the as yet ambiguously Untitled Avengers project for the MCU? After the decades-long journey that has been MCU3, we’ve been expecting another ten-year ride of new characters and story lines that would gradually intertwine. It seems like we’ve been wrong, according to Marvel Studio boss Kevin Feige. In interviews, he’s openly toyed with the idea of ditching Phase 4 entirely for an entirely new direction. For the moment, plans are in the discussion stage, but any MCU4 plans are pretty much on hold. There’s another Spider-Man movie coming down the pipe because that has to do with the agreement between Sony and Marvel. There will also be a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie with James Gunn at the helm. The original plan was to film Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel together, but that was changed to allow for new directions. There’s been talk that Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. would bow out of the Avengers after 2019, which would give the team a whole new dimension.
Sources: comicbook.com; collider.com; digitalspy.com