For Marvel fans, marks the culmination of an era. It all started back in 2008 with and a crazy amount of franchise-building ambition, and 11 years and 22 films later we’ve come to the conclusion of what has been dubbed the Infinity Saga. We’ve seen a lot happen in that time, and lots of characters come and go, and it’s entirely reasonable to say that the movies have effectively changed modern pop culture.
Of course, just because the Infinity Saga is over doesn’t mean that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is – and there’s a lot to digest now that we are preparing for the start of Phase 4 (which will follow the release of ). Not only have we seen some important arcs come to an end, but we are also seeing some that are just beginning. It’s a complex web, which is why we’ve built this feature to help sort it all out.
On the hero side of things, there are 33 characters who find themselves in interesting places following the conclusion of , and we’ve built this piece specifically to analyze where they all currently stand. Obviously that’s a lot to dig into, so let’s dive in…
It goes without saying that the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t be what it is today without Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, but now his time on the big screen has come to an end. While he used to be a selfish asshole, he changed a lot over the course of nine movies, and he made the biggest sacrifice of all in – losing his life after using the Nano Gauntlet to defeat Thanos and his army. We may never see Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony on the big screen again (and if we do it will be years and years from now), but there’s no doubt that he will live on through the memories of his fellow heroes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Iron Man, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America began his journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by sacrificing his life – purposefully crashing an aircraft full of explosives into the arctic – but following the events of he managed to actually get his life back. The Avengers thought they were sending their leader on a quick trip back through time to return the Infinity Stones back to their proper places, but he instead decided to stay and live out a full life with his number one gal, Peggy Carter, in the wake of World War II. Steve is now an old man, his superhero days behind him, though that doesn’t mean that the world doesn’t have a Captain America (more on that later).
Thor’s journey has been quite rough in the last few years, what with losing his mother, his father, his brother, his best friend, his homeworld, half of the Asgardian population, his hammer, his eye, and more. But surprisingly didn’t present him with an end to his journey; instead, he is ready for a new beginning. Previously he was a character with all of his loyalties wrapped up in the fate of Asgard, but he has now given up his crown and is ready to start a brand new life. He began a friendly relationship with the Guardians of the Galaxy during the events of , and now it looks like he’ll be joining that crew, but exactly what he’ll get up to in the future remains a big question mark waiting for confirmation.
As teased by Mark Ruffalo a few years ago, Hulk has been on his own specific journey through the events of , , and , and that journey has left him in a very interesting place going forward. While Bruce Banner used to be a man completely terrified of the monster living inside him, the two have now made peace, and Hulk and Banner are now one – commonly referred to by fans as Professor Hulk. It doesn’t seem like this status is going to change any time soon, though it’s worth noting that the events of did see him incur what’s been referred to as “permanent damage.” He’s still the strongest Avenger, but his right arm will apparently never be the same.
didn’t feature the massive death toll that some fans were expecting, but there definitely were some key lives lost. We already discussed the passing of Tony Stark, but Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow also gave her life so that the Avengers could succeed in their mission to defeat Thanos and return the world to some semblance of normalcy. Within the continuity, Black Widow died back in 2014, falling from a cliff on Vormir so that Hawkeye could retrieve the Soul Stone. This sacrifice definitely isn’t going to be reversed any time soon, but unlike the situation with Robert Downey Jr., fans will be able to see Scarlet Johansson return to the character soon in the character’s upcoming solo film (which will obviously take place in the past).
Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye experienced some rough years following The Decimation, becoming the vigilante known as Ronin and traveling around the world killing people, but he got a chance for some redemption at the end of by helping the team get the Nano Gauntlet where it needed to be so that Thanos could be defeated. That being said, his superhero days seem to be over… though he apparently won’t be leaving his post without training someone to take his place. While it has yet to be confirmed, reports have said that Jeremy Renner will soon be playing the character once again in his very own Disney+ series, which will be an adaptation of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s beloved comic book run with the character and have him advising up-and-comer Kate Bishop.
James Rhodes has been flying around in the War Machine suit ever since , and while he’s experienced some pretty devastating personal setbacks (most notably being paralyzed from the waist down during the events of ) he has continued to fight the good fight. That being said, following it’s not entirely clear where he stands. He’s obviously still alive, but he also lost his best friend – who also happened to be the person to inspire him to suit up in the first place. Don Cheadle’s future with Marvel Studios is not entirely clear at present, and he doesn’t have any confirmed upcoming projects, but the door is wide open for him to appear in future films or television shows.
Scarlet Witch missed out on five years of her life after being turned to dust by Thanos’ snap at the end of , but in she not only returned, but is perhaps now stronger than she’s ever been. She’s still in mourning because of the death of her love (we’ll get more into that in a second), but that emotional pain may take her to some interesting places. She is confirmed to next appear in the Disney+ series , and there are rumors that the show may be partially inspired by the House of M storyline from the comics, which saw the hero exhibiting powers more extreme than we’ve seen thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thanos left many bodies in his wake during his attempt to capture all six of the Infinity Stones, and while many characters returned to life following Hulk’s snap with the Nano Gauntlet, Vision wasn’t one of them. There was an attempt made by Shuri in to rewire the android so that he could exist without the Mind Stone, but that attempt proved unsuccessful, and he was killed by the Mad Titan when the stone was plucked from his head. Like Scarlet Witch, the character will be back in action for the Disney+ series , but exactly how his resurrection will go down remains one of the most significant mysteries in the on-going franchise.
There has been speculation for a long time regarding the possibility of Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon taking on the mantle of Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – specifically ever since that actually happened in Marvel Comics in 2015 – and now that concept has become a reality. Steve Rogers gives Sam his shield at the end of , and it’s a passing of the torch that we expect will affect the franchise for many years to come. Like many of the other characters mentioned on this list so far, the first place where we will be seeing the aftershocks will be on Disney+, as the character has been confirmed to star in the developing (potential title change pending). Speaking of which…
To borrow a quote from Black Widow in , Bucky Barnes a.k.a. The Winter Soldier a.k.a. White Wolf still has quite a bit of red in his ledger, as it’s doubtful that he will ever be fully recovered from his dark history as a brainwashed Hydra assassin. That being said, he’s still trying to ultimately leave a positive mark on the world, and as noted above he will continue to operate as a heroic vigilante opposite Captain America in the upcoming Disney+ series . Of course, as shown in , the two heroes don’t exactly have the best relationship ever, so it should be a show filled with funny conflict in addition to real danger.
A huge thing that made the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man distinct from all previous big screen iterations of the character was his relationship with Tony Stark – but obviously that’s changing in a major way following . Peter’s mentor has died, and while he still has access to the Stark Industries-designed technology that he was given, the loss is most definitely going to have an emotional effect on him (as seen in the most recent trailer for ). The good news, one could argue, is that the rest of his life should be at least somewhat normal, as it would appear that most of his close friends also turned to dust during The Decimation, meaning that he’s not five years behind his classmates.
Scott Lang a.k.a. Ant-Man was dealt one of the most significant emotional blows in , given that he was trapped in the Quantum Realm for five years – though not from his perspective – and missed out on some key time in the life of his young daughter, Cassie (a situation only made worse when you think about how much of her life he missed when he was in prison). Fortunately he’s left alive and healthy at the end of the film with his girl and his girlfriend/partner, and one can imagine him not taking a single second of his life for granted going forward. Right now we don’t specifically know what the future holds for the character, but it’s all but guaranteed that he will get another opportunity to shine in a trilogy capper for his big screen solo features.
Of course, the “girlfriend/partner” I’m referring to in the Ant-Man section above is Hope van Dyne a.k.a. The Wasp, who is one of the many characters who returns to life in following the first Nano Gauntlet snap. She winds up having a significant role to play in the battle at the end of the film, but beyond those events she also has an interesting future in store given that she will surely feel even more passionately about spending time with her once long-lost mother, Janet van Dyne, in the aforementioned sequel. We see them briefly together during the funeral at the end of the film, but hopefully we’ll also get to see the two generations of Wasps together on an adventure soon.
Fans were pretty devastated to see T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther turn to dust at the end of , but he makes one hell of a triumphant return in , and also has a seriously significant future ahead of him going into Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only is he going to have the opportunity to settle into his role as king of Wakanda (something he didn’t really have the chance to do prior to now), but within that role he’s also going to take on some seriously important diplomatic missions because of the new open border policies he enacted at the end of his first solo movie. It’s exciting stuff, and we can’t wait to see director Ryan Coogler dig into it all with the developing .
Like her brother, Shuri also makes one hell of an entrance in , and will also have a key role to play in the future of the franchise. We know she’s the smartest person on Earth, but before now the benefits of her intelligence were exclusively available to the people of Wakanda. Now that the country has opened its borders, Shuri can start changing lives on a global scale – and it’s incredibly exciting to think about the potential that exists there. Letitia Wright was a wonderful standout in the first movie, and we can’t wait to see what’s going to happen with her in the sequel.
We didn’t get to see much of it in , but with both Black Panther and Shuri dusted because of the Decimation, Okoye was surely put in a very powerful position in Wakanda during the five years that followed. Now, however, things are back to normal, and she will presumably return to her role as the leader of the Dora Milaje – the group of elite female warriors who are sworn to protect their king with every fiber of their being. The precise significance of that won’t really be known until we get to see , but with Wakanda opening itself up to the world, and T’Challa becoming a figure on the global stage, her job will likely be more important than ever.
Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel has been away from Earth for a long time, but in the last few years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon she has made vital appearances when needed. First she showed up to join the Avengers in killing post-snap Thanos, and then she appeared to destroy Sanctuary II single-handedly during ’s final battle. She stayed long enough on the planet to go to the funeral at the end of the movie, but what’s not known right now is if she’ll actually stick around. She is a character who has responsibilities both on Terra and in the cosmos, so we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of adventure has in store for her.
In , Dr. Stephen Strange made what appeared to be a terrible trade when he gave up the Time Stone in exchange for the life of Tony Stark, but in we finally learned why it was necessary: there was only one path to victory against Thanos, and it was a path that required Tony to sacrifice himself. While it was clearly the right thing to do, that knowledge may still weigh on him for some time to come, and we may see it reflected in his personality and character when we get to see the upcoming . And, of course, being potentially the most powerful sorcerer on Earth, he will continue to have some major responsibilities protecting the planet from fantastical threats.
In the years following The Decimation, Wong likely had to take on a very important role by becoming the guardian of the New York Sanctum Sanctorum. Of course, he was also very ready to be called into action when the Hulk snap brought him back, and he was one of the key sorcerers battling Thanos during ’s massive third act fight. We expect that the next time we see him will be in , and it’s probably fair to assume that he’ll be a key source of support for Doctor Strange in his battle against Karl Mordo (whose villainous turn was teased at the end of the first solo feature).
As mentioned earlier, Thor will no longer be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s king of Asgard (now located in Tønsberg, Norway), but he didn’t leave the post without finding a proper replacement. That job and all of the responsibility that comes with it now belongs to Valkyrie, who accepts the crown at the end of before the God of Thunder heads off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Right now there isn’t officially a in the works, so we can’t say for certain when we’ll next see the character, but it seems totally unlikely that we’ve seen the last of her (and her kickass Pegasus).
Thor fell into a terrible depression following the events of and the titular team’s first major loss, but part of the reason he was able to get through it is because he had the support of some close friends. Korg, who met the God of Thunder during the events of did what he could to try and keep his Asgardian pal in a somewhat stable mental state… albeit while arguably enabling some bad habits. We didn’t see him leave with Thor at the end of , so he’s probably still hanging out in New Asgard – but that probably just means that he’ll now have the chance to become Valkyrie’s best friend.
Of course, Korg wasn’t alone in his efforts being emotional support for Thor, as he also had the assistance of his buddy Miek from Sakaar. Once feared to be dead due to an accidental squishing, Miek managed to escape the Sanctuary II attack on the Asgardian escape vessel – along with Valkyrie and Korg – at the start of , and has spent the last few years of his life living in New Asgard. While we don’t actually see him at the end of , he is presumably still there when Thor takes off into space with the Guardians, so we’ll just have to wait and see what his next adventure is.
Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord may have royally screwed up during the battle against Thanos in , but hopefully fans will be able to forgive him as he moves into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, post-dusting he did help out in a big way during the big battle in , so at the end of the day one could argue that his slate is clean. He’s now back together with his family, best known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, though he is in an interesting position now given that Thor is a new member of his crew. Will he be able to keep the respect of his cohorts now the venerable God of Thunder is on board? Time will tell.
Interestingly, Gamora isn’t really the Gamora we know by the time comes to a close. The original Gamora died similarly to Black Widow on Vormir, and the one that currently exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is from an alternate timeline. That’s a big deal, because not only is she nine years younger than she otherwise would have been, but doesn’t have the same kind of relationship with the Guardians of the Galaxy that was established over many years. That being said, her family – and particularly Peter Quill – certainly wants her back, and that will almost certainly have a significant impact on the plot of .
In , Drax sadly didn’t get to accomplish his mission of vengeance and kill Thanos, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t still get a happy ending. Following the final battle, he is back together with the Guardians (most of whom, like him, existed as dust particles for five years), and he seems to still be his fun-loving self. As mentioned earlier, there will perhaps be a question of where his loyalties lie in the future, as he is most definitely an admirer of Thor, but what’s important above all is that he’s happy and healthy.
Rocket has actually changed a lot as a character over the years, as he no longer seems to be the asshole intent on pushing away everyone who cares about him. Even when he lost his entire Guardians family he still remained a team player, helping the Avengers maintain order the best that they could following The Decimation. That being said, one has to wonder what he will be like going forward, specifically going into . Clearly he still has some of his trademark edge/cynicism, but he may wind up being so happy that he has his friends back that he actually treats them a bit nicer than before (though that’s admittedly a pretty low bar).
Because of his temporary status as dust, Groot missed out on some important development time during the five years he was gone, so he still has a lot of growing to do. He’s no longer a baby, but he does remain an adolescent and still has a few stages to go through before becoming a full-fledged adult. Right now we can’t say how old he will be when we catch up with him again in , but hopefully James Gunn has some fun stuff planned with the character (especially within his relationship with a much more mature Rocket).
Few characters in pop culture history can say that they shot and killed themselves, and then lived to tell the tale, but that’s the current story of Nebula in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She has probably undergone a bigger emotional change than any other member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and it will be interesting to see how that continues when we see her next. Following the events of she is presumably exploring the cosmos with her sister, Gamora, and at some point she’ll have to deal with Peter Quill & Co., as they will presumably want the two of them to join them once again on their misadventures.
Like the other Guardians with the exception of Rocket, Mantis was turned to dust following what went down in , but now she’s back, and having helped save the universe once again she is ready for more cosmic quests. Past her introduction to the Guardians of the Galaxy in , we weirdly haven’t seen much of how she generally works alongside the rest of the team, so that will certainly be an interesting aspect of the character to explore going forward. One thing is for certain: she definitely seems to be a big fan of Thor.
Nick Fury had a very small part to play in , making a dialogue-less appearance during the funeral at the end, but there’s a very good chance that he will be quite active going forward into the future of the franchise. Not only do we know for a fact that he will be playing a significant role in , but it’s worth noting that we haven’t yet seen his very special reunion with Carol Danvers. Could he play as big a role in as he did in the first solo movie? We’ll have to wait and find out.
Like Nick Fury, Maria Hill didn’t exactly have a huge impact on , and didn’t give us a proper sense of where she is emotionally following her resurrection – but it won’t be long until we find out. She may have left S.H.I.E.L.D. years ago (taking a job at Stark Industries after the Hydra takeover), but she is still working alongside the former director, and will next be seen kicking ass and taking names in .
Pepper Potts dedicated many years of her life to her relationship with Tony Stark, starting as his assistant before eventually becoming his wife and the mother of his only daughter, but that era of her life is now over following his sacrifice at the end of . With that in mind, it’s unknown exactly what the future will hold for her. She has her own specially-designed Iron Man suit, which she utilized quite well during the battle against Thanos, but now that she’s a single parent she may not necessarily pursue the superhero life, and instead may just continue running one of the biggest companies in the world.
Which character are you most excited to see in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Hit the comments section below with all of your thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and stay tuned for all of the latest franchise news here on CinemaBlend.