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Nick’s Predictions for Avengers 4

Alright, folks, let me tell it to you straight. I ain’t messing around. I want to talk about Avengers: Infinity War because it was just that damned good. Unfortunately, I also firmly believe in the Statute of Limitations when it comes to putting out spoilers without warning. In my opinion, movie spoilers are off limits at least until the DVD comes out.

So, everything following this sentence contains spoilers. Go see the doggone movie. Then, come back and read this.

You’ve been warned.

I’ve been rolling IW around in my head since we saw it a week ago. In the aftermath of Thanos’ success with his incredibly ill-conceived plan, the film leaves us with a lot of questions. People are calling it a “cliff-hanger.” I disagree. That term implies that the heroes might survive. We already know they didn’t. The movie ends with a large number of gut-wrenching splats on the valley floor below.

The heroes fell, and half the universe fell with them.

So, what happens next?

Hell, I don’t know, but when have I ever let something like that stop me? Today, I’m going to make some predictions, put them here, and we can come back next year and see how I did. It should be funny. I’m notoriously bad at soothsaying. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

1: We’ll be getting the rest of the universe back

Okay, this one is kind of a no-brainer. Disney spent four billion dollars to buy Marvel, and I don’t think anybody believes they’re going to let those franchises die. Spiderman, Black Panther, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange are worth just too much money. Whatever happens (and I’ll get to what I think that might be) we’ll be getting these people back.

This is, of course, one of the big complaints against comic book properties. Death is merely a setback. These characters always find their way back. A lot of people consider this a dodge. Certainly, it’s bad storytelling, because it lowers the stakes. But, it is what it is. Marvel-death isn’t a permanent condition.

2: Some people will stay dead

This is also pretty intuitive. Loki, Heimdall, Gamora, Vision, the remaining Asgardians and whoever else Thanos and his forces directly killed, will stay that way. Bringing them back would push the audience too far.

This will be a shame. Loki is certainly one of the most popular supporting characters in the MCU and we’ll miss him. But, he got a full character arc, and it’s not a good idea to mess with that. He died a hero. Let’s leave him that.

Without a Bifrost to ward, Heimdall is pretty useless. Sadly, the Asgardians are done for as well, and I’m not sure what the implications of that are. Does some other race step up to protect the nine realms? On this count, I’m afraid I got nothing. I just have the gut feeling that Asgard is over, at least as far as the MCU is concerned.

Gamora is a little tougher. She wound up with the worst story arc of the movie. She was the only one who knew where the Soul Stone was and she made Starlord promise to kill her if it looked like Thanos was going to get his purple mitts on her. What’s more, he actually did it. Only Thanos’ control over reality prevented him from blasting her to green smithereens. That led to her giving up the stone’s location to save Nebula and her subsequent death. Her failure is complete. This is a crappy end for a hero. If anyone should get a do-over, it’s probably her, but again, I’m just not feeling it. Instead, I think this will be used as a motivator for Peter Quill (when he comes back). Sexist as it is, storytellers often use the death of a beloved female to force the male hero into action, and I’m pretty sure this is what they’re going to do here.

The death of Vision breaks my heart, but Scarlet Witch’s story arc will take precedent. Call it the reverse of the above trope. Being forced to kill her lover will be a motivator for Wanda when she gets restored.

3. The Hulk will be back

Here’s where I diverge from most of the analysis I’ve seen. The common opinion is that, after getting his ass kicked by Thanos in the opening scene, he’s too scared to come out and play at the battle of Wakanda.

I ain’t buyin’ it.

One thing you learn about the big, green galoot, is that kicking his ass only makes him stronger. “HULK IS THE STRONGEST ONE THERE IS!” as he’ll tell anyone left to hear it when he really lets loose.

My prediction: A wizard did it. I think Dr. Strange somehow clued the raging behemoth in on his 1:14,000,000 gambit and told him to sit this one out until the endgame. When you’re watching Avengers 4 next year and all seems lost, expect something very big and very green to shout, “HULK SMASH!”

4. The MCU movies and TV shows between now and Avengers 4 are going to be outside of the timeline

I don’t see a way out of this, and in my humble opinion, it sucks.

We already know that Captain Marvel will take place in the 1990s. I expect Carol Danvers to bring the heat in Avengers 4, but her standalone movie won’t deal with the events of the culling.

Ant-Man and Wasp is supposed to pick up after Captain America: Civil War, and will likewise dodge the culling. That’s a shame, but they clearly have a different story to tell and the sudden death of half the world will get in the way. Personally, I’d rather they deal with the subject head on, but the movie’s being billed as a light-hearted rom-com. If anything, perhaps we’ll see a stinger that hints at the aftermath of IW. Hopefully, both of the characters will survive the culling and make an appearance in Avengers 4.

The one hope I have is Luke Cage. Dealing with the sudden death of half of Hell’s Kitchen would make for an awesome mid-season reversal. Luke could step up and be the hero New York City needs and I think that would be as cool as Billy D. Williams’ voice slathered over a bowl of ice cream. But, it’s an entirely different production crew, and I doubt the show runners have been kept in the loop of what the movie side is doing. I’d call this a long shot.

5. Doctor Strange’s Gambit

Everything hinges on this. You’ll remember that on Titan, before Thanos arrived, Doc told Tony Stark that he’d never give up the Time Stone, even if it meant the deaths of Iron Man and Peter Parker. Later, the wizard looked into the alternate futures and found one solution out of fourteen million possibilities. But, he never told us what that solution was.

Here’s a little “inside baseball”: Doc keeping the solution a secret is a storytelling technique. We’re supposed to show, not tell. If I tell you the plan, you can be sure that it will fail, preferably spectacularly. If I don’t tell you the plan, it’s because I’m going to show you how it works. Doing otherwise just spoils the surprise.

So, Stephen Strange has a plan. The first step of that plan is to do the one thing he just told us he’d never do: he gives Thanos the Time Stone. This is completely out of character. I mean, Tony’s an aging billionaire who he literally just met, and he already told him, “I’m not going to give up the Time Stone to save you.” It is as clear to me as it can get: this is part of the plan.

And if you don’t believe me, remember Strange’s final words, “There was no other way.”

6. Someone else is gonna die, and it’s going to be…

Okay, I’ll admit, this is a bit of a stretch. Not that someone’s going to die. We’re all expecting that. Bringing back half of the universe has gotta come with a cost. The stretch is with regard to who’s going to write the check. I figure it’s going to be one of the original Avengers. This is an Avengers movie and bringing in some outsider like Moon Knight or Squirrel Girl to pick up the tab for the universe’s salvation smacks a bit too much of Deus ex Machina.

One theory is Tony Stark. On a meta level, I think Robert Downey Jr. is just getting too old for this. Back in 2012, Captain America said Tony wasn't the guy who could make the sacrifice play. I can see him making it now. It would complete his character arc. This makes him a strong choice.
It could be Captain America, but I dismiss that. The time to kill Steve Rogers was at the end of Civil War. That would have kept the MCU in line with the comic book canon. But they didn't do it then, and I don't think they will do it now.
Thor would be an excellent choice. Without Asgard to rule, he's got a pretty open schedule. But, I think he likes Midgard better anyway, and maybe he can coax Natalie Portman out of hiding. This Tarzan needs his Jane.
I don't think Hawkeye or Black Widow will fill the bill. Either would gladly do it, but I don't think they are cosmically powerful enough to be worthy sacrifices. It would feel like a cheat, like the MCU threw them under the bus to keep their more financially viable franchises alive.
That brings us to Bruce Banner. This might be what Doctor Strange is saving him for.

And then, there’s this:

Rank Title (click to view) Studio Adjusted Gross Unadjusted Gross Release
1 Marvel’s The Avengers BV $704,231,900 $623,357,910 5/4/12
2 Black Panther BV $693,126,600 $693,126,615 2/16/18
3 Avengers: Age of Ultron BV $490,306,500 $459,005,868 5/1/15
4 Avengers: Infinity War BV $450,806,500 $450,806,540 4/27/18
5 Iron Man 3 BV $447,459,600 $409,013,994 5/3/13
6 Captain America: Civil War BV $428,277,900 $408,084,349 5/6/16
7 Iron Man Par. $406,208,100 $318,412,101 5/2/08
8 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 BV $398,977,800 $389,813,101 5/5/17
9 Guardians of the Galaxy BV $377,186,500 $333,176,600 8/1/14
10 Iron Man 2 Par. $363,361,500 $312,433,331 5/7/10
11 Spider-Man: Homecoming Sony $342,750,600 $334,201,140 7/7/17
12 Thor: Ragnarok BV $314,371,900 $315,058,289 11/3/17
13 Captain America: The Winter Soldier BV $285,749,900 $259,766,572 4/4/14
14 Doctor Strange BV $242,415,800 $232,641,920 11/4/16
15 Thor: The Dark World BV $226,626,300 $206,362,140 11/8/13
16 Thor Par. $205,797,400 $181,030,624 5/6/11
17 Captain America: The First Avenger Par. $203,826,400 $176,654,505 7/22/11
18 Ant-Man BV $199,945,600 $180,202,163 7/17/15
19 The Incredible Hulk Uni. $171,982,100 $134,806,913 6/13/08

I got this from Box Office Mojo. It’s the gross receipts, adjusted for inflation, for each of the MCU movies so far. It might be a few days out of whack, and I’d look for IW to move up. I’m also not sure if these numbers take into account what they make off of DVD sales and deals with the cable networks. If I’m reading this correctly, it’s just what they made at the box office.

Notice anything? When it comes to making money, maybe Hulk isn’t the strongest one there is. If I was a soulless studio executive with my eye on the bottom line, that’s the revenue stream I’d cut loose.

I’m actually surprised that the Iron Man movies did so well, since they are the ones I like the least. I really thought it was going to be him. But now, I’m not so sure. I think the money will win out and we’ll see the big green guy go out in a blaze of Thanos-smashing glory.

Alright, those are my predictions. Let’s get together next year and see how I did. In the meantime, how’s ’bout putting your own predictions in the comments?

 

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