All signs point to Avengers 3 being the big blowout battle royal with an Infinity Gauntlet-wearing Thanos.
Here’s the obligatory spoiler warning: you really shouldn’t read any further if you don’t want to know what happens in the newly released Guardians of the Galaxy movie (check out my review here). Or, for that matter, all of the other Marvel Avengers-oriented movies.
I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here because the Marvel cinematic universe’s path forward is looking increasingly clear. If all signs aren’t pointing toward Avengers 3 being a super-duper ultimate showdown with the mad Titan Thanos, pictured above, then I don’t know my comic book fiction.
The strongest hint actually came last year in the post-credits scene of Thor: The Dark World, where Sif and Volstagg deliver the Aether to the Collector for safe-keeping. When the mysterious weirdo, played by Benecio Del Toro, asks why they’ve delivered the artifact to him, Volstagg says “The Tesseract is already on Asgard. It is not wise to keep two Infinity Stones so close together.”
The Tesseract is also known as the Cosmic Cube, or the object of power that was sought after by the villains in both Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers movies. After the Asgardians depart, the Collector menacingly says, “One down, five to go.”
He is, of course, referring to the Infinity Stones – also known as the Infinity Gems in the comic books – which are cosmic artifacts of supreme power. When assembled together into the Infinity Gauntlet, they give their bearer near-omnipotent power. The bearer in the comics is Thanos, or the weird-chinned dude seen at the end of Avengers. He’s the space bad guy who appears to have orchestrated the Chitauri attack on Earth in that movie.
Now, in Guardians of the Galaxy, the main villain Ronan is also after another super-artifact on behalf of Thanos… and yup, it’s also an Infinity Stone. At the end of the movie, the stone is entrusted for safe-keeping with the Nova Corps on the planet Zandar.
So, to paraphrase the Collector – that’s three down and three to go. One is in Asgard, one is the Collector’s possession and one is being watched by the Nova Corps. Where are the other three?
So far, Marvel has announced four additional movies: Avengers 2 and Ant-Man next year, Captain America 3 in 2016 and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in 2017. The studio also has one other unannounced movie slotted for 2016, with the smart money on that being Thor 3.
With Avengers 2 following the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie by a year, it’s a safe bet that Avengers 3 is looking at a 2018 release.
That’s a good number of films and years to uncover those remaining three stones. And then, all hell will break loose.
There are several reasons why Avengers 3 is where the big showdown will likely take place. For one thing, Thanos was originally teased in the first Avengers movie, so it would be something of a poetic bookend.
Moreover, a battle against an Infinity Gauntlet-wearing space god is going to require all hands on deck, or specifically the entire Marvel cinematic roster, which means there won’t be a lot of room for individual characterizations. By 2018, all of those characters will have had plenty of definition time, clearing up space in the movie for action.
And lo, what action there will be. Avengers 3 is shaping up to be the biggest, most epic action-packed blockbuster yet. If done properly, it could eclipse Avatar to become the all-time box-office champ. That is, of course, unless next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron doesn’t get there first.
But there’s another good reason why the third Avengers film will be the ultimate battle: there will inevitably be some casualties on the good guys’ side, which means it’s also a prime opportunity for Marvel to press reset on some of its properties.
With the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth getting long in the tooth by that point, contractually speaking, the company may want to kill off their respective characters – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor – and give them a bit of a rest.
Marvel could then concentrate on its other characters and new franchises, such as perhaps Doctor Strange or the Black Panther, and ultimately bring the Big Three back with new – read: cheaper – actors down the road.
And, as if we needed any further suggestive evidence that this is where it’s all leading, here’s Josh Brolin – who plays Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy – posing with the Infinity Gauntlet at this year’s Comic Con: