Avengers: Infinity War shook up the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a pretty major way, and fans are waiting with bated breath to find out just how Avengers 4 is going to carry the story forward.
Marvel has been so secretive about the film that even though it's out in less than a year, Marvel hasn't even announced its title - let alone any posters, photos, or trailers - so right now all we have is an awful lot of speculation, a release date, and a few bits of confirmed casting. That's never stopped us before though, has it?
Here's basically the only thing we know for sure about Avengers 4: when it's coming out. The big day is 3 May 2019 in the US, but right now the UK is set to get it a week early on 26 April. Marvel tends to shift its release dates around by a few days here and there though, so don't be surprised if things change a little before 2019 rolls around.
Cast and crew
Just like with the most recent Avengers film, Avengers 4 is set to have a massive sprawling cast - so here are most of the actors we're expecting to see when the film arrives next year:
Robert Downey Jr.
Iron Man/Tony Stark
Captain America/Steve Rogers
Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
The Hulk/Bruce Banner
Dr. Strange/Stephen Strange
Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff
The Wasp/Hope van Dyne
Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers
Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes
War Machine/James Rhodes
Samuel L. Jackson
We've almost certainly missed a few names off there, so let us know if there's anyone we should add - though we have made a point of including a few characters who didn't make it to the end of Infinity War, just in case they somehow turn up again next time around...
Behind the camera, brothers Joe and Anthony Russo are directing again, after calling the shots on Infinity War, and both Winter Soldier and Civil War before that.
Their regular cinematographer Trent Opaloch is also along for the film, and he's shooting a script written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote those same three films, along with an assortment of other bits and pieces across the MCU.
Acclaimed composer Alan Silvestri is also back, bringing his fourth Marvel score, after Infinity War and each of the first Avengers and Captain America films.
Title and plot rumours
It's pretty unusual for a movie to be coming out in less than a year and not even have an official title, but here we are. While Avengers 4 started out as Infinity War Part II, that changed when directors Joe and Anthony Russo decided that the two films were really separate entities, rather than two parts of the same movie.
That came with a price for fans though: the Russos and Marvel decided that the Avengers 4 title was too much of a spoiler for Infinity War for them to announce it prior to that film's release. Naturally, we all thought it would be dramatically revealed at the end of Infinity War, but that didn't happen either, with Marvel explaining that they wanted to give the film's dramatic finale time to settle in with fans.
So, we're left to try and guess at what the film will be called - which naturally means speculating about what might happen in it, and spoiling Infinity War - so stop reading now if somehow you haven't seen the third Avengers film yet.
Let's run our spoiler discussion through a few of the potential titles for Avengers 4.
Avengers: Infinity Guantlet
This title was a fan favourite because a) it's drawn from a comic series of the same name, b) it follows directly on from the end of the last film (Thanos completing the guantlet), and c) Gamora actress Zoe Saldana accidentally said it was the title once.
Seems straightforward enough, right? Well, yeah, except it's not even slightly a spoiler for Infinity War - any comics fan knew the guantlet would crop up in that film - and also producer Kevin Feige said it's "definitely" not the title.
Avengers: Secret Invasion
This is perhaps a bit more likely. It hinges on the fact that between now and Avengers 4 we have Captain Marvel to come, and we know that film, set in the '90s, will tackle the alien race the Kree, whose big adversaries are another race, the Skrulls.
Their most famous comic book arc involved a secret invasion of Earth in which people across the world, including plenty of superheroes, were secretly replaced with alien shapeshifters. Since the post-credit scene in Infinity War confirmed that Captain Marvel has a big role to play in Avengers 4, that's fuelled speculation that the Secret Invasion plot could be in the works.
We're a bit sceptical though - with no setup at all in Infinity War, the Skrulls would be a left-field addition to the fourth film, and it's not entirely clear how it could all be tied into Thanos - or used to resurrect all of the dead heroes that we just know are getting resurrected, because they have sequels on the way.
Avengers: House of M
OK, it's a bit of a crummy title, but this is lifted straight out of an infamous comic arc where Scarlet Witch changes the entirety of reality to create a happier world (which turns out to have a few downsides of its own, unsurprisingly).
Before Infinity War came out this was a popular bet, but since Scarlet Witch was one of the heroes taken out by Thanos and the Infinity Guantlet in that film's finale, we can't really see how she's going to pull off the biggest magic trick of her life from beyond the grave.
Then again, a possible official synopsis from a licensing magazine claims that "Our beloved heroes will truly understand how fragile this reality is and the sacrifices that must be made to uphold it," which sounds an awful lot like the House of M plotline.
Avengers: The Quantum Realm
Again, bear with us - that might not be the exact phrasing. But alongside Captain Marvel we also have Ant-Man and the Wasp as one of the only two MCU films out between the two Avengers movies. Careful: spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp to follow.
That film leans heavily on the Quantum Realm - the subatomic universe that exists between particles - and given that Ant-Man was conspicuously missing from Infinity War, it's very possible that Ant-Man's biggest secret could hold the power to bring back the Avengers, and, well, 50 percent of the universe.
The Ant-Man and the Wasp post-credit scene reveals that it's the Quantum Realm that saves Ant-Man himself from the Thanos snap, which kills the rest of the Pym/Van Dyne family. That in itself doesn't reveal much about what's to come, but there is one potentially interesting element: he's in the Quantum Realm to collect 'Quantum Healing Particles' - we wouldn't be shocked if they're somehow used to fuse Hulk's personalities, or somehow bring back the snapped characters.
This could also somehow tie into the rumours of a time travel plotline in Avengers 4, thanks to set photos of the main cast back in their Phase 1 outfits, which would be a very neat way to undo all of Thanos's damage.
Whatever's happening, one of the few specific plot details the screenwriters have revealed is that Captain America and Black Widow both “have a much bigger role to play in that second film,” whatever that means.
We've also seen what might be our first look at the new team in action, thanks to a piece of supposedly official leaked concept art:
If it's real, the concept art offers a few interesting hints to the film. For one, note the inclusion of both Ant-Man and Hawkeye (missing from Infinity War), along with the first appearance of Brie Larson's Captain Marvel.
There have also been a few costume changes. Captain America is back in his patriotic duds, War Machine has had some major upgrades, Hawkeye looks to have shifted towards his Ronin persona from the comics, and most interestingly Hulk is in a unitard - suggesting he may have adopted the Professor Hulk persona, a fusion of Hulk and Bruce Banner that boasts the strength of one and the intellect of the other.
We were a little sceptical that this was legit, but another leak makes it look more likely. Images shared on Twitter show art of some of the separate characters from the above poster in the exact same poses (along with some extra glimpses of Captain Marvel), showing the art that the poster as a whole was built out of. Of course, these could just be the files used to mock a fake up in the first place, but the extra Captain Marvel images make us think not - so we reckon this is how our heroes are going to look next time around.