Avengers 4 may not be the second part of this year's Infinity War, but that doesn't mean it will have a new threat: Thanos is still the big bad. Back in October 2014, Marvel visionary Kevin Feige announced an ambitious film slate for Marvel Studios that ran all the way to 2019, culminating in the fourth Avengers film. While we are still ending on that movie, quite a lot has changed since; the two-part Avengers: Infinity War has since become two distinct movies, with the title of the latter treated as a spoiler of some kind.
That decision has triggered intense debate among fans, who believed Marvel had prepared something surprising and unexpected. When Marvel announced that Captain Marvel would introduce the Skrulls, some speculated that Avengers 4 would be a "Secret Invasion." Another common theory, inspired by set photos, is that time will splinter and set up the "Secret Wars" arc.
Curiously, though, all these fan theories have obscured one crucial fact: Thanos remains the true villain of Avengers 4.
All The Evidence Thanos Is Still The Big Bad
That becomes clear the moment you cast your eyes to Josh Brolin's calendar. In July, the actor left the set of Deadpool 2 to return to Atlanta. There, he began filming Thanos's part in Avengers 4. Since then, Brolin has kept pretty quiet about the production - at least until November, when he posted a comment on Instagram.
Dear Mom. Hey, it’s me, Than. So, I’m most likely coming home for Christmas but I have to finish this thing first. I think you’ll be proud. Anyway, I just wanted to send you this quick shot of me to let you know I’m okay. I love you, and I’ll see you as soon as I destroy...sorry...I mean, I’ll see you when I’ve finished. Love you! Thanos. #alwayslookingout #familyiseverything #imaybeuglybutimloved #infinitywar #whoops #mom?
Although Brolin hasn't been seen in any set photos, this message told the world that he'd been on-set all this time. The only possible reason is that Thanos is still a key player in Avengers 4 - in some form.
That's recently been confirmed by the Russo brothers. Production has wrapped on Avengers 4, and to celebrate the Russos posted an image of their wrap cake on social media. This featured Thanos stood atop platforms, surrounded by ingots that clearly represented Infinity Stones. The cake was clearly meant to celebrate the end of production of both Infinity War and Avengers 4, and Thanos was in place of pride.
What Can We Expect From Avengers 4?
In an interview with Good Morning America back in July, Brolin hinted that Thanos won't achieve his goal in Infinity War. Asked about the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet, Brolin admitted he had no idea what that would look like. At the time, he explained, he hadn't yet read the script for the second film.
That's where the potential plot twist comes in. Set photos have made it clear that the Avengers will travel through time, revisiting key moments in MCU history. The most important seems to be the Battle of New York, a moment in time when two Infinity Stones were in close proximity on Earth. However, speculation has been centered on the concept itself, rather than what the heroes' purpose is. Given the Avengers' goal will still be to stop Thanos, it seems they are attempting to change the present by rewriting the past - but it could also be that the Mad Titan himself is using the Time Stone to try and complete his collection.
There's so little information about Avengers 4 currently available, and that's not going to change until Infinity War arrives. But there's one thing we can say now with certainty: Thanos isn't going anywhere.
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