As Marvel Studios progresses through Phase 3 of their shared cinematic universe, it would appear that everything is building up to an epic showdown with the Mad Titan himself, Thanos, in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War (as it has recently been titled). With the villain wielding the power of the Infinity Stones in his gauntlet, it's going to take an army to stop him, and a typical roster of Avengers may not be enough to get the job done. It shouldn't come as any surprise that Infinity War is expected to feature one of the largest ensembles in any Marvel film.
Infinity War writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have said that during the scripting process, they are working with walls of cards that detail every single MCU character that is alive at this point in time. It would seem that just about anyone fans can think of is fair game, and it's now been confirmed that Sebastian Stan will reprise Bucky Barnes in the highly-anticipated sequel.
The news comes courtesy of THR, who while reporting Stan's involvement with the project We Have Always Lived in the Castle, reported that the actor will be filming Infinity War in early 2017. Given that Stan agreed to a nine-picture deal when he signed on for 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it isn't any surprise that the studio is planning on bringing him back for what should be their biggest film yet.
It will be fascinating to see how Barnes is incorporated in future MCU installments. Captain America: Civil War illustrated that he views himself as a serious threat to society due to being brainwashed by Hydra years ago. At the end of that film, he opts for cryogenic sleep in the nation of Wakanda (with asylum granted by Black Panther) until a cure for his condition is discovered. There's a chance Barnes has a role in the Black Panther standalone movie, which opens in theaters roughly three months before Infinity War. Though Stan was not part of the cast that assembled during Marvel's Hall H panel at Comic-Con, there's still plenty of time before principal photography begins.
Given that Civil War also dropped some bombshell revelations about Barnes' past, his dynamic with other Avengers members (namely, Tony Stark) should provide Infinity War with some compelling drama as well. In all likelihood, Bucky won't be a primary focus of the narrative like he was in the last two Captain America films, but he should still have a satisfying arc as he proves that he can be a hero - despite his earlier transgressions. It's always a challenge for filmmakers to give each character sizable screen time in a sprawling piece such as this, and there will surely be those who draw the short straw. However, Bucky's story has a lot of material for Markus and McFeely to sift through.
With directors Joe and Anthony Russo aiming to start production next year, news on the Infinity War cast should come out in the near future. There's no telling how many heroes will take part in the event, and every moviegoer has their own favorite they're hoping to see. Marvel is looking to begin a new era with Phase 4, so Infinity War is essentially the conclusion of an entire chapter in the franchise's history. Hopefully, it lives up to that billing.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers 4 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.