To say Avengers: Infinity War is the biggest film in the world right now would be a huge understatement. It’s already smashed box office records, set new industry standards for cinematic tales of heroes, and shocked audiences with a bold and unprecedented ending that no other heroic story has done before. Yet, while the film’s success and story are being celebrated right now, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: who is coming back for next year’s fourth Avengers film?
Now, as a fair warning to everyone reading this, the article we have for you today is going to be exploring a lot of spoiler warning territory. In particular, we are going to be discussing that shocking ending to the Infinity War film in great detail, so be warned.
After the shocking losses in the film’s final act, Infinity War left fans with so many questions. Heroes fell that you would never have expected, and it ended on an unimaginable cliffhanger that is going to drive MCU fans mad. The question remains, however: who will return to the final chapter of the MCU’s first multi-film story?
Some heroes who fell are rumored or likely to return, while other’s are a guarantee to return after surviving the Infinity War. What happened to all these characters, and what can we expect from them in the fourth film? Where were the characters not featured in the third film but expected to return? Find out as we explore the ten characters expected to return for Avengers 4 (and ten that are rumored).
SPOILER WARNING: SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War are coming. Be warned…
20 (Rumored) Gamora
I must emphasize that we are heading into spoiler territory here for Avengers: Infinity War. Last warning…
Okay, so as you know if you’ve seen the latest film, a good chunk of the MCU heroes perished in battle against Thanos. It was the most shocking Marvel film to date, as not only did Thanos snuff out half of the heroes in the final moments of the film, but he managed to take out several beloved characters throughout the movie without the stones, making their fates more uncertain than others.
One of the first losses in the film was his adopted daughter Gamora.
After taking her from the Guardians crew and forcing her to reveal the location of the Soul Stone, the stone’s guardian Red Skull told the mad titan he had to sacrifice that which he loves most for the stone, or a soul for a soul switch. Sadly and surprising to her, Thanos did indeed love Gamora, albeit in a twisted way. He sacrificed her and ended her life to get the stone. However, at the film’s end, he speaks to a child version of Gamora after using the gauntlet, and it’s rumored that Gamora’s soul is stuck inside of the Soul Stone.
19 (Confirmed) Iron Man
One hero who went through the ringer in Infinity War was definitely Iron Man. Everyone knows Tony Stark as the armored avenger, the billionaire hero who uses charm and wit to interact with heroes and villains alike. Yet, this film saw him step up to the role of serious leader as the nightmare that has plagued him since the second Avengers film (a vision of the Avengers falling in battle to Thanos’s alien army), finally arrived. The last we saw of Iron Man, he’d just heartbreakingly watched half of the heroes he’d fought beside on Titan against Thanos disappear into ash, especially his protege Spider-Man. He was left wounded and emotional with only the wayward daughter of Thanos, Nebula, as company, trapped on this alien world. However, not only did he survive the battle and gauntlet, but he’s been spotted on the Avengers 4 set in photos, and key moments in the latest film point to Iron Man himself being crucial to stopping Thanos, with Dr. Strange sacrificing the time stone in order to save Stark from being ended by Thanos. While it may be his last outing, there’s no way Avengers 4 won’t have Tony Stark.
18 (Rumored) Dr. Strange
One of the countless shocking moments of the film’s ending came when Dr. Stephen Strange fell to Thanos and his gauntlet. After spending most of the film adamant about sacrificing everyone in order to protect the time stone he possessed, and after using his magic to peer into millions of possible futures to see which action would lead to their victory, Strange sacrificed the time stone to save Tony Stark’s life, giving Thanos the power he needed to get to Earth and retrieve the time stone from the Vision and complete his monstrous weapon. The sorcerer supreme was one of the several victims of Thanos and his gauntlet, disappearing into nothingness and telling Stark in his last words that “they are in the endgame now.” Strange had used his powers to see all possible futures, and only one of them ended with the Avengers winning. Thus, he sacrificed the time stone for Stark, and somehow he knows that this major loss leads to some sort of victory in the future. With this knowledge, it’s likely that we’ll see the sorcerer supreme again in the fourth film, especially with a second Dr. Strange film confirmed to be in development.
17 (Confirmed) Captain America
One of the shocking heroes to survive the recent film was Steve Rodgers. Rodgers was one of the heroes predicted to sacrifice his life to stop Thanos in the film, as Cap’s demise is notorious in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline and trailers featuring an iconic scene in which Cap holds back the Mad Titan’s gauntlet in his bare hands all but confirmed the impending doom of the hero. Instead, Captain America watched in horror as the men and women he was leading into battle against Thanos and his minions disappeared, including his best friend Bucky and his partner Falcon. A shocked Steve was last seen laying on the forest floor outside of Wakanda, surrounded by the remaining heroes and in total disbelief. While he may be shell-shocked by the loss, set photos from the fourth film confirm he will appear in the film, and it’s theorized that he will be one of the heroes to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop Thanos and bring back the fallen heroes from Infinity War. It would make sense, as he has been the moral compass of the group for years and his leadership and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice may be what’s needed to stop Thanos. Given The Vision’s mention of Rodgers sacrifice during WWII, it seems like a bit of foreshadowing for the upcoming film.
16 (Rumored) Spider-Man
One hero who didn’t get as much screen time as you may have expected but ultimately had a huge impact on the film nonetheless is Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. The teen hero has been Tony Stark’s protege since Civil War, and his willingness to throw himself into galactic danger in order to protect his little NYC neighborhood and the people in it showcases the true heroism this young kid possesses. That’s why his fate in the third film’s final act is so emotional to watch unfold, as it not only impacts one particular hero but the audience as well.
One of the more heartbreaking scenes from Infinity War is when the young teenage Peter Parker realizes he too is disappearing and begs Iron Man to help him.
The kid is afraid to perish and apologizes to Stark for not being able to stop Thanos before he disappears. While this broke all of our hearts in the film right along with Stark, there's a good chance that he will return. Not only does the hero have a sequel to his own feature film planned, but whatever Tony Stark does to stop Thanos will most likely result in the web-slinger being brought back.
15 (Confirmed) Bruce Banner/The Hulk
For years the strongest hero and character in the universe has been The Hulk. With his signature tagline of being the strongest there is (along with Hulk Smash!), the heroic monster has been a staple of the Avengers franchise, and when the chips were down and the rest of the heroes felt outnumbered, the Hulk always smashed his way into the fight and cleared the way for the battle to be won. However, the Hulk suffered a brutal defeat early on in the film, and it impacted his confidence in a big way. One thing that shocked viewers in Infinity War was the Hulk’s refusal to help in the war against Thanos. After being beaten for the first time by Thanos in the film’s opening scene, the Hulk refuses to help Banner and return, forcing Banner to don the Hulkbuster armor instead. What would have changed if Hulk had emerged and fought Thanos long enough to grab the gauntlet away from him? Well we’re going to find out as Banner survived the gauntlet, and not only are Hulk’s emergence problems going to be a factor in the film, but so will his relationship with Black Widow, which was teased briefly in this film but not touched upon.
14 (Rumored) Black Panther
Another shocking moment came when the newly added and popular hero Black Panther fell to Thanos’s gauntlet. The king of Wakanda just had a major success with his first feature film, dominating the box office and establishing himself as one of the most inspirational and powerful heroes the MCU has to offer. So when the third Avengers film ends with him disappearing into nothingness, it’s a major shock to audiences everywhere. As he was aiding his friend and second in command, Okoye, he disappeared into ash before her eyes. Not only was this hero made popular recently by his solo film, but he was a powerful figure in the MCU as a whole. With the King of the most technologically advanced nation in the world now gone and his country torn apart by the war with Thanos and his alien army, what impact will his loss have on his mighty kingdom now? Will his sister become the queen of Wakanda and take the mantle of Black Panther herself? It was quite a shock to see him perish like that, but with a confirmed sequel to his own film it’s likely the king of Wakanda will return once more.
13 (Confirmed) Black Widow
One of the more underrated heroes of this film who kicked some serious behind was none other than Black Widow. Working alongside Captain America and his unnamed “secret avengers,” she is one of the first to encounter Thanos soldier and child Proxima Midnight, going toe to toe with the galactic warrior and proving just how skilled she is. While she didn’t get as much screen time as her previous film appearances, Black Widow still managed to kick some behind in Infinity War. Working with Okoye and Scarlet Witch, the three heroes managed to take out Proxima Midnight, one of Thanos’s children during the battle of Wakanda. However, her skills were not enough to stop Thanos from getting the Mind Stone and preventing him from using the completed gauntlet. A failure in her mission may lead the former life-taker to go on a mission of redemption, as this trained soldier may do whatever is needed or necessary to stop the mad titan. Could she make a sacrifice much like Thanos did with Gamora? She also survived Thanos’s gauntlet, which means we will see her in one final outing at least, but a rumored solo film may keep Black Widow in the MCU for a lot longer.
12 (Rumored) Loki
Infinity War started the film out in a shocking way. As Thanos destroyed Thor’s ship and ended half of the Asgardians, Loki proved to be as unpredictable as ever, becoming a full-fledged hero and trying to take out Thanos before he could end his brother’s life.
This is a shocking turn of events, as Loki has always been self-serving and fought for his own survival.
Many thought he may join Thanos and his children for a little while to try and find a way to survive the war, but he shocked us all by trying to take on the mad titan himself and save his own brother’s life. This failed, however, and Thanos tragically choked the life out of the god of mischief, leaving Thor to grieve over his brother’s body as the ship exploded. It was a terrible loss for the god of thunder, but recent set pictures are rumored to show that Loki will be in the fourth Avengers film. However, context clues appear to show this is the Loki from the first Avengers film, as it looks like there may be some time travel elements that take modern-day Avengers to the past to try and stop Thanos.
11 (Confirmed) Nebula
The ignored and harmed daughter of Thanos, Nebula, was one of the few Guardians characters to survive her father’s gauntlet. She had a rough beginning to the film, as Gamora learned upon being taken by Thanos that her sister had failed in her attempt to end Thanos’s life, and in retaliation he had her suspended in animation, all her cybernetic implants taken out slowly and harming her for information. In order to stop Thanos from harming her further, Gamora reluctantly agreed to give Thanos the location of the soul stone, which she had found years earlier. It was Gamora’s love for her sister that led to Thanos retrieving the mysterious soul stone, and ultimately cost her own life. Whether this will play a role in Nebula’s mentality going forward against Thanos remains to be seen. Last seen on the planet Titan with a grieving Tony Stark, Nebula is confirmed to be a part of the fourth film. She’s been spotted on set with the other heroes, and her role in the original comic book storyline that parts of this film is based on are crucial to her being a part of it, so it’s likely we’ll be seeing her real soon.
10 (Rumored) Nick Fury
The history of Nick Fury in the MCU is long and complex. As the former director of the secret organization S.H.I.E.L.D., the master spy was forced to fake his demise after he discovered his own organization had been infiltrated by the evil Hydra and used for despicable plots against the world. He’s appeared a couple times since the film Captain America: Winter Soldier, but for the most part, he’s stuck to the shadows, working in secret to protect the world. The ultimate spy appeared in the final end credits scene of the film, as he and Maria Hill watched in horror as the world around them turned to chaos, with helicopters crashing into buildings and cars crashing in the streets. As they joined the other losses and started turning to ash, Fury frantically sent out a message on an old pager before he vanished, which revealed itself to be a communicator for the as yet seen hero, Captain Marvel. His connection to this hero and the rumor that he has scenes with Bucky, Janet Van Dyne and Hank Pym in the fourth film all lead to the possibility he will appear once more.
9 (Confirmed) Rocket Racoon
Rocket Racoon found himself on quite an adventure during this third Avengers film. After finding Thor and learning of a world where a master blacksmith made the most powerful weapons in the universe, Rocket immediately agreed to help the god of thunder travel there to get a weapon capable of taking out Thanos. He and Groot accompanied the hero, learning more about Thor and trying his hand out at being a captain himself. He ended up traveling to Earth with Thor and Groot to Wakanda, fighting alongside the Avengers against Thanos and his army and showing the earth heroes what the Guardians were truly capable of. One of the most fun and interesting characters from Guardians of the Galaxy found himself as the lone survivor of his band of heroes in Infinity War. Rocket found himself stranded on Earth with the surviving Avengers after Thanos snapped his fingers, leaving him not only surrounded by a team of heroes he knows nothing about but faced with the realization that his newfound family is now gone. As a survivor and with a third guardians film on the way, Rocket is a sure thing for the fourth Avengers film.
8 (Rumored) Groot
Groot has undergone a transformation in each film he’s appeared in. After his sacrifice in the first Guardians film, he became Baby Groot in the second film, forced to learn everything over again as he became a new Groot. This Avengers film found the lovable tree hero turned into Teenage Groot, a video game obsessed teenager who cursed his faux family and cared more about playing his game than the fight at hand. He ended up having a pivotal moment in Thor’s journey to get a Thanos-ending weapon and fought with the Avengers (alongside Cap, of all people) against Thanos.
Another heartbreaking moment in the film’s end came when the teenage Groot turned to ash in front of Rocket Racoon.
He became one of the casualties of Thanos and his gauntlet, and his end is more heartbreaking as director James Gunn from the Guardians franchise confirmed in a heartbreaking tweet that Groot’s last words (I AM GROOT), translate to “Father?,” meaning he had called Rocket his father and was asking for help. It’s a heartbreaking scene, but with most of the Guardians falling and a third Guardians film in the works, it’s likely that Groot will return when the fourth film explores how to fix what Thanos did.
7 (Confirmed): Thor
One hero had a major arch in this film that became crucial to the fight against Thanos, and that was Thor Odinson himself. The god of thunder had a crucial story in the Infinity War film. Half his people, including his brother Loki and his best friend Heimdall, all fell in battle against Thanos. He was lost in space until the Guardians found him and revived him in time to learn Thanos was making his final play for the infinity stones. Thor then went on a journey with Groot and Rocket to find a cosmic blacksmith who helped him forge an all-powerful weapon strong enough to take out Thanos, which he named Stormbreaker. He then traveled to Earth, fought of Thanos’s army and just when Thanos completed his gauntlet with the final stone, he managed to stick Stormbreaker right into the mad titan’s chest. However his failure to make it an "ending" blow allowed Thanos time to snap his fingers, snuffing out half of the life in the universe and then teleporting away. Thor, however, survived the gauntlet, which means we’ll likely see the god of thunder exploring his own personal guilt at failing to stop Thanos and trying to make things right.
6 (Rumored) Star-Lord
Many fans have conflicting thoughts about the lovable leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Star-Lord, in Infinity War. While he kicked behind and finally developed his relationship with Gamora, his failure to keep his emotions in check and help the heroes get the gauntlet away from Thanos proved to be the universe’s undoing. He learned of Thanos ending Gamora’s life, and in turn, beat on the mad titan, causing Mantis to lose her mental grip on Thanos and, in turn, the heroes being beaten by the villain. While many blame him for his actions, I do think Nebula pushing the issue of Gamora in the midst of this plan and the overwhelming feeling of loss Peter felt in that moment should garner him a little sympathy. This is the same guy who lost his mother to a horrible illness and then learned his father was a madman who gave his mother that illness. It’s no wonder he lost it when his romantic interest was taken from his as well. However, it’s likely Star-Lord will return as there is a third guardians film in the works and he could be crucial to the soul stone storyline.
5 (Confirmed) War Machine
James “Rhodey” Rhodes, otherwise known as War Machine, was one of the few heroes to survive Thanos and his gauntlet at the film’s end. Best friend to Tony Stark, the military veteran became War Machine early in the MCU’s history, establishing himself as his own patriotic hero and becoming a full fledged Avenger during the Age of Ultron film’s final moments. While he’s had his share of ups and downs in the last few films (suffering a grievous injury in the Civil War film that left him paralyzed partially), War Machine has always been a dedicated hero who puts the mission first and is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for others. It’s that reason that his survival is so surprising. He was last seen looking for his friend Sam Wilson, who was laying the the grass disappearing into ash out of Rhodey’s line of sight. While not a founding Avenger, it’s unlikely that he would sit out the fight to stop Thanos and somehow fix what he did to the universe, especially given the impact this has not on just the heroes, but the whole universe as a whole. His patriotic duty and friendship with Tony wouldn’t allow that.
4 (Rumored) Quicksilver
This is a long shot as the hero has been gone from the land of the living since the second Avengers film, but the speedster brother to Scarlet Witch Pietro may make an appearance. The last we saw of Pietro, he had been fighting alongside the Avengers against Ultron and his robot army. During the final moments of the battle, the speedster sacrificed himself by running in front of Hawkeye and a young kid the archer was protecting, ending his life as he was shot by Ultron. This contributed to his sister Wanda’s pain and sense of loss by the film’s end and well into her MCU career, but the speedster hasn’t been mentioned as much since his untimely passing. Now, if he were to make an appearance in a time travel adventure for the fourth film, this would change things drastically. Not only could he reside in the soul stone along with Wanda, who disappeared in the final scene of the film, but if time travel is involved, perhaps they will make their way to the time of the second Avengers film as well. Some theorized that they witness a blue blur during the battle of Wakanda that could have been him, but nothing has been confirmed.
3 (Confirmed) Captain Marvel
As the end credits for Infinity War show, Captain Marvel has a huge role to play in the fourth film. While not much is known about her in the MCU as of yet, her comic book history is filled with proof of her being one of the strongest and most powerful heroes within the MCU. Absorbing the genetic code and energy of the Kree hero Captain Mar-Vell, Carol Danvers uses her ability to fly, absorb energy and shoot bolts of energy out of her hands to protect her home of Earth and the universe as a whole from galactic threats. Thanos fits this bill perfectly.
She’s also led a new Avengers team in recent years against the Mad Titan, defeating him after suffering two losses in the battle against the villain.
Whatever happens in her upcoming solo film between her origin story and her dealings with both the Kree and Skrull armies, her power set is going to be needed against the mad titan. With Nick Fury sending an SOS to her in the films end credits scene and her solo film due a few months before the fourth Avengers, it’s more than likely that the heroic space hero will have a crucial role to play in the fight against Thanos.
2 (Rumored) Hank Pym
Hank Pym is one of the oldest heroes in the MCU. He and his wife Janet Van Dyne worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. to take on powerful threats against the world. After his wife was supposedly lost in battle after going full subatomic with her powers, Hank retired from the hero business, starting his own company instead and raising a daughter. However, his work with the mysterious Pym Particles never stopped, and after being ousted from his own company Hank hired thief Scott Lang to become the new Ant-Man, using him to help recover the prototype suit he built that his nefarious business partner plans on selling to evil organizations around the world. The original Ant-Man has a lot of knowledge that can aid in the fight against Thanos. His knowledge of Pym Particles and the hidden nano universe that resides outside of space and time, Pym may just hold a key to helping the Avengers face Thanos and restore their lost comrades. With Ant-Man and The Wasp due out this summer and a rumored scene with Bucky Barnes and Nick Fury in the fourth Avengers film, he may be able to work from wherever the lost heroes are taken.
1 (Confirmed) Thanos
The mad titan who destroyed MCU fans hearts and minds is definitely coming back. The giant purple villain is responsible for all the shocking horrors that the MCU is currently dealing with. While the gauntlet seemed to be damaged after he used it and he suffered a serious wound during his fight against Thor and his new weapon, the last we saw of the mad titan he was watching a sunrise peacefully on a foreign planet, smiling as he contemplated on his life’s work finally being complete. The villain snapped his fingers and used the gauntlet to end half the life in the universe, including over half of the MCU heroes.
His mistake, however, was thinking he could just leave and live a peaceful life on some mystery planet.
The Avengers are coming for him, and he let his guard down way too soon. As ruthless and evil as he is, why wouldn’t he think to make sure the heroes couldn’t undo what he’d done? With the tagline at the end of the film reading that Thanos will return, and with him being the cause of all the problems that need to be fixed in the fourth film, Thanos is a sure thing.
You can find these and other rumors for Avengers 4 here!