– by David Kozlowski

Thanos has been an ongoing existential threat to the MCU since The Avengers, and we’re about to find out just how serious he is. Avengers: Infinity War is almost here! Thanos’ goals, and the army he’s assembled, represent a threat so dire it requires the skills and abilities of every single hero in the MCU to deal with him (except The Defenders, for reasons). Shame that the Avengers are currently… disassembled.

A broken team means a less effective team, and this is almost certainly the moment Thanos has been waiting for. Consequently, Avengers: Infinity War is not just the third Avengers film, it’s also a catalyst for change. Several storylines from Phases 1-3 will be concluded and it’s uncertain who will survive. How do we know? Screenwriter Stephen McFeely tossed this grenade during a recent EW set visit:

“It’s safe to say we will say farewell to people.”

Related – Avengers: Infinity War – Loki To Repay His Debt To Thanos

Well, that’s ominous. But who’s it gonna be?

Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Ant-Man are among the newest MCU heroes — and most likely to survive — but the fates of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Loki (all of whom appeared in 2012’s The Avengers) are not as certain. Given the current divisions within the Avengers, we may or may not ever see them all on the same battlefield again — it’s almost surely the opportunity Thanos has been waiting to exploit.

One thing’s for certain, in the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4: expect to see a much different Avengers team.

During the events of Captain America: Civil War a serious split emerged within the Avengers. Heroes were divided between those loyal to Tony Stark (and by proxy, the United Nations too) and those aligned with Captain America (who’s become, shall we say: nomadic). Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is the one character best positioned to navigate the ragged line between her feuding teammates. Here’s what she had to say:

“I think it’s been a dark time. I wouldn’t say that my character has been particularly hopeful, but I think she’s hardened even more than she probably was before.”

Director Joe Russo expanded on Johansson’s comments, and described the team’s dynamics at the opening of Avengers: Infinity War:

“They’re fractured at the start of the movie. It was always the intent, in a larger arc, to split the Avengers up before the greatest threat that they’ve ever seen. Thanos is a virtually indestructible character, which makes him an extremely difficult character to fight. In the face of this, it’s like, ‘Can you overcome the divisions that have developed between you to face a common cause?’ That’s really the question.”

A very big question, indeed.

Avengers: Infinity War will not only conclude the runs of one or more fan favorite characters, but it will also reshape the Avengers as we remember it. The team and personality divisions that existed at the end of Captain America: Civil War may or may not be responsible for all of this chaos, but it definitely opens the door to Thanos to maximize the damage and elevate the devastation he can impart.

Do you think the Avengers can mend their fences in time to stop Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War? Let us know in the comments down below!

Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on April 27, 2018.

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.