Following Thanos snapping half the galaxy out of existence at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, fans have been speculating as to which characters will return in Avengers 4. However, despite sequels for Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy being green-lit beforehand, directors Anthony and Joe Russo have warned this doesn't mean resurrections will be doled out en masse.
The pair have now gone on the record to indicate that, because time doesn't have to necessarily move in a linear fashion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they might not need to bring characters back in the Infinity War sequel, as Marvel Studios' movies -- namely Guardians of the Galaxy 3 -- may very well occur before Thanos touched down seeking to fill his Infinity Gauntlet.
“Here’s the thing, I think it’s important to remember anything is possible in the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe],” Anthony said to the Huffington Post. “Just because there’s a sequel on the books doesn’t mean ... people become accustomed to time moving linearly in the MCU. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. There’s a lot of very inventive ways of where the story can go from here.”
“There’s four years between Guardians 2 and Infinity War. That’s a long time, and a lot of Guardians stories to tell," Joe added. "Again, as Anthony said, don’t expect everything to move forward in a linear fashion in the Marvel universe.”
From Infinity War's narrative, it does follow the end of Black Panther, which means Ryan Coogler's sequel will be set after Avengers 4, while it has been confirmed that Homecoming 2 opens up Marvel Studios' Phase Four, and actually starts minutes after Avengers 4 ends.
However, little is known about James Gunn's threequel, and given his second chapter introduced Adam Warlock -- someone closely tied to the Soul Stone in the comics -- there is a small chance it can act as a precursor to Infinity War, where we found out Gamora actually knew the location of this particular gem. This means even though we could see certain Guardians alive and well in Gunn's third MCU outing, the Russo brothers don't necessarily have to bring them back to life next May.
In theaters now, Avengers: Infinity War is directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Tom Hiddleston and Josh Brolin.