There was an idea. A seed first planted in a throwaway credits gag at the end of 2008’s Iron Man that blossomed into something unprecedented. After a stinger at the end of The Avengers laid the major groundwork, plans were put into motion to harness 18 distinct films, corral all their creatives, coordinate with all their casts and craft this titanic achievement we’ve all just witnessed: Avengers: Infinity War.
We have all seen it, right? We just wanna check, because as the title implies, we’re going to be talking about the questions we have after Infinity War. That means this article is going to be chock full of spoilers for Infinity War. The film answers a lot, and ties up some loose ends you weren’t even expecting, but boy did it leave us with plenty more puzzles to try and solve (as well as a hankering for that Tony Stark Ben & Jerry’s flavor). So turn back now if your humble personage has yet to witness the grandeur of Thanos. For the rest of us… holy cow, true believers, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Let’s dive into those complex questions that have been gnawing at us since “he did it”.
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WAR
15 WHY CAN’T BANNER HULK OUT?
Was anything more satisfying right from the get-go than Loki’s “We have a Hulk” moment? Yet, just as we got excited to see The Big Guy lay the hurt on the Mad Titan, the tides quickly turned. The Russo brothers traded in their usual affinity for shaky cams and quick cuts to deliver a brutal and visceral beat down of The Hulk, one that clearly left both sides of Bruce Banner shaken. Well, if The Hulk really is another side of Bruce Banner at all.
Is it really as simple as the Hulk being... scared?
Maybe it was from years of operating on his own on Sakaar, or maybe Hulk always was his own unique individual, but Infinity War finds Banner and the manifestation of his anger completely out of sync, with Hulk seemingly refusing to "come out." Yet, the series thus far has shown Hulk’s emergence to be triggered by bouts of Banner’s anger, and Bruce seems plenty angry by the time the Black Order descends on Wakanda. So what gives? Is it really as simple as the Hulk being “scared”? And if so, how does one possibly coax a creature of pure emotion into suppressing his fear in order to take down an unstoppable force? One thing’s for sure, it’ll take a lot more than just saying “Hulk smash.”
14 WHERE IS VALKYRIE?
For a motion picture packed to the gills with characters from more than a dozen different films, Infinity War never once feels unwieldy. The film manages to give satisfying conclusions to characters who’d appeared throughout the series (Heimdall, Loki) and those we’d completely forgotten (yo, that Red Skull cameo, tho). Yet, perhaps the most captivating and exciting new addition from Phase 3 was nowhere to be found in all of Infinity War: Valkyrie.
Played by Dear White People star Tessa Thompson, Valkyrie proved to be the most electrifying presence in a film about the God of Thunder, Thor: Ragnarok. At the end of that film, Valyrie is aboard the same Asgardian ship as Thor and Loki, the same one we see Thanos lay waste to at the beginning of Infinity War. Did the Russo Brothers seriously dispatch Valkyrie off-screen with nary a word nor an image? Or did Valkyrie manage to escape with a few Asgardian refugees, and if so, where to? Where in the universe is possibly safe from the reign of The Mad Titan? We can only hope that wherever she is, she’ll return to fight another day. And of course, that wherever she is, Korg is with her making pamphlets for another revolution.
13 WHY DID THANOS GIVE LOKI AN INFINITY STONE?
Ever since Avengers: Age of Ultron revealed that the mind stone was housed inside Loki’s scepter, countless fans have wondered aloud why Thanos would willingly give up an Infinity Stone in the hopes of acquiring a second. Well, finally Avengers: Infinity War has come along and given us a new confrontation between Thanos and Loki, a fleshed out backstory to the Mad Titan and… absolutely no explanation as to why Thanos would entrust an Infinity Stone to the inherently deceptive Loki.
Of course, there are some possible explanations. One would be that Thanos didn’t at the time know that the stone was housed inside the scepter; however, it seems unlikely that he would know about the Tesseract and its place within a S.H.I.E.L.D facility on Earth but not recognize the stone sitting right in front of him. Then again, one could guess that this invasion of Earth occurred not as a means by which to acquire the Tesseract, but was during Thanos’ “kill half the populace manually” phase. However, nothing within The Avengers suggests that Loki had any such parameters when it came to his wanton destruction (indeed, he set out to rule, not destroy). It also imagines a situation where not long between The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos suddenly went “Oh snap, the stones. I should… I should just get those. Too bad I just had one. Eh well.”
12 DID RHOMANN DEY SURVIVE THE ATTACK ON XANDAR?
Xandar is dead. Farewell, Nova Prime; your candle burned out long before your legend ever will. We’re led to believe that, unlike Thanos’ usual “kill half” tactics, the population of Xandar was wiped out in Thanos’ quest for the Power Stone. No more Nova Prime, no more Nova Corp, etc. But since we didn’t actually see it happen, many hardcore fans are hoping that at least one character survived the attack of the Mad Titan: John C. Reilly’s Rhomman Dey.
Nova is being tossed around as a Phase 4 film, and the destruction of Xandar perfectly sets up an origin.
In the comics, Xandar is similarly set upon and laid waste to by a destructive force -- the Warlord Zorr -- and Dey is mortally wounded in the scuffle. So, our space alien member of this intergalactic peace-keeping corp. heads to Earth, where he passes on his powers to Hal Jord… err, Richard Rider. (How could we get that confused?) Thus, the first incarnation of fan-favorite Nova came to life on the page, and now fans are hoping to see him come to life on the big screen as well. Nova is one of the titles being tossed around as a potential Phase 4 film, and the destruction of Xandar, while tossed off as an aside in Infinity War, does perfectly set-up an origin story for the character should Marvel so choose. Reilly will likely be hounded with questions of whether his character survived, likely a welcome change from being hounded about Step Brothers 2.
11 WHAT ARE SCARLET WITCH’S POWERS EXACTLY?
Scarlet Witch has been a presence in the MCU ever since Avengers: Age of Ultron, when two Sokovian orphans were experimented on using Loki’s staff and imbued with remarkable powers. Pietro Maximoff was now able to move at incredible speeds, and Wanda Maximoff could now do… whatever it is she’s doing. Is it magic? Is it energy beams? And what about all the mind-altering stuff she does? Is that like Mantis’ empathic abilities? We’re at a loss here, and while Infinity War still gives her plenty of things to do, they never explain what exactly she’s doing.
It’s never clear whether the Scarlet Witch is actually a “witch,” whether she’s tapping into the same kind of magic utilized by Doctor Strange, or whether her powers are more cosmic in nature, due to their origin in an Infinity Stone. But then again, some of Strange’s powers come from an Infinity Stone, so Scarlet Witch must be a magic-wielder. But then in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor seems surprised that “Earth has wizards now” even though he fought alongside Wanda (same with Tony’s reaction to Strange in Infinity War), so then Wanda’s powers aren’t magic. The only way to alleviate our confusion is to turn to the comics. After 54 years on the printed page, surely there’s a clear consensus on the nature and extent of Scarlet Witch’s powers, right? Surely, it has been definitively… no? Seriously? Come on, man!
10 WHY ARE SO MANY INFINITY STONES CONNECTED TO EARTH?
“Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.” The role of destiny and fate in the MCU has never been wholly clear. Are we, like the atheistic Tony Stark would suggest, just chaotic individuals colliding together this way and that, without any guiding force? Or is there some larger cosmic coordinator, moving the pieces into place to some larger end? Thanos seems to suggest that destiny is a singular, inevitable narrative, yet Stephen Strange is able to see thousands of timelines with different results.
The question of destiny becomes important when considering one of the central questions raised by Infinity War: In this vast universe, why do so many of the Infinity Stones have some connection to Earth? We’ve heard several times how unsafe it would be for more than one stone to be in the same place, yet Earth had housed two Infinity Stones for ages, one buried in Norway within the Tesseract, the other housed within the Eye of Agamotto in Kamar Taj. While the rest of the stones were scattered across the cosmos, they too have connections to a single planet, however tangential. The Aether, which housed the Reality Gem, was able to create a portal which linked Asgard to where? That’s right, Earth. The Power Stone, too powerful to be held by any mortal, was wielded by a hero who was half-god and half from Earth. And of course, the Mind Stone made its way to Earth via Loki’s sceptre. With all that, one has to wonder if there isn’t some grander cosmic force trying to draw these stones together to a single planet.
9 WHEN IS ANT-MAN AND THE WASP SET?
Peyton Reed did a remarkable job, late in the game, of making a delightful, jaunty little adventure story out of the tiniest Avenger, and the trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp suggests even more fun, family-friendly and very funny antics for our beloved Ant-Man. But whereas the last Ant-Man picked up where Age of Ultron left off, a crisis resolved, a new Avengers team assembled, and a shiny new headquarters; this fun, jokey film has to pick up from all this death, destruction, chaos, and... did we mention death?
So much death. Everybody is dead. Who’s ready for fun?
Of course, given the line in Infinity War mentioning Scott Lang’s house arrest and the Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer showing an ankle bracelet, one has to assume that this film will, despite being released later, take place prior to or indeed concurrently with Avengers: Infinity War. But if so, when exactly? Is this months before the circular ship descends on New York City? Weeks? Days? Will we see news footage on the TV in Hank Pym’s lab the way Vision and Wanda did in Scotland? And if so, how far will this film’s story go? Are we going to see the broader damage caused by the infamous snap? Will Hope have to watch her father dissolve into ash? And even if not, will we be able to ride along with Lang knowing that any person he passes could be wiped from existence in a matter of minutes and not even know?
8 DID THANOS SHARE TONY’S DREAM?
Setting aside the obvious “What will Avengers 4 be?” ruminations, it seems much of the theater lobby conversation after Infinity War revolved around a single moment: How did Thanos know who Tony was? He seemed disinterested in virtually every other foe that crossed his path, but he seemed to know Stark well, much to Tony’s own surprise. Inquiring how he knew him, Thanos only replied that Stark wasn’t the only one to “share in knowledge.”
The ambiguity of Thanos’ answer, and the confusion Tony conveys, seem to suggest that there’s a larger answer than simply intergalactic infamy. Indeed, upon rewatching, Stark’s wording in several scenes seems deliberate, using phrases like Thanos being “in my head for six years” or his talk with Pepper about the power of dreams. Again, any one of these things could be brushed off, but viewed together, it does seem to suggest some deeper connection between the two. Signs seem to point to Tony’s dream, the sequence in Age of Ultron where Stark envisions the Avengers wiped out on a distant planet. Thanos and Stark share a similar mindset, a similar determination to save their world through their singular innovation and genius. Tony sought “peace in our time,” Thanos sought “balance to the universe,” both left destruction in their wake but could never let their ambitions go. Perhaps they share more than just misguided determination.
7 WHY DID DOCTOR STRANGE GIVE UP THE TIME STONE?
That’s not only a question on the audience’s mind, but clearly on Tony’s as well. When Stark’s life seems just about snuffed out, the Sorcerer Supreme, sworn defender of the Time Stone, simply surrenders it in exchange for Tony’s life. Sure, one could chalk it up to Strange’s past repulsion to killing, as shown in his solo debut, but Strange makes clear to Tony onboard the ship that were it between Tony and the Stone, he would not hesitate to let him die.
So what changed? One has to assume it has something to do with the single possible outcome Strange saw where the Avengers win. Certainly, such an approach fits more in line with later appearance of Doctor Strange in comic book arcs like Civil War or Secret Wars, where Strange sat back, a pensive elder statesman, allowing what must come to pass to pass. Perhaps he gave up the Time Stone specifically to save Tony’s life, as Tony will prove crucial to ultimately defeating Thanos. Perhaps he did so as a gambit to try and ironically buy himself more time to come up with a solution, since one has to wonder, if he knew the only way to defeat Thanos, why would he have let Quill execute, and then undo, his own plan? Or perhaps, echoing the comics, Strange knew that only Thanos could defeat Thanos: that even if he assembled all the stones, he would somehow self-sabotage, because in his heart he knew he wasn’t worthy to wield such power.
6 WHY DID T’CHALLA’S RING REACT TO BUCKY’S ARM?
Civil War feels like ages ago in the wake of the wanton destruction unleashed on the universe in Infinity War, but if you will, take a trip back to the summer of 2016 with us. The Olympics are gearing up in Rio, we totally know who’s going to win the election in November for sure, and the only major factionalized turmoil in America is choosing between Team Cap and Team Iron Man. The film introduced the world to both Black Panther and (the newest) Spider-Man, broke apart Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and planted several seeds for Phase Three films from Spider-Man: Homecoming to Black Panther to draw from in crafting their narratives.
It seems there’s some larger, heretofore unexplained story here...
While the aforementioned Homecoming does acknowledge Cap’s criminal status, and Black Panther does acknowledge Bucky’s presence in Wakanda, one small but deliberate moment in Civil War remains unanswered. During T’Challa’s initial fight with Bucky without his Black Panther suit, he grabs Bucky’s metallic arm to block a punch, and looks at his ring-bearing hand, which is now trembling. Some have suggested the ring is reacting to vibranium, claiming that’s what Bucky’s initial arm was made of. However, seeing as Tony is later able to blast the arm off of Bucky but Cap’s vibranium shield can easily deflect the blasts, it seems there’s some larger, heretofore unexplained story there. Of course, with both Bucky and Black Panther now turned to ash, it’s a story that may never get told.
5 HOW ARE THEY GONNA MAKE HOMECOMING 2?
No, seriously, how? We know the film has been greenlit, but how could it possibly work out now? If Spider-Man is dead, wiped from existence, is the whole two hour runtime the rest of Peter’s Academic Decathlon team trying to find a replacement? The Midtown High truancy officer trying to track down the delinquent Parker? Ned pulling some kind of Weekend At Bernie’s to try and trick Aunt May into thinking her nephew is still alive?
Sure, you’re saying they’re totally gonna bring him back from the dead in Avengers 4, and all will be well. But will it? Consider how shell-shocked Tony was after his near-death experience in The Avengers, and he was a middle-aged man. Plucky Peter Parker may have bounced back from the death of his uncle and the events of Civil War just fine, but this time he’ll have stared into the face of his own mortality and lost the battle. He’ll have been to the other side and back. And unlike every other character who faded that day mystified at what was happening, Peter’s acute Spider-sense made him completely aware of his own disintegration. Peter didn’t just die, he died screaming. He died begging. He died helpless and afraid. To bring him back from all that, one wonders if he would ever be the same, or if Spider-Man 2 is going to be Buffy Season 6-level somber meditations on what it means to be revived.
4 WHO ELSE IS GONE?
That’s really the big question, isn’t it? The MCU is loaded with characters in the films, on TV, on streaming sites, and with half the population of the universe gone, it’s hard to believe it’s solely the folks we saw fade away in Wakanda. It’s hard not to wonder what it will be like when Tony Stark returns to Earth and finds that, say, Happy Hogan has faded into nothingness. What happens if Steve Rogers loses two beloved Carters while he’s swept up in avenging? Who will make sandwiches for the people of Queens if Mr. Delmar disappears? (Seriously, finding a favorite bodega in NYC is hard, guys.)
Of course, the movies pretend the TV shows don’t exist, but the TV shows have acknowledged cinematic events ranging from the Sokovia Accords to The Battle of New York. So how will they handle this cataclysmic event? We can’t be expected to believe that the Infinity Gauntlet wiped out half of the universe but left Hell’s Kitchen untouched, can we? How will the Runaways feel if, while they’re hiding out, Tina’s mom just…disappears? If Quake fades away mid-mission? If all the Inhumans on the moon just imploded into nothingness? Alright, nobody would really mind that last one.
3 IS THE INFINITY GAUNTLET FINISHED?
After Thanos made his fateful snap, the composition of the gauntlet itself changed. As opposed to the perpetually glistening glove from the Jim Starlin story, it seems any Infinity Gauntlet is single use in this universe. Even while at rest in his tranquil hillside home, the gauntlet is shown to be burnt, melted, and irreparably damaged. This, of course, raises a serious question about Thanos’ formidability going forward.
Can he still wield the power of the Infinity Stones if he doesn’t have the gauntlet?
If not, how would anyone begin to? Eitri is seen to be in dire circumstances on Nidavellir, barely capable of constructing Stormbreaker even with the help of Thor, Rocket and Groot. Could he possibly craft another gauntlet, one which could undo the damage done by the Mad Titan and his initial instrument of destruction? Would anyone even be able to wield it? That the glove is so damaged suggests that the one who wears it also endures an incredible amount of force when using all the stones in tandem. Which powerful, hulking avenger could handle such incredible power? Who could withstand a surge of power akin to a blast of radiation? Our guess is Hawkeye.
2 WHAT IS THE “ONE WAY” TO DEFEAT THANOS?
We all remember when Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange uses his awesome mental powers to assess every possible outcome of their predicament in a manner that totally doesn’t feel like when Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes used to assess every situation to determine all the possible outcomes. That’s the dour moment when he reveals that of all the millions of possibilities, the Avengers only have one possible way of defeating Thanos. Then, of course, Strange dissipates into nothingness, presumably not revealing this single way to anyone else (dude has a teensy bit of a messiah complex sometimes).
This begs the question: What is the one way to defeat Thanos? Perhaps they need to use a Cosmic Cube to defeat Thanos. Maybe they’ll need help from some of the other Marvel properties like X-Men or the Fantastic Four. Maybe Wanda will have a psychotic breakdown a la House of M. Or maybe they’ll have to travel to the future and recruit one of the foraging humans in the Lighthouse as depicted in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Who knows? Can they beat him with a box? Can they beat him with help from Fox? Can they beat him with M’s house? Can they beat him with a Mouse? Or will it have something to do with Captain Marvel? It’s… it’s probably gonna have something to do with Captain Marvel. Or maybe Thanos just slips in the shower. Anything’s possible.
1 WHY HASN’T FURY CALLED CAPTAIN MARVEL SOONER?
In some cases, the post-credits scenes of the MCU have been as anticipated as the films to which they’re attached. They tease future installments, expand the world of the films and sometimes can even function as a mic-dropping game changer, a la the introduction of Thanos in the original Avengers. Some of the latest installments have gone overboard on the post-credits scenes (four is a bit excessive), but Infinity War slimmed it down to a single scene, hoping it would have as big an impact as that fateful Fury appearance at the end of Iron Man. This time, we see the aforementioned former S.H.I.E.L.D director watch Maria Hill turn to ash and panic in a manner he never has before. He runs to the car, grabs a beeper, and lets out a final “Motherf…” before using some magic space pager to summon Captain Marvel.
And that’s when the record scratch plays in several viewers minds. Seriously, Nick? You’ve had the most powerful force in the universe on speed dial and at no point did you think to hit her up before this? How many folks on 34th street got obliterated by Chitauri while Fury was going “Eh, this ragtag team might pull it together, even if they just broke up a minute ago.” Between Thanos killing planets systematically, Ego wiping out civilizations, and the many, many crises that faced the planet Earth, one has to wonder what Carol Danvers has been doing all this time if she needed to be hit up on her pager in order to save the day.