The latest iteration of America’s greatest soap opera on film: Avengers: Infinity War, was only the third in the team’s series of movies, but it was the 19th movie produced by the Marvel Studios over the past ten years. Over those years, Marvel has prided itself in its commitment to storytelling as well as special effects, hunky heroes, and one-line zingers. Kevin Feige and the entire production team always insist they’re playing the long game, gradually introducing plot devices and character arcs that will take many films to play out in their entirety.
Loyal fans have responded by devoting an unprecedented amount of brain space to describing this 19-part comic book adaptation tale, all through its twists, turns, fake deaths, and shocking revelations. Much like a soap opera, at times the narrative can careen off the deep end, abandoning all causality and believability. Infinity War definitely needed all of the characters it could get to balance out the stakes raised by Thanos, the biggest MCU villain yet. As of that last movie, the Mad Titan’s actions left the main heroes of the Marvel Universe hanging in peril with no idea how they’ll escape. On top of that, here are another 20 Marvel Mysteries Infinity War Still Didn’t Solve.
20 DOES TONY STARK STILL FEEL BETRAYED AFTER CIVIL WAR?
Very gracefully, when Infinity War introduces both Tony and Bucky into the story, they never interact in the movie. But when audiences saw them last, Tony Stark learned that Bucky had been responsible for the assassination of his parents. As soon as that happened, these two long running Avengers were at each other’s throats.
When Captain America: Civil War dropped this bombshell, everyone in theaters was as shocked as Iron Man. Captain America immediately came to his best friend’s defense, resulting in an epic battle between the snark of the MCU, and its heart. Bucky’s behavior was due to nothing but the influence of Hydra’s brainwashing protocol, but Stark still felt the body blow, and when he found out, even dozens of years later, the chemistry of the team was shattered. The question of whether Tony, Cap, and Bucky can sort out their bruised egos has to be resolved one way or another in Avengers 4. Potential solutions could range anywhere from a frank team meeting accompanied by apologies around the board, to another clash of fisticuffs, to an ultimate resolution with one, two, or all three heroes’ demise. Either way, the emotional beat has to contain some forgiveness for all three to move on.
19 WHAT’S THE STATUS OF THE SOKOVIA ACCORDS?
The conflict at the center of Captain America: Civil War rose from a wedge grown in between two sets of good guys. Instead of taking on a traditional big bad, the Sokovia Accords development and ultimate passage divided the Avengers as their autonomy was put into question. The vigilantism of superheroes has long been a contentious story point. Within a few movies of the formation of the Avengers, they had already racked up so much property damage, displaced innumerable civilians, and even cost innocent lives. Once the collateral damage reached international, and even intergalactic, proportions, the governments of the world intervened.
It seems like the MCU version of the UN can be just as hollow as the real life version, the Sokovia Accords were barely mentioned in Infinity War, and Steve Rogers even strolls into the tower where he’s wanted for violating those laws, but the laws have gone toothless in this new movie. Avengers wouldn’t be the first effort to fail to deal with the issue of international cooperation, many comics love to bring up the conflict, but never find a way to resolve it. Maybe, if fans are lucky, an expanded cinematic universe could show a growth in the Avengers infrastructure and global network.
18 WHERE’S CAPTAIN AMERICA’S SHIELD?
Presumably, Cap’s vibranium shield is still resting in Avengers HQ, but the matter of its custody and when it will make its way back to its rightful owner are still wrapped up in the brawl Rogers, Stark, and Barnes are figuring out. To make it more complicated, Captain America and Howard Stark, Tony’s Dad, knew each other during the war, when Cap was first made into a Super Soldier. In fact, the elder Stark was so deeply involved and committed to manufacturing weapons for the war effort, one man military industrial complex that he was, he was generous enough to create Captain America’s vibranium shield.
That backstory, coupled with the disturbing twist exposed earlier in this list about the Starks' deaths, was compounded by the great notes of sibling rivalry that are illustrated between Tony and Steve. Thus, it was only natural when, laying beaten and shamed by Cap, Tony demanded that Rogers not have the audacity to walk out of their fight with the shield his father built personally. Steve Rogers, man of honor that he is, recognized the hypocrisy of covering up a man’s assassination, and then walking around with that man’s creation on his back. He drops the shield, and with it, his deception.
17 WHEN IS THE RAFT GOING TO RETURN?
The Raft is the latest ominous creation to facilitate the imprisonment of superpowered people. It’s no Azkaban, but the Raft is an underwater fortress, in the middle of the ocean, and it’s contained (or at least attempted to): Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, and Ant-Man. It probably houses other prisoners, but its use has been pretty sparse in the MCU so far.
The last time the Raft entered the plot was after the massive airport battle from Captain America: Civil War. Team Sokovia Accords ended up victorious in that bout, which led to the imprisonment of the renegade Avengers until they agreed to sign the Accords. They never did, and Captain America had to eventually break them out of this prison. Aside from passing references on Jessica Jones and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Raft hasn’t become an established setting in the on-screen universe yet. The topic of powered peoples containment is a real issue but this is another one, along with addressing the law, that seems to be built more for show than to make an actual point. A prison break led by Captain America is a pretty great thing to see on screen, but that’s not the most interesting thing they could do with the Raft. What if Orange is the New Black had superpowers?
16 HOW WILL THE AVENGERS TRANSITION TO THE NEXT GENERATION?
Every film production, including serialized television creations, are battling the age of their actors. All of the stories fans want to be told, and all of the things fans want to see their heroes do, take way longer to make than they do to dream up, so the ticking clock pushes all things forward. The MCU was born from decades of superhero movie trial and error, so they know how to tell one man’s heroic journey, but for everything else, they’re pretty much making it up on the spot. There was no precedent for how to make an Avengers movie, and there’s no precedent now for how to bait and switch one set of Avengers out after they’ve run their course.
Fortunately, the MCU has struck gold with some of its young heroes, like Spider-Man and Shuri, so there’s a start, but, just like a basketball team, the skills and attributes of each member have to be varied and complementary, and, most importantly they have to have chemistry on the floor (screen). For the veterans, the latest overtures from the main cast are making it sound like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans may want to move on, but Chris Hemsworth may be interested in an expanded role.
15 IS ADAM WARLOCK GOING TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE?
In the end credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017), an offhand reference was made to Adam Warlock, a founding member of Marvel’s cosmic universe. The golden Sovereigns were introduced in the beginning of that movie first as an exotic, remote race of aliens that the Guardians were merely in the process of hoodwinking. At the end of the film it’s revealed that Ayesha, their leader has created an all powerful weapon, and she named him Adam.
Adam Warlock, golden skinned enigma from the comics, played a huge role in the comic book event Infinity War, so fans naturally thought they might learn more about him in this latest movie. No such luck, unfortunately. Despite the expansive role he played in that era of Marvel comics, as of now, audiences haven’t even seen his face. Even today, in the comic book Infinity Countdown, Adam Warlock plays the central role in identifying and securing all of the Infinity Stones. Currently, however, the movie plot is set up so that he wouldn’t have to make an appearance at all. The Avengers need help defeating Thanos, but no Warlock character has been developed, or even introduced formally. Who knows, maybe he’ll be the new leader of the Avengers in Phase 4...
14 WHAT HAPPENED TO VALKYRIE AND THE ASGARDIAN REFUGEES?
When Infinity War movie opens on Thanos and Thor, they’re standing amongst the wreckage of “The Statesman”, the transport ship from the end of Thor: Ragnarok. The implication is, as soon as they started to leave the wreckage of Asgard, they encountered Thano’s ship of war, as teased in the end credits scene from Ragnarok, and then, in a battle off-screen, Thanos destroyed the ship’s inhabitants.
Fortunately, a recent disclosure has led to some progress on this front. While giving a presentation for some university students, Infinity War director Joe Russo confirmed that Valkyrie and a portion of the Asgardians survived Thanos’ attack. This comes to a big relief to fans of the character, played by Tessa Thompson. She may have made an odd couple paired with Thor, but she subverts any conventional sidekick and her portrayal can definitely grow the MCU. So, as of most recent events, Valkyrie may be piloting a shuttle full of the last survivors of Asgard, trying to settle a new colony somewhere. Whenever this New Asgard makes its debut back in the MCU, hopefully Valkyrie returns to the main story, but until then the mystery of how Thor will guide his people back on track is wide open.
13 WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THAT INFINITY GAUNTLET DECOY?
This is a mystery that’s been mostly resolved, but the case still seems a little bit fishy. In the first Thor movie, eagle eyed fans found the Infinity Gauntlet sitting on display in the background in Odin’s vault of trophies. As soon as Thanos donned his own Gauntlet in the MCU, similar fans began questioning the existence of the two copies. In last year’s Thor: Ragnarok, this plot hole was eliminated when Hela, daughter of Odin, walked into her father’s trophy room and declared much of the possessions, including the Gauntlet, as fake.
It has been confirmed that that scene was included to eliminate the overlap. Kevin Feige has publically explained that there were no inklings of doing the Infinity Gauntlet story at that stage of production and was included as an honest piece of fan service. The “official” explanation is that Odin kept a fake to reassure the realm that the Gauntlet and Infinity Stones were under his control. But what does that mean? Did he make a documentary about his vault and all the things that no one had to worry about? Was there an opinion poll in Asgard that said he was too soft on Infinity? The MCU has enough headaches, but this easter egg, compiled with the Gauntlet’s mysterious origins, could still spiral into something bigger.
12 ARE THE CELESTIALS COMING BACK IN A BIG WAY?
So far, the references to the Celestials in the MCU have been few and far between. The only real coverage was when fans were introduced to Ego, the living planet and father to Peter Quill. In that portrayal (helmed by Kurt Russell), he was depicted as a being too powerful to relate to the causes of good and evil, only interested in spreading his influence. The other most notable appearance of a Celestial is Knowhere, the former headquarters of The Collector, Tanaleer Tivan. Before Thanos destroyed it in Infinity War, it was the severed, giant head of some unknown Celestial, inhabited and mined for its resources.
The only other reference to this group of all powerful beings is in some explication of the Infinity Stones, the Celestials are identified as their first owners, wielding their many powers around every corner of the universe. With that as a base, the field is mostly wide open for more stories about them, but if the MCU really wants to build this race of beings into its mythology, a lot more will have to be understood about their traits, their personalities, and what ultimately caused their race to fail. If it has. Maybe Avengers 4 will feature a conversation with one of the last Celestials.
11 WHAT’S HAWKEYE UP TO?
Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton has made a slow fade to the background over the past few movies. His time with the team was cut out in Infinity War, excused to spend more time with his family. Age of Ultron showed fans a piece of that homelife, but since then, the character hasn’t had much to do in this battle against Thanos.
Despite being benched recently, reports insist that Hawkeye still has a major role to play -- if he was dialed back in recent movies, it’s only a misdirect to enhance his return to the main stage. The first question is how did he fare in the recent bifurcation of the planet’s populus? If he’s still alive, how much of his family was lucky enough to make it? For a Hawkeye that’s seemed a bit lost and flat through his recent arc, an inciting incident like this one might be just what he needs to reboot his character. The most popular assumption for this new direction is for Clint Barton to take on the mantle of Ronin, warrior without a master, hero without a direction, rebel without a cause. If the character goes this direction, either in Avengers 4 or even earlier, audiences should prepare themselves for Marvel’s take on a superhero with an even darker edge.
10 WILL TEN RINGS COME BACK?
Ten Rings is the shadow terrorist organization that orchestrated the chaos in Tony Stark’s life in Iron Man 1 and 3. Aside from kidnapping Stark, motivating him to become a hero, and pursuing him as Iron Man via an imposter Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, Ten Rings also sent a representative to steal technology from Pym Laboratories in their most recent appearance in Ant-Man.
After the Mandarin was revealed to be a fake, the door was left wide open for the organization to reappear in the MCU, the only question now is how it will be woven back in. Currently, in the present timeline, Earth is under immense cosmic threat, so the Avengers aren’t addressing international terrorism over priority one, Thanos. That doesn’t mean they’ve been forgotten, however. An appearance in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp, even if it’s just a passing reference will still fuel the ultimate mystery behind the cabal. A deeper telling of the Mandarin’s backstory and how he came upon his ten magical rings in the first place, is an antagonist’s journey that will have to wait for Phase 4, probably with the Iron Man franchise reboot. Even so, the groundwork has been cleverly laid to unveil him as a formidable future big bad.
9 IS THE ABOMINATION EVER GOING TO RETURN?
In the nascent years of the MCU, before the term even existed, the comic book movie was was being crashed with special effects in an attempt to capture the scope of an empowered imagination full of heroes and villains. The Incredible Hulk, the 2008 origin story of the big green guy, featuring Edward Norton in the title role, brought on a great villain in the Abomination, that’s been forgotten, but not ruled out of the universe.
It’s been apparent for a long time that the Hulk is on a rough path to find peace in his role as a Jekyll and Hyde superhero. Mark Ruffalo has found the right avenue between the two personalities to deliver a great performance, but his growth has stagnated since his romance with Natasha fizzled and he lost his confidence, along with his ability to draw the line between his selves. Producer Kevin Feige is on record as admitting that the Abomination is still present in continuity, claiming he’s still in prison. The Raft is a supermax prison that was recently introduced in Civil War and expressly described as being made for powered people; along with the Abomination, there’s no telling how many other future characters could turn up in those underwater isolation cells.
8 WHERE DID GROOT COME FROM?
Groot became a fan favorite when he debuted in 2011’s Guardians of the Galaxy and ever since, the anthropomorphized tree being has danced, fought, and eye-rolled his way into being the most reliable source of both heart and comedy in the MCU. His and Rocket’s partnership is summarized in their opening scene and the full sized, adult, Groot is described as hired muscle, a similar kind of mercenary vagabond to Rocket, getting into trouble, trying to make his way across the universe.
From that Groot to the one who tearfully dissolved at the end of Infinity War, it was a long journey. The most recent version of the character had lived its entire life with the Guardians, but before that, there are some holes in the arboreal hero’s story. Unlike Rocket, he’s not one of a kind. Groot hails from a planet called “X”, and is identified as the species Flora Colossus. If this is all sounding a little vague, it should. Groot has been a great relief throughout the films so far, and Vin Diesel makes it all work, but the character needs somewhere else to go. Even if there’s never a Rocket and Groot duo movie, there must be a larger background that will be revealed eventually.
7 WHAT’S THE BLACK WIDOW AND BUCKY BACKSTORY?
The Black Widow solo movie is tragically overdue in many ways, and some of the reasons are that it would solve a couple of outstanding questions about her character’s troubled past. Specifically, a reference is made to a connection between Natasha and Bucky when he comes back to present day in Captain America: Winter Soldier. While the two are fighting, Bucky is in a hypnotized glaze, but Natasha chides him for not recognizing her anyway. Up to this point in the MCU, fans knew that Bucky was Steve Rogers’ best friend, but a connection between he and Romanoff hadn’t been mentioned at all previously.
In the comics, the link is that they were both training with the Russians together, and now that Hydra and the extreme methods of the Evil Empire have been described in detail by Bucky’s transformation, the path is clear to elaborate that the Black Widow and he crossed paths in their formative years. Natasha Romanoff, absent family and connection, was drafted into the KGB from a young age. Once enrolled in their espionage track, she trained in a similarly intensive program to Bucky’s, whether they were training simultaneously, or one was mentoring the other, the MCU hasn’t yet clarified. The same goes for whether or not the Black Widow retains any brainwashing herself.
6 WHAT’S THE BLACK WIDOW AND HAWKEYE BACKSTORY?
Another story of Black Widow’s that’s only been hinted at so far: the friendship between she and Clint Barton. Both of them are elite S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents that have worked together on several missions. Most notably to fans, in the first Avengers movie, she compares the Battle of New York, favorably to an operation they conducted in Budapest. In all likelihood, it was a throwaway line to add a glimmer of depth to the teamwork between the two, but the fact remains that they’ve worked together.
The process of Natasha’s conversion from Soviet KGB agent to S.H.I.E.L.D. operative is completely unresolved in the universe so far. Even if the MCU shied away from making a Red Sparrow copy cat, which has never stopped Hollywood before, a story about the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. would also make the basis of a great Black Widow solo movie. The timeline is in a tremendous amount of flux shifting between Phase 3 and 4, currently, but once a direction is more clear, a closer look at Natasha Romanoff’s character is a top priority of many fans. Either of these times in her life would make for great films tracking her radical transformation. And thanks to easter eggs, the trail of breadcrumbs has already begun.
5 HOW WILL AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. BE BROUGHT IN?
So far, the relationship between the film and television divisions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been pretty one sided. The movies came first, and coupled with the clout of Hollywood movie investments, the big screen side of the story has driven most of the plot and character development. Up to now, shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been reacting to events that happen in the movies and working around them in their own ways, but there still hasn’t been a truly reciprocal crossover between the Avengers film franchise and its first spin off.
Agent Coulson is still heading up the rebuilt version of the covert special force, and Inhumans, Kree, even Ghost Rider have been brought to TV by the show. After five seasons, what’s still missing is the reintegration of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the Avengers’ support network. Due to the Sokovia Accords, another governing body is placed in between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and their natural allies, but that state of affairs must be undone at some point. Optimists even predict Clark Gregg’s enduring Agent Coulson could make a comeback to the MCU. The separation makes sense now, but as the universe expands, bringing the narrative full circle, interconnecting it in every way possible, will be a more interesting pursuit.
4 WILL THERE EVER BE A CROSSOVER WITH THE NETFLIX SHOWS?
That pursuit gets even more curious to watch when considering the Netflix shows. Not only have they forsaken traditional cable in favor of streaming television, but the array of "Heroes for Subscription" they have keeps on expanding, despite a shrinking connection to the movies. Without an Agent Coulson to act as tie-in, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and the Punisher have built a minor league team of street level beginners that are figuring themselves out at the same rate as they learn more about their powers.
After the events of Infinity War will the remaining Avengers seek out help from the Netflix Defenders? More likely Thanos will get an eye rolling, one-off, line of dialogue that confirms the events, but not much else. But this can’t remain the status quo forever. It would be a waste, for example, if Doctor Strange didn’t crash in on Iron Fist and Luke Cage so they could acknowledge each others’ presence a little bit. Conversations with Benedict Cumberbatch’s agent are still in progress for that spot, but it’s looking hopeful. Storylines that span media like that may seem ambitious, but one thing Marvel has always insisted is how the television and movie timelines took place on the same universe, besides character and plot fluidity, there’s no reason for that.
3 WHAT HAPPENED TO NICK FURY’S EYE?
Aside from his stunning delivery, the fortune of Samuel L. Jackson’s casting as Nick Fury is the visible wealth of secrets and information that lurk beneath Fury’s impenetrable exterior. Fans have never had any trouble believing that Fury was the preeminent security specialist in the United States and the Avengers’ most trusted advisor. In addition to his demeanor, part of the reason that works is that piratical eye patch that literally symbolizes his unique perspective.
Only one line has made it into the MCU that comments on Fury’s cycloptic condition, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when he almost jokes that the reason he lost it was because he once tried to trust someone. There may be a kernel of truth in this sentiment but it’s far from the whole story. With his appearance in the end credits scene of Infinity War, just before his dissolution, fans weren’t sure what role he might play in Captain Marvel. Recent photos have been leaked from set, however, that a young Nick Fury, with both eyes, will appear alongside Marvel’s newest cosmic hero. This might mean some further explanation of the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the reason why he now contacts her by pager. Hopefully fans get the whole story on his injury then too
2 WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH TONY AND PEPPER?
In the latest update, from the brief time audiences saw them together on screen in Infinity War, it looks like Pepper and Tony are having a hard time finding a middle lane to get their relationship into track. She is the person he cares about most in the world, but the problem has always been that Tony has loved his work more, and the genius superhero can never understand how to balance his priorities the correct way.
While Infinity War opens with a proposal from Tony to Pepper, it happens in the most bombastic way possible and she turns him down, fully aware that his life and work are still a mess. This does show improvement, however. Ever since Tony incited the events that led to the creation of Ultron, his and Pepper’s relationship has been struggling. It was just looking like they were beginning to reconcile when Thanos arrived and ruined everything. Even though Tony and Robert Downey Jr. are frequently in rumors to be written out of future movies, Pepper Potts and Gwyneth Paltrow still have parts of her character that haven’t been explored; in the comics she becomes the superhero Rescue for a brief tenure, and she’s still the highly successful CEO of Stark Industries.
1 WILL CAPTAIN MARVEL RESTORE THE TIMELINE?
All that’s known for sure about the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, (2019), and its relationship to the main timeline is that it’s set in the '90s. That may mean it’s just an occurrence from the past and the MCU will build its introduction to time travel, a concept first debuted in Doctor Strange. Alternately, Carol Danvers and her hero’s journey actually took place in another universe, and the Marvel multiverse will finally make its debut in order to reverse the effects of Thanos’ destruction.
The most frustrating part is that even her upcoming movie probably won’t provide the answer to this mystery. Nick Fury was recently revealed to have a role in the film but no one knows yet how extensive that will be. Most of the press coverage so far has played up its focus on Captain Marvel’s origins, the passing of the torch from Jude Law’s Mar-Vell, and the Kree-Skrull War. The connection between Infinity War and Captain Marvel rests on this plain looking pager that Nick Fury keeps on hand at all times, presumably just in case Earth finds itself in a state of intense emergency. How she became a hero, where she was when Fury pushed that button, and how she’ll come to save the remaining Avengers are just the latest mysteries opened up by this movie.