Marvel Studios is trying to keep as much secrecy about the next Avengers movie as possible. The secrecy is so intense, even the movie's title is being kept secret less than a year before its release! Of course, when a movie is this anticipated, the fandom naturally divides between those who want to avoid hearing anything even resembling a spoiler and those who want to know everything before the studio wants you to. That latter group of fans got a whole lot to speculate about on June 5, when two pieces of supposed "concept art" for Avengers 4 "leaked" online. One showcases the movie's main team of heroes, while the other presents new costume and weapons designs for Thanos.
As of this writing, the veracity of this "leak" isn't officially confirmed, but if it's fakery, it's extremely convincing. The details (at least of the heroes picture; the Thanos picture is more questionable for reasons this list will address) square with other heavily-backed rumors about the movie, and the art style of both pictures matches perfectly with concept art from previous Marvel movies. If legit, these pictures reveal a lot about Avengers 4... and imply even more. Here are the 15 biggest takeaways we found!
Potential SPOILERS ahead!
15 HAWKEYE BECOMES RONIN
One piece of evidence that this leaked concept art is, if not official, at least a convincing and very well-researched fake is how the new costumes match up with photos from the set. Avengers 4 set photos from October 2017 show Jeremy Renner in a brand new get-up distinct from his previous Hawkeye costumes. It's those shin guards lined with gold in particular which make it clear this new costume is based on Clint Barton's Ronin persona rather than just being any new look for Hawkeye. The concept art gives us a clearer look at how Barton's Ronin costume might appear on-screen. Neither the set photos nor the concept art include Ronin's mask, so it remains to be seen how or if they translate that to live-action.
So who is Ronin?
For those who may be unfamiliar, Ronin was originally the superhero identity of Maya Lopez in New Avengers #11, but Barton took on the identity just a few years later in New Avengers #30. Barton stopped being Hawkeye after his resurrection from the dead in the reality-shaking "House of M" event. As Ronin, he expanded his catalogue of weapons beyond bows and arrows, though from the looks of the concept art, archery is still going to be important for the MCU version of Ronin. A new secret identity makes sense for the MCU's Barton, given his troubles with the law and need to protect his family (who knows how many of them survived the The Snap).
14 CAPTAIN MARVEL JOINS THE AVENGERS
This isn't exactly a new revelation given just how inevitable this was. Captain Marvel is a mainstay of the Avengers team in the comics and her introduction in the MCU was always certain to be followed by her joining the main team of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. At one point, in fact, she almost appeared in one of the earlier Avengers movies! Her introduction was considered for Age of Ultron but ultimately scrapped in a movie that already had a lot on its plate. The post-credits scene of Infinity War, with Nick Fury signalling for Captain Marvel before he disappeared in The Snap, implies Carol Danvers' presence will be essential in undoing the damage caused by Thanos.
Still, this leaked concept art, if it is indeed official, is the first time we've officially seen Captain Marvel working alongside Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and the other surviving MCU Avengers. In the concept art, she's shown flying behind Nebula, her arms outstretched and her fists glowing bright with energy. Given her connections to both the Earthly and cosmic realms of the Marvel universe, it's likely she'll play a role in reconnecting and assembling the Avengers, who were scattered last we saw them.
13 THE WASP IS MISSING
One of the most notable aspects of the leaked concept art isn't who it includes, but who it excludes. Specifically, the exclusion of The Wasp raises some big questions about her roles in both Avengers 4 and Ant-Man and The Wasp. In a February Q&A on her Instagram, actress Evangeline Lilly confirmed that her character "will appear in Avengers 4... not very much." Remember, Tom Holland and Dave Bautista are also confirmed to appear in Avengers 4, in what are presumably going to be smaller roles in the finale after The Snap is undone. The implications for Ant-Man and The Wasp (releasing July 3) are significant.
Many have wondered how Ant-Man and The Wasp, a movie taking place both before and simultaneously alongside the events of Infinity War, will end up addressing Infinity War's intense ending. The Ant-Man films might be lighter and sillier than the rest of the Marvel movies, but at least for one moment, things are going to have to get serious in Ant-Man and The Wasp. So do The Wasp's reduced role in Avengers 4 and her absence from the concept art mean she's part of the 50% of the cast destined to (temporarily) disappear from existence?
12 REDESIGNED HULK
Infinity War attracted some minor fan controversy for purposefully misleading advertising. Certain scenes in the trailers included The Hulk as part of the final battle, yet aside from the opening scene, the green guy didn't actually show up in real movie. Hulk/Banner has certainly had trouble maintaining balance between his conflicting identities recently. In Thor: Ragnarok, Hulk was in control for two full years and Banner feared losing all control eventually. Banner faced the opposite problem in Infinity War, being unable to Hulk out.
In Avengers 4, it seems Hulk might actually find a perfect balance.
The Hulk in the Avengers 4 concept art has a different-looking face than the Hulk in previous movies. Also distinctive are his clothes, which somehow aren't ripping off him in Hulk mode. This art seems to indicate a development which matches with other rumors about Avengers 4: the cinematic introduction of Professor Hulk. "Professor Hulk" (also known as "Merged Hulk") is a basically the "best of both worlds" version of Hulk/Banner, with Banner's intelligence and Hulk's strength, as well as grey Hulk's cunning, all working together in unison. This would be a natural evolution of Mark Ruffalo's character, especially if this ends up being his last time in the role.
11 DO HULK'S CLOTHES LOOK FAMILIAR?
This is one of those fan theories which might be a bit of a stretch, but hey, so are those fabrics Hulk's wearing! (We'll be here all week.) Looking at The Hulk's new outfit, the design does appear somewhat familiar. Maybe it's just a common aesthetic style in the MCU, but it hasn't escaped the notice of attentive Redditors that Hulk's clothes in the concept art look a lot like Quicksilver's costume in Age of Ultron. Assuming there's a connection between Hulk and Quicksilver in Avengers 4 based on this art is something of a reach, but it actually seems possible that the deceased Quicksilver could in fact be important in Avengers 4.
Why? Time travel. It's confirmed that Avengers 4 is going to be a time travel-based story. Messing with the timeline could easily allow previously dead characters such as Quicksilver to reappear. If Marvel's feeling really brash and confident about the success of the Disney-FOX deal, this could even be an excuse to retcon aspects of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's characters to reconnect the twins to their mutant past from the comics. As for why Hulk would be wearing Quicksilver's costume or something similar, who knows, but it's something people are thinking about.
10 NEW WAR MACHINE ARMOR
Going by this concept art, the award for Biggest Costume Upgrade easily goes to War Machine; no other contenders. James Rhodes has already gone through four different iterations of the War Machine armor in the MCU thus far. Originally just a modified version of the Mark II Iron Man armor, the War Machine armor continually upgrades with each iteration in both bulk and firepower. With the Mark IV version in Infinity War, the War Machine armor has also become a form of assistive technology, designed to help Rhodey cope with his disability after Civil War.
The Mark V War Machine armor shown in the leaked concept art appears to be the biggest and most powerful version of the suit yet. The enormous chest cavity and absurdly huge gun propped up on its back means nobody's going to confuse this just another Iron Man costume. It's possible this could be Stark tech, but many are theorizing this costume might be a Wakandan upgrade. Whether or not Shuri survived The Snap is supposedly a "spoiler" for Avengers 4 according to directors Anthony and Joe Russo. If the young inventor is one of the survivors, perhaps she designs the Mark V War Machine armor?
9 CIVIL WAR RECONCILIATION
So the new concept art shows Iron Man and Captain America fighting alongside each other again. Given the last time they were together they were fighting against each other, that's kind of a big deal. Infinity War decisively put off full reconciliation between the two. Tony Stark did call Steve Rogers on his flip phone to warn him about Thanos, but even leaving a message to his former friend was an intense emotional experience he hesitated towards doing. Tony was off in space for the rest of the movie while while Steve was on Earth, so any further contact between them was off.
The reunion of the two beloved Avengers is inevitably going to be one of the most emotional aspects of Avengers 4.
There's plenty of reason to believe this could be their final movie together. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans' contracts are up after this movie. For both practical and narrative reasons, it makes a lot of sense to assume that one or even both of their characters will end up sacrificing themselves in avenging the lives of those taken by Thanos. Pulling this story off, the conclusion of the whole MCU's arc up to this point, will be essential in the success of this grand finale of a film.
8 CAP'S CLASSIC LOOK IS BACK
One of the more common criticisms of Infinity War was that there simply wasn't enough of Captain America. Chris Evans was great as always in the role, playing a more beaten-down version of the character inspired by the comics' "Nomad" persona, but he was less heavily involved in the action than other characters. His most notable role in Infinity War was as one of the survivors as some of his closest friends disappeared into nothingness. That survivor status means he's inevitably going to be a much bigger focus of Avengers 4. From the concept art, it looks like he's going to be returning to his roots.
In Infinity War, the star on his suit was missing, the colors damped down to greys. If the concept art is real, then in Avengers 4, he's definitely getting a new or at least repaired uniform. The costume in the leaks, with the star on the chest and the red and white highlights around the waist, resembles more closely Captain America's costumes from Age of Ultron and Civil War. One thing that's still missing in the concept art is his classic shield, though one imagines Tony Stark returning the shield could end up being a huge part of their reconciliation.
7 HAIRCUTS AND SHAVES
Forget about Black Panther. Spider-Who? And why is Gamora? If the leaked Avengers 4 concept art is to be believed, the saddest casualty of Infinity War is Captain America's beard. He looked so good in that beard! He worked so hard to grow it and looked so good with it! Even Thor thought it looked good, and if Thor compliments your aesthetic, that means you've done something right! But alas, the return to a more classic look means Cap shaves.
Steve Rogers is not the only one with a new hairstyle in this concept art. Clint Barton's got a new haircut as Ronin and looks very different to when was Hawkeye. Black Widow if that is indeed Black Widow), meanwhile, has dropped the blonde look from Infinity War and returned to her traditional dark red hair color. There's not much to say about all these style changes except it's evidence that quite a bit of time has passed since Infinity War, enough for these significant re-stylings. How much time has passed remains to be seen. Given the rumors that Ant-Man's daughter is going to be aged up by several years (which may or may not have to do with a time travel plot), the Avengers might have passed through a lot of hair styles between Infinity War and Avengers 4.
6 ROCKET WITHOUT A WEAPON
Most of the heroes in this concept art are armed and dangerous. Iron Man, War Machine and Ant-Man have their suits. Thor's got his hammer. Hawkeye/Ronin has his bow. Black Widow appears to be carrying a spear of some kind. Nebula's got a blaster. Captain America presumably has his new Wakandan arm shields even if he's missing his classic one, and he's got enough brute strength he doesn't need special weapons. The Hulk and Captain Marvel are certainly powerful enough on their own. There's one character in this line-up, however, who's pretty much powerless and surprisingly unarmed.
Given he's physically the weakest of this team by far, what's going on here?
Rocket doesn't really have any superpowers beyond whatever cybernetics made him so unusually smart for his species. His whole deal in combat is that he's great with guns, frequently carrying weapons about as big as he is. In this concept art, however, he's completely unarmed. Given he's physically the weakest of this team by far, what's going on here? Does he have some kind of death wish following the loss of his fellow Guardians? Does he somehow acquire powers? Maybe he's using some sort of Stark nanotech weapons that are easier to hide? The story here remains to be seen in the actual film.
5 THE BACKGROUND: POSSIBLY TITAN...
The Avengers line-up concept art paints a very clear picture of what our heroes are going to look like in the movie. It's a lot less clear about where they actually are. The background looks downright abstract, making it hard to determine where this picture is taking place. Including a clear physical location might not even be the point of this concept art. It might just be showing the team looking cool together against a random sweet-looking space backdrop. That said, fans have some guesses as to where the picture might in fact be taking place.
One of the most convincing guesses is that this picture takes place on Titan. That's Thanos' dead home planet, and the place where Iron Man and Nebula were left stranded at the end of Infinity War. The various pointy structures in the background of the concept art resemble the decaying architecture seen on the once-beautiful planet. Is the scene in the concept art a rescue mission, the rest of the team saving Iron Man and Nebula? If so, how long were they stranded there? It could also possibly be that Iron Man and Nebula do escape, but must return to Titan in the fight against Thanos.
4 ...OR IS IT THE QUANTUM REALM?
The other guess which makes a lot of sense as to the location of the concept art is the Quantum Realm. The presentation of the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man presented some of the most surreal visuals in the MCU this side of Doctor Strange, and you can reasonably match the style of this microscopic world with the concept art's backdrop. Ant-Man and The Wasp promises to delve deeper into the Quantum Realm and its connection to potential parallel worlds. This lore could very well be the main connection between Ant-Man and The Wasp and the next Avengers movie.
If the Avengers are in the Quantum Realm in the concept art, how exactly did they get there? Is everyone using Pym Particles? It would make sense that however the Avengers traverse this exotic realm would tie into however they're going to time travel. You don't just introduce parallel worlds in a comedic MCU movie and not have it pay off somehow in one of the bigger more serious ones. Fans will have a better idea of how this all works and almost certainly will have stronger theories as to how it might play into Avengers 4 once Ant-Man and The Wasp hits theaters.
3 THANOS' NEW (OR REJECTED?) WEAPON
The Thanos concept art, leaked alongside the new Avengers team picture, shows The Mad Titan wearing different armor and, notably, carrying a new weapon. It's not clear exactly what it is and why he'd be carrying it alongside the already all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet, but the weapon appears to be some sort of large angular sword. Fans who paid attention to Infinity War's merchandise tie-ins will recognize it. In the Infinity War LEGO Minifig pictured above as well as other action figures, Thanos has the sword weapon despite it not appearing in the movie.
Differences between merchandise and a final film can frequently be attributed to said film going through changes in production and the final designs diverging from the ones given to commercial licensors. Given this, many people are speculating that this leaked Thanos design is actually a rejected design from the production of Infinity War rather than a new one for Avengers 4. Given the toys featuring the sword still used the final Infinity War costume design, the sword must have been dumped later into the production process than the costume was. It's possible it could be the Avengers 4 look, of course, but if that's the case, certain aspects of the artwork raise major questions...
2 THE INFINITY GAUNTLET'S PRESERVED...
The condition of the Infinity Gauntlet itself is either the biggest giveaway that the Thanos concept art is outdated or the clearest proof that not all it as it seems at the end of Infinity War. It certainly looked as if the Infinity Gauntlet was seriously damaged following The Snap at the end of Infinity War. However, the concept art shows the Gaunlet in pristine condition.
If the art is in fact for Avengers 4, what could this possibly mean?
It will interesting to find out just what Thanos' story arc in Avengers 4 is going to be like, as by the end of Infinity War he's won everything he's ever wanted. Maintaining that power and preventing anyone from reversing his victories is going to have to be his main focus. Perhaps this means he gives the Gauntlet some serious upkeep. There are also rumors spreading around various forums, stemming from an anonymous source who supposedly leaked accurate spoilers about Infinity War before its release, that Iron Man is going to be designing his own version of the Infinity Gauntlet to fight back against Thanos. If the old Gauntlet is beyond repair, maybe Thanos steals the new one and that's what he's wearing in the concept art?
1 ...BUT SOME STONES ARE MISSING?
Another detail about the Infinity Gauntlet in this concept art which is extremely telling of either the picture's datedness or of surprise new plot details about Avengers 4 is the detail of the stones. In the concept art, you can clearly see the yellow Mind Stone, the blue Space Stone and the purple Power Stone. The green Time Stone also appears to be visible on the thumb. At least one Infinity Stone, however, seems to be missing. Based on the typical order of placement in the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is almost certainly missing the Reality Stone in this image. It's impossible to tell based on the angle whether or not he has the Soul Stone.
One fact leaning towards this being Avengers 4 concept art rather than old Infinity War art is the order of the Stones. Thanos collects the Reality Stone before he gets the Mind Stone or the Time Stone. Given the Mind Stone's attached to Vision who Thanos only encounters when he arrives on Earth in the final act of the film, it's hard to imagine there's an old draft of Infinity War where he gets the Mind Stone before he gets the Reality Stone. Stealing the Infinity Stones from Thanos must be part of the plan to defeat him. Starting with stealing the Reality Stone is a good a place to start as any if you want to gain the upper hand over him.