Avengers: Infinity War ended with a shocking twist that left every fan reeling. With everyone from Spider-Man and Black Panther to Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy gone as a result of Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet-powered finger snap, it's up to the original six Avengers to find a way to bring everybody back and save the entire universe. Of course, it seems like no mere coincidence that Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk and Hawkeye are all still left standing. They are the ones who started it all, and it appears they may be the ones to end it. This has led to many theories that Avengers 4 will likely be the last vehicle for most of these Avengers, opening the door for a Phase 4 that will be shepherded by the new Avengers, like Black Panther and Spider-Man.
As Avengers 4 approaches, fans are slowly preparing for the worst. After more than 10 years of build-up and interconnected movies, some fan-favorite Avengers are likely on their way out. But no matter what happens, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will keep on going. Such movies as Spider-Man: Far From Home and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are currently in production, with more announcements to come. Alas, all good things come to an end -- even the MCU. It might not be in the next few years but, eventually, Marvel will give us the final film in its cinematic universe, and fans will bid farewell to one of the most inventive cinematic events in history. But how will it happen? How will the MCU end?
15 INTRODUCING THE NEXT AVENGERS
It's too soon to tell which Avengers will depart the MCU after Avengers 4, but it's been assumed that such fan-favorites as Captain America and Iron Man will hang up their costumes. Similarly, even the Guardians of the Galaxy are said to be going after their final adventure in Vol. 3.
For that reason, it's possible that the MCU will end by introducing a new wave of future Avengers to replace all those that we will say goodbye to in the next few years. Perhaps we could see the Next Avengers show up; perhaps Riri Williams will suit up as Ironheart; perhaps Bucky Barnes or Sam Wilson will become the new Captain America; and perhaps we will meet the Guardians of the Galaxy 3000.
14 THE CELESTIALS COME TO EARTH
If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is to come to an end, than it's a safe bet that it will feature the biggest, most explosive and massive story to reach a conclusion. We've seen the Avengers deal with invading alien armies, as well as Thanos, the Mad Titan. But what of the Celestials, who have been confirmed to exist in the MCU?
The Celestials are a race of cosmic space giants who are as old as the Universe itself. They have visited the Earth before, and posed a great threat to it nearly every time they show up. Having the Celestials come to cleanse the universe would certainly make for a terrifying final threat for the Avengers to deal with it, and it's something that wouldn't leave many heroes left standing.
13 SECRET WARS
In 2015, Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic brought Marvel fans the ultimate Marvel event with Secret Wars. The story was born of cosmic desperation: as the Marvel Multiverse was about to perish, Doctor Doom took the power from the Beyonders and created Battleword, a planet made up of lands constructed from various Marvel Universes.
This was effectively the end of the Marvel Universe as fans knew it, with only a few superheroes left to try and save all of reality. Something like this could easily become the final story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to give fans a movie of epic proportions. What's more, the event ended with a (soft) reboot of the Marvel Universe, something that we could also see happening.
12 DC VS MARVEL EPIC
There is little chance that this will ever happen, but fans will never stop wondering if the most epic crossover movie could ever happen. In the comics, a massive event did, at one time, see characters from Marvel and DC Comics crossover into one gigantic story – something that would probably make a film one of the biggest ever.
With the MCU and the DC Extended Universe both currently reaching new heights of popularity with more and more films, what better way to have both reach their ends than by having characters from the two universes crossover in one final movie that is meant to be the conclusion of everything. It would certainly give fans what they've always wanted: the biggest team-up (and throw-down) in cinematic superhero history.
11 TONY STARK: SORCERER SUPREME
Robert Downey Jr. almost single-handedly launched the MCU with 2008's Iron Man. His incomparable success in the role of Tony Stark helped propel the MCU to where it is now. Sadly, many people believe that the actor will retire from the role of Iron Man after Avengers 4. But what if there is actually more to it than that?
Since Downey Jr. helped launch the universe, it's only fitting that he be the one to end it. Last year, in the Generations comic book issue focusing on Iron Man and Ironheart, we saw a future where Stark was now well over 100 years old, and the Earth's foremost protector as the Sorcerer Supreme. Surely this would make for a fascinating ending to the MCU.
10 WAKANDA HEADS OFF INTO SPACE
In the current Black Panther comic book series, readers have been transported to the far side of the cosmos, to witness a sci-fi adventure that has brought the Black Panther mythos to space. As of now, it's unclear when the events of this story take place, but the intergalactic empire of Wakanda offers an interesting future for the MCU.
Instead of ending things on Earth, the MCU could end by leaving the planet behind instead. Black Panther was one of Marvel's most popular films, and the character will likely have an important role to play going forward. This would then make Black Panther the right character to bring an end to the MCU, by having it move forward – and into space.
9 THE ULTIMATE CROSSOVER EVENT
However Marvel Studios ultimately chooses to end the MCU, it doesn't necessarily have to be a cosmic, cataclysmic event. It could also be by giving fans something they've all wanted to see for a very, very long time: bringing all of the characters together – not only from the movies, but from Marvel's Netflix, ABC and Freeform series.
The Marvel comics have sometimes featured fun scenes that have involved all of the superheroes of the Marvel Universe interacting together. What better way to end the MCU than by bringing all of your favorite Avengers, Defenders and agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. together. Add in the Runaways and Cloak and Dagger, and you have the perfect final crossover film.
8 KING THOR AND THE LAST SURVIVORS OF EARTH
In writer Jason Aaron's epic Thor saga that has been unfolding over the past few years, we've seen various segments that take place in the future, featuring a much older Thor who is now a grandfather, and not only one of the last gods, but also the last protector of Earth as the aging planet approaches complete destruction.
Since Chris Hemsworth's Thor is already a few thousand years old in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we could see the final entry in the franchise featuring the old King Thor as the last superhero of Earth. This would allow the MCU to show us the far future, while giving a proper conclusion to one of its most popular characters.
7 OLD MAN HAWKEYE
The future of Old Man Hawkeye and Old Man Logan is perhaps one of the darkest alternate timelines of Marvel Comics. Roughly 40 years from the present, all of the world's superheroes are buried, with only a handful like Hawkeye, Wolverine and Kate Bishop left alive. This all came to be when all of the supervillains organized a coordinated attack on the Avengers.
All of the heroes were taken by surprise and taken out so that in the future, the Red Skull rules over the people, the worst villains in the world acting as his generals and deputies. Logan and Hawkeye live in hiding, in the wastelands. While bleak, this could definitely serve as inspiration for the end of the MCU... while giving Hawkeye the spotlight he deserves.
6 NO MORE... SUPERPOWERS
One of the most popular X-Men and Avengers stories, House of M, ended with Wanda Maximoff demonstrating her great power by declaring “No more mutants,” three words that effectively made all mutant powers disappear all over the world. Since we don't have X-Men and mutants in the MCU yet, perhaps we could see this story on the big screen with a whole different twist.
Instead of mutants, Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch could be pushed to declare “No more superpowers.” Then, all superpowers would disappear from reality, both good and bad. It would be quite shocking to see everything end this way, but it would also bring things full circle, and end without hurtful deaths.
5 AVENGERS WORLD
Jonathan Hickman's epic Avengers saga saw the superteam of Earth's Mightiest Heroes expand their ranks like never before. The team became not only a space-avenging response squad, but also an organization that truly took their heroic antics worldwide. It truly was an Avengers World.
We assume that Avengers 4 will feature the defeat of Thanos and, following that, we could see what Avengers are left, plus new ones like Captain Marvel, decide to operate differently than before. By dividing the team into a worldwide effort, the Avengers could not only become bigger than ever, but also more efficient – something that would make for a hopeful ending to the MCU.
4 THE REAL AGE OF ULTRON
2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron may share the name of the 2013 comic book, but that is all the two have in common. The comic was a much darker affair that saw Ultron take over the world, forcing the Avengers to live underground. The only way to defeat the villain was by traveling to the past, as well as the future.
Two different teams of Avengers time-traveled, one trying to stop Ultron in the future, and the other trying to prevent Ultron's creation in the past. If Ultron returns to the MCU, it would be a great future to explore -- not to mention that it would allow the opportunity to travel back to the days of Age of Ultron and bring things full circle.
3 HEADING OFF INTO THE SUNSET
Not all endings have to be about death, destruction and saying tearful goodbyes to your favorite characters. Why end on a down note when the Marvel Cinematic Universe could end with the most grandiose of crossovers yet, by having the Avengers, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four team-up together.
It's now looking likely that Disney will succeed in purchasing Fox's cinematic assets, which means that the X-Men and Fantastic Four will be coming home to Marvel eventually. If that is the case, then we see no other ending to the MCU than having all those super-teams crossover, then head off into the sunset together.
2 BEHOLD... GALACTUS!
Disney may be in the process of buying Fox's assets, but the deal isn't final yet. When it is though, the rights of the Fantastic Four will revert back to Marvel and, with them will come the cinematic rights to one of the biggest cosmic villains in the Marvel Universe: the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus.
Galactus is a single entity that can threaten all of Earth at once. His mere presence signals total doom. When the cosmic being sets his sights on a planet, he consumes it whole. If Galactus is made to be the final threat the Avengers face, then his arrival could signal the destruction of the entire MCU.
1 THE ARRIVAL OF THE BUILDERS
In the pages of Marvel's 2013 event series Infinity, the Avengers dealt with the destructive force that was the Builders in the far reaches of space. The Builders are the oldest alien race in the Universe. They have created life, entire species, and guided the will of evolution for billions of years.
Their threat was so great that the Avengers had no choice but to join forces with many alien civilizations if they had any hope of defeating them. In many ways, this could be the final threat that the Avengers face in the MCU. It's something that would require all hands on deck once more, and a dangerous threat that could wipe out more than Thanos ever did.