What ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline

Kim Taylor-Foster
Movies MCU
Movies MCU Marvel

SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ Proceed at your own risk.

There was a lot that happened in Avengers: Infinity War. And while things were left on a bit of a downer, directors Joe and Anthony Russo also delivered a massive cliffhanger. We have no concrete knowledge of what Avengers 4 will bring, but a great deal of speculation based on events in the comics and clues we’ve picked up have provided us with some theories. What we can say with some certainty is that the team-up film will round out the events of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and usher in the next phase. So how will Infinity War impact the MCU timeline? Here are our best guesses.

Time Is a Healer

Avengers Infinity War Scarlet Witch Vision
The Time Stone embedded in Vision's forehead.

All the evidence in Avengers: Infinity War points to the fact that the MCU timeline is about to get a very big jolt indeed. During sequences in the film, we saw the Time Stone, which gives the bearer mastery over the flow of time, used to manipulate events. Doctor Strange was able to see into the future, which seemed to influence his behaviour, while Thanos used it to turn back time and pluck the Mind Stone from Vision’s forehead.

The climax of the film saw Thanos apparently succeed in his mission to obliterate half the population of the universe. Heroes such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Peter Quill all disappeared into oblivion with the snap of his finger. Which suggests that the manipulation of time may well be a tactic that comes into play again in any attempt to undo what Thanos has done.

And in sanctioning this, Marvel Studios could essentially press reset on the entire MCU, thereby theoretically resolving all the timeline-related plot holes fans have been chewing over for years.

Where Does Ant-Man and the Wasp Fit In?

After the intense shenanigans of Infinity War, there needs to be a compelling reason to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp. The movie is the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to hit screens and looks to be taking place after the events of Captain America: Civil War.

In Infinity War, we learn that Ant-Man, Scott Lang, cut a deal with the authorities following the part he played in violating the terms of the Sokovia Accords and is under house arrest. Looking at the trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp, this seems to be where the film picks up.

But a standalone film ostensibly unrelated to the events of the MCU’s double-header finale at this stage in the game would be a conundrum. So it follows that it should and will lay the groundwork for Avengers 4.

With Infinity War apparently dispatching half the Avengers in one fell swoop, it’s got fans asking what exactly has happened to them. We speculated here and here that the heroes may have been transported to the Quantum Realm – an alternate dimension where the normal rules of time and space don’t apply.

Scott Lang has himself visited the realm; and Hope van Dyne’s mother, Janet, was transported there back in 1987 when she was fulfilling Wasp duties ahead of her daughter picking up the mantle. It seems likely that Ant-Man and the Wasp will further explore the Quantum Realm in preparation for its appearance in Avengers 4. It could also mean that both the Wasp and Ant-Man become extremely significant in the forthcoming conclusion to the Infinity War as they attempt to bring Spidey and the others back from the beyond.

And What About Captain Marvel?

captain marvel movie
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.

Carol Danvers – also known as Captain Marvel – is about to appear in her own solo outing. It will come next year, after Ant-Man and the Wasp, hitting screens just a few weeks before Avengers 4. And while we didn’t catch a glimpse of the new MCU superhero on screen in Infinity War, we were given a glimpse of her significance in the films to come.

A post-credits scene revealed Nick Fury sending her a distress call via an archaic, modified pager just before he disappeared into the ether, going the way of the Avengers we watched disintegrate before our eyes earlier in the movie.

It’s evident, then, that she’ll have a big role to play in the future of the franchise with her 1990s-set solo outing revealing her origin story as well as explaining her absence from the ensuing films in the timeline and setting up her involvement in the grand Avengers finale next year. And, presumably, beyond.

Does This Set Up a Female-Centric Phase 4?

Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, who finally looks to be getting a solo movie.

There’s been plenty of chatter about what’s to come in Marvel’s next cinematic phase, which fans are unofficially calling Phase 4. It begins with the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2019. To date, nine additional films have been announced, with titles and dates yet to be confirmed. Although we do know that there will be a third Guardians of the Galaxy film in 2020, according to director James Gunn, and a Black Widow solo film should follow sometime after. The search is reportedly currently on for a director for that, with Amma Asante leading the pack. The film would likely delve into Natasha Romanoff’s past and her time with the KGB — although there’s word that it could also be set during another time period just before the character’s MCU debut in Iron Man 2.

With the importance of Guardians stars Nebula, Gamora and Mantis in the franchise growing, Captain Marvel about to come in, and the long-awaited Black Widow looking like it’s finally going to see the light of day soon, does this suggest we’ll see more films revolving around the women of the MCU as it strides into the next phase? There’s also the impact made by Black Panther’s all-female military outfit, the Dora Milaje, plus T’Challa’s tech genius sister Shuri to consider. Not to mention Wakandan super-spy Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o, from the same film.

Ant-Man and The Wasp
Evangeline Lilly's Wasp suited up with Ant-Man.

Well, hopefully. Although, we have more than hope to go on in support of the notion. As we’ve already mentioned, Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp will soon be proving her worth, as Hope van Dyne suits up for the first time in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp. It’s likely she’ll be figuring prominently as the franchise progresses.

But we also have an inkling that there’s a team-up film for the women heroes in the offing. The success of DC’s Wonder Woman has proven there’s a giant appetite for women taking center stage in comic-book movies and it makes sense that Marvel would want to both emulate that success and satisfy the demand.

In Infinity War, we got a teeny taste of what a female team-up flick might look like when Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Danai Gurira’s Dora Milaje leader Okoye teamed up to tackle Thanos minion Proxima Midnight. Was this Marvel testing the water? On the evidence of the fan reaction to it, it would go down a storm.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.