Now that Infinity War has been on release for one weekend, it's pretty safe to start talking about THAT ending.

So, did you see it coming? If you've been paying attention, you should have.

Throughout the entire course of the film, there were several niggling little nods towards it with more than a few gestures towards Tony Stark buying the farm, but the eventual execution of so many characters and for it to be done in such a casual and almost wistful way? That, in and of itself, should tell you everything you need to know.

Quite simply, Marvel isn't going to bump off Black Panther and Spider-Man simply to get an impact on the audience. In fact, the fact that those two were gone means that we can expect there to be time-travelling shennigans in the as-yet untitled follow-up to Infinity War. Let's also look at the set photos which show a number of scenes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe's own history - such as the Battle Of New York, in the first Avengers - being recreated, complete with Chris Evans' boyband hair and uniform.

Let's also consider just how much money Black Panther's made for Marvel - $1.3 billion worldwide - and the extreme likelihood that Ryan Coogler will be signed on for another film pretty soon. Not only that, Spider-Man is still under Sony's control, but he's being lent out to Disney / Marvel for crossover movies like this - you think they're going to let one of their most profitable characters die off in a movie they don't have a stake in?

Absolutely not.

Even leaving aside the studio politicking of it, the film itself pretty much signposted it that these characters are going to come back. When we saw Thanos murder Vision in a pretty brutal fashion, he used the Time Stone to rewind to do so and when Thor flew in to stop Thanos, all it took was a snap of the fingers to do what he always wanted. The weird cutaway to... whatever that was with baby Gamorra tells us that reality itself has shifted over into something totally different.

The Soul Stone - the one which Thanos sacrificed Gamorra for - has a power that wasn't necessarily revealed in the film, but has been explicitly discussed in the comics. Basically, the Soul Stone allows its user to manipulate, control and alter both living and dead souls. On top of that, it also allows a gateway to an idyllic pocket universe where the wielder of the stone has their innermost desire met.

The film ends with Thanos, his duty done, walking onto a quiet porch with the knowledge that he has - at long last - balanced the universe. When Thanos snapped his fingers, there was a bright flash. If you throw your mind back to Captain America: The First Avenger, when we saw Red Skull meet his end by gripping the Tesseract - also known as the Space Stone - there was another bright flash and we now know that he was transported to Vormir to guard the Soul Stone. It's only when you see a dead body - like we did for Gamorra and Vision - that we know they're actually gone.

It's easy to look back on the ending for Infinity War and pick it apart like this, but when seeing it for the first time, it's got an impact not unlike The Empire Strikes Back. You know it's not going to all end on it, but the anticipation of where they'll go next is incredible.

Really, though, there's a lot to look forward as the Russo Brothers and the screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have effectively written themselves into a corner. Do they do the gutsy thing and leave all the characters they killed off in the dust or do they try and rejig it so they come back? The mercenary answer is to bring them back. After all, it's a common thing in comic books that death is never a permanent state, but how do you do that with real actors, with real contracts that are fast becoming prohibitively expensive?

Over to you. What did you make of the end? Let us know in the comments!