Although 'Captain Marvel' zooms into cinemas this weekend, 'Avengers: Endgame' will follow behind in just over a month's time and will likely become the highest-grossing movie of 2019 in the process.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the estimated budget for 'Avengers: Endgame' is expected to be somewhere north of $300 million, possibly even higher.
To say that it's going to be a mammoth of expectations is an understatement. Let's dive in to what to expect.
(SPOILERS FOR 'CAPTAIN MARVEL' ARE IN THIS ARTICLE)
OK, SO WHY IS EVERYONE LOSING THEIR MINDS OVER 'AVENGERS: ENDGAME'?
Well, a lot of this depends on seeing 'Avengers: Infinity War' and having a general understanding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 'Infinity War' ended with probably one of the most stunning cliffhangers in pop culture since 'The Empire Strikes Back' - Thanos (Josh Brolin) had managed to wipe out half the universe with a snap of his finger, thus turning Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and several others into dust.
The final scene showed Thanos arriving at a remote planet and resting himself on a porch, smiling as his plan came to fruition, and then cutting straight to black - leaving everyone uncertain as to what happens next. The end credits' stinger showed Nick Fury and Maria Hill (Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders) being turned to ash, but not before Fury flipped on his beeper and sent out a signal to Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). This explains why 'Captain Marvel' was slated for release before 'Avengers: Endgame', because she is most likely going to be a major feature in the continuing Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Now, the bigger question is what actually happened to them. Did they actually die, or did they simply go into a parallel universe created by the Soul Stone? Nobody knows, quite honestly. The prevailing theory is that, yes, that's exactly what happened. Part of the Soul Stone's power is that it bends reality to whatever its keeper's desires are. So, if your desire is to see half the universe wiped out in an instant, the Soul Stone creates a parallel universe where that desire becomes a reality. The finale of 'Doctor Strange', where he faced Dormammu, was basically introducing the idea of infinite, parallel universes - basically, that death is never permanent so it could be the same thing here.
That's just a theory, of course, but whether it's actually borne out in 'Avengers: Endgame' remains to be seen.
WHY HAVE ALL THOSE CHARACTERS TURN TO ASH IF THEY'RE JUST GOING TO COME BACK?
Well, in two instances are we certain they're coming back - Spider-Man and Black Panther. Yeah, it's a little bit lame that it doesn't really give you any kind of stakes on that front. You know they're coming back, and that the Avengers are going to figure out a way of defeating Thanos because, well, it's a comic-book movie. It's going to go that way.
What's far less certain, however, is the fate of Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) after 'Avengers: Endgame'. The prevailing theory is that both characters will be retired by the end of the movie, and that most likely one of them is going to die. Maybe even both. Both actors have completed their contracts with Disney / Marvel, so the thinking is that 'Avengers: Endgame' will be it for both of them. There's also Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) still in the mixture, with Black Widow set to finally get her own standalone movie at some point in the near future. But beyond those, it's anyone guess what happens next.
HAVEN'T THE TRAILERS GIVEN AWAY THE STORY?
Not at all, quite frankly. The trailer and the Super Bowl teaser basically recap the events of 'Avengers: Infinity War', that Thanos did exactly what he said he was going to do, and that there is likely going to be some serious ructions once they get their chance to fight Thanos once again. Other than that, there's nothing to figure out or intuit from them that'll give us an idea of what to expect in 'Avengers: Endgame'.
Even 'Captain Marvel' and its end-credits stinger doesn't give away anything away, as it's literally just the remaining Avengers finding Fury's pager - and then Captain Marvel materialising in front of them, asking where Fury is. So taking all that into consideration, there's very little we know about the plot surrounding 'Avengers: Endgame'.
More pointedly, however, is that Kevin Feige effectively confirmed internet reports that all of the promotional footage seen so far was from the first 15 minutes of 'Avengers: Endgame', so that means we're just in the dark as anyone else.
WHAT'S THE RUNTIME? IS IT REALLY GOING TO BE THREE HOURS?
It's not confirmed yet, but directors Joe and Anthony Russo have admitted that they've currently got the movie at in and around three hours - and were even toying with the idea of an intermission. In an interview with Collider, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige said that they're "gonna release the movie at the exact right running time."
"I’m telling you this, it’s gonna be perfect. It’s gonna be the exact running time that the movie needs to be," said Feige, who then went on discuss the fact that short movies can feel like they're four hours long, whereas some movies that are three hours can feel like they're a tight 90 minutes. Whatever it ends up being, whether its three hours or two and a half hours, it'll be long. Very long. Maybe even too long.
WHO'S BEEN CAST SO FAR?
(deep inhale) Robert Downey Jr., Brie Larson, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, Chris Evans, Elisabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Dave Bautista, Chris Pratt, Anthony Mackie, Pom Klementieff, Letitia Wright, Benedict Wong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, William Hurt, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Peter Dinklage, Danai Gurira, and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.
What's more, there's probably going to be a few names that we've missed and a few more than haven't even been announced yet.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 'AVENGERS: ENDGAME', THEN? IS THIS THE END OF THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE?
Not in the slightest, but it's definitely going to radically change after this. For one, Disney - who owns Marvel - now controls the rights to 'X-Men', 'Fantastic Four', and a bunch of other Marvel characters that were previously held by Fox. With that merger nearing completion, it's very likely that they've already got scripts cooking for all those characters which has the potential to extend the Marvel Cinematic Universe for another ten - yes, TEN - years.
Keep in mind as well that while it's very likely that 'Avengers: Endgame' is going to have a serious bodycount and that major characters will likely finish out their story arcs in this movie, there's going to be a good few left behind - which is probably why Disney+ is gearing up for TV series featuring Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and more besides.
WHEN'S IT OUT IN IRELAND? WHAT'S THE AGE RATING FOR IT?
'Avengers: Endgame' will be released in Ireland on April 25th. No rating has been issued by IFCO as of yet, however it will likely come up with a 12A rating - the same as 'Infinity War'.