The stakes are being raised to the highest level the MCU has ever seen in Avengers 4. Marvel Studios and directors Joe and Anthony Russo made the gutsy decision to end Avengers: Infinity War with Thanos successfully killing half of the universe’s population. Somehow, though, the stakes in Avengers 4 will be higher than ever.
Set after the cataclysmic cliffhanger in Avengers: Infinity War, the fourth Avengers film will revisit the surviving members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as they band together in order to defeat the Mad Titan Thanos. Marvel Studios has officially started the countdown for the movie, and, with theories, anticipation of the title reveal, and fans awaiting the eventual trailer announcement – let along the trailer itself – the stakes are as high in the movies as they are off the screen. Now, the Russo Brothers are convinced that the MCU has never witnessed greater stakes than those featured in the upcoming sequel, Avengers 4.
As part of Joe Russo’s Instagram live Q&A to promote his new bar, Marvel fans flooded to the livestream to see what information he might reveal about Avengers 4, according to THR. During the Q&A, Russo was asked whether the stakes would be higher in Avengers 4 than any of the other films in the Marvel franchise. Much to their pleasure (though surely to the disappointment of the Avengers themselves), Russo said, “Absolutely. 100 percent. The highest of any of the films to date, without question.”
The MCU has dealt with world-ending stakes time and time again, and Avengers: Infinity War alone elevated the threat to include the entire universe (see: Thanos’ finger snap). Death and loss will play an inevitable role in the new movie – regardless of some contracts expiring among the cast after Avengers 4 – but how certain losses take effect in Avengers 4 could be what differentiates this movie from previous installments. When it comes to topping the stakes of killing half of the universe’s population, the “higher stakes” could account for a combination of factors. For example, one of the Avengers’ primary rules is not trading lives, but that may turn out to be an inevitable choice for the sake of universe-spanning resurrections. With that said, killing off main heroes is a surefire way to raise the stakes.
There could also be other plot structure elements that make this possible as well. If the Avengers are traveling through time in an attempt to stop Thanos before the snap, or even if they reverse the snap entirely, potential paradoxes or the creation of alternate universes could end up becoming their biggest issues. Naturally, it’s also possible that none of these options end up factoring into the final cut of the movie, and Russo’s mention of “higher stakes” refers to something else entirely that fans haven’t even considered. Until then, the imminent trailer may end up holding some keys to unlocking more of Avengers 4’s biggest secrets, so any more speculation until then may account for little more than wasted breath at this point.