Why Avengers 4 could be over 3 hours long

Avengers: Infinity War currently holds the marathon award for the longest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this upcoming May the epic may have to let go of its claim just a short year after accepting the honor in the first place. When Marvel director Joe Russo was asked in an interview with Collider how long the next Avengers movie might be, he casually dropped that it "could easily be a three-hour film."

Come again? That shocking number really would be a new benchmark of MCU storytelling, extending the "longest title" claim by a whopping twenty minutes or more.  But as we all collectively pick our mouths up off the floor, let's think about this for a minute. There's a ton of material that the Russo Brothers are going to need to get through if they want this film to answer even just some of the questions that Infinity War blew wide open…and then left dangling after Thanos snapped his fingers and shuffled off into retirement. Here's our list of the top ten Infinity War loose ends that we want to see wrapped up in Avengers 4.

Undoing the finger snap (obviously)

Okay, lets start with the elephant in the room (that is, if half of the elephants didn't disappear, too). The obvious cliffhanger ending that Infinity War left us grappling with was the dramatic wiping out of half of the universe literally in the snap of a finger. Although the fight came down to the wire, ultimately everyone's last ditch effort to keep Thanos away from Vision failed. Thor's epic axe hit to the heart proved moot, as he didn't "go for the head," leaving Thanos with the presence of mind to rub those two, shiny, gauntleted fingers together.

As Avengers 4 opens, there's no doubt that we're all going to be desperately scanning everything that comes into sight to try to sort out what is going on "post-snap" and how it will affect the storyline. While many of the items on this list could be kicked down the road if Marvel wants to (though they maybe shouldn't), this one really does need some closure. You can't wipe half of everyone out of existence and then just leave that issue to be resolved in some other movie. With the victims of the snap including some bigwigs like Black Panther and Spider-Man (both of whom have sequels in the works), you can rest assured that this question is going to be resolved before the credits roll. On the other hand, even those who were lucky enough to survive so far might not be safe.

The Hulk issue

Ah, the Hulk vs. Banner extravaganza continues. And, while they didn't get a ton of screen time in Infinity War (not that anyone got too much in the first place), the MCU did manage to move the Hulk story arc forward in a meaningful (if subtle) way. Before Thor: Ragnarok dropped, Mark Ruffalo made it clear that the MCU was all in on giving Hulk a story arc all his own, which was going to be woven into the next three movies.

This path started back in Ragnarok with Hulk/Banner showing up on Sakaar in that sweet gladiator scene between the "friends from work." Hulk had been ruling the roost for two solid years at that point, and when Banner got back on top, it didn't help the two cohabitants' relationship much. Hence, in Infinity War, we get a Hulk who is quickly beaten up by Thanos and then refuses to come out to play for the remainder of the flick. But the Russo Brothers made it clear that this wasn't Hulk chickening out. He was just sick and tired of being Banner's wild card, stowed away in his back pocket only to be trotted out to help when he was in a jam. While Hulk and Banner have a ways to go, you can bet we're going to see some significant, climactic progress in their story arc in Avengers 4.

A long-awaited reunion

When Captain America: Civil War came out way back in 2016 we were all devastated to watch Tony Stark and Steve Rogers come to blows. "But," we all reassured ourselves, "it's going to be okay. These guys can't stay mad at each other for long. They'll make up lickety-split and we'll see a united front in no time." So we told ourselves over and over again…for the next two-and-a-half years and counting.

Many fans thought that Infinity War was going to be the point when the two leaders finally came back together, forgave each other with tears and pats on the back, and then turned to face the might of Thanos. As it turns out, the two didn't even share a scene together in the star-studded film. Even though the writers tried to fit it into the script, the Thanos-centric element of the movie was just too overwhelming to take time for an emotionally-charged reunion scene, so it was scrapped during development.

But that doesn't mean the storyline isn't still sitting there, uncomfortably waiting to be addressed. Even if the script could conceivably be written to avoid the confrontation throughout the movie, with Chris Evans' departure from the MCU imminent, the whole crew over at Marvel has got to be feeling at least a little bit of pressure to patch everything up and end things on an amicable (if not downright friendly) note.

An Iron family?

This next one may very well be already answered by the time the movie begins. Particularly if we're dealing with a five-year leap in time, the Russo Brothers may cut to the chase on this one and just give us an answer. We know that Tony Stark and Pepper Potts were already neck-deep in wedding plans  —  with Tony lobbying for a baby based on a dream that he had — when they were unexpectedly interrupted with the news Tony was needed immediately and that nothing short of "the fate of the universe" was at stake.

When Tony hopped onto the alien ship carrying Dr. Strange and headed for Titan, his last communication with Pepper was once again cut short just as she was trying to tell him something. Her last words were "I'm going to…" which has left many wondering, going to what? Have a baby? It would line up with his "realistic" dream. The whole "Tony Stark becomes a family man" dynamic happening at some point was all but assured by Gwyneth Paltrow herself. The main question left to be answered at this point, as far as the Stark-Potts relationship is concerned, is whether a marriage and family will still just be hopeful future objectives to be attained once the universe is healed of its wounds, or if Tony and Pepper will have already tied the knot and possibly had an "Iron kid" to boot.

Ant-Man and the quantum realm

Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man, was notably missing in action when it came to the hero-heavy cast of Infinity War. With no more than a brief explanation from Black Widow that he took a deal and was under house arrest, the little guy was left in the shadows as the universe went to hell in a handbasket. We may have scratched our heads about why he would honor something as seemingly insignificant as house arrest while everyone else rushed to save the universe, but that question was answered just a couple of months later. When the next installment in the MCU, Ant-Man and the Wasp, hit theaters, it served up some much-needed answers regarding Scott's absence.

The movie itself was a fun one, and if you haven't seen it, you should (seriously, it's a nice, relaxing experience after the pressure cooker that was Infinity War). Arguably the most important part of the flick, though, apart from Scott successfully completing his sentence and being freed up for the next film, was that little post-credit scene where the superhero entered the quantum realm…and then got stuck there as Hank, Janet, and Hope all fell victim to the finger snap. While the movie spawned all kinds of theories about the quantum realm and time travel, we still have to wonder who could even find Scott and bring him back.

Thanos actually losing a fight

Yes, Thanos (or at least his armies) did already lose once in the Battle of New York during Avengers. But this was a Loki-led army, so it hardly counts, even if it's doubtless one of the reasons that Thanos respects Mr. Stark so much. But armies of underlings aside, let's think about this for a second. Infinity War opens with Asgard's few remaining souls already crushed under Thanos' mighty, gauntlet-clad fist. Hulk then steps up to the plate and is soundly beaten. Next, we see Thanos punish the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Collector in a lopsided fight at Knowhere. After some quite unsavory business with Gamora and Nebula, which ends in the former's murder, Thanos marches on to Titan.

It's here that the Avengers and Guardians come the closest to toppling the villain as they pin him down and nearly get the gauntlet off of his monstrous hand. But alas, thanks to Star Lord's emotional outburst, even this comes to naught. Finally, in a quick and brutal scene, Thanos returns to Wakanda and finishes what he started. It goes without saying that the antagonist of a film (particularly in the MCU) cannot go undefeated permanently, which means we're all going to be waiting on the edge of our seats to see just how the good guys manage to bring down the Mad Titan, which is clearly a priority if they're ever going to come out on top.

The Thor arc

For the first two movies in the Thor franchise, things were pretty tame for the Asgardian god. He was a laid-back hunk who could make you laugh or smash your face in with Mjolnir, depending on his mood. Overall, though, he was a more or less sidelined character in the whole Avengers scene, taking a backseat to the likes of heroes like Captain America and Iron Man.

Not anymore. Ever since Thor: Ragnarok, the character has been given a huge overhaul. Between a mix of soul-crushing heartbreak (he loses his father, brother, friends, and kingdom all in a matter of two movies) and the self-realization of just how powerful he really is, the character of Thor has quickly been brought to the forefront, and we're all waiting to see what happens next.

For all of the crowded storylines that needed to be addressed in Infinity War, Thor's ended up getting a pretty hefty chunk of screen time, which means you can rest assured they're going to give him the time he needs to wrap things up in Avengers 4. From seeing more of what his new weapon, Stormbreaker, can do, to avenging the loss of his people, there's little doubt that Thor is one of Thanos' top enemies to watch out for. The question is, how will it all end for the freshly re-minted Avenger?

Guardians of the Galaxy drama

At this point, the Guardians of the Galaxy are a hot mess. They entered Infinity War united, chill, and cruising along without a care in the world, just trying to be (admittedly opportunistic) good samaritans by responding to a distress call. Fast forward two hours later. Gamora has been murdered and Drax, Groot, Mantis, and Star-Lord have all fallen victim to the finger snap. Talk about a quick spiral downwards. 

There's no doubt that these guys had it rough, but they also played some pretty critical roles throughout the story. Mantis was a crucial part of shutting Thanos down long enough to almost get the Infinity Gauntlet off, Star-Lord was the sole reason that very plan failed, Groot was the source of Stormbreaker's handle, and Gamora's death granted Thanos access to the Soul Stone.

But for all of the value that the group brought to the film, they really did pay the ultimate price…over and over again. At this point, the only Guardians-related characters that are still in play are Nebula on Titan and Rocket in Wakanda. This leaves quite a few loose ends that we'd like to see wrapped up. For one thing, is Gamora really gone for good? Or are they going to resurrect the fiercest woman in the galaxy? And then there's the Rocket/Star-Lord drama. The two have always been jockeying for position in their little group, but they left on pretty bad terms. Will they have a happy reunion?

Where was Hawkeye?

In Infinity War, Natasha Romanoff also clarified that Clint Barton has joined Mr. Lang in voluntary confinement after the Sokovia Accords, as the whole ordeal was simply too much for their families. That's understandable out of the whole group, these two family men might have more to lose than everyone else.

That said, though, at this point things are looking pretty bleak, and it wouldn't be beyond reason to assume that Clint could be coaxed out of retirement to help with the endgame. Add to that the fact that many fans have noticed that the original group of Avengers from the first movie, in particular, survived the finger snap, and it seems destined that they should be united in the final struggle to topple the Mad Titan.

Apart from the obvious questions regarding his whereabouts, another important inquiry we want to see answered is whether Clint Barton will return as Hawkeye or as Ronin. For a long time now, fans have been postulating that Barton's forced hiatus may be the perfect time for him to be retooled into the persona of Ronin. This Samurai-inspired character would give the family man the discretion he needs to fight crime in secret and still get home in time for supper. Especially if Avengers 4 has a five year time jump into the future, the idea of Barton returning as a new superhero has become a distinct possibility.

The Captain Marvel question

Finally, we have Captain Marvel. Arguably the greatest question mark of them all, Carol Danvers is slated to fly into theaters in March of 2019. Until then, all we have to go on are bits and pieces of info from the trailer and what we know from the comics (which is always a risky business considering how distinctly the MCU has blazed its own trails with many of these characters).

Needless to say, Captain Marvel will have a huge impact on the plot of Avengers 4. Not just because she's clearly going to be a major character in some way or another, but also because she brings with her an intensity and power that puts her more on a level with the likes of Thor or even the Hulk as top candidates to truly be able to stand toe-to-toe with Thanos and get the job done.

Ever since the post-credit scene for Infinity War, in which we saw Nick Fury send out a signal to Captain Marvel before disappearing along with everyone else, the question has lingered: how is Captain Marvel going to fit into all of this? The good news is we probably won't have to wait until Avengers 4 to figure some of this one out, as we'll no doubt get some major clues when Carol Danvers' own movie comes out in the spring.