It’s been known for a while now that the still-untitled Avengers 4 will bring a big conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. Marvel head Kevin Feige has talked about the 2019 Avengers film as the conclusion to the 22-movie arc that’s preceded it, and we know the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming will kick off Phase 4. But what, exactly, will happen to bring about such an end, and what will follow it? In a new lengthy cover story from Vanity Fair, Feige finally speaks about the future of the MCU, teasing what’s to come, and possibly confirming that long-rumored theory that many of our beloved superheroes will meet their end in Avengers 4.

The magazine’s latest issue, which shows off 36 Marvel characters across four Avengers: Infinity War-themed covers and an expansive photoshoot, is full of new details about the MCU. In the cover story, which is worth a full read, Vanity Fair‘s Joanna Robinson talks to the stars of the MCU, along with Feige and Disney CEO Bob Iger about the future of the massive franchise. Feige revealed that Avengers 4 will be the end of an era, distinctly separating the MCU into two chapters:

[Avengers 4 will] bring things you’ve never seen in superhero films: a finale. […] There will be two distinct periods. Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after. I know it will not be in ways people are expecting.

Robinson then hinted at the long-running theory that the movie will kill off our heroes, writing that Feige’s comments “may mean a lot of dead Avengers at the hands of the villain Thanos.” He didn’t confirm as much outright, but both Feige and Iger noted that they’ve their sights set on exploring new worlds and bringing new characters to the screen in the years to come. “We’re looking for worlds that are completely separate — geographically or in time — from the worlds that we’ve already visited,” Iger told the magazine after noting that the studio holds the rights to 7,000 characters. Feige added that the next 20 films in the Marvel line-up to follow Avengers 4 will be “completely different from anything that’s come before—intentionally.”

And not everyone we’ve met thus far will be gone come Phase 4. Tom Holland’s webslinger will return after Avengers 4, and as James Gunn has previously hintedGuardians will continue. The VF piece notes that Gunn is working with Iger and Feige to spin off some of his characters for the next chunk of MCU movies to come.

As for our current Marvel defenders of justice, the ushering in of a new generation is as exciting as it is sad. Before the photoshoot, a handful of Avengers were all hunched together playing a game of Words With Friends on their phones. “I thought, Could somebody take a photo of this?,” Chris Hemsworth said later of the hang out. “We’re all aware that this is going to be the last time we get to hang out like this.” Scarlett Johansson later chimed in about the future of the MCU. “I feel a lot of joy for the next generation,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet feeling, but a positive one.”

It’s not over yet, though. We’ve still got Infinity War to look forward to – not to mention next February’s Black Panther – and based on all the Vanity Fair coverage and one suspicious Facebook post from the Russo brothers this morning of the number 3, a teaser trailer may arrive as soon as this week. (In three days? On December 3rd?) Keep your eyes peeled. Infinity War hits theaters May 4, 2018.

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