The end of Avengers: Infinity War was almost much different, that is, almost much less devastating. (Spoiler alert if you’ve yet to see it.) The Thanos snap heard ‘round the world resulted in a huge chunk of our favorite heroes biting the dust. But as the screenwriters reveal in a recent interview, that ending was almost reserved for the beginning of Avengers 4.

Infinity War writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely recently sat down with The New York Times to talk about their approach to writing the penultimate finale to Marvel’s Avengers saga. But writing the culmination of 10 years of Marvel movies was no small feat. The two always knew what would happen, saying they always write with an end in sight, but when to show it was up for debate.

Markus told the paper that Thanos’ snap – the moment he puts on the Infinity Gauntlet during the Wakanda battle and snaps half of the universe out of existence – was at one point going to take place at the beginning of Avengers 4. “But what we realized is, it would feel more like a cliffhanger than we intended,” he said.

What’s more of a cliffhanger than killing off half your characters? Making us wait an entire year to see you kill of half those characters. Had Infinity War ended before the snap, it would’ve been an even bigger tease – and likely a more frustrating one for fans. For Markus and McFeely, that choice would’ve made the untitled fourth Avengers feel like “a continuation of exactly what you were watching before,” when instead the finale should “be as big as it wants to be, and as sprawling,” as Markus described. They ultimately decided Infinity War should go “all the way to a tragic ending,” which McFeely said, makes it especially hard for fans to predict where the story will go next.

Saving the soul-crushing deaths for Avengers 4 would’ve also made the opening of that film a major bummer – imagine the excitement of sitting down for the final Avengers movie and seeing all your faves wiped out right away. And while the Infinity War ending may have its critics, it does allow those deaths to really sink in with fans before the next movie, making their eventually returns (because of course they’ll be back) all the more rewarding. We’ll have to keep speculating until Avengers 4 hits theaters next May, or until Mark Ruffalo accidentally slips up again.

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