Marvel boss Kevin Feige has teased a definitive ending in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with next year's Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled follow-up in 2019, promising something superhero film fans have "never seen" in superhero movies: a finale.
In a Vanity Fair cover story celebrating the Marvel mastermind as the MCU approaches its tenth anniversary in 2018, Feige said: "There will be two distinct periods. Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after. I know it will not be in ways people are expecting."
Promising Avengers 4 will "bring things you've never seen in superhero films: a finale," Feige said there were another 20 films planned following the 2019 blockbuster, which will be the 22nd since the connected series began with 2008's Iron Man.
"22 movies in, and we've got another 20 movies on the docket that are completely different from anything that's come before - intentionally," Feige said.
CEO of Disney - the company that owns Marvel - Bob Iger said Marvel Studios has the rights to 7,000 characters, meaning there's plenty yet to be explored in the MCU. "We're looking for worlds that are completely separate - geographically or in time - from the worlds that we've already visited," he said.
The upcoming Avengers double-bill will conclude the overarching story of the MCU to date, and mark the likely departures of some of its biggest stars. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson are among the actors whose contracts are coming to an end.
Directed by Captain America: Civil War's Joe and Anthony Russo, the films will see the entirety of the MCU unite to take on Thanos - a galaxy conquering supervillain unlike any in the series to date, and who first popped up in the credits scene of 2012's Avengers Assemble.
This story will end, but others will continue. Over the past couple of years Marvel has worked to set up new heroes who can carry the series as it continues beyond (the current) Iron Man and Captain America.
Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther, who debuted in Civil War last year and will star in a solo movie in 2018, and Tom Holland's Spider-Man, who recently enjoyed his own solo outing. There's also Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange and Brie Larson's Captain Marvel as well.
Vanity Fair's story was published alongside four covers for the latest issue of the industry magazine which featured many of the MCU's stars in costume, including Downey Jr, Evans, Johansson, Hemsworth, Boseman, Mark Ruffalo, Elizabeth Olsen and more.