With Thor: Ragnarok now in cinemas, there's just one film - February's Black Panther - before the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) unites to take on Josh Brolin's Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

The titanic gathering of over 60 established characters from the sprawling series arrives 10 years after Iron Man kick-started the story Infinity War will, with 2019's second part, mark the end of. At least, as we know it.

Ragnarok is, by and large, its own story, but it does feature two original members of the Avengers line-up and does its part to set up Infinity War in small but notable ways.

Warning: Spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok and its end credits scenes (of which there are two), follow.

Ragnarok is its own film. There are plenty of references to the wider MCU, and Benedict Cumberbatch appears as Doctor Strange briefly, but otherwise it is primarily a Thor sequel rather than a stepping stone toward Infinity War.

That said, there are plenty of areas that touch upon and could inform the latter story. Let's start with the first credits scene.

With Asgard completely destroyed after Thor brings about Ragnarok by freeing Surtur so the demonic beast can kill off Hela, the surviving Asgardians are aboard a spaceship travelling across the stars in search of a new home.

Thor decides their destination should be Earth, and in the mid-credits scene he talks to Loki about how "everything's going to work out fine". As he says that, an enormous spaceship dwarfing their own appears behind them. We don't see who is inside, but Thanos is a good bet.

If it is Thanos, he may be after Loki. In the final act of the film Thor sends Loki into Asgard's vault to awaken Surtur, and he as does so he walks past the Tesseract - the powerful object in Avengers Assemble that the God of Mischief loved so much - and he stops.

The Tesseract is an Infinity Stone - of which there are six that Thanos wants to recover to claim control over the entire universe. We don't see if Loki takes it, but descriptions of footage from Infinity War seen earlier this year suggests that he does, and it will explain why Thanos is chasing the ship down.

Speaking of Asgard's vault. Earlier in the film we see a nice callback to the original Thor which also handily seals a plot hole that has existed since 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the credits scene for that film Thanos is seen collecting the Infinity Gauntlet - used to house the six stones - in a location that certainly isn't Asgard's vault, where we last saw the gauntlet.

Turns out the one on Asgard is a fake. We see Hela knock it off its perch while calling it a fake, then saying how Odin filled much of the vault with fake treasures. It is a flippant way to fix a plot hole, but it deals with it nonetheless.

Finally, there is the matter of Hulk. Mark Ruffalo recently revealed that Ragnarok starts a three-film arc for the character that will continue in Infinity War and then its untitled sequel in 2019.

In Ragnarok we learn that Bruce Banner has been The Hulk for two years, ever since he flew off heartbroken at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. He wound up on Sakaar, where Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster gives him the chance to fight in gladiatorial combat. He quickly becomes champion, and even has his own room complete with Hulk-sized hot tub.

Those two years helped Hulk develop an improved vocabulary and made him a little more mild-mannered. He still wants to fight everything and loves doing so, but he is also capable of conversations and listening to people.

He left Earth because he thinks earthlings hate him, and at the end of the film he is travelling with Thor back there. Thanos might delay his return a bit, but clearly Hulk has a huge role to play in Infinity War, not least because he is one of the few who might be able to inflict some damage on Thanos.

Thor could also deal some damage to the mad Titan, but without his hammer Mjölnir - obliterated by Hela at the start of the film - he might have a bit more trouble. Despite our expectations, Mjölnir does not return in a triumphant, climactic scene. It is gone.

This does not mean it might not appear in a similar such scene in Infinity War or its sequel. Imagine Thor's hammer returning to him in his time of need, or better still imagine another character like Chris Evans' Captain America summoning and picking it up when the universe needs it most.

We will find out what happens when Avengers: Infinity War is released on 27 April 2018.