Major Spoilers concerning Marvel Phase 4 and 5!
Alright, I know you will read the spoilers. After all, who isn't tempted to even though one hates to?
So, here goes.
Thanos does not die at the end of the Infinity War.
He becomes an ally instead.
Thanos, though once wiping out half the sentient life in the universe, is not an outright villain. He is more of an anti-hero. Why? Because even though he did destroy half the universe once, he saved the whole of four times after.
When his mad love for lady Death ended in not so ceremonial way, he decides to become a lone farmer and sought redemption for his acts. Because Nebula had restored all that was destroyed, nobody really died and everyone eventually ended up being safe.
Thanos then becomes the guardian of the reality gem and successfully thwarts both Magus and the Goddess and the inter-universal consuming entity to save the universe.
The Infinity War isn't a single cosmic event; it is the second of the six cosmic events in the Marvel Universe. And technically the event that is to be shown in the 2018 and 2019 films is not the Infinity War, rather Infinity Gauntlet. It starts with Thanos’ Quest and ends with Thanos’ exile.
So even though Thanos – The Mad Titan – was the villain of the first and second events, he was the saviour in the rest.
We will be introduced to cosmic entities like The Celestials, Galactus, Lord Chaos and Master Order, The Living Tribunal, Eternity, Infinity, manifestations of love and desire et cetera.
And most importantly, the moral line will be finely blurred. There aren't outright villains and heroes in the subsequent phases.
Saying all that let’s speculate story-lines for the Marvel Cinematic Universe post Infinity War.
Marvel Phase 4: The Secret War/Beyonder Saga
After a universe spanning 21 films until the Infinity War, many would think there will not be any content of epic proportions to adapt. But, as mentioned above, there is much more.
I truly believe that the rights for the Fantastic Four will return to Marvel sooner rather than later. The reboot will sink. People will boycott it and unassuming viewers will not be too excited because of how sucky its marketing is.
When the rights will return to Marvel, we will have the Skrull, Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom at our disposal.
Doctor Victor Von Doom was heavily involved in the Infinity War and he is a scientific, psychological and supernatural threat. He is one of the most revered and famousest (that’s a word…the Hobbits use it) villains of all time. What better honour for him than being the inspiration for Darth Vader?
But a true threat for the heroes will come in the form of the Beyonder. He was once an Inhuman (also a mutant) who was exposed to the Terrigen Mists and his Terrigenesis bestowed upon him godlike powers. The memory of his existence was erased from the minds of Blackbolt and everybody else.
He creates an alternate reality within himself. He then becomes infatuated and obsessed with the lives of Earthlings. He throws a trap for our heroes and transports them to another galaxy; he also intrigues and ensnares the villains and eventually pits heroes and villains against each other on a new planet called Battleworld with the promise of a great reward.
He is usurped by the overly ambitious Doctor Doom who in turn is thwarted by the Beyonder and soon after both are vanquished by the heroes. Once defeated therein, he returns to Earth to study mankind and experience love. After several convoluted plots he enters a Sanctum Sanctorum and creates an alternate universe for himself. But he is confronted and defeated there as well and turns into a cosmic cube.
This could be the plot for the fourth and fifth Avengers films. Characters like Doctor Strange and the Inhumans are directly involved in this conflict. And this will lead into Phase 5 which is the Infinity Crusade.
Marvel Phase 5: The Infinity Crusade
When Adam Warlock takes the Infinity Gauntlet, he decides to nullify his emotions and his will to be good and bad so as to be a neutral judge akin to the Living Tribunal. But, in doing so he created two sentient entities called the Magus and the Goddess.
The Magus was the villain of the Infinity War and the Goddess of the Infinity Crusade.
The Infinity Crusade Part 1
The Magus is a malevolent entity who wants to end all life for the sake of ending all life. He creates doppelgängers of the heroes and villains and goes after the Cosmic Cubes. Their working is similar to that of the Infinity Gauntlet. He collects the five cosmic cubes, incapacitates the cosmic entity Eternity and creates an inter-dimensional realm from where he creates evil duplicates of everybody else, including Thanos. (See? I told you Thanos isn't a hard-core baddie)
Thanos discovers the plot set by the Magus and apprises Warlock of it. Galactus, who again isn't an outright villain, investigates along with Earth’s heroes and attempts to revive Eternity because the entity is needed to petition the Living Tribunal, who had the use of the Infinity Gems in unison. If the Gauntlet was reactivated, the heroes could erase the Magus existence.
After several mini events on Earth and elsewhere, the story climaxes with Quasar, the Magus, Warlock, Thanos, Doctor Doom and Kang the Conqueror vying for the cosmic cubes.
Doom and Kang approach Magus after searching for the cosmic power's source.
The Magus captures Adam Warlock and the inactive gauntlet. They battle each other and Warlock loses the fight. Magus is severely weakened and attempts to use the cosmic cubes but finds the containment units stolen. Doom betrays Kang and demands Magus to relinquish the gauntlet. Coincidentally Eternity is revived and convinces The Living Tribunal to reactivate the gauntlet. A near omnipotent Magus defeats Doom and erases Quasar's existence. Thanos enters the scene, battling his doppelgänger and distracting Magus. Adam Warlock grapples the Magus for the gauntlet and releases a composite being made of Eternity and his twin Infinity. This being incapacitates the Magus and Warlock traps him in the Soul Gem. But Warlock - spending most of his energy - falls into a coma.
Thanos reveals to the assembled heroes that Magus had never gained true omnipotence. Thanos had replaced the Reality Gem with a convincing fake and declares that he had always been the secret guardian of the Reality Gem. The heroes return to Earth as everything is turned back to normal.
The Infinity Crusade Part 2
The Infinity War story ends with the Goddess collecting the containment units and in the Infinity Crusade we find that she has created a new planet Paradise Omega with the help of the cosmic egg. She brainwashes many of the Earth’s heroes and recruits them for her army.
Her aim is to end all evil. Professor X (who could be replaced by Doctor Strange in this movie version), Thanos and Adam Warlock join forces and plan an assault on the Goddess’ defences. They are thwarted by Moondragon and Professor X goes into a state of coma.
Thanos and Warlock are approached by Mephisto, who gives them vital information regarding the Goddess in exchange of a containment unit. They agree.
Thanos assembles the heroes of Earth and frees the Silver Surfer from the control of the Goddess. The Silver Surfer destroys the planet’s defences. Thanos using his telepathic powers attacks the Goddess the very moment she decides to activate her plan. She was determined to rewrite all existence in order to nullify evil itself.
But she was tricked into it by Warlock, who had created an illusion in order to make her reveal her true intentions to the heroes of Earth. Thanos, Warlock and Professor X (here Doctor Strange) attack the Goddess on the spiritual plane, where the cubes have no power, and trap her inside the Soul Gem.
The heroes return to Earth as the battle is undone by the Cosmic Egg. Thanos deems that the power of the Cosmic Egg mustn’t be used by anyone else. Thanos takes one of the cosmic cubes to Mephisto to deliver the promised payment. He then destroys the Paradise Omega and the Egg, making the artefact useless for Mephisto.
Hence, Thanos saves the universe time and again and receives full redemption for his previous acts of jealous love.
This could effectively end Phase 5 and also the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. It will also be enough to make films until 2028 as Marvel has already planned.
Let me know your opinions. I could have added several other mini plotlines, but it would only make this already long post a saga. I guess I’ll write another piece on those itty bitty details.