(Note, potential SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War below - and definite ones for the comic-book version)
So - Marvel's Civil War.
There's been a lot of talk lately about how Captain America: Civil War could be set to kill off one of Marvel's most beloved characters - and that talk has, so far, all suggested that the character in question is Captain America himself.
The thing is, though, a whole lot of that talk is based on two basic assumptions: That the movie will remain faithful to the comic-book version of the story, and that Chris Evans - who plays Cap - will leave the MCU at the end of his soon-to-expire contract.
What, though, if Marvel are planning something very different - an ending to Captain America: Civil War that'll not only be different to the original story, but shockingly so.
What if They're Not Planning on Killing Off Cap - But Iron Man?
Now, that may sound a whole lot like killing the golden goose - otherwise known as Robert Downey Jr - but there are two key reasons why it might not be quite as out there an idea as it initially sounds. The first is contractual, and the other creative.
Chris Evans Might Not Be Done - and RDJ is Seriously Expensive
Now, if there's one word that describes Marvel's production process (other than awesome-inducing, which is technically two) it's frugal. When it comes to money, they've famously got a tight hold on the purse strings when it comes to budgets, and especially salaries.
Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr. makes somewhere in the region of $40 to $50 million dollars a picture, plus a significant percentage of the back-end.
Now, clearly, that arrangement has worked out well for all concerned thus far - but it's entirely possible that some at Marvel would be all to happy to see RDJ gradually drift out of the spotlight, and away from his incredibly well-paid role as Tony Stark.
At the same time, the long-running suggestion that Chris Evans is pretty much done with Marvel once his current contract (which runs for one more movie past Captain America: Civil War, incidentally) relies on a few quotes from years ago where he suggested he was thinking about quitting acting.
Now, Evans has since seemed a whole lot less sure about that particular decision, which suggests he may well not be quite so absolutely on his way out of the MCU as he once seemed.
Surely, though, that doesn't matter - Civil War has to end with Cap's death, right? It's in the comics...
Well, maybe. The thing is, though...
Everyone (and Their Dog) Knows How Civil War Ends
Or, at least, pretty much everyone in the key audience demographics for the movie already knows that, in the original comics, Cap is killed at the end of the story-line - and, come the release of the movie, a whole lot more people will have had that particular fact ruined for them by speculative articles (like this one) and general Facebook spoiler-ing.
So that potentially Empire Strikes Back-matching horribly depressing and surprising ending? It wouldn't necessarily be quite as shocking as it might seem - and that could well dent the projected ridiculously high box office. Knowing the ending of a movie may not stop hardcore fans from going to see it, but for a lot of neutral moviegoers, it could make all the difference.
The big question, though, is this:
So, Could They Really Switch the Ending?
Could we, when we're getting to the final moments of Captain America: Civil War, not, in fact, watch Captain America die - but, instead, Iron Man?
Well, it may seem unlikely, but it's by no means impossible. RDJ has, after all, remained pretty darned vague about his likely appearance in the two Avengers: Infinity War movies - and besides, it's not as though whoever dies in Civil War isn't going to turn up alive by the end of them anyway.
Meanwhile, the untimely death of RDJ could actually open up one particularly intriguing - if distinctly out-there and non-canon - possibility: Bucky Barnes as the new Iron Man.
He does have a whole lot more of that nine picture deal to go, after all...