With the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron almost upon us - a very particular day is fast approaching. No, not the arrival of Age of Ultron in theaters, or even the release of Captain America: Civil War next year.
The day I'm talking about is the one, set to arrive pretty much any day now, when finally, after years of Avenging, Joss Whedon's watch comes to an end. The day when, after years of dedicating himself to the greater good of the MCU, Whedon is able to hand over the reins of the Avengers franchise to the Russo brothers, and enjoy the creative freedom he's seemingly been craving for years.
Which, from the sounds of it, is also going to entail Whedon revealing more-or-less whatever he feels like about the future direction of the Avengers movies. After all, in his most recent interview with Vulture:
Joss Whedon Just Revealed That There'll Be More Than One Villain in Avengers: Infinity War
Specifically, as he put it:
"A lot of people were surprised that Thanos wasn't the villain in Avengers 2, but he was never meant to be...He was always meant to be the puppet-master until he was done doing that, and then he'll be the big villain they face off with. Not solely - I'm sure there'll be plenty more [villains] in that monstrous epic, because one thing Marvel doesn't do is string a story out into two movies that shouldn't be two movies. They'll give you two big movies. I feel like we got two movies into this one!"
Which, while not exactly conclusive proof, is about as close to it as we're likely to get for a year or two.
The big question now, then?
Which Villains Will We See?
Well, there're obviously a whole lot of candidates out there, but here are five of my top picks for a decently-sized appearance:
Arguably the most obvious villain for Marvel to include, both due to his involvement in the first Avengers movie, and his immense popularity with fans, Loki could well actually have had a role in the movie carved out for him by the comics.
In the comic book version of Infinity War, Doctor Doom ends up heavily involved in the story-line (alongside Kang the Conqueror), as part of a plot to take the power of the Infinity Gauntlet for himself.
The only problem? The rights to Doctor Doom aren't owned by Marvel - leaving Loki the most obvious (and box office friendly) candidate to take his place...
Now, it's still possible that Kang the Conqueror will find his way into the Marvel universe by the time Infinity War arrives, but I can't help suspecting he's more likely a Phase 4 sort of villain.
His place in the plot, though, would work perfectly for Ultron - who, no matter what happens to him at the end of Age of Ultron, is pretty much certain to be back at some point. Ultron always comes back...
Yup, that's right - the literal embodiment of Death herself has a pretty great shot of making it to the screen in Infinity War - largely because Thanos' all-consuming love for her is the main reason he does pretty much anything in the comics. She could even appear earlier than that, though - with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 seeming a likely introduction point.
Don't expect her to be a laugh riot, though...
4. The Red Skull
Now, full disclosure? This one might not actually happen - I just really want to see The Red Skull back in the MCU somehow.
I don't care how it has to happen, it just...needs to. You listening, Kevin Feige?
No? Oh...Okay, then...
5. The Magus
One of the most intriguing elements of Marvel naming the third Avengers movie(s) Infinity War is that the comic book story-line of the same name doesn't actually have Thanos - the MCU's big bad - as its main antagonist.
That honor instead falls to The Magus, the evil version of the hero Adam Warlock (who'll also likely make it into the movie), who actually forces Thanos into something approaching an anti-heroic role.
If the first part of Avengers: Infinity War, then, sees Thanos take on the Avengers, don't be too surprised if the second sees him grudgingly teaming up with them...
What do you reckon, though?