Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has only just begun, with Captain America: Civil War in cinemas now. But the multi-movie arc is facing some changes already, with a planned name change for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War two-parter.
When Marvel Studios revealed its release slate for Phase Three back in October 2014, everything seemed to be designed to culminate in a grand battle pitting the assembled heroes against Thanos, the insane space god who has been teased since the post-credits sting at the end of 2012's The Avengers. The epic clash was set to take place in Infinity War: Part One in May 2018 and Infinity War: Part Two in May 2019. Now though, Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who will be helming the Infinity War films next, say the two may not be as closely connected as once thought, and to expect name changes.
Speaking to Uproxx, Anthony Russo said that labelling Avengers: Infinity War as Part One and Part Two was "misleading".
Brother Joe Russo emphasised that the features are "are two very different movies", adding that "the intention is we will change it, we just haven't come up with the titles yet. But, yes, we will change it."
The decision makes a certain kind of sense. The current Marvel Studios release slate is full up to 2019, and while the release dates for the Infinity War duology remain unchanged, there are now two movies slated for release inbetween – the addition of Ant-Man and the Wasp in July 2018 joining the originally announced Captain Marvel in March 2019. Given the shared continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if the Infinity War films had been a traditional two-parter, having a year-long pause where audiences are taken on other adventures could be an awkward fit.
Dropping the "Part One/Part Two" branding could also have a financial element. The tactic of splitting a 'final' chapter in half has become endemic in adaptations of young adult novels, with Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and the Divergent series all dragging out their finales. It's a tactic audience seem to have tired of – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 brought in $755.4m on a $125m budget, yet its sequel only drew $653.4m on a budget of around $160m. The Divergent series has declined so heavily that its most recent entry Allegiant was considered a flop. Distancing The Avengers from the failing two-parter trend could be wise.
It's clear that the movies themselves will remain the lynchpin of the current arc though, but there may be a more definitive break between them than had been expected. Quite what the two will be renamed remains a mystery, although there are a few similarly named events to choose from in the comics.