Spoilers for "Avengers: Infinity War" and predictions for the future of the MCU below.

"Avengers: Infinity War" has smashed box office records in its opening weekend, making $257 million in the U.S. and $382 million in the rest of the world for a total of $640 million worldwide, the number one opening weekend of all-time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a global hit and the 19th film, "Infinity War" is the culmination of ten years of work by Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the films, and Marvel. It all began with "Iron Man" in 2008, and it’s hard to believe how far it has come.

'Infinity War'

"Infinity War" has caused shockwaves around the world for its "Game of Thrones"-esque approach to mercilessly killing off its characters.

The movie saw the big bad of the MCU, Thanos, come to Earth seeking out the remaining Infinity Stones needed for his Infinity Gauntlet. All stones together would see Thanos obtain nearly unlimited power. At the end of the film, Thanos completed his objective and with a snap of his fingers, wiped out half the population of the universe. Numerous heroes of the MCU disintegrated to dust at the end of the film, including Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Star-Lord, Groot, Drax, Falcon, Mantis, and Bucky Barnes. Loki and Heimdall died at the beginning of the film, Gamora around halfway through, and Vision near the end.

What’s next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe? It’s time for some predictions.

'Avengers 4' What to expect?

The original Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Black Widow are all alive at the end of the film.

Hawkeye is alive too, with the film hinting that he was under house arrest, but it’s reasonable to expect him to return in "Avengers 4" if he didn’t disintegrate after the snap. Also alive are Nebula and Rocket, the only remaining members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Okoye, Rhodey, and M’Baku are also still standing.

The post-credits scene at the end of "Infinity War" showed Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill disintegrating amid mass hysteria. Fury was in the middle of paging someone when he disintegrated but luckily he had hit send in time. The pager dropped to the ground and the film ended with a shot of it, showing the logo for Captain Marvel. It was announced in July 2016 that Oscar winner Brie Larson would be playing the character in her own standalone film. "Captain Marvel" is set to come out on March 8, 2019. Early news from Marvel claims that the movie will be set in the 1990’s, but the ending of "Infinity War" and the release date for "Captain Marvel" -- seven weeks before "Avengers 4" -- seems to hint that she will have a pivotal role to play in the next Avengers movie.

"Ant-Man and the Wasp" is the next film on Marvel’s slate, due for release in July 2018, and the second trailer was just released. "Infinity War" claimed that Ant-Man was under house arrest like Hawkeye, so the events of his next standalone movie might show what exactly he’s been up to. It’s incredibly likely that both Rudd’s Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp will also help save the day in "Avengers 4."

It really is hard to see all the characters killed off in "Infinity War" staying dead and not coming back. Black Panther was one of those characters who turned to dust at the finale of the third Avengers, but it’s really difficult to believe he won’t return in "Avengers 4." Black Panther’s solo movie came out in February and while it was always expected to be a hit at the box office, very few people could have guessed it would make as much as it did. It finished its theatrical run with $1.3 billion worldwide. Marvel tends to favor trilogies for their main heroes, and Black Panther will surely be a vital part of the Avengers for years to come. Does anybody really expect Marvel to turn down the chance for two potentially billion dollar Black Panther sequels?

The same can be said for Spider-Man. "Homecoming" was a big hit last summer, ending up with nearly $900 million at the box office, and Tom Holland has immediately become a fan favorite. He’s one of the most popular superheroes of all-time, and there’s simply no way he won’t be making a return in "Avengers 4."

It seems likely that "Avengers 4" will revolve around the remaining heroes, joined by Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Hawkeye, hitting back hard against Thanos for revenge. The Infinity Gauntlet is undoubtedly going to be the most important element of the film. Thanos now holds all the stones, and they could be crucial in allowing the Avengers to bring back those Thanos killed with his "finger snap at the end of "Infinity War." The Soul Stone could be the most important of them all.

Much speculation was made before the release of "Infinity War" as to where the last stone could possibly be. It was on the planet Vormir, being watched over by Red Skull. Thanos had to kill Gamora to obtain the stone. The main power of the stone is that it allows the user to control the souls of both the dead and the living. In the comics, the stone stores the souls in it. If the Avengers manage to defeat Thanos, the Soul Stone might be used by itself or in tandem with the others to bring back all those who disintegrated. It’s hard to say whether it can also be used to bring back people like Loki, Gamora, or Vision.

After ‘Avengers 4’

Assuming Thanos is defeated and order is restored to the MCU, what is next for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Marvel has said that "Avengers 4" will bring Phase Three of the MCU to an end and herald the beginning of Phase Four. Some movies have already been announced for the fourth phase.

"Spider-Man 2" is the next movie on Marvel’s slate after "Avengers 4. "Homecoming" director Jon Watts is returning for the sequel which is expected to revolve around Peter Parker’s junior year of high school and will take place immediately after "Infinity War." The announcement of the movie's release date, July 2019, seems to be a spoiler for Parker’s fate in "Avengers 3." Some people have speculated whether this just means that Parker will be replaced by Miles Morales or one of the other comic book Spider-Men, but that seems unlikely. "Homecoming" was the start of Peter Parker’s story, and as I mentioned above, Holland is so popular and so good in the role, it’d be a real shame for someone else to take it over.

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is set for a release date at some point in 2020. Again, the announcement of this movie seems to be a massive spoiler for the fates of Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, Groot, Rocket, and Gamora in "Avengers 3" and "Avengers 4," but the whole team is not necessarily coming back. The movie Guardians were not the original Guardians of the comics, and the comics Guardians have an ever-changing roster, with Iron Man even being a member at one point. Sylvester Stallone played Stakar Ogord in "Guardians Vol. 2" and the ending of that movie seemed to hint at a larger role for the character in future. In fact, writer/director James Gunn said in an interview on the Adam Carolla podcast, “[Stakar] is very important to the Marvel Universe… it's our plan to see more of Stallone.” It’s very likely that Star-Lord and company will return intact for the third part of the trilogy, but we could also see some big roster changes.

Marvel has announced 9 different release dates from May 2020 to July 2022. They haven’t announced the films for these dates, but it’s easy to speculate. Assuming Stephen Strange is brought back in "Avengers 4," it’s very likely that we’ll see a "Doctor Strange 2." The same can be said if T’Challa comes back, as Black Panther could be a major member of the Avengers going into the future. We might see a third part of the "Ant-Man" series, depending on how he fares in his second film and in the Avengers. Captain Marvel will certainly get a sequel, which will more than likely be one of the later dates listed.

Of the original Avengers, many have speculated that we’ll see some of them depart. "Iron Man 3" came out in 2013 and there seems to be no rush for a fourth. It seems likely that Tony Stark will retire from the MCU after "Avengers 4" and ride off into the sunset. Captain America was the Avenger who was most expected to die in "Infinity War." Chris Evans has stated in many interviews his uncertainty regarding his future as a part of the MCU. "Captain America: Civil War" released in 2016 and Evans has stated his desire to move toward smaller films and try his hand at directing. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a "Captain America 4," and we might see Cap die or retire at the end of "Avengers 4." Some fan theories claim that the Infinity Gauntlet will be used to send Steve Rogers back to the 1940’s where he’ll be reunited with Peggy Carter.

Other actors like Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth show no signs of wanting out of the saga. Johansson is believed to have had a meeting with Marvel about an all-female team-up film in the MCU, and it’s also possible that we’ll get a Black Widow standalone. A Hulk movie for Ruffalo remains unlikely, as the rights are tied-up with Universal, who own the standalone rights to the character. Hemsworth said he’ll come back for "Thor 4" if there’s another great script and that is likely if "Ragnarok" director Taika Waititi returns.

All remains to be seen with how "Avengers 4" turns out. Marvel could still shock us a lot more with the fourth instalment and might not be too eager to bring back all these characters. One thing is for sure, and that is that despite Phase Three coming to an end, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is showing no signs of slowing down.