The following contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War. Seriously, what's taking you so long?

Avengers: Infinity War is, for most fans, a thing of the past, but as its events will lead us directly into next year's Avengers 4, we all are wondering just how the rest of Phase Three will go from here. Most of our heroes are gone, which means it's up to the few who remain to save the rest of the universe. How will all of these remaining characters fit together? It's never too early to speculate.

There were certainly some characters that were more important than others in Infinity War and, maybe not coincidently, a lot of them are gone, making Avengers 4 an opportunity for other characters to shine. Here are 10 characters who may turn out to be especially valuable in the next movie, and why that could be the case.

Hawkeye

We start with one character who likely will be of key importance to Avengers 4 if for no other reason than he was nearly ignored entirely in Avengers: Infinity War. The Russo Brothers have continued to assure us that Hawkeye's story in these films is important. When we consider the fact that Hawkeye almost certainly lost some or all of his family to Thanos' snap, his role in Avengers 4 becomes seemingly obvious. He's an avenging angel. Whether his goal is to try and get his family back, or simply take down the one who took them, Hawkeye will likely have some of the strongest motivation of any of our heroes to go after the Mad Titan. He could actually be the one who incites the entire plot of the new movie.

Ant-Man

While we're discussing characters who get ignored in Avengers: Infinity War, we have to also discuss Ant-Man. He's in a bit of a grey area as, while we don't know what's been going on with him off-screen, unlike Hawkeye, we will learn the answer thanks to the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp movie. Assuming he's still alive, Scott Lang will almost certainly be called up by the Avengers for help due to the reduced ranks. He could play an important role in a couple of ways. First, depending on the future status of the Hulk, Giant Man could be the key to fighting Thanos from a purely physical standpoint. Secondly, his knowledge of the Quantum Realm, and potentially other aspects of reality as well, could turn out to be very important in understanding the power of the Infinity Stones in order to defend against them or use them.

Captain Marvel

We know thanks to the post-credits sequence that Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is going to be important in Avengers 4, but since we know nothing about her within the MCU yet, we can only guess how. In the comics, she has a power set that is nearly unmatched, making her likely the only one who can truly take on Thanos in a head-to-head fashion. The fact that we do know Captain Marvel 's villains will be the Kree, also means that Carol Danvers will likely know a great deal more about the galaxy than most of the remaining characters since almost all of the Guardians of the Galaxy are gone, which will also make her indispensable in finding and defeating Thanos.

Wasp

Evangeline Lily has already stated that the Wasp isn't actually in Avengers 4 all that much, but we know that she is in it, and since she is, her small role could be important in one of a few different ways. One possibility is that, if the Quantum Realm does become important in Avengers 4, she could help the Avengers use it. She is, after all, much more technically capable than Scott Lang. There is other possibility, however. What if Hope Van Dyne actually died as the result of the Infinity Stones? Her brief role in the movie could come at the end after the heroes are successful in reversing the damage, meaning her loss could, similar to Hawkeye, be motivation for Scott Lang to fight Thanos.

Nebula

Nebula didn't get a chance to do much in Avengers: Infinity War, but she's still alive, and the father she hates killed the sister she had begun to reconcile with. She's going to be pissed and she's not going to stop until she gets her hands on Thanos. In the Infinity Gauntlet comic storyline, Nebula is ultimately the one who gets the better of Thanos, and while I wouldn't expect things to play out just that way, I do expect she'll play a significant part in finally stopping him. There is, after all, the problem of actually finding him to deal with first, and nobody alive knows Thanos better than Nebula.

Iron Man

Tony Stark very nearly died in Avengers: Infinity War. He would have, had it not been for Doctor Strange sacrificing the Time Stone. Since Strange had seen all possible futures, including one where the Avengers win the day, it's a simple connection to make that Tony Stark is key to that victory. Of course, exactly how could take any number of directions. Living today to die tomorrow, in a heroic effort of self-sacrifice, is certainly a strong possibility, since we know Robert Downey Jr. will be saying goodbye to the role very soon. I'm expecting Tony's Arc Reactor, a technology that wouldn't be around if he was not, to be a power source for whatever plan defeats Thanos. Or more simply, maybe Stark is just the guy who comes up with the final plan.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange may be gone from the MCU for the moment, but that doesn't mean that he won't still have an important role in the next film. As previously mentioned, he has seen the future, which means he has some idea how things will go. If Strange did save Tony Stark's life in order to set up the endgame in a particular way, then he likely knows a lot more about what comes next. If he is still "alive" in some sense, perhaps inside the Soul Stone, then he'll know not only what he needs to do, but what everybody else will need to do in order to overcome Thanos.

Thanos

Yes, saying Thanos will be important to Avengers 4 is a no-brainer, but when you stop to think about it, exactly how he will fit into the story is actually interesting. From his perspective, he has completed his mission and he's done. He's sitting by a lake somewhere, probably fly fishing, or whatever retired Titans do. He will only act when the Avengers come after him. He'll see it as an act of self-defense from a hostile attack. It's also not clear how much control he'll have over the Infinity Stones when it comes to that, which means he might be in a comparatively weakened state.

Thor

Thor was a big part of Avengers: Infinity War and that role will likely stay strong in Avengers 4. He did, after all, promise to kill Thanos, and as of yet, he has not fulfilled that pledge. We know that at some point there will a final, massive battle between the Avengers and Thanos and Stormbreaker's power will be needed. If there is a single weapon at hand that might be actually capable of destroying an Infinity stone, it would be Thor's new ax. What happens when you take the weapon of a god and smash a gem with power over life itself? I can't wait to find out.

Gamora

If there's one character who might be least expected to be deeply involved in Avengers 4, it's Gamora. She's dead, after all. But, now that we have confirmation of the theory that Gamora's soul rests within the Soul Stone, she might not be quite as gone as she appeared. Whether she's alive, or is just consciousness inside the stone, you can bet she won't rest until her "father" has been finally and truly defeated. Whether or not she'll come back from the dead is far from clear, but even dead, she's not far from Thanos, and she's a danger to him.

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