The end of Avengers: Infinity War left fans with a single resounding question: "Are the Avengers really dead?" While Infinity War deaths went down differently in the comics, a significant number of MCU characters faded to dust after Thanos's titanic snap. Even though things will probably turn out just fine for most of the characters after the events of Avengers 4, what if some—or even all—of them are really gone for good?
Marvel has a deep bench of powerful heroes who could fill in for any of the vanished Avengers. There are already confirmed sequels to Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy, but that doesn't mean that Peter Parker, Star-Lord, and Drax are coming back. There are plenty of Marvel legacy heroes who could step into the shoes left by everyone who died in Avengers: Infinity War. Is Marvel going to try to force the backstories for a dozen characters into their Phase 3 climax? Probably not, but you don't know just who might show up when Infinity War part two hits screens in 2019.
Watching Black Panther's T'Challa disappear was another surprise for Marvel fans. The king of Wakanda's solo movie had only been released a few months before Infinity War and broke box office records for Marvel, making a sequel feel inevitable. So Black Panther's death was a significant shock. Fortunately, Marvel has a plan in case the King of Wakanda is gone for good, and it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Thanks to Wakanda's laws of succession, Princess Shuri stands as next in line for the throne.
Not only does that make sense in a monarchy like Wakanda, it comes straight out of the comics. Shuri is a capable warrior who has demonstrated her abilities on and off the page. Not only is she the "Tony Stark" of Wakanda and the person most familiar with the use of Vibranium, Shuri took on the mantle of the Black Panther in 2009. Like her brother before her, she consumed the heart-shaped herb and acquired his powers making her the Black Panther and Queen of Wakanda.
Nick Fury has operated in the shadows for much of the second and third phases of the MCU thanks to the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Even though we didn't see him much, Fury was always there working behind the scenes. That's why fans were so excited to see him in the end-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War. Unfortunately, he barely remained around long enough to page Captain Marvel before he faded away.
He wasn't alone. Fury's right-hand agent Maria Hill also succumbed to the snap, so finding a replacement for Nick Fury leaves only one obvious choice: his son. Nicholas Fury Jr. is not only Nick Fury's son, he is a former United States soldier and goes on to become the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics...just like his father.
One of Drax The Destroyer's principal motivations towards wanting to kill Thanos stems from the death of his family. In the comics, Drax has a much more convoluted backstory, but he also has a bit of hope: his daughter actually survives Thanos's attack. Drax's daughter is taken in by Thanos's father, and under the tutelage of monks on Titan, she taps into psionic powers to become Moondragon, one of the most powerful telepaths in the Marvel Universe.
While she is very different from her father in terms of powers and abilities, Moondragon's talents landed her membership on various teams including the Avengers, the Defenders, and eventually, the Guardians of the Galaxy. She could easily be introduced as an unknown survivor from Drax's family and take over his role on the team. There are plenty of fans of the character who want to see her included in the MCU, but none more vocal than Drax himself, Dave Bautista.
Since the final shot of Infinity War seems to imply that Captain Marvel is Nick Fury's secret weapon to combat a planetary cataclysm, it's a pretty good bet that she'll be around to fight Thanos in Avengers 4. But how big of a twist would it be if her solo film ended with her turning to dust too?
Even if that did happen, the MCU could pick out another marvelous heroine to fill her shoes: Kamala Khan. A relatively new addition to the Marvel Universe, Khan is an Inhuman who took on the mantle of Ms. Marvel after Carol Danvers dropped it to once more become Captain Marvel in 2013's Captain Marvel #14. Her powers and abilities are vastly different than Danvers's thanks to her Inhuman origins, but she does possess the ability to shapeshift and has an accelerated healing factor. It would be one of the biggest troll moves in history to sideline Captain Marvel after just one movie, but fans might not mind if it helped launch the MCU's first Muslim hero.