Major spoilers ahead for Avengers: Infinity War.
A lot can be said about Avengers: Infinity War, and even more can be said about the bonkers ending. To recap, Thanos (Josh Brolin) basically wins the war when he collects all six Infinity Stones. Then, with a snap of his fingers, he accomplishes what he sets out to do—wipe out half the universe at random. This ends up killing beloved characters like Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), all of the Guardians of the Galaxy except Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), and more. There are still major superheroes on the board like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain America (Chris Evans), but half the universe is just gone, and Thanos is happily watching the sun rise, still in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet and all the Stones (although it looks like the gauntlet was damaged after he snapped his fingers).
The ending of Infinity War makes the split in the audience feel profound. There are two kinds of people that go to see Marvel movies. There’s the casual viewer that will go see a Marvel film if they think it looks interesting and then there are the die-hard fans that will see every Marvel movie on opening weekend and keep up to date with what’s happening for future installments. These two audiences will not perceive the ending the same way. The first group, the casual viewers, will probably be left dumbstruck by what they just saw. “Black Panther just got his own movie! And now he’s dead? What the hell! That can’t be it!” And the die-hard audience will say, “Spider-Man literally has a movie coming out in July 2019. There’s no way he’s dead for good.”
So let’s break down the two options here, keeping in mind the whole time that Infinity War is clearly part 1 of 2, and that the story we’re watching is only half-complete.