Stan Lee just tried to give fans hope for their "Avengers: Infinity War" favorites, but -- with a snap of their fingers -- the Russo Brothers want to take it all away.


There's a built-in conundrum with "Avengers 3" and "Avenger 4" -- which used to be "Infinity War" Part 1 and Part 2. Certain characters, like Peter Parker and Star-Lord and most of the "Guardians of the Galaxy," are vaporized at the end of the movie.

And yet ... Peter Parker has a "Spider-Man" sequel filming this July for release next July and the "Guardians" have a third movie coming out in 2020.

There's also meant to be a third "Spider-Man" movie coming as part of Tom Holland's trilogy.

Plus, dusted heroes Black Panther and Bucky Barnes are just getting started, and we're expecting a lot more from them in the next phase of the MCU.

Also, original Avengers Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Hemsworth have been pretty vocal about passing the torch to the new crew after "Avengers 4," when their contracts are up. Robert Downey Jr. is part of that original bunch, too. It doesn't seem like a coincidence that they are members of the non-dusted characters.

So with all of that information already out there ... the vaporized people come back, right? Obviously? What are the stakes if people who "died" don't stay dead?

HuffPost asked Joe and Anthony Russo to comment on the criticism that the "deaths" of the dusted characters have no meaning since we know they'll be back for sequels. Here are their responses:

"Here's the thing, I think it's important to remember anything is possible in the MCU," Anthony said. "Just because there's a sequel on the books doesn't mean ... people become accustomed to time moving linearly in the MCU. That doesn't necessarily have to be the case. There's a lot of very inventive ways of where the story can go from here."

"There's four years between 'Guardians 2' and 'Infinity War,'" Joe added. "That's a long time, and a lot of 'Guardians' stories to tell. Again, as Anthony said, don't expect everything to move forward in a linear fashion in the Marvel universe."

Um, James Gunn already said "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" will take place after these two "Avengers" movies, adding that "it will help to set up the next 10, 20 years of Marvel movies."

That doesn't mean Gamora would return, though, since she wasn't dusted. She was sacrificed by Thanos. She, Loki, Heimdall, and Vision were killed, not snapped, so they may be dead dead. Then again, we're willing to take their advice and not assume we really know.

But they are definitely messing with time at this point, and we have to keep that in mind.

We know that "Ant-Man and the Wasp," coming out this July, takes place before "Infinity War." "Captain Marvel" takes place long before "Infinity War," but will probably catch up somehow since "Infinity War" ended with Nick Fury sending a message to Captain Marvel. Her first movie opens two months before "Avengers 4."

Set spoilers have already connected "Avengers 4" to time travel to the past. It also looks like the film will also include a significant time jump ahead from "Infinity War."

Thanos has the Time Stone at this point, but we're operating in Doctor Strange's one timeline where the good guys defeat Thanos. We also know the "Avengers 4" synopsis mentions a "turning point" and "sacrifices," and fans already suspect they know what that means. Maybe they're right. We'll all find out when "Avengers 4" opens May 3, 2019.

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