Back in January, Avengers: Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo made headlines when they teased in an interview that the movie, and its currently-untitled follow-up, will feature a whopping 67 characters. They later backed away from that finite figure, but it has long been believed that practically every character that has been established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far will be featured in the movie. Today we essentially got confirmation that one specific character, Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes, will return.
The news comes buried within The Hollywood Reporter's piece on Sebastian Stan joining the adaptation of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived In the Castle. At the end of this report, it is revealed that Sebastian Stan will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Avengers: Infinity War, with the actor slated to start shooting "early next year." Previous reports revealed that shooting on Infinity War will begin in November, but it seems Sebastian Stan won't be needed until 2017.
We last saw the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes during the post credit scene in Captain America: Civil War, where he was being put into a cryogenic sleep facility in the Black Panther's (Chadwick Boseman) home country of Wakanda. If Bucky is in fact returning in Infinity War, it would certainly make sense that he shows up in Black Panther first, with Sebastian Stan himself even teasing that his potential appearance in Black Panther would be a "natural progression." However, since Bucky was put into cryogenic sleep during a post credit sequence, he could also be brought back during another post credit sequence for a different movie.
Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have also recently confirmed that the Guardians of the Galaxy will be present in Infinity War, and while no story details have been laid out, Josh Brolin teased that the story will feature his villainous character Thanos against "everyone" in the MCU. With just a few months left until production begins, we don't know for sure if Marvel will release a full cast list or not.
Phase 3 will continue with Doctor Strange (November 4), followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5, 2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7, 2017), Thor Ragnarok (November 3, 2017) and Black Panther (February 16, 2018), before Avengers: Infinity War arrives in May 2018. Marvel will then release Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018) and Captain Marvel (March 8, 2019) before the Untitled Avengers Sequel arrives in May 2019. Stay tuned for more on Infinity War as we get closer to production starting.