Here at Observer, we really enjoy tracking, watching and obsessing over superhero movies. Like, a lot. So much so that we actually have our own running theory tracker for Avengers 4, complete with every crazy possibility you can think of. But now a new hypothesis has come along that is so intricate and detailed that it needs to be broken down in its own piece.
This theory comes to us from Reddit user LoL-Guru and revolves around Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, the Time Stone and how our Avengers can come out victorious in next year’s sequel.
Let’s dive in.
Avengers 4 Theory
By now, most corners of the Internet have provided substantial arguments as to why Doctor Strange chose to give Thanos the Time Stone, as it is assumed that it sets up the one timeline out of the 14,000,605 that he witnessed in which the good guys actually win. But Guru’s theory digs into the how.
On Titan, Thanos (Josh Brolin) mocks Strange for not employing the Time Stone during battle, saying, “You never once used your greatest weapon.” One would think that the ability to manipulate time would come in handy when dealing with an ultra-powerful despot. But Guru points out that not everyone is wholly affected by the Time Stone, such as in the Doctor Strange movie when Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his band of zealots can resist, or at least slow down, the gem’s effects through magic of their own.
“I think the Power Stone would have allowed Thanos to do the same; to bypass the power of the Time Stone,” LoL-Guru explained. “This may also be why Thanos obtained the Power Stone first.”
After seeing 14 million–plus potential futures, Strange recognized that the Time Stone may not help their cause so directly. But perhaps the universe’s salvation lies in its indirect use.
When Strange conjures the Time Stone out of thin air on Titan to give to Thanos and save Tony, “we can see two unique elements to this transaction,” the Redditor user pointed out. Those elements are: a strong glow emitting from the Eye of Agamotto, which only occurs when the Infinity Stones are in use, and Thanos never physically touching the actual stone, only handling it by its aura.
Based on the unique behaviors and properties of the other Stones, this could suggest that there was some trickery going on. Per the theory:
Soul Stone: can only be acquired in exchange for a soul
Space Stone: houses itself within a four-dimensional cube in a three-dimensional plane of existence
Mind Stone: has its own consciousness and can create consciousness (i.e., vision)
Reality Stone: can take on solid or liquid form, presumably gas as well
Power Stone: so powerful it can destroy someone who even touches it
What if the Time Stone’s unique attribute is that it can travel the temporal realm, both forwards and backwards?
“How would you play keep-away with the Time Stone? Easy. Send it forward in time to where Thanos can’t get it!” explains LoL-Guru. “The problem is (as comic fans already know) Thanos is immortal, so he can wait it out.”
If true, the stone could be glowing because it is actually returning to the present from the future. LoL-Guru theorizes that Strange sent it forward in time so that the Avengers still around after Thanos’ snap could use it. Once they completed their objective, the Stone would then return to the present timeline.
Confusing, yes, but it makes sense if you really think about it!
If the Stone can only traverse time and not space, than it should pop back up on Titan following Thanos’ snap (it’s still visible on his skewered gauntlet post-snap, but we’ll get to that in a moment). And who happens to be on Titan after the snap? Tony Stark, who Strange may have realized is the key to the entire battle.
“This is also why Tony needs to survive,” explains LoL-Guru. “If the snap is inevitable, then he is the only one smart enough to A) Figure out what is going on when the Time Stone presents itself on Titan and B) Study the Stone in order to unlock the Quantum Realm (the same way the Mind Stone in the scepter allowed him to create Ultron).”
(Warning: Spoiler alert ahead for Avengers 4)
Leaked set photos from Avengers 4 have revealed that parts of the plot take place in the past, such as the Battle of New York from the first Avengers film and beyond. Presumably, someone goes back in time to warn the Avengers of the coming threat. Initially, we thought this was accomplished through the Quantum Realm following the post-credits scene in Ant-Man and the Wasp. While that still may be the case, the addition of the Time Stone theory makes a lot of sense and both theories could coexist. Regardless, some sort of time manipulation is going down.
Anyway, if this is somehow accurate, it could explain why Thanos’ gauntlet (and his entire left side) are badly burned after the snap. Thanos is “using a Time Stone from a reality where the Avengers have already won and sent it back in time,” LoL-Guru posits. “The paradox of using a stone from a mutually exclusive reality breaks the gauntlet and helps advance Dr. Strange’s plan even further because it cripples Thanos’ ability to fight back when the Avengers start mounting their counteroffensive.”
This would also explain why certain clips from Avengers: Infinity War‘s promotional campaign didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie (though this is common practice for most blockbusters that have nothing to do with time travel). The above shot of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) had him removing his glasses in the trailer, but that scene never appeared in the movie. Could this be because we won’t actually see it until Tony retraces his steps in Avengers 4?The same goes for the Hulk fighting alongside the Avengers in Wakanda, which we never get in Infinity War.