As more and more people examine various leaked Avengers 4 set photos, everyone’s starting to read them as confirmation that some kind of time travel shenanigans are happening in the direct follow-up to Avengers: Infinity War. There’s very little we know for certain, but all signs point to the movie revisiting past Avengers films in some capacity as a whirlwind tour. Are these flashbacks? Time travel? A serious of BARF sessions down memory lane?
Some fans think Avengers 4 might dabble in multiple timelines but a more likely explanation involves Tony Stark — maybe more Avengers too — traveling either back in time. The prevailing overall theory is that Tony Stark builds his own Infinity Gauntlet and uses time travel to undo past events while collecting Infinity Stones throughout time. There’s plenty of evidence to support these claims — as insane as they sound — so let’s examine all of the evidence in support of time travel in Avengers 4:
Huge potential spoilers follow.
7. The Quantum Realm Might be the Key to Time Travel
We know that part of Ant-Man and the Wasp involves Team Ant-Man diving into the Quantum Realm in an attempt to save Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp. We also know that the new Wasp, Hope, will be in Avengers 4 and other rumors indicate Janet will also be in Avengers 4. The Russos have confirmed that Ant-Man and the Wasp builds towards Avengers 4 in some fashion, which probably means that the Quantum Realm remains important moving forward. Perhaps they use the Quantum Realm to tunnel into alternate realities or back into the past? So far, we know very little about how the Quantum Realm relates to the rest of the MCU, so it could do almost anything, right? No matter what, there’s probably a good reason why the Ant-Man sequel is the first movie after Infinity War and one of only two movies between it and Avengers 4.
6. BARF Could Also Help With Time Travel — Or Replace It
“Binary Augmented Retro Framing” (BARF) is the AR technology that Tony Stark debuted early in Captain America: Civil War that allowed him to experience memories. Avengers 4 set photos pretty much confirm that the tech will come back in some fashion. Could what looks like time travel actually just be an AR dive into past memories? Maybe, but what would be the point of that? BARF was designed for the user to relive and alter traumatic memories, projecting them onto reality with realistic holograms. The far more likely explanation for BARF’s use is that it integrates with some other technology — Quantum tech probably — to actually go back in time.
5. Tony Stark Will Revisit The Avengers
Specific set photos put Tony Stark back on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier during The Avengers in disguise as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. (Yeah, that means two Tony Starks in the same place.) Some photos also imply that Tony might be the one to free Loki from imprisonment and maybe even give the god of mischief access to the Tesseract. Other similar photos also include Thor with long hair and Mjolnir, meaning we’ll see the god of thunder in the past too.
4. Ant-Man Goes to the Battle of New York
Perhaps the earliest Avengers 4 set photos hinting at time travel merely looked like a flashback to the Battle of New York from The Avengers with one major change: Ant-Man was there. Tony Stark is also wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. zip-up hoodie similar to the one he wore at the start of Infinity War, for whatever that’s worth. It’s possible that Future-Tony and Ant-Man used the Quantum Realm to travel into the past, and the version of Hulk and Captain America also featured in these set photos are the past versions. After all, why would Steve Rogers shave his glorious beard just to go back in time?
3. Steve Rogers Might Wield Mjolnir Against Thanos
One prevailing theory based on supposed plot leaks puts Past-Thor and Future-Cap together in a fight against Thanos. When Thor gets blasted away, Steve Rogers then picks up the hammer (having been deemed worthy) and fights the Mad Titan. Take this one with a grain of salt, because the redditor who posted these “spoilers” got them second-hand from a “friend.” This one’s also a bit of a confusing mess. At what point would Past-Thor, Future-Cap, and Thanos be in the same place? This would require at least one of these characters to travel through time just to make it happen.
2. Quicksilver Could Return in Some Fashion
One of the trailers for Infinity War featured a blue light streaking across the field during the Battle of Wakanda. It’s possible that it was Thor’s new Stormbreaker, but the visual effects for the object look exactly like Quicksilver when he’s running. Consider that other set photos put actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson on the Avengers 4 set, which means that we’ll get either a flashback to Age of Ultron or straight-up time travel. It’s all but certain that Avengers 4 will visit both previous Avengers movies in some way. But if Quicksilver is somehow resurrected, then he might go on to fight in a “new” Battle of Wakanda. Which might mean …
1. The Epic Team-Up Shot From Infinity War Trailer Could Happen in Avengers 4
The Russos have gone on record since Infinity War’s release saying that the epic team-up shot from the trailers featuring Hulk at the Battle of Wakanda was an intentional fake to raise hype for the movie. But why should we trust these people? (Remember that Yondu was on the Infinity War set before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 despite being dead.) Maybe the big finale of Avengers 4 has the Avengers face off against Thanos in a rebooted version of the final battle in Infinity War. But this time around, Hulk actually does bust out of the Hulkbuster armor to “suit up” and fight alongside the other Avengers.
Avengers 4 hits theaters on May 3, 2019.