“Avengers: Infinity War” came to theaters in April, and four months later fans still can’t stop talking about it – and theorizing about its sequel.
The untitled fourth “Avengers” movie is scheduled to hit theaters next year, and after the devastating cliffhanger ending of “Infinity War,” moviegoers are desperate to learn what happened to the Avengers who vanished from the Thanos snap and whether they’re coming back.
Well, of course they’re coming back, or at least most of them. Marvel has numerous release dates set for yet-to-be-announced movies, and it would be hard to imagine that it would leave some of its most popular characters, such as Black Panther and Doctor Strange, as dust for good.
The bigger question is, “How?” How are these characters going to return? Plenty of theories about that and more have been floating around the internet since “Infinity War” was released. We’ve rounded up four of the most plausible theories for “Avengers 4” and ranked them on the likelihood of them coming true.
Below are four major “Avengers 4” theories:
4. Loki faked his death (again)
- Marvel Studios
“Infinity War” opens with the shocking death of one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most popular characters, Loki, at the hands of Thanos. After Thanos retrieves the Space Stone, Loki attempts to stab him in the throat. Thanos stops Loki and chokes him to death. But a popular theory proposes that Loki, who has faked his death before, didn’t actually die.
A Reddit thread theorizes that the Loki we see die is actually an illusion because he used his left hand to try to stab Thanos even though he was right-handed. The theory argues that the only other time Loki used his left hand had been when he faked his death, such as in “Thor: The Dark World.”
It’s an intriguing theory, and after rewatching “Infinity War” on Blu-ray, I find it more plausible. When Loki hands Thanos the Space Stone, he uses his right hand. Then the Hulk appears, and a few minutes pass between that moment and when we see Loki again. It’s possible that Loki could have vanished and projected an illusion in his place in that time, and he has shown an ability to cast illusions from far away.
I have my reservations, though. It’s hard to believe that Loki could have vanished without anyone noticing, even while Thanos and Hulk were fighting, and if he did, where did he go? The prospect of Loki returning in “Avengers 4” to help defeat Thanos is exciting, but isn’t that what Captain Marvel is for?
3. Gamora is in the Soul Stone
- Marvel Studios
The “Infinity War” directors Joe and Anthony Russo have implied that when Thanos killed Gamora, his adopted daughter, her soul entered the Soul Stone. When Thanos snaps his fingers to eliminate half of humanity, he wakes up in a dream-like place the Russos have said emulates being inside the Soul Stone. It’s here that he talks to a younger version of Gamora, who asks him what it “cost.” He replies, “Everything.”
I never took the Russos’ comments literally (plus, the comments were taken from a Reddit thread based on a high-school visit where the directors reportedly took questions from students). I read it more as her being in the Soul Stone metaphorically and Thanos waking up inside it as a visual representation of his thoughts and fears after the snap. The “Infinity War” visual-effects supervisor feels the same way and said in an interview that it was “open to interpretation.”
“It just seems like an internal moment of reflection,” Kelly Port told CNET earlier this year. “It’s this really nice dramatic pause at basically the culmination of 10 years of storytelling, right? It’s this moment where he can just have this moment to internally reflect on what he’s done and the cost of that decision.”
If true, though, the theory may even account for where other characters went after the Thanos snap. If Gamora is in the Soul Stone, maybe half of humanity is as well.
2. Captain America dies
- Marvel Studios/Disney
Captain America/Steve Rogers’ fate was questioned before “Infinity War” was released, and since he survived that, his death is even more possible in the sequel. Of all the original Avengers, Captain America’s death would make the most sense.
The actor Chris Evans has implied that he is ready to retire from the role after “Avengers 4.” The character died in the comic books after the events of the “Civil War” comic, so it wouldn’t be a stretch for Cap to perish.
Furthermore, Cap’s death would mean the MCU has come full circle. He was the “first Avenger,” and his death would mark the end of this era of the MCU. Ever since he was thawed from that ice and thrust into the 21st century, Steve Rogers has been a man out of time. He clings to a stubbornness that has made him a respected hero but that may also foreshadow his end. In “Infinity War,” he refused to sacrifice Vision’s life to destroy the Mind Stone. “We don’t trade lives,” he proclaimed. But one life Captain America has shown he is willing to trade is his own.
One theory in particular gained traction recently on Twitter. It proposes that Cap will die and be reunited with his love Peggy Carter. The tweet has 19,000 retweets and 97,000 likes. In “Captain America: The First Avenger,” after he is thawed out, he tells Nick Fury that he’s late for a date – maybe he’ll finally show up for it.
1. Time travel reverses the Thanos snap
There are numerous ways this theory could be true. The most obvious is that one of the Infinity Stones controls time. If the Avengers can gain possession of that, then there’s a chance they can reverse the Thanos snap. Doctor Strange, the former keeper of the Time Stone, saw millions of possible futures in “Infinity War,” and in only one did the Avengers defeat Thanos. Strange is obviously playing the long game, as he gives up the Time Stone to Thanos and later tells Iron Man that “there was no other way.” Strange knows something that nobody else does, and he risked giving the stone to Thanos even though he probably knew he and half of humanity would be eliminated.
Another theory involving time travel has to do with the Quantum Realm seen in the “Ant-Man” movies. In the after-credits scene of “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Ant-Man is trapped in the realm after Wasp, Janet van Dyne, and Hank Pym vanish from the Thanos snap. Before he enters, Wasp tells Ant-Man that if he gets trapped in a time vortex, they won’t be able to save him, so people must be able to time travel there.
The Spider-Man actor and notorious spoiler Tom Holland seemed to confirm this theory in an old interview, in which he said the Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch had to refer to the Quantum Realm a lot. The Quantum Realm never came up in “Infinity War,” leading many to theorize that it plays a large role in “Avengers 4.”