This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
Needless to say, this article contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
Last year, the whole MCU was turned to dust. In just a few months time, it’s all going to be put back together again (probably), but how it happens, who survives, and what it all means for Phase 4 is still very much up in the air. According to Mark Ruffalo, even the filmmakers haven’t quite decided how it’s all going to end yet. While that’s almost certainly not true, the film has a lot of story strands to tie up, and there’s plenty of speculation building up about how it’s going to do it.
Now that we’ve hit the halfway mark in the long, painful wait between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it’s time to round up the fan theories and see which ones seem the most likely.
If you have any of your own theories that we haven’t covered, let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to the list.
The following contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and (maybe) for Avengers 4…
Captain America will die
The Soul Stone demands a sacrificial victim and it’s going to be Captain America – with Steve choosing death so that someone else (probably Tony) can wield the Infinity Gauntlet and save half the world.
Likelihood: Very likely. Chris Evans has already pretty much confirmed that he’s done with the MCU, celebrating his last day on set with a permanent sounding farewell tweet. His contract is up after Avengers: Endgame, and it doesn’t sound like he’s signed on for any more movies (yet), so everything seems to be pointing at his permanent exit in the next film. Having Captain America bow out with a humanity saving act of self-sacrifice is pretty much the only way Marvel can kill him off, so this one seems to be on the cards. Whether or not it’s Tony that he does it for though, is not so certain…
Goose the cat will save everybody
As we now know, Captain Marvel and Nick Fury’s cute feline pal is not a cat at all, but a Flerken. In the comics, Flerkens are also transportation hubs – living gateways to pocket dimensions that they hold in their cheeks. You can go to other times, places, or even dimensions via Flerkens… One popular fan theory is that everyone who died when Thanos snapped his finger actually went to another dimension – all the remaining Avengers need to do is retrieve them. And what better way than with a Flerken?
Likelihood: Well, the pocket dimension ability is alluded to in Captain Marvel – it explains how Goose managed to swallow and contain the power of the Tesseract (aka the Space Stone) before spitting it out on Fury’s desk. But this particular theory does seem quite far-fetched for the film – we’d certainly like to see more of the scene-stealing Goose, but bringing her back as the ultimate savior of the MCU is a bit of a stretch.
Gamora is going to save everybody
Since Gamora was thrown into a bottomless void instead of being turned into dust like everyone else, it looked like she was more dead than the others. Actually though, she’s less dead – and she’s going to play a pivotal role inside the Soul Stone. We’ve already had a peek at her inside the stone’s plane of reality (the orange world where Thanos met a young Gamora) and her past relationship with Thanos is going to be the key to escaping it. She’ll be the one wielding the gauntlet, she’ll be the one taking down Thanos, and she’ll be the one saving everyone else.
Likelihood: Very likely. Gamora’s story is the one that most closely relates to Thanos, so it makes sense that she’s going to be the one to sort him out. Her sister wields the gauntlet in the comics, but Gamora’s ties to Thanos make her much more likely to be the one doing it in the MCU. How does she escape the Soul Stone? Err…
Thanos forgets about his Gauntlet and Nebula steals it
Thanos defeats the remaining superheroes, woos Death, beats Eternity itself and becomes an omnipotent part of the fabric of the space-time continuum. Unfortunately for him, he forgets that his mortal husk is still wearing the Infinity Gauntlet back on Earth, and Nebula comes along and takes it, using it to become more powerful than he is.
Likelihood: Unlikely. Weird as it sounds, this is exactly how it goes down in the comics. While Nebula will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the film (she’s one of only two surviving Guardians), this set-up would likely require a lot more than one film to cover and resolve. Also, Thanos’ motivation in the MCU is already very different from the comics. As we already saw at the end of Infinity War, he seems more content with sitting back and watching the sunset than he does with going on another purge.
Hawkeye is going to pass the torch
The young woman that Clint Barton appears to be training is the MCU’s Kate Bishop – who becomes Hawkeye in the comics – and she will eventually replace him in the Avengers line-up.
Likelihood: This one has some potential. The young woman learning to fire a bow-and-arrow could possibly be Clint’s daughter Lila, who we met as a young child in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, although the ages don’t seem to quite match. In the comics, Bishop adopts Hawkeye as her reluctant mentor before becoming a hero in her own right. Marvel has a history of introducing new heroes during big team-up events in both the comics and the films (see Scarlet Witch in Ultron), and it looks like this new archer could be the latest example of that.
Shuri will resurrect Vision
Shuri made a copy of the Mind Stone just in time, and she’s going to find Vision’s dead body and stick the stone back into his forehead hole – bringing him back to life.
Likelihood: Unlikely. Only because this doesn’t sound like it’s going to accomplish much, besides bringing one character back to life (in a film that’s probably going to be more concerned with bringing back several others). Unless this is just a device to bring the Mind Stone back into play (see further down)…
Tony Stark will become a magic man
Since Tony saw Doctor Strange skip through 14 million different alternate realities in a few minutes, he’s going to use his smarts to teach himself the mystic arts, mastering the power of controlling reality, and undoing everything Thanos did.
Likelihood: Possible. This theory mostly seems to come from a behind the scenes video that shows Robert Downey Jr. wearing Strange’s cape. Tilda Swinton apparently came back for one day of filming for Avengers: Endgame too, so there’s a good chance that Strange’s powers are going to come into play somehow. And with him dusted, it almost makes sense that Tony should pick up his cape. On the other hand, having Stark “teach himself” how to control reality seems like a bit of a cop out.
Thanos will get tricked into the Quantum Realm
Ant-Man survived the snap because the Infinity Stones don’t work in the Quantum Realm (though he might have survived anyway of course). When the Avengers realize this, they trick him inside (reminding him that Ant-Man and billion other microscopic things are alive down there) and then the mini-Avengers follow him in and beat him up, leaving him there forever.
Likelihood: Unlikely, but… The Ant-Man problem will have to be worked out somehow, but it’s unlikely that the final set-piece of a decade’s worth of storytelling will take place inside the micro-verse. What’s more, all the surviving members of the Avengers will have to figure out how to get inside too, which seems like too much of a stretch for one film – although those news costumes must have some purpose.
On the other hand, a lot of rumors do seem to be pointing to the importance of the Quantum Realm – putting it as the most likely way the “dead” characters will be able to come back to life. Reddit user leafinferno pointed to a discussion between Jane Foster and doctor Eir in Thor: The Dark World that introduced the “Soul Forge”, aka a “quantum field generator” that “transfers molecular energy from one place to another.” If “souls” and quantum fields have some sort of connection in the logic of the MCU, it makes sense that Ant-Man’s Quantum Realm could play an important role in reversing the snap.
While it’s unlikely that Thanos will go in to the Quantum Realm, it’s looking more likely that the dead Avengers will come out of it.
Loki isn’t dead
Loki stabbed Thanos with his left hand, instead of his right, proving that we were actually looking at a projection. The God of Mischief is actually fine, and he might even help his brother un-snap his friends.
Likelihood: Very likely. Not only did Tom Hiddleston get all shifty at ACE Comic Con when someone asked him about it, but we know that Loki is returning for a spin-off TV show. No one really ever dies in the MCU, especially if everyone loves to hate them.
Loki has been pretending to be Bruce Banner the whole time
Not only was Loki “projecting” during the Thanos fight, he was pretending to be Bruce Banner the whole time. That’s why Banner acts weird for the whole film, that’s why the Hulk doesn’t come out, and that’s why Heimdell sends him straight to Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum.
Likelihood: Nope. Loki could well be alive (see above), but he’s definitely not Banner. Where’s the real Banner? Why isn’t Loki acting much, much weirder in a different body? Also, this is a twist that would cause the entire world to face palm and start laughing, which isn’t what anybody wants.
The Avengers will master time travel
Since up is now down and we’re already dealing with different planes of reality, the surviving Avengers will beat Thanos by travelling back in time – possibly landing in the mid-90s with Captain Marvel.
Likelihood: Possible. Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke about “different realms” in Avengers: Endgame and suggested that the action could play out in locations that “can be separate geographically, or separate in time—not just in place, but in time.” A few leaked set photos show the cast in older costumes, which either means we’re getting flashbacks or actual timey wimey plot twists. Time travel doesn’t seem that far fetched in the MCU anymore. How, and why, the Avengers manage to master it though (and how they use it to bring down Thanos) is another question.
Nick Fury knows everything
Doctor Strange is the only one who sees every possible outcome of the Thanos battle, and he travels back in time to visit Nick Fury in the ’90s (during the events of Captain Marvel) to tell him exactly how to help ensure the 1 in 14 million version of events that results in victory. After the ’90s, Fury is always grimly aware of what’s coming.
Likelihood: The idea that Strange masterminds the events of the end of Infinity War to make sure the “1 in 14 million” endgame happens is plausible, even likely, given his dying words (“Tony, there was no other way”). The idea that he masterminded the events of the whole MCU by time travelling back to the ’90s and putting the fate of the universe in Fury, seems a bit much.
And while this one ties up pretty much every end-credit sting in the MCU, explaining why Fury never seems that surprised by anything that happens, it has also been partly pooh-poohed by the release of Captain Marvel… After buddying up with a god-like superhero and finding himself in the middle of an alien conflict between the Kree and the Skrulls, Fury wouldn’t need Strange to warn him that there are bigger threats out there. Carol Danvers also specifically says that the pager is for emergencies only – presumably emergencies that the Avengers alone can’t handle.
Oh, and on the subject of time travel…
Tony Stark will meet his daughter
The time-travel plot will go forward as well as backward, and Tony will come face-to-face with his and Pepper’s grown-up daughter.
Likelihood: If Endgame is getting timey wimey, there could be a teeny chance that this could happen. It was potentially implied in Infinity War that Pepper might be pregnant – after their chat about Tony’s dream in the park and the subsequent New York smackdown with Cull Obsidian and Ebony Maw, Pepper tells Tony he’s “going to be…” before their call cuts out. Gwyneth Paltrow seemed to confirm this in an interview with Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War – Official Movie Special magazine, saying: “Pepper and Tony have had a real long journey together… The relationship evolves, and now this decade later they’re married, and they have a child.”
Katherine Langford, the 13 Reasons Why star who’s appearing in Endgame in an as-yet-unspecified role, added fuel to this particular rumor fire after posting an Instagram photo of herself with red hair from the set of the film’s reshoots, leading fans to speculate that she could be playing the grown-up version of Tony and Pepper’s baby. Either that, or a young Black Widow…
Tony will have to kill his own parents
The Soul Stone will ask Tony to sacrifice the one he loves the most, and it’s not Captain America or Pepper. Instead, he has to travel back in time to 1991, find The Winter Soldier, and order the hit on his own parents.
Likelihood: Unlikely. Only because this sounds far too complicated. We know that some of the events of the film are set in the past, and we know there’s going to be a reason for Captain Marvel being set in the early ’90s, but it makes more sense for Tony to sacrifice Captain America to the Soul Stone. Also, going back to middle of the MCU and altering a massive event like this throws far too many space-time spanners in the works.
Tony will have to kill himself
Captain America might want to sacrifice himself to give the Soul Stone what it wants (and to give someone else the chance to fight back with the Gauntlet), but Tony will actually swap places with him at the last minute, giving the film it’s real big death.
Likelihood: Possible. There are a few things in this ones favor. Firstly, Robert Downey Jr. has been talking about quitting the role for years. He’s an actor with a lot of other plates to spin, and it’s likely that he’ll want to bow out soon (and it’s not like we haven’t all thought it was going to happen already at the end of at least two other movies).
Secondly, the whole Chris Evans thing seems far too public to not be misdirection. Marvel is notoriously cautious about what they allow their actors to tweet, and setting Cap up to take the fall could just be a way of distracting us from the real truth – that Iron Man is the one that saves the universe by sacrificing himself. Of course, it’s also possible that both of them die in Avengers: Endgame, but that does seem like a bit of a downer.
The Mind Stone is the real baddie
Thanos isn’t bad, he’s just under the spell of the Mind Stone – just as Loki was in the first Avengers, and just as Ultron was in Age Of Ultron. “My theory is that the Mind Stone is alive, can see the future, and saw its own destruction, and set Thanos on the whole quest for the gauntlet – and killing off half the universe was just to reverse time and save it from destruction. Or it just hates life,” says one Redditor.
Likelihood: Hmmm. This one has a lot of support online, but it also has a lot of detractors. It seems like it makes a lot of sense, but it also seems unbelievably complicated – offering up a twist that most audiences will likely laugh off. Are we really supposed to believe that the events of all the previous films have been the doing of a sentient gemstone? And that Thanos was just misunderstood before he pried the Mind Stone off of Vision? Maybe.
It all ends with a wedding
Thank Den Of Geek UK reader Paul Trueman for this one, who reckons the last scene is going to be Tony and Pepper getting married. “Steve dies so isn’t there but the rest of the surviving supes are. Hopefully they don’t do that weird Armageddon thing of having a picture of Steve there.”
Likelihood: Likely. There’s plenty here to back this one up. Firstly, there’s the tabloid pics taken on set that clearly show Gweneth Paltrow, in character, wearing an engagement ring. Secondly, there’s what Sebastian Stan The Independent, confirming that everyone in the MCU came back for one key scene during the shoot:
“There was one scene, I think, we had where everybody was there. I can’t really talk about that scene, but I knew it took them three months in planning this scene to have everyone there. You look around and you just saw everyone from Samuel L. Jackson to Michael Douglas to Michelle Pfeiffer. Everybody was there.”
Lastly, there’s the fact that Avengers: Endgame needs to go quite some way to turn around the ending of the last film – and finishing on a nice big happy wedding would be a lovely way to wrap up the first three phases. Unless this rumored big wedding scene is all just a horrible nightmare that Tony has, realising all the things he’s going to miss out on right before he sacrifices himself…
Avengers: Endgame opens on April 26, 2019. The complete schedule of upcoming Marvel movies can be found here.