Warning: This post contains huge spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
Infinity War has come and gone with no regard for our feelings or well-being. For weeks, fans speculated on which Avengers would bite it, and shockingly, we were pretty much all wrong. While the internet guessed a handful of the original Avengers would die, the exact opposite turned out to be the case. With a snap of his finger, Thanos took out pretty much everyone but the original Avengers, excepting Rhodey, Okoye, Rocket, and Nebula. We had to watch Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the remaining members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Falcon, and Bucky collapse into dust, along with fifty percent of the universe.
It was a genuinely surprising twist, even if we know the deaths simply aren’t going to stick. Both Spider-Man and the Guardians have upcoming films, and Marvel isn’t going to just kill Black Panther, the lead of their highest grossing film to date. The question is: how is Avengers 4 going to bring them all back? Let’s look at some possibilities.
The Quantum Realm
While the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place chronologically before Infinity War, the plot likely feeds into the latest Avengers feature. In his debut film, Ant-Man goes subatomic and falls into the quantum realm, where the standards of time and space become irrelevant. The sequel will take us back there as Ant-Man and the Wasp search for the latter's mother, Janet van Dyne, who was lost to the realm years before.
We don’t know much about this universe yet, but the fact that it bends two aspects of reality is important. If Scott and Hope can figure out how to navigate it, that opens the door for time travel shenanigans in Avengers 4. If linear time is rendered moot, that likely means Ant-Man can travel to different time periods. Will he zap himself back to the beginning of Infinity War to warn everyone? Or will he go further back—to the attack on New York? Captain Marvel in the '90s? Or even Captain America in the '40s? (Leaked set photos seem to hint at this.) A one-in-a-14-million chance is going to require some serious threading of the needle, so it’s not farfetched to guess that fixing what happened may take several jumps to line up their chances just right.
Gamora and the Soul Stone
But what if the dead aren’t dead dead? In keeping with the comics, they may just be trapped in an alternate universe—specifically, Soul World, the universe inside the Soul Stone.
The movie takes liberties with the comics, and right now we’re missing a key Infinity Gauntlet character, Adam Warlock, who can travel into Soul World and influence the stones from there. He isn’t expected to show his face until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, so let’s look at who has the best chance of reaching Soul World right now.
It may very well be Gamora, whose death was perhaps too sudden to be real. We’re told this iteration of the Soul Stone requires a sacrifice of true love, but is love really love if you’re willing to sacrifice the person you say you feel it for? It’s a strange conundrum, and leads me to wonder if the stone’s “requirement” wasn’t actually just one big trap for the stone to divine a person’s true nature—a universal failsafe for how nobody should wield its power.
After Thanos snaps his fingers, he gets transported to another plane where he tells a young Gamora he did it. “At what cost?” she asks. Is this the real Gamora asking, or the stone, or some mixture of the two? In the comics it’s Nebula who wrests the gauntlet from Thanos, but in the films it’s clear Gamora has the stronger relationship with him. Is it possible Gamora is now one with the Soul Stone, and thusly holds the key to Thanos' destruction?
Wong and the Multiverse
In Doctor Strange, we see the Ancient One toss Strange through several universes, including the quantum realm; his sling ring allows him to travel through all these multi-dimensions. While Strange got dusted along with everyone else, that’s not to say the ability to travel across dimensions is gone. Wong is (potentially) still around, and he is just as much a master of the mystic arts as Strange is. Wong could very well play a part in accessing Soul World, or the quantum realm, or whatever other worlds the newer Avengers have fallen into. (How wild would it be if they’ve all landed in different universes?)
Shuri and Vision
Time just wasn’t on Shuri’s side when it came to saving Vision. Although she fails to save him, she is the brightest mind in the MCU, and we know she has scans of the stone and Vision’s body. It’s possible she has not only a backup of what she was working on, but ideas on how it all works. It may also be relevant to note that in the comics, Adam Warlock carried his stone in his forehead. While the stones Adam and Vision have are different, we shouldn’t put it past Shuri to be able to recreate and utilize Vision in some way similar to Adam in the comics.
One major aspect of the comics that is missing from the films is the character of Death, whom Thanos attempts his reign of terror to impress and woo. It’s a ridiculous plot that was thankfully scrapped, but Death may still play a part here. As these movies get more reality-bending, is a face-to-face with a cosmic entity in order? Perhaps the most straightforward way to bring back the new Avengers is to barter with Death. With many of their contracts ending, this may very well be how we say goodbye to the original Avengers: a life for a life, so that the newer, younger Avengers may carry on the mantle. It would be a terribly sad but fitting way for them to go.
And how does Captain Marvel play into this? Nick Fury pages her in the post-credits scene just before he himself turns to dust, but what exactly can she do? Does she have the power to reverse death? No. But we do know her predecessor, Mar-Vell, had cosmic awareness—the ability to sense threats on a cosmic scale. If we’re talking time travel, some manipulation could lead to Carol Danvers gaining this ability as well. Which would hopefully mean she’d sense Thanos coming beforehand and we’d get a redux of Infinity War, but this time Captain Marvel saves the day and we can finally, mercifully, stop crying.
Hit us with your best theories in the comments!
Images: Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics