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Why It Seems Like Avengers 4 Will Travel Back in Time

Chris Evans as Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Now that we know what happens in Infinity War, it seems to me that the early speculations about Avengers 4 make sense.

Way back in January, TMZ posted photos from the set of Avengers 4 that caught our eye primarily because of Cap’s costume: Steve appeared to be in his Joss Whedon-era blindingly red/white/blue suit, complete with similar styling hair styling. He hasn’t worn a suit like that in a very long time.

Chris Evans was photographed in the rubble-filled scene along with Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo, with everything set up to look very much as it had during the Battle for New York that served as Avengers’ climactic final fight. So it seemed at first glance like this could be a flashback to those events, or perhaps a scene recreated and generated by Stark technology.

However, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang was there too—meaning it’s more than possible that the gang finds a way to go back in time. In the TMZ pictures, you can see that both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are wearing some sort of device on their wrists. More Stark tech? Or could this be something Kree and extra-advanced provided by Captain Marvel? Or Lang’s own ability to enter the Quantum Realm, “where all concepts of time and space become irrelevant,” in his Ant-Man suit?

To complement the “Battle of New York” theme, a whole other set of Avengers 4 pictures published by The Daily Mail showed Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, both dressed in costumes from 2012’s Avengers. Loki has a muzzle and everything! This raises questions on its own: if this is present-day Thor traveled to the past, will he have to convince his brother—who died in Infinity War after choosing Thor’s side—to help?

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the Avengers

Avengers-era Loki was in a very different place, serving as that movie’s primary villain. He would not be inclined to help the Avengers with anything. But he does have the Mind Stone in his scepter, and later access to the Tesseract (Space Stone), which means the Battle of New York was one of the only instances when two Infinity Stones were accessible at the same moment. If the Avengers plan to travel back in time to destroy the stones and thus prevent Thanos from assembling the Infinity Gauntlet and snapping away half the galaxy, this seems like the best place to go.

Of course, as Doctor Strange would be the first to point out, time can be extremely fickle, and by altering what happens at the Battle of New York, it’s possible that everything else could be radically changed. If the Avengers are willing to take drastic time travel options, they’ve likely calculated that any future without Thanos’s Snap is better than their present day. Since it also appears that Scott Lang’s now-teenage daughter will appear in Avengers 4, the Avengers could be traveling all over the space-time continuum, forward and back.

As CBR points out, Atlanta Magazine, which keeps a close eye on the productions happening in Georgia, recently came to similar time-travel speculations as they reported about the various New York-era sets that have been seen. In addition to a rubble-strewn set that featured a blue sedan that is the exact same make and model as one seen in The Avengers, Atlanta Magazine says:

That, coupled with another set spotted in Midtown this past winter where S.H.I.E.L.D-branded vehicles were clearly seen (S.H.I.E.L.D, the spy organization that teamed up the Avengers, fell during 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier) leads us to postulate that during Avengers 4, someone will time travel back to Avengers 1—more specifically to the Battle of New York—using the time stone (a.k.a the green Infinity Stone previously wielded by Doctor Strange). That’s just an educated guess though. We’ll all have to wait until next summer to figure if out of the 14,000,605 possible futures, this is the right one.

The Time Stone is an interesting idea here, but I don’t think the solution will be as easy as using the Time Stone—not to mention, the possible ramifications of using the Time Stone are pretty dire. There’s a popular fan theory that Thanos broke time itself when he used the Time Stone to restore the destroyed Mind Stone and assemble the gauntlet, so who knows—maybe he’s even opened up various “branches in time” or “spatial paradoxes” or “time loops,” all situations we were warned in Doctor Strange could occur if temporal manipulation was pushed too far.

Doctor Strange manipulates time

Considering how much time we’ve spent with, well, Time, it definitely seems like the major element that will be in play in Avengers 4. After all, the heroes are ostensibly following a path into the one future out of 14 million+ that Strange saw where they can still win against Thanos. And Strange gave Thanos the Time Stone in exchange for Stark’s life for a reason.

We don’t know the why yet—but we feel safe in pondering not only where the Avengers will go in Avengers 4, but when. 

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.