The recent info dump on 4chan, a message board that has dropped some accurate rumors in the past, hints at a plethora of supporting characters making return appearances – some, possibly, for the very last time – in the two-part Avengers story that starts with Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. But as emotionally satisfying as it may be to see the likes of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who hasn’t made an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2013’s Iron Man 3, or Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who dropped out of her Marvel gigs until just recently indicating a change of heart, the really big rumor has to be the return of Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).
Quicksilver was both introduced and killed off in the same film: 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Writer-director Joss Whedon thought it necessary to have an emotional toll in what he considered to be a war movie, and the real draw in his character was always his connection to – and set-up of – his sister, the infinitely-more-powerful Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). When combined with the fact that the battle in Sokovia otherwise featured established (and, therefore, less disposable) superheroes, young Mr. Maximoff was the only suitable candidate who could be killed off.
That hasn’t, however, stopped speculation that the character could return for the MCU’s Phase 4 (due to a number of storytelling factors that we’ll get to in just a moment). That there is now the possibility this could happen a year earlier – and in the next Avengers installment, to boot – is simultaneously surprising and somewhat expected.
How Quicksilver could return
Let’s drop the generalities and get down to brass narrative tacks. As it happens, there are actually a number of different ways in which Quicksilver could come back for The Avengers: Infinity War:
Flashback – A method that has already been employed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – for example, in Ant-Man, which featured Howard Stark (John Slattery) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). This approach has been seldom used thus far, however, and given all the various characters and storylines that will need to be juggled across the two-part Infinity War, it’s hard to see how or why the filmmakers would want to throw this element into the already-chaotic midst.
Another difficulty with this possibility is that Quicksilver wasn’t really up to much before he was set loose from Baron Wolfgang von Strucker’s (Thomas Kretschmann) Hydra stronghold in the very beginning of Age of Ultron, and before that he didn’t have his super-speed. Unless the now-rogue Avenger Wanda Maximoff has a quick flashback to the painful experimentation process she and her twin went through in order to get their superpowers, it’s hard to see why Infinity War would need a Quicksilver flashback/
A vision – One of the niftier tricks that Joss Whedon employed in Avengers: Age of Ultron was his giving each of the six Avengers a Scarlet Witch-induced nightmarish vision. While in terms of plot, these were intended to distract and disorient the team – and, of course, to start the process of getting Thor (Chris Hemsworth) keyed into the whole Infinity Gauntlet storyline – they also allowed the writer-director to sneak a whole host of little cameos from each of the protagonists’ solo films in, such as Peggy for Captain America and Heimdall (Idris Elba) for Thor. While the exact circumstances that would trigger a similar vision experience are unknown, it’s easy to see who would be the recipient of a hallucinogenic visitation from Pietro: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Quicksilver’s battle comrade, or Wanda herself, getting a taste of her own mystical medicine.
Time travel – The most recent possibility added to the ranks, thanks to Doctor Strange’s introduction of the Time Stone to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ever-growing collection of Infinity Stones. Although Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is still training and hasn’t yet mastered the Time Stone’s abilities to travel through time, he has already made a great deal of headway – more than any of the other mystical defenders of Earth have yet been able to accomplish. Knowing that Strange will be an Avenger in the next film, it’s not at all unlikely that he’ll be able to further his studies, rewind time, and save Quicksilver from his early demise.
Should this be the case, of course, it opens up a great can of worms, including what kind of effects on the timeline this would cause. Then again, given that Thanos (Josh Brolin) will very soon collect and control all six of the Stones, this may very well be a moot point.
Resurrection – Now we’re getting to the really good stuff. The Soul Stone – the last remaining Infinity Stone to be uncovered in the MCU – has the ability to manipulate individuals’ souls, whether of the living or the dead, by stealing or altering them, or even trapping them in an afterlife-esque alternate dimension. When combined with all of its brethren in the Infinity Gauntlet, it can bring the dead back to life (or vice versa) across the entirety of the cosmos.
Similarly, there is the Reality Stone (originally introduced in Thor: The Dark World), which can rewrite reality at the wielder’s whim, whisking various events or people in and out of existence in the blink of an eye. Think of this scenario as the failsafe option; if Quicksilver doesn’t technically get resurrected or pulled out of his original time to the present, then the entire space-time continuum can be reshuffled in order to accommodate his presence.
Why bring Quicksilver back?
There are two considerations to take into account here, both of which are equally important but only one of which is narratively sexy.
First things first: returning Pietro Maximoff to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s stable of superheroes would, simply, open up storytelling potential. Quicksilver is an intriguing, long-lived, and well-connected character in the source material – one who has had more than his fair share of loves, losses, and key interactions with all the other subsets of the Marvel Universe, from the X-Men to the Avengers to, most recently, the Inhumans (which will become a television series set within the MCU later this year). His continued presence in the films would be a welcome one, and the twist of undoing a tragic death would make for a pivotal sequence in Infinity War.
There’s also the more mundane, behind-the-scenes factors, as well. Nearly all of the Marvel movies’ original cast will have completed their contractual obligations with either Avengers: Infinity War or its unnamed follow-up, and there is the growing possibility that one or more of them will decide to not re-sign (being part of the MCU is a heavy commitment that limits the time actors can spend on other projects). As such, should Marvel Studios decide to extend its meta-franchise into Phase 4 and beyond, it may be necessary to replace these iconic superheroes with new characters – what the comics continue to do with the likes of the Hulk, Wolverine, Captain America, and, most recently, Iron Man – or, in an interesting twist, recasting all of the major players across the board, which could be accomplished by an Infinity Gauntlet-induced restructuring of space and time.
If this latter scenario would be put into play, having at least a few familiar faces still present in the background would not only be a nicety, it might also be a necessity, in order for the company to keep as many older viewers around and interested as possible. Having Aaron Taylor-Johnson back would provide this continuity to the original incarnation of the MCU while also still providing that emotional wallop.