The cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War could actually have seen the Mad Titan break time apart, with the Avengers striving to save all reality in Avengers 4. The Russo brothers have been quite up-front that Avengers 4 won't simply be "Infinity War Part II." While the two movies do have a strong narrative link, "there's an independence in terms of what the experience is or where the story goes." The films apparently relate to one another in same way Captain America: Civil War relates to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
That means there's more to Avengers 4 than the Avengers simply trying to undo what Thanos has done. We know Thanos will return in Avengers 4. The Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel will follow on "minutes after" Avengers 4, and sees Peter Parker introduce viewers to the post-Phase 3 MCU, so clearly the finger-snap will be either averted or undone. But that's part of the story, not its entirety.
This is why Marvel Studios is still keeping the title secret; it would act as a spoiler of some kind, offering a tantalizing hint as to the true nature of the plot. They're not ready to reveal that just yet. And that's why we need to look for some more creative possibilities. Such as the possibility that time itself could have been broken by Thanos's actions.
- This Page: Thanos Could Have Broken Time
- Page 2: What Would This Mean for the MCU?
The Stakes Could Be Even Higher
The first synopsis for Avengers 4 has teased that the stakes could be even higher than we'd believed. "Our beloved heroes will truly understand how fragile this reality is," the synopsis cautions, "and the sacrifices that must be made to uphold it." Most attention has understandably been drawn to the second half of that sentence, to the idea of "sacrifices." But frankly, that was a foregone conclusion; several key Marvel contracts are coming to a close. The more interesting part is actually the first half of the sentence, the warning that reality itself is somehow "fragile." It suggests that something in Infinity War has broken the fabric of reality.
It's possible that this was the snap itself. Certainly Thanos's horrific act, his use of the combined power of the Infinity Stones to snuff out half the life in the universe, actually damaged the Infinity Gauntlet. As Joe Russo told Collider, "You’ll notice his arm is damaged post the snap, the gauntlet is damaged post the snap, it’s the incredible energy required from it and only because of his strength is he able to survive actually using the gauntlet in that capacity." It could be that this "incredible" surge of energy has somehow damaged the fabric of reality itself. That could also fit with the "dream state" Thanos briefly went into post-snap, where his consciousness actually entered into the Soul World.
But there's another possibility, too; a possibility that it wasn't the snap itself that damaged reality, but what Thanos did immediately before.
Thanos Broke Time
Doctor Strange introduced viewers to the Time Stone, revealing just what that particular Infinity Stone could do. Crucially, though, the film also saw Wong and Mordo issue stern warnings about the consequences of misusing the Time Stone. "Temporal manipulations can create branches in time," Mordo warned furiously, "Unstable dimensional openings. Spatial paradoxes, time loops!" All Strange was actually doing in that scene was using the Eye of Agamotto to experiment on an apple, and yet Wong could warn, "You weren't manipulating the space-time continuum, you were breaking it."
Now consider Thanos' use of the Time Stone at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. The Infinity Stones are six singularities that predate the universe itself; each is among the most powerful objects in creation. Thanos witnessed the destruction of one of the Infinity Stones, the Mind Stone, and then used the Time Stone to avert it. This was orders of magnitude beyond mere experiments upon an apple. If Wong and Mordo's warnings were valid in Doctor Strange, they were certainly valid here.
That introduces an instability into the heart of the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos uses all six Infinity Stones to erase half the life in the universe; but one of those Infinity Stones should not exist any more. At the heart of the "snap" is a time paradox, a breach in the fabric of the space-time continuum. So, when Thanos snapped his fingers, he tore time apart.
Infinity War ends with the "snap." Even the post-credits scene is set during it, with the impact of Thanos's horrific decision rippling out across the cosmos. And no Marvel movie or TV show explores the aftermath of the "snap." Marvel is deliberately saving the post-"snap" status quo for Avengers 4, suggesting they have something unexpected in the works. Damage to the fabric of reality itself could well be part of it.
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019