It's generally believed that Avengers 4 is a time-travel film, but could Earth's Mightiest Heroes actually be using BARF technology to defeat Thanos instead?
Next year's MCU slate is possibly the most exciting since the entire franchise launched in 2008. Things will kick off in March with the release of Captain Marvel, the MCU's first female-led solo film; then, only a couple of months later, we'll finally see how the Avengers defeat Thanos. Avengers: Infinity War's cliffhanger ending saw the Mad Titan succeed in his insane goal to erase half the life in the universe with just a snap of his fingers. How can the Avengers avert or undo this monstrous act of galactic genocide?
So far, the most common theory is that the Avengers will use time-travel. But an alternate theory is gaining traction among some fans; that they use Tony Stark's B.A.R.F. technology instead. Here, we're going to critically assess this latest idea, and see if it really can compete with the time-travel concept.
- This Page: The Time-Travel and B.A.R.F. Theories
- Next Page: Does B.A.R.F. Make Sense?
Avengers 4's Best Theory is Time-Travel - Or Is It?
There's abundant evidence that Avengers 4 could involve some element of time-travel. Set photos showed characters suited up in classic versions of their costumes, most commonly in outfits they wore back during the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Tony Stark was shown wearing the same Black Sabbath shirt he wore for most of that film; significantly, his face was bruised, implying the scene is immediately after the heroes drove back the Chitauri. Thor and Loki were glimpsed in their Avengers-era costumes, with the God of Thunder's hair back to its traditional golden locks. A final batch of set photos showed Captain America wearing that "old-fashioned" uniform; curiously, though, he was standing next to an older Tony Stark, as well as Scott Lang's Ant-Man.
There have been subtle hints that Avengers 4 could revisit the events of other movies, too. In September 2017, a number of Marvel actors - including Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillen - supported a charity campaign for victims of Hurricane Harley. They shot a brief video promoting the campaign, and significantly were wearing their costumes from 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. Meanwhile, set photos from Durham Cathedral suggested it would be doubling up as Asgard, which seems to support the idea of time-travel, since Asgard, of course, was destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok. Finally, there have been constant rumors that Frank Grillo will be reprising the role of Crossbones, which is significant given his villain was killed off in Captain America: Civil War.
With the possibility of time-travel on the cards, attention focused on the mechanism. The most likely is the Quantum Realm, a plane of reality outside the normal laws of time and space, and concept art for Ant-Man & the Wasp teased that Marvel considered unveiling a so-called "Memory Palace" inside the Quantum Realm; by accessing this, you could change the past. Although that idea didn't make it through until the final film, the post-credits scene of Ant-Man & the Wasp nevertheless revealed that there are "time vortexes" inside the Quantum Realm. It's generally believed that Ant-Man will escape the Quantum Realm through a time vortex, and emerge five years into the future, where he learns of the horrors that have befallen the Earth. That would explain why Marvel cast Emma Fuhrmann as an older Cassie Lang for Avengers 4. Scott presumably makes his way to the Avengers, and Tony Stark comes up with the idea of using the Quantum Realm to rewrite history - perhaps by collecting the Infinity Stones in the past. The theory makes sense, and it draws so many potential plot threads together. But is there another possibility?
Are The Time-Travel Sequences B.A.R.F.?
There's still one major loose plot thread; BARF. Captain America: Civil War introduced viewers to one of Tony Stark's newest inventions, a virtual reality tool he intended to use to help people deal with past traumas. Stark gave it an amusing name; "Binarily Augmented Retro-Framing, or B.A.R.F... An extremely costly method of hijacking the hippo-campus to clear traumatic memories." Set photos from Avengers 4 showed boxes on-set carrying labels for "B.A.R.F.." Commenting on these photos, Avengers 4 co-director Joe Russo admitted they may be important. "Certainly, there is a five-minute sequence in Civil War around a piece of technology that was laid in for a very specific reason," he observed. "If you go back and look at that film, you may get a hint as to the direction."
There's no obvious reason B.A.R.F. could be connected to time-travel. But this technology does allow people to explore their own memories, and that in itself could provide an explanation for why we're revisiting so many past events; are the Avengers using B.A.R.F. to probe the past, exploring key moments in history that involved the Infinity Stones in order to somehow defeat Thanos?
Over on Reddit, one recent poster claimed to be part of the ongoing Avengers 4 reshoots. According to themiddledude, Ant-Man will be tasked to steal the Reality Stone from Thanos. Somehow, he claims, Iron Man and Captain Marvel combine the Reality Stone with B.A.R.F. technology to rewrite reality. It's not exactly clear, and this is just a random Reddit thread and so shouldn't be given any more validity than a fan theory, but needless to say, it is a fascinating theory. Perhaps the Avengers don't travel in time at all; instead, they use B.A.R.F. to do something vaguely similar.
Page 2 of 2: Does This Theory Make Sense?
- 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 05, 2019