What Are The Avengers Really Trying To Do?
But this is where the theory hits something of a problem; what are the Avengers actually trying to accomplish by combining B.A.R.F. and the Reality Stone? How could that conceivably put right what Thanos has done, on a universal scale? We already know from Avengers: Infinity War that the Reality Stone's power is quite limited. It's power can be used to rewrite reality across an entire star-system; we know that, given the Guardians didn't perceive Knowhere as battle-damaged and ravaged upon their approach. But the moment Thanos headed back to Titan, the Reality Stone's effects were canceled out. That means there is some sort of geographical limitation to the Reality Stone's effects; it also means that they're temporary, and that reality moves back to the default when the Stone is out of range. It's true that cosmic events such as the Convergence can boost the Reality Stone's power, but these are very rare, and one isn't due for another 5,000 years.
It's possible the Avengers are trying to create a reality in which they are the ones to possess the Infinity Stones. Thus they combine B.A.R.F. and the Reality Stone to recreate the aftermath of the Battle of New York, in order to take possession of the Space Stone and the Mind Stone; likewise, they recreate a scene from Guardians of the Galaxy in order to get their hands on the Power Stone. Thus armed with duplicate Infinity Stones, they could potentially oppose Thanos, who still wields his own Infinity Gauntlet.
There are two major advantages to this theory. The first is that it keeps time-travel to a minimum; it's still used for Ant-Man (and probably for Captain Marvel, as well), but other than that we don't get into the complexities of temporal mechanics. That would indeed be a smart move on Marvel's part, as superhero franchises don't have a particularly strong record of making sense of time-travel. Meanwhile, it also neatly explains how Thanos learns what the Avengers are doing and heads to stop them; he presumably realizes that the Reality Stone has been stolen, and guesses that his plans have been threatened (perhaps even by using the Time Stone to examine the future).
Time-Travel Still Makes More Sense
The fundamental problem with the B.A.R.F. theory, though, is that it depends upon bringing too many concepts into play at once. Avengers 4 will still most likely include time-travel to bring Ant-Man (and possibly even Captain Marvel) into the mix, and that means the time-travel genie is already out of the bottle. In logical terms, there's a pretty straight line between Ant-Man's arrival and the idea of rewriting history; whereas it's pretty difficult to track how Stark jumps from Ant-Man to a plan involving the Reality Stone. Meanwhile, the entire plot is predicated on the assumption the Avengers know both where Thanos is, and where he's put the Infinity Gauntlet. Given Thanos wasn't wearing it when he settled down to watch the sunset, that seems doubtful; it's quite possible Thanos hid it in order to ensure the snap couldn't be undone. The time-travel theory simply makes a lot more sense.
But how does that account for the presence of B.A.R.F. in Avengers 4? It's difficult to say, but one possibility is that time-travel within the Quantum Realm does really involve memories. Certainly that's the direction Marvel was considering in concept art for Ant-Man & the Wasp's "Memory Palace." If that's the case, it's not inconceivable that the Avengers would use B.A.R.F. to help isolate specific memories in order to help get back to the right time.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this Avengers 4 theory is that, however clunky it may be in some parts, it does correspond with most of what we know about the film so far. Given that's the case, this theory should serve as a caution to viewers who think they've sussed Marvel out; the House of Ideas could well play quite a few curveballs yet.
- 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