After the latest batch of set photos, it seems unavoidable that Avengers 4 is a time travel film. Marvel visionary Kevin Feige has described next year’s outing for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes a “finale” for the MCU. It will draw together countless plot-threads, ending a story that’s spanned (by that point) 11 years and 22 films. For all that’s the case, the movie remains something of a mystery. Marvel won’t even announce the title, considering it to be something of a spoiler.

Avengers 4 was originally intended to be a follow-on from this year’s Avengers: Infinity War, with it even dubbed “Part 2” upon announcement. Of course, something changed in early development, with the Russo Brothers later teasing that the films would be closely connected — but also very different: “The first movie is very clearly Avengers: Infinity War,” Joe Russo explained, “and, in time, we will reveal what the second film is.

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That statement left fans intrigued, and from that point on every set photo has been examined with a sense of fascination. Why isn’t Avengers 4 a straightforward sequel? How are the two Avengers movies connected, and in what ways do they differ? Marvel, for their part, have kept pretty quiet about the film. They’ve clearly enjoyed cultivating this sense of mystery and intrigue.

But, finally, the evidence has come to a head. It’s now possible to say for certain that Avengers 4 is actually a time-travel story. If that’s the case, it hints at the final outcome of Infinity War — and even explains one of Marvel’s most longstanding mysteries.

Why Avengers 4 Is Clearly A Time Travel Story (This Page)

How Could An MCU Time Travel Story Actually Work?

Why Avengers 4 Is Clearly A Time Travel Story

Infinity Gauntlet Time Stone Eye Agamotto Doctor Strange Avengers 4 Is Definitely A Time Travel Film

Avengers 4 began filming in August last year, picking up straight after Infinity War, and it didn’t take long for set photos to hit the Internet. Many of these showed characters suited up in classic costumes, harking back to 2012’s The Avengers: Chris Hemsworth was seen sporting his flowing golden locks; Chris Evans was spotted wearing that “old-fashioned” costume. One set of images even showed Loki in chains being led away for his imprisonment in Asgard.

Other set photos and casting calls suggested there would be more flashbacks. Evangeline Lilly dropped a set photo showing her hair in a bob; while Hope Van Dyne wore her hair in that style in Ant-Man, set photos have confirmed she’s ditched it by the time of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Chris Evans was snapped filming a scene set in the past, as he walked down a street filled with classic cars. A photo of Robert Downey Jr. showed him wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. tactical vest — an organization that is now defunct. Marvel casting calls included an appeal for actors to play an office scene set in the ’60s.

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Finally, there’s evidence that characters who have long been dead will actually be returning in Avengers 4. There have been rumors Frank Grillo would reprise the role of Crossbones, for example. Those were apparently confirmed when Grillo, alongside Marvel stars such as Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., attended an event in Atlanta. They were also accompanied by Maximiliano Hernandez, who played the late Agent Sitwell (killed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

At first, fans simply couldn’t make sense of this. Why would the film have so many flashbacks? And, frankly, why would some of them be so random? Then, recently, Just Jared released their latest batch of set photos, showing Chris Evans on set with Paul Rudd. What’s conspicuous is that Rudd is suited up as Ant-Man, while Evans was once again sporting the outfit he wore in The Avengers. There’s only one logical conclusion: Ant-Man had clearly traveled back in time. More recent set photos have shown members of the cast holding some sort of timepiece device, adding further confirmation.

Page 2 of 2: How Could An MCU Time Travel Story Actually Work?

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