The Avengers Must Lose In Order To Win
In The Infinity Gauntlet, the comic book crossover event upon which Infinity War is based, Nebula takes the Gauntlet from Thanos while he is in an astral form and his body is left vulnerable. Using its power, she undoes Thanos' work, restoring the lives of all the people he wiped from the universe... and then seeks to create a new world order using her now-unlimited powers. Through his connection to Thanos via the Soul Gem, Adam Warlock explains the real reason why Thanos lost the Infinity Gauntlet:
"Look back onto your life, Thanos of Titan, and what do you see? A man always seeking ultimate power and losing it as soon as he attains it. Why? Because deep in his soul he knows he is not worthy."
Subconsciously, Thanos allows the Infinity Gauntlet to be taken from him because he feels that he doesn't deserve to wield it. While we shouldn't expect Avengers 4 to exactly follow the plot of The Infinity Gauntlet (for starters, Adam Warlock doesn't exist in the MCU - at least, not yet), it's likely that it will draw upon this part of the story when formulating Thanos' eventual defeat. In Infinity War we have already seen glimpses of Thanos' self-doubt - most prominently, his regret over sacrificing his beloved daughter Gamora in order to obtain the Soul Stone. After he has accomplished his goal, Thanos meets a young Gamora in Soul World and she asks him, "What was the cost?"
In the sixth and final issue of Infinity Gauntlet, Adam Warlock reveals to Silver Surfer that everything is going according to plan, and that he knew all along that Thanos would ultimately lose the Gauntlet. If we assume that Doctor Strange serves a similar role to Adam Warlock in the MCU's version of the story, then Doctor Strange gave the Time Stone to Thanos knowing that he would use it to wipe out half of all life, but also knowing that this action could ultimately be undone. It's a safe bet that when Strange was consulting the millions of possibly outcomes of the fight against Thanos, he realized that Thanos would never lower his guard enough to let the Avengers defeat him - unless, of course, he believed that he had already won.
The Importance of Tony Stark
Before wrapping up, there's another interpretation of Doctor Strange handing over the Time Stone that's worth considering. His statement that it was "the only way" could mean that it was the only way to stop Thanos from killing Tony. That, in turn, would mean that Tony Stark's survival is essential to the Avengers' eventual defeat of Thanos. While he isn't the most powerful remaining member of the Avengers, Iron Man has been almost as important as Captain America in playing a leadership role within the group, and after such a devastating blow the Avengers may need Tony in order to properly regroup.
While the elimination of half the people in the galaxy was ostensibly random, it's probably no coincidence that all of the founding members of the Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk and, we can safely assume, Hawkeye) have survived, while most of the allies that joined that later have been killed off. If Avengers 4 will bring everything full circle, then it makes sense to have the original group back together for the final push against Thanos - and Tony is an integral part of that group.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018