Soon after Avengers: Infinity War ended, Marvel fans realized that all those people who died after Thanos snapped his fingers can’t stay dead for good. Why? Because Marvel wouldn’t just shoot itself in the foot by killing off all those superheroes who still have MCU stories to tell. In the months that followed, we got confirmation after confirmation that the dead heroes won’t stay dead for too long — the best example is the Spider-Man/Nick Fury/Maria Hill trio that will appear in Far From Home, a movie that starts chronologically right after Endgame finishes. Then, fan theories started pouring in, attempting to explain how the remaining Avengers will turn the tide of war and beat Thanos. Popular theories say that Doctor Strange had a hand in various MCU events to build the one version of the future where they prevail, and that some sort of time travel will be required to undo the snap. Now we have a brand new theory telling us that Marvel may have been misleading fans for years with everything that followed Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Before we get into it, you need to watch the following dialogue between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner from Age of Ultron, which took place before they created Vision:
The fan theory hinges on something Banner says out of the blue during the exchange, suggesting that he’s in a time loop:
Reddit user RahulVijh3 says that Doctor Strange may have placed the world in a time loop that starts somewhere in Age of Ultron to make sure they defeat Thanos. The theory argues that Strange just repeated the trick that allowed him to win against Dormammu in Doctor Strange. No matter how many times Thanos would win and Strange and the others would die, the loop would just reset, and they’d get to try all over again.
The theory also says that Ant-Man may be the key element here, since he’s the only character who can bypass the loop because the Quantum Realm has time vortexes in it that would allow him to appear somewhere else and escape the loop.
The theory also argues that the film is called Infinity War because they’re all in a loop forever, reliving everything that happened from Age of Ultron until they win. That’s why Strange gives a particular number of futures that he had seen, the theory says. They’ll need to go through 1,400,604 iterations before they get to the winning one.
As exciting as it may sound, the theory does have some issues, and I’ll start with the most obvious one. The name of the movie is derived from the Infinity Stones, not an infinite loop. One side wanted to get all of them, and the other tried to prevent it from happening. Ironically, each side thought it was saving the universe by fighting to achieve its goal.
Secondly, and to get back to the clip above, Banner’s mention of a loop is likely not related to Strange’s time loop. It’s a metaphor the scientist uses to tell Stark they’ve been over this before and things didn’t turn out so well, so there’s no guarantee that repeating the process would yield better results. If Banner does know they’re in a time loop, then he’d take the necessary steps to make sure they can create a version of Vision where the Mind Stone could be destroyed without killing the new entity. He’d be aware of everything that happened after Age of Ultron and through the Titan and Wakanda losses, and could further influence the future with the help of the others.
As for Doctor Strange, he’d somehow have to obtain permission from The Ancient One to create a time loop extending from well before he became one of her students. Age of Ultron takes place before Doctor Strange. And we do know that Strange has the accident at about the same time James Rhodes (War Machine) is paralyzed in Civil War. So in Age of Ultron, it was The Ancient One who reigned as Sorcerer Supreme over Earth. Then again, The Ancient One will make an appearance in Endgame even though she’s dead.
Also, let’s not forget about Ant-Man’s role in this theory. Yes, his role is pivotal in Endgame, and the trailer has hinted at that too. But the new theory hinges on the fact that Ant-Man would be able to control the time vortexes and somehow escape the time loop. If that were to be the case, he’d create a new timeline that wouldn’t guarantee a win, and that wouldn’t be under Doctor Strange’s control. Well, it’d have its own Doctor Strange who could create his own time loop.
On the off chance that Ant-Man could exit the time loop in any of the more than 14 million futures Strange saw, the good doctor would probably take steps to prevent this intentional or accidental escape. Or he’d help Ant-Man choose the right vortex to get to a specific place in the past. But think about it: rather than place all these pieces and events on the board with the sole purpose of Ant-Man emerging somewhere in the past to perform a critical action, wouldn’t it be easier for Doctor Strange to just travel to a particular point in time himself and ensure that things happen in a certain way?
Let’s not forget that Tom Holland already told the world that Doctor Strange has many lines related to the Quantum Realm in the Infinity War movies, thus revealing that Strange will explain the concept to someone in Avengers 4. After all, the magician had no dialogue with anyone about the Quantum Realm. In other words, Strange has been making sure that certain events in the MCU happen in a particular manner, including Civil War and Thanos’ initial win, only to create the one future where they win.
With all that in mind, I think that the theory is just wishful thinking for the time being, although Marvel may prove me wrong come April 26th. Just because we’re used to seeing Easter Eggs in MCU movies that foreshadow future events doesn’t mean that Banner’s chat with Stark is one of those Easter Eggs.