With the hotly anticipated release of Avengers: Endgame getting closer and closer, more and more Marvel fans have been coming out with theories that attempt to explain how our favorite heroes will be able to win in the battle against Thanos. Some of these fan theories are well thought out, while others are more barebones concepts that only deal with certain aspects of the film. The following theory explains who the real villain of the Infinity War sequel is, and you’ll be just as surprised as us to learn it might not be Thanos.

You’ll also be shocked to learn that it is, in fact, Thanos. But not the Thanos you know. You see, Reddit user ak2sup believes that Thanos is now retired and is living off the land somewhere like the Endgame trailer suggests, now that he has achieved his life’s mission in Infinity War.

The heroes will still want to undo the snap though, which means they’ll still have to face Thanos. The Redditor says that they’ll battle 2012 Thanos, the guy who used to rely on conventional weapons and an army to decimate worlds planet by planet before. That’s when he attacked Earth with the help of Loki and the Chitauri army, all the way back in the first Avengers movie. And that’s when our heroes will go to face him. The theory is that some of them will travel back in time, get Thanos’s location from Loki, and then kill him in the past so the events in Infinity War never happen:

According to me, this is best way to undo the Snap without changing the future, The Heroes (Tony, Antman, Captain Marvel, Nebula, Thor, Rocket, Natasha, Rhodey, not Present Bruce Banner and Steve Rogers because they need both of them from past timeline) will travel to 2012 timeline of New York invasion(as seen in the set photos), all of them will go undercover to hide from their past selves, Tony & Antman will steal the Sceptre/Mind stone (for temporary use) and interrogate Loki to learn more about Thanos and his current whereabouts. They then team up with past Steve Rogers and Hulk. Together they travel to Sanctuary I – the domain Of Thanos, at that time Thanos had no Infinity Stone but just a double bladed sword, Black Order with Supergiant, and an army (this also explains Tony’s [Age of Ultron] vision, remember MCU put meaningful lines/scenes to use them later so, Tony’s vision was some kind of foreshadowing). Avengers fight both Supergiant and Thanos and manage to defeat/kill the mad titan there, as they defeat/kill him in past(2012), the events of Infinity War will be erased and thus Snap never happens I know this will alter the events of [Guardians of the Galaxy 1], but a little bit and many things remain same.

Like I said before, some fan theories are better thought out than others, and this one does get one thing right. If the present-day Avengers who are left alive travel back to 2012 — and we do know from set photos that they will — then they’ll surely have to face Thanos.

However, to preserve the current timeline up until the snap, they’d have to pull off everything without causing too many ripples in time. The Redditor says that by killing past-Thanos they mess up the Guardians stories, and that’s true. Let’s not forget that hatred of Thanos is one of the things that brought the Guardians together.

So while the Thanos of the past can also be the villain of the movie, killing him back in 2012 might not solve everything, especially if some of the heroes die in the process.

Another thing that should be noted is that, while the theory takes into account those leaked pictures from Endgame that show the heroes going back to 2012’s battle in New York, it doesn’t use any new information from the leaked toys. Those toys tell us that many Avengers will travel in time with the help of the Quantum Realm, Hulk included. For that matter, it’s not clear from the theory why the Avengers would need Hulk and Captain America from the past instead of the ones in the current timeline.

The full details of this theory are available below.

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