When Captain Marvel launches next week, we’ll finally learn exactly what Captain Marvel can do, how SHIELD started recruiting Avengers, and hopefully we’ll see a direct connection to Avengers: Endgame. Some theories say Fury knew all along to expect the snap and that’s precisely why he never summoned Captain Marvel before then. He was waiting for the exact moment to use that high-tech pager. But while we wait for the movies to hit theaters, we’ll show you a mind-blowing new theory that says the snap never happened the way Thanos thought it did. Yes, half of living things were turned to dust when he snapped that Infinity Gauntlet, but his Infinity Stones might not really be to blame for that.

Marvel has punked us all, Reddit user Knight3rrant explains. All Thanos’s snap did was severely damage the Infinity Gauntlet and convince the Mad Titan that he had completed his life’s work.

The decimation that we saw at the end of Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t real, according to this theory. Well, it’s real to Thanos, but none of the people we saw turn to dust actually died. Instead, the Avengers from the future went to the past to get the real Infinity Stones and moved all of the people on Earth and other planets into a different plane of existence, maybe the Quantum Realm.

As evidence, the Redditor offers the fact that the decimation begins in New York soon after the attack on Wakanda starts. The post-credits scene (see it above) that shows the conversation between Maria Hill and Fury seems to indicate that people turned to dust long before the snap even happened:

We see this. Maria updates Nick with the latest intel. No trace of Tony. Then, she gets an alert (undoubtedly from SHIELD’s ops center) that the Mad Titan’s fleet of ships were only just then entering the atmosphere over Wakanda – to start the attack on Wakanda. Larger ships (which we saw) and larger energy signatures from the readings of those ships. There was no second wave of ships. Just the initial massive landing.

How could the ‘dustings’ from that scene happen an hour (or more) before the Snap?

Answer: only if the dustings started before the Snap. And were not simultaneous. So that phenomenon had to have been from something else occurring, entirely.

So, Marvel Studios has punked us.

The theory suggests that beating Thanos is only possible by not interfering with his original plan and making sure he has all the Infinity Stones at his disposal. But those stones all come from different universes and they won’t work exactly as advertised when used together. The real ones are with the Avengers. Meanwhile, the fake stones do have certain powers, but they’re nothing like the real ones:

My pet theory regarding how they foil Thanos is by going back in time to gather the MCU universe’s native Infinity Stones with Infinity Stones while substituting each with Stones borrowed from other universes, so the ‘out of phase’ substituted Stones – from six different universes – will fizzle when used together. Thus this will involve both some time travel and universe hopping via the Quantum Realm as the place where all realities meet and use of a time vortex.

This will hinge upon not interfering with Thanos’ acquisition of each Infinity Stone, just making sure Thanos does not get any of the Stones that are actually native to the MCU’s universe. The substituted Stones will work well enough singly, on a small scale, but as they are ‘out of phase’ (like Ghost, in a sense), so they will fizzle when used for anything major… Like the Snap.

The theory further proposes that Loki was recruited in the past to make sure everything happens in this particular order, and that Hulk lost on purpose against Thanos in their first fight.

The theory seems daring, and I have to say that it would undoubtedly fit Marvel’s misleading ways, but there are also plenty of holes. How is it that in the Endgame Super Bowl TV spot everyone on Earth are mourning the dead if no one really died? Well, movies that involved time traveling can be complex like that. The snap must have occurred in some way initially so that the remaining Avengers would go back in time, swap the Infinity Stones with fakes before they performed their snap that would eventually bring everyone back once Thanos is defeated.

Also, just because the Avengers ultimately win doesn’t mean it’ll be without any sacrifices, which is something the theory doesn’t cover. To get back to that post-credits scene, remember that helicopter that crashes into a building in the background? It’s likely similar things happened everywhere on Earth and other planets, meaning that people who have survived the snap may have been killed in the accidents the snap caused. Then again, the Avengers can’t save everyone, and previous films are a testament to that. Even if the snap has been faked to mess with Thanos and ultimately beat him, some people will die, Avengers included.

As far-fetched as it may seem, you really should check out the full theory below: