The Avengers could win at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame, with everything that follows resulting from the defeat of Thanos. Marvel Studios has long had a reputation for secrecy, but with Avengers: Endgame the sense of mystery surrounding the film is building to epic proportions. In spite of set photos, trailers, interviews, and TV spots, the overall plot is still completely unknown.
Kevin Feige has suggested that the trailers only draw from the first 15-20 minutes of the film. That’s proven to be something of an exaggeration; there are a number of clips in the trailers and TV spots that are probably from the second or even possibly the third act. Still, the fact remains that the bulk of footage seems to be from early on, and as such the opening of the film is coming into focus. The Avengers have one last desperate plan to undo the snap. But how will that plan work out, and how does the plot progress from that point?
THE AVENGERS’ PLAN IN ENDGAME IS TO GET THE INFINITY STONES
The Avengers: Endgame trailers revealed that Earth’s surviving heroes have a plan, but were silent as to what that plan may be. More recent clips and TV spots have lifted the lid on that particular mystery, though; they’ve confirmed that the Avengers plan to go after Thanos in order to retrieve the Infinity Stones and undo the snap. Footage shown to Disney shareholders confirmed that Captain Marvel and Nebula would join the Avengers, with Nebula revealing that she knew exactly where Thanos’ “retirement home.” is. It seems Thanos had long imagined a day when he would achieve his insane goal and had carefully chosen where he’d go to relax and celebrate his victory. Unfortunately for Thanos, he’d let his daughters in on the secret, and hadn’t considered the possibility they’d betray him.
But, of course, the mission isn’t really about revenge, and the Avengers aren’t heading to this mysterious alien world because they want to get a little payback. Their real goal is to acquire the Infinity Stones, the one power they can imagine capable of putting the universe to rights, and they’ll surely be willing to sacrifice anything to accomplish their mission. Is it possible they succeed?
THANOS DOESN’T USE THE INFINITY STONES IN TRAILERS – BUT DOES ATTACK THE AVENGERS
Thanos has been largely absent from the marketing for Avengers: Endgame – at least until the third trailer. But, curiously, that trailer didn’t show him using the Infinity Gauntlet at all. It’s true that one scene shows him appearing in a flare of blue light, which many initially believed to be through the use of the Space Stone, but the effect was different to his Space Stone teleportation in Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, it was identical to the Sanctuary II’s teleporters in the comics.
Meanwhile, notice that Thanos is back to wearing his old armor. It’s true that this is a smart choice from the point of view of tie-in merchandise (it makes for a whole new range of Thanos toys and action figures) but there’s more to it than that. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos shunned his armor because he possessed the Infinity Stones, and thus didn’t need it. That’s why his look became even simpler as the film progressed. “Clothing Thanos was a fun challenge because we needed to have essentially a wardrobe of ideas of what he may begin to wear as he gets more and more powerful thanks to collecting more of the Infinity Stones and not really even needing armor anymore,” concept artist Wesley Burt explained in The Art of Avengers: Infinity War. “He would then begin to become more of this philosopher sort of personality with clothing reflecting that.” According to this logic, then, if Thanos goes back to wearing armor, it’s most likely because he loses access to the Infinity Stones.
All this means there’s a solid chance the Avengers will actually succeed in their initial mission, and steal at least some of the Infinity Stones, leading Thanos to believe he’s threatened by them. Supporting this theory is the fact that some of the tie-in merchandise for Avengers: Endgame – most notably a LEGO playset – shows Thanos and his Outriders launching a counterstrike on the Avengers Compound. Again, why would Thanos do this unless he felt the Avengers threatened his plan, and why would he bring Outriders if he still possessed the unlimited power of the Infinity Gauntlet? This counterstrike could involve some of the most mysterious action sequences from the trailers, such as Iron Man stood in front of the rubble of an Earth building, or Ant-Man leaping through fire with a pencil in-shot.
At first glance, this theory seems very unlikely. After all, if the Avengers win early on in Avengers: Endgame, why does the film have a three-hour runtime? Surely they’ll simply be able to reverse the snap, and if Thanos returns to Earth trying to get the Infinity Stones back he’ll find himself opposed by the full force of the Avengers, complete with their resurrected allies?
Actually, that’s not the case. On paper, the Avengers’ plan is a sound one: get the Infinity Stones back, use them to undo the snap. In reality, though, it’s a lot more difficult. For one thing, the Avengers know a lot less about the Infinity Stones than Thanos does, and there’s no reason to assume they know how to use them – let alone how to use them in conjunction. What’re more, precious few beings have the potential to wield a single Infinity Stone, let along six. As revealed in Guardians of the Galaxy, just touching the Power Stone dissolves most beings in a devastating explosion. When Ego heard of a human who could hold on to the Power Stone, he knew at once it had to be his son, a half-Celestial. We don’t even know what would happen to anyone who touched the Soul Stone, or even the Time Stone. It’s true that Captain Marvel could potentially be able to handle a couple of Infinity Stones, given her body is flooded with Tesseract energy, but she probably couldn’t wield all six.
Then there’s the fact that the Infinity Gauntlet itself is damaged as a result of the snap. The snap involved so much energy that even the Infinity Gauntlet, a device literally built to wield the power of the Infinity Stones together, couldn’t cope with it. There was a backwash of energy that left Thanos’ entire left side scarred. Indeed, Thanos’ weakness – and the damage to the Infinity Gauntlet – may explain why the Avengers could succeed in stealing the Infinity Stones from the Mad Titan in the first place. But if that’s the case, the Avengers won’t be able to use the Infinity Gauntlet again, and even if they succeeded they’d risk dying in the attempt.
HOW THIS FITS WITH THE TIME TRAVEL THEORY
Given this is the case, it’s entirely possible the Avengers will succeed in their first plan, getting the Infinity Stones from Thanos, only to learn they can’t use them to undo the snap at all. In spite of all their efforts, in spite of all they’d lost, the Avengers would be forced to accept that they had failed; that half the universe had been killed on their watch. Their cause would seem to be hopeless.
Until that is, they hit upon the second plan. There’s strong evidence that Avengers: Endgame involves time travel, most likely through the Quantum Realm. This mysterious plane of reality is inspired by real-world theories of quantum mechanics, which posit that when you shrink to a subatomic level the laws of time and space break down, potentially allowing for time travel. The post-credits scene of Ant-Man & the Wasp left Scott Lang trapped in the Quantum Realm, but a potential escape was hinted at by Janet Van Dyne’s mention of “time vortexes.” The trailers for Avengers: Endgame has already confirmed that Scott Lang will indeed get out of the Quantum Realm, arriving in a post-snap world and rushing to the Avengers Compound – in the van containing the portable Quantum Tunnel. Finally, note that the Avengers have been shown wearing new white team uniforms, designs that are similar to Hank Pym’s Quantum Realm environmental suits. It looks as though Ant-Man’s arrival inspires the Avengers to consider a shocking new idea; if the snap can’t be undone, perhaps it can be averted by rewriting history altogether? That, presumably, is where the film’s second act begins.
Naturally, this is just a theory. The level of secrecy over Avengers: Endgame is absolutely unprecedented; but still, this is definitely a strong possibility, an attempt to put the different pieces of the jigsaw together and make sense of the picture. Only time will tell whether or not it’s right.