Before Avengers 4 wrapped principal photography earlier this month, there were some leaked photos that spread like wildfire all over the internet and had fans buzzing with theories as to what they were seeing. It’s hard not to speculate when there are Infinity Stones in place, but directors Joe and Anthony Russo are here to set the record straight, kind of.

I’m going to throw out a quick SPOILER warning before going any further. I don’t usually post spoilers here, but this information has been shared publicly by the directors of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. My guess is that none of this really spoils all that much, or they would not have been so forthcoming with the information in an interview.

But just in case, this is your last SPOILER WARNING…



Okay, if you’re still here, you scrolled down, so it’s your fault.

Last weekend, The Russo Brothers spoke with MTV’s Josh Horowitz on his Happy Sad Confused podcast. Horowitz asked about time travel because numerous set photos throughout the production of both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 have shown The Avengers back in the Battle of New York from the first film.

The photos also included new characters, like Ant-Man (Scott Lang), who weren’t even around back then, so they could not purely be flashbacks. The most popular theory was time travel since Doctor Strange has the Time Stone, which could certainly be used to take The Avengers back to any critical point in their history.

Horowitz asked the Russos how they feel about time travel as a storytelling device and while Anthony said he was, “a big fan of the technique,” Joe’s answer suggests time travel is not to blame and another slightly less popular fan theory is the culprit behind these photos.

“It’s interesting because yes there are photos that always leak and there’s lots of conjecture about what those photos mean. Certainly there is a five-minute sequence in [Captain America:] Civil War around a piece of technology that was laid in for a very specific reason, so if you go back and look at that film, you may get a hint as to the direction.”

The piece of technology Joe is referring to is B.A.R.F. No, it’s not gross. It’s Binarily Augmented Retro-Framing, the technology Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) used to relive the last time he saw his parents in front of some M.I.T. students in Captain America: Civil War.

Even if the Time Stone finds its way to Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) Infinity Gauntlet, The Avengers won’t need it for “time travel.” B.A.R.F. will allow them to go back to any pivotal moments in their history to gain whatever knowledge they need to defeat Thanos. It is also possible to bring people who weren’t there along for the ride just as Tony did with those formerly broke college students.

I am surprised The Russos were willing to share this, but it makes sense. They’re probably not giving away all that much and there is value in making sure fans know what they’re not going to see in a highly anticipated movie.

You don’t want thousands of fans thinking time travel is definitely going to happen and then looking forward to it so much that they’re disappointed when it doesn’t ultimately happen in the film. If the answer to the “mystery box” is that simple, there’s no harm in putting it out there.