The dark times are almost over. We have been on our own since “The Snap” in April, with no major, official news on Avengers 4. We have filled the void with rumors and speculation from the title of the film to several theories as to what “End Game” Doctor Strange had in mind when he surrendered the Time Stone, if that’s what he really did.

Relatively soon, we will have official details to better inform our guesswork. Avengers: Infinity War started its marketing campaign in late November 2017 and we can probably expect the same for Avengers 4. The first teaser trailer, whenever it arrives, will put one of the most persistent rumors/theories to the test.

Time travel has been part of the Avengers 4 conversation ever since cameras were rolling (the first time around, not just the recent additional photography). While much of the focus has been on going back in time, the past several months have been full of rumors regarding a major leap forward and it makes a lot of sense.

Just in case any of these rumors and my own speculation regarding the possibilities they create, I’ll toss out a SPOILER warning. We’d probably learn a fair amount of this through trailers eventually, but better safe than sorry. If you’re staying in the dark on Avengers 4 rumors, continue doing so and read no further.

 

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Rumor has it that Avengers 4 picks up four or five years after the end of Avengers: Infinity War. The idea has been brought up numerous times on the Marvel Studios fan subreddit and most recently, it was reiterated by Twitter user @DanielRPK, who’s nailed some DC scoops in the past.

Setting Avengers 4 years after “The Snap” works on multiple fronts. The most obvious benefit is that Infinity War will be shown to have a lasting effect on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanos’ plan worked, it mattered, and it can’t be undone quickly.

Imagine if Avengers 4 is set immediately after “The Snap” and then the story is told over a time period no bigger than the day or two Infinity War took. Sure, there are ways to do it that would be interesting, but it doesn’t sell the devastating nature of Thanos’ actions nearly as well as having the massive loss of life stick for a few years.

Infinity War‘s post-credits scene strengthens the case for a time jump. That’s where we see just how bad the situation really is. Losing our heroes is awful, yes, but before Maria Hill and Nick Fury disappear, we see ordinary citizens fall victim to The Mad Titan’s random selection and the collateral damage that ensues.

We see cars and a helicopter crash. Imagine the commercial airliners that lost their pilots and went down, taking the lives of those who’d been “lucky” enough to not turn into dust. The loss of billions of human lives in one day would crush global economies and infrastructure. The list of problems arising from “The Snap” is overwhelming, and that’s just on Earth (remember this happened on every inhabited planet in the universe).

Being caught in the immediate aftermath of Infinity War makes it difficult to consider any thought of “What do we do now?” It’s why Steve Rogers could only muster an “Oh, God,” at the end of that film. There will be a thousand fires to put out before one can even consider if Thanos’ action can be undone, let alone how to do it.

As bad as things are, though, humanity will move forward. Things will never again be normal in the same context that they were pre-Snap, but a new status quo will eventually be established. It’ll take a few years for that to happen, which a time jump can cover.

With the world operating in its new version of normal, perhaps The Avengers will have the opportunity to think about ways to, you know, avenge. As far as these Avengers know, time travel is impossible without the Time Stone, so why would they even think about it when considering their initial course of action after Infinity War?

They couldn’t protect the Earth, but they can avenge it. The first ideas might center on finding Thanos and bringing him to justice for his crimes. The arrival of Scott Lang is the likely game-changer that shows The Avengers a path through time that doesn’t involve an Infinity Stone.

The last thing Janet van Dyne tells Scott before he enters the Quantum Realm in the mid-credits scene in Ant-Man and the Wasp is to not get sucked into a time vortex. Sounds like Scott, who’s stuck in the Quantum Realm, is going to do the exact opposite of what Janet said. Intentionally or not, he’s probably going through a time vortex.

This can be the narrative device that sets up the time jump. Scott gets spit out of a time vortex, perhaps thinking it’s been a few minutes (or just seconds) since his friends failed to answer his call from the Quantum Realm, only to learn that it’s been five years.

The world might actually seem normal when Scott reemerges from the Quantum Realm. Someone or something will bring him up to speed and then we’re off and running. Time travel becomes an option for The Avengers because Ant-Man has literally traveled through time. If Scott can go forward, perhaps The Avengers can go back to reverse what Thanos has done.

My only concern regarding a time jump is missing out on the one scene I’ve wanted to watch since Captain America: Civil War. I want, no, I need to see the next conversation between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers after their falling out in that film. The scene feels even more vital after everything that happened in Infinity War.

I doubt it will take five years for Tony to get back to Earth, but that scene can still happen. Even if there’s a time jump, we could and should get a scene closer to the final moments of Infinity War in which Tony and Steve see each other for the first time after their worst loss. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have said this conflict won’t be resolved off camera, so perhaps Tony and Steve’s meeting will be a prologue that comes before the big jump ahead in time.

This is not to say that time travel is definitely in Avengers 4 or that time a time jump is the only way to tell the story. Tony is a tinkerer and could seek out time travel on his own since the Time Stone proved to him it was possible. He just needs to find another way, or he could encounter Scott Lang earlier if there are no time vortex shenanigans in the early going.

The Russo Brothers have brushed off set photos indicating time travel as The Avengers using the Binariliy Augmented Retro-Framing (BARF) technology we saw Tony use in Civil War. That hardly disproves anything, though, as they’ve put fake shots in trailers just to throw us off. That’s not a complaint, as I hope they’re equally successful in settings us up for surprises in Avengers 4.

Right now, time travel and a time jump are mere possibilities. The more I think about them, however, the more sense they make and the more fascinating Avengers 4 becomes.

Now watch the teaser trailer blow all of this out of the water in several weeks.