In a recent interview, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo thanked the fans for their passion in working out their own theories for the upcoming film’s resolution. They also claimed some they have seen have come close, but none have worked out exactly how the Avengers will undo the damage wrought by Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his infamous Snap at the conclusion of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War. Nonetheless, we thought we’d take a look at a few of the theories, their plausibility, and their chances for success versus the Mad Titan and his seemingly infinite powers. After all, fans correctly deduced “Endgame” would be the fourth film’s subtitle long before Marvel Studios revealed it themselves. So maybe there’s something to the ideas, memes, and one big joke of a theory floating out in the greater Internet. Here are six hypotheses we like the best – and their likelihood of coming true.
As outlined in a clip that debuted in early April, the surviving Avengers could just go to Thanos’ garden planet and try to take the Gauntlet from him directly. As Carol (Brie Larson) notes, her powers definitely tip the scales in terms of raw strength. Combine her abilities with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and possibly the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) – if he can be coaxed out of hiding – and you have a team capable of pushing a planet out of orbit.
Plausibility: Considering the clip, it seems almost a certainty the Avengers will try this approach.
Chance of Success: Unlikely. Since we’re now using Black Widow’s (Scarlett Johansson) hair to denote the passage of time within Endgame, it seems this operation into space will occur shortly after the events of Infinity War. It also seems doomed to failure as the powers of the Gauntlet are more awesome than even the mightiest Avengers combined. And we suspect this is a key story point in the film. While so many of the Avengers have defeated their opponents by just being more powerful, nothing seen in the universe so far rivals the forces Thanos can muster in his left hand. Success may require more finesse than fisticuffs and plasma bolts.
You’ve definitely heard about this meme-worthy idea. Ant-Man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) shrinks himself into a small form and enters Thanos via a very uncomfortable spot in human physiology that many presume also exists on the big, purple alien. Scott resizes to normal and explodes the Mad Titan in a moment more befitting a Garth Ennis comic book than a Marvel Studios release.
Plausibility: Unlikely. But maybe the Endgame filmmakers are sly enough to make some sort of joke about this tactic while the team weighs their options.
Chance of Success: 100% if Scott was willing to do something so awful. Once Thanos is disposed of in this grim fashion, it would require only the simple gesture of one of the Avengers – say Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — to undo the Snap. Of course, the emotional fallout from this strateg may be almost as bad as allowing Thanos to succeed. Scott would be a wreck for the rest of his days, for one thing, and the peoples of the universe would still face the scars of the time they lost loved ones and vehicles of all manner came crashing down from the sky.
By far the most popular theories involve Scott using his ability to enter the Quantum Realm as a means of moving the team through time. The concept would see the crew seeding the means of opposing Thanos in their own pasts, allowing knowledge of events to reshape the situation in Infinity War and possibly averting the Snap entirely.
Plausibility: Considering the case made for the matching Avengers uniforms in the most recent trailer containing various Pym technologies, we’re willing to buy into this one. But since we’re also a cautious sort, we’ll call this a 60% likely hypothesis.
Chances of Success: Fifty-fifty. The variables here are insane. For one thing, Tony needs to recall every mistake made on Titan, Thor somehow needs to make “go for the head” the most pressing message across his history, and Captain America (Chris Evans) would need to convince himself that sacrificing Vision (Paul Bettany) is the best course of action. And those are just examples of things they could do with the people who survived. Making Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) a better man, keeping the Soul and Time Stones out of Thanos’ reach, and maybe even planting counterfeit stones across the universe might be more than the surviving Avengers can pull off. Nonetheless, many are convinced the Bill & Ted–style solution is the the one Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) saw working when he scanned the 14 million possible outcomes.
Luis (Michael Pena) clocks Thanos and grabs the Gauntlet while he is out.
Plausibility: More unlikely than Scott giving the Mad Titan the most epic GI discomfort ever known.
Chances of Success: We’ve always been fans of this joking answer to the problem of Thanos ever since Luis first boasted about one-punching the toughest man in San Quentin. It seemed so ripe for a payoff later on that we still hope Luis survived the Snap and ends up in the final battle against Thanos. Sure, the Titan’s raw stamina is likely many times the force Luis could apply to one good hit, but we’re going to root for him anyway.
While Tony utterly failed at talking to Thanos, it is always possible the combined experiences of Tony, Cap, Thor, and some of the others may be able to make him see things differently. As Doctor Who once observed, the fighting just delays the fact that, ultimately, people will have to sit down and talk. That garden planet could be a lovely backdrop for the most important philosophical discussion of the age.
Plausibility: This is still a blockbuster superhero movie. They have to fight.
Chances of Success: While reuniting the original cinematic Avengers for this discourse against Thanos’ grim calculus has a certain thematic appeal – Tony and Cap have to mend their relationship to do it – the Mad Titan’s seemingly enlightened reasoning for killing half of the universe is really just a veneer. And should the team actually have a conversation with him, they will ultimately see he had the ambition to slaughter countless lives before he had a supposedly logical reason for doing it. But perhaps that realization may lead Thanos to stand down and give the Gauntlet to the Avengers. Maybe it could work.
The Avengers could always appeal to a higher power. Surely in Carol’s decades of traveling space, she’s come across the awesome force known as the Living Tribunal. It is a cosmic entity charged with maintaining the balance across all of reality. Back in the comics, the Living Tribunal was powerful enough to prevent the Infinity Stones from being used all at once and – should it exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – could potentially call a great cosmic do-over on the whole affair.
Plausibility: In screenwriting terms, introducing the Living Tribunal at this late date would be the biggest of deus ex machinas and many would see it as a huge cop-out. The Avengers should solve this on their own without the aid of any other demigods besides Thor. The sense that it would be a cop-out will likely prevent it from happening.
Chances of Success: But even if it is a huge deus ex machina, it would still be effective. In the pages of The Infinity Gauntlet, cosmic entities prove distracting enough that Nebula has the chance to take the Gauntlet from Thanos, forcing him to ally with his foes in order to stop her from using its power. We do not expect to meet the Living Tribunal, Mistress Death, or the Beyonders at this point, but it would certainly be a huge surprise.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters everywhere April 26