Now that Avengers: Infinity War has arrived, you’re probably pretty bummed out. I mean, it makes sense if you need a drink right now. The text on the screen said “Thanos Will Return,” but did not mention anyone else. Maybe that’s because everyone is basically erased from existence! Going into this movie everyone was wondering who would die. No one assumed the answer was like, um, everyone. So, how is all of this going to get fixed? If you think about it, the answer is right there: Doctor Strange.

Massive spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War ahead.

Sure, the post-credits scene of Infinity War might mean Captain Marvel will end up saving everyone through some time travel reboot shenanigans, but it seems like the only person playing the long game here is Doctor Strange. In fact, it’s very clear that Doctor Strange’s actions specifically set nearly everything into motion not only in this story, but probably in Avengers 4, too. And it’s all connected to his visions of the future.

When Tony Stark, Peter Parker, and half of the Guardians of the Galaxy are chilling with Doctor Strange on Titan, Mantis worriedly points out that Strange is acting…wait for it…strange. His face is jumping all over the place while he sits passively in a meditative pose. Turns out, Strange is using the Time Stone to check out what could happen in a variety of possible futures. He mentions he’s witnessed millions of permutations of the eventual confrontation with Thanos. When Tony asks how many scenarios result in the good guys winning, Strange replies ominously, “one.”

Spider-Man and Iron Man chill with the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' in 'Infinity War'
Spider-Man and Iron Man chill with the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' in 'Infinity War'

This means Strange knows there is literally only one sequence of events in which the Avengers and their allies can beat Thanos. So, everything he does after that is toward that goal. Including, outright losing. Shockingly, when Thanos is about to kill Tony, Strange gives up the Time Stone to save his life. Tony can’t believe this because earlier in the film, Strange made it abundantly clear that he would let anyone die to protect the Time Stone, even young Peter Parker. So, why did Doctor Strange have a change of heart? Even Tony doesn’t get it, gasping “why?”

Strange says “We’re in the endgame now.” This can mean only one thing: the only future Strange saw in which the good guys win, is one in which they lose first. If Strange had continued to fight Thanos and try to protect the Time Stone, that was clearly one of the futures in which they lose. But, because he gave it up, on purpose, this means whatever happens next is on the winning path.

Stephen Strange defends the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Does Doctor Strange know that Nick Fury sent a page to Captain Marvel? Is there some specific reason why letting Thanos win first was the only way to beat him? Obviously, if Strange told Tony and the rest of the gang everything about the future, it could possibly mess up that potential future. For now, we’ve got nearly a year to wait until the rest of Strange’s “end game” plays out. Until then, figuring out exactly how, will be part of the fun. But count on this: Avengers 4 will totally show us some of Doctor Strange’s future visions. It has to! - Infinity War is out now in theaters everywhere. Captain Marvel is out on March 6, 2019, and Avengers 4 is out May 3, 2019.