Did you ever wonder exactly how Loki was able to free himself while onboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier in The Avengers (2012)? Impossibly, new photos from the set of Avengers 4 could explain exactly how, and it’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-AF.

On Tuesday, ComicBook.com noticed some Avengers 4 set photos that surfaced on Monday night posted by Twitter user @Lokieed. The user notes, “I just realised that this has to be time travel and not a flashback because there are two Tonys in the same place.” But they also note, “ALSO someone removes the muffle and the shackles from loki’s wrists.” Viewers always chalked this up to Loki’s mischief and trickery, but not even the god of mischief can trick himself out of handcuffs, right? Because set photos show an Avengers-era Tony Stark (Black Sabbath t-shirt and all) and one of him posing in S.H.I.E.L.D. gear, it seems like Future-Tony travels back to communicate with Past-Loki in some fashion. Does that mean Avengers 4 will rewrite MCU history on the fly, or will this be more causative like in Prisoner of Azkaban?

Robert Downey Jr. has been spotted in this same t-shirt from 'The Avengers' on the set of 'Avengers 4'.
Robert Downey Jr. has been spotted in this same t-shirt from 'The Avengers' on the set of 'Avengers 4'.

Tony Stark definitely didn’t wear any S.H.I.E.L.D. gear during The Avengers, so this might seemingly confirm not flashbacks for Avengers 4, but some straight-up time travel shenanigans. Future-Stark is probably trying to go undercover to communicate with Loki and maybe even barter for some Infinity Stones. That would explain exactly how and why Loki was so easily able to escape the Helicarrier — Future-Stark let him go.

Several other Avengers also appear in original gear here, so is it possible that Stark is the only one that will go back in time, and he’ll have to team up with his former comrades to rewrite history? Does that mean we’ll get an entirely different timeline or that Stark going back in time caused things to unfold like they did? It’s unclear which primary time-travel theory Marvel Studios supports, but we’re bound to find out in Avengers 4.

Among the many time travel theories related to Avengers 4, this might be the most plausible — and the most exciting. If only we didn’t have to wait so long to know for sure.

Avengers 4 hits theaters on May 3, 2019.