'Avengers 4' Spoilers: Time Travel Theory Plugs 'Winter Soldier' Plot Hole

The latest in the endless string of Avengers 4 fan theories could plug one of the most glaring MCU plot holes since Captain America: The Winter Soldier debuted in 2014.

In case you forgot, the big twist of Winter Soldier is that Hydra hijacked the entire system, and one of the names that’s deemed a threat to the evil organization is Stephen Strange — before he even becomes a sorcerer. So what gives and how does it connect to Avengers 4?

Reddit user darrylthedudeWayne offers an answer with a new Avengers 4 theory to the /r/FanTheory subreddit on Wednesday night that puts a fresh spin on the many theories about Doctor Strange and his Time Stone hijinks. This new one also involves Captain Marvel

“I believe that Doctor Strange while looking through all the possibilities to defeating Thanos on Titan also went back in time to the events of Captain Marvel and at some point will tell Young Nick Fury everything,” the user writes.

This would explain why Fury eventually recruits Tony Stark and assembles all the Avengers, and why he knows to contact Carol Danvers when people start turning into piles of ash. In fact, Fury often seems like he comprehends everything that’s going on, even when people start turning to dust after the Snap.

How did Nick Fury know to call Captain Marvel at that exact moment? This theory would explain that.

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The theorist assumes that not only does Strange give Fury the Time Stone in the past, but also “gives him permission to experiment on it.” This leads S.H.I.E.L.D. to develop a time travel device that later gets used by Tony Stark in Avengers 4. (Years later, the organization would also find and experiment on the Tesseract, so this part makes some measure of sense.) Fury later returns the Time Stone to the present so Strange can give it to Thanos in Infinity War.

In this scenario, Strange might’ve traveled through time — or sent some kind of message via a time-traveling Time Stone — to explain the entire future to Nick Fury and set everything in motion. This also might help inform how and why Fury went from a S.H.I.E.L.D. nobody before Captain Marvel to the director of the entire program. He had prescient knowledge of the future that helped him get ahead.

This is also where the relation to Captain America: Winter Soldier comes in: That movie reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been working on Project Insight, a global surveillance system to neutralize threats before they happened, all powered by an algorithm. Here’s the scene when Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon interrogate Hydra operative Jasper Sitwell and he mentions Stephen Strange years before the Doctor Strange movie premiered:

Marvel President Kevin Feige previously explained the Doctor Strange reference by halfheartedly saying, “He has name recognition and a talent and certain Hydra computers identified him as somebody that could cause trouble for their agendas.” But explaining the reference with a crazy time-travel theory somehow makes a lot more sense. Maybe Fury knew all about Doctor Stephen Strange’s role as the sorcerer supreme in the future, and rather than Strange being flagged by some algorithm, he was just one of the many obvious names on the list of threats.

Previous Avengers 4 theories have assumed that the Time Stone itself travels through time to the past to influence events in some fashion, creating a paradox that helps undo Thanos’ Snap. But perhaps direct communication from Strange into the past makes even more sense.

Other theories wondered if Nick Fury might encounter the Ancient One at some point in the past, and she’s the one that shows him enough of the future for him to know what’s going on in the Avengers: Infinity War post-credits scene. That’s another likely possibility.

All things considered, it does seem like Doctor Strange might’ve used the Time Stone to influence the past or the future so they might find a way to defeat Thanos in Avengers 4. And because Fury knew exactly when he had to call Captain Marvel, he’s probably got a huge role to play in how everything shakes out in that final battle against Thanos.

Avengers 4 will be released on May 3, 2019.