The Avengers are going back in timeto defeat Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Or, are they? A set photo from the upcoming movie that appears to confirm time travel in Avengers: Endgame may actually reveal another way our heroes could save the world without bending the laws of space and time.
Instead of time travel, the Avengers will use some of Tony Stark’s high-tech toys to “revisit” one of their greatest triumphs, the Battle of New York, as seen in the climax of 2012’s The Avengers.
For as long as fans have been waiting for Avengers: Endgame, a popular theory involves the Avengers time traveling back to key moments in their history. This began when paparazzi photos of Endgame captured the actors wearing costumes dating back to 2012’s The Avengers, and was supported by 2016’s Doctor Strange which introduced the Time Stone — the only Infinity Stone capable of manipulating time.
The photos also included Paul Rudd in costume as Ant-Man, and because Ant-Man wasn’t introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe until after Avengers: Age of Ultron, fans speculated that Ant-Man is the time traveler.
Exactly why time travel is playing a role in Avengers: Endgame remains to be seen. Perhaps something happened during the Battle of New York that the Avengers didn’t see, which could allow them to defeat Thanos.
But what if the flashbacks to the Battle of New York aren’t the work of time travel but the work of Tony Stark? Another photo from the set of Endgame shows the film’s prop masters handling a glasses-like device in an orange briefcase labeled “Binary Augmented Retro Framing.” That’s BARF, the awkwardly named device invented by Tony Stark and introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
BARF, which was demonstrated by Stark to students at MIT (and laid the groundwork for his emotional payoff at the end of the film), is a device that translates memories from the hippocampus into an interactive augmented reality program. It basically turns one’s memories into a fully three-dimensional, one-to-one scale video you can physically explore. In the movie, Stark uses it to revisit his final memory of his mom and dad from Christmas of ‘91.
BARF is very advanced and very expensive — $611 million, to be exact — and it’s plausible only one prototype exists in the entire MCU. Of course, Stark’s also been busy saving the world and mentoring Spider-Man, so, you can’t blame the guy.
Will Tony Stark use BARF to revisit events from MCU history? Maybe! It’s a unique device that opens up a lot of interesting narrative possibilities that don’t feel as hokey as Quantum Realm time travel would. It’s also one heck of a continuity recall to use a device introduced in the third Captain America film to revisit events from the first Avengers movie.
By the way, imagine saying that last sentence to a comic book fan in the 1980s. They would lose their minds. Too bad we don’t have a Time Stone to try it out.
In the final lead-up to the Avengers: Endgame release, Inverse is unleashing a few fan theories of our own. Read all of them here and check back for weekly theories from some journalists who spend way too much time thinking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Endgame will be released in theaters on April 26.