'Avengers: Endgame' Could Have Alternate Reality Team-Ups and Lots of Death

Are we looking at two Iron Mans? Iron Men?

Inverse String Theory

Most people assume Avengers: Endgame will involve time travel, with the heroes wielding the power of the Time Stone, the Quantum Realm, or using some other means to undo Thanos’ Decimation. A smaller contingent wonders if Tony Stark will use his BARF technology, but a third very obvious possibility is that maybe, just maybe, Avengers: Endgame will involve a smattering of alternate reality team-ups with Earth’s mightiest heroes.

Early Avengers: Endgame set photos showed us several heroes revisiting the Battle of New York, namely Ant-Man and an older version of Tony Stark. This seemingly indicates the surviving Endgame team travels back in time, and while that might very well be true, there’s also the strong possibility that Endgame will depict the heroes traveling laterally into some of the 14,000,605 timelines Doctor Strange peered into during Infinity War.

It could also mean we’re bound to see our favorite characters die several times over — or that the future of the MCU takes place entirely in an alternate reality.

This is just one Inverse String Theory, but it could be true. So consider yourself warned about potential Avengers: Endgame spoilers.

Avengers Endgame Trailer
Steve Rogers in the 'Avengers: Endgame' trailer.

In the aforementioned set photos, the older version of Tony Stark is wearing what looks like a S.H.I.E.L.D. zip-up hoodie. Photos have indicated he’ll appear on the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and the Battle of New York shortly after.

We’re led to assume this is Stark from Endgame, but what if it’s not?

The first Endgame trailer definitely made it seem like Stark was about to die in space not long after Infinity War. Even if the second Endgame trailer showed him welding with Nebula, that scene could happen before his farewell message to Pepper Potts.

Given the craziness we’ve already seen from this universe, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Stark does actually die. The survivors could use the Quantum technology Scott Lang has to burrow through the Quantum Realm and into an alternate reality to find a new Tony Stark. Perhaps the final scene of the movie is just a small group of survivors migrating into a timeline when Infinity War never happened? (So basically, the plot of the Rick and Morty episode “Rick Potion #9.”)

Or maybe the older Stark we’ve seen in Endgame dies, and they recruit a new one from the past or an alternate reality. The possibilities are endless, but even if Endgame focuses mostly on time travel, the very act of traveling back in time creates even more divergent timelines. So, in essence, Old Tony teaming up with Young Steve is already an alt-reality team-up.

The Avengers Tony Stark Black Sabbath
Robert Downey Jr. filmed scenes for 'Avengers: Endgame' in this same Black Sabbath shirt.

Robert Downey Jr. has filmed Endgame scenes in Tony Stark’s costume from The Avengers. We’ve also seen set photos of Loki, Thor, and Captain America from that era.

One fan theory from early February also suggested that we’re actually seeing two different versions of Steve Rogers in the Endgame trailer. There’s one in the Captain America stealth suit standing with Black Widow, and then there’s another wearing a leather jacket and crying.

In that first shot, Rogers looks like himself from Infinity War with slightly thinning hair, just without the beard. In the other, his enormous quiff hearkens back to The Avengers era Captain America.

Steve Rogers 'Avengers: Endgame'
Is this Steve Rogers from 'The Avengers'?

Why is that Cap crying? Did he watch Old Tony die? Did he watch his own older self die? Did he learn that Bucky was still alive only to die again? Or maybe it’s about Peggy dying? The Avengers era Cap has a lot of tragedy ahead of him.

Also consider that plenty of fans have theorized since Infinity War’s release that Thanos might’ve split the universe into two distinct halves, one with all of the people turned to ash and the one presented in the Endgame trailer. If that is indeed the case, then the Avengers’ mission is less about resurrecting people and more about merging two entire universes back together.

No matter what the truth is, Avengers: Endgame has an opportunity to pull a series of reality-bending stunts even better than X-Men: Days of Future Past, which heavily featured time travel and alternate reality team-ups, using the premise as a way to show us heroes dying over and over again.

The ultimate “endgame” implication of this theory is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be in for a hard reset as it bravely forges ahead in a brand-new timeline altogether.

In the final lead-up to Avengers: Endgame’s 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 hits theaters on April 26, 2019.


Have any strong thoughts about this theory or want to pitch your own? Email the author at corey@inverse.com.

Media via Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Inverse (1, 2)