In Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange tells Tony Stark there’s only one way to defeat Thanos right before he hands over the Time Stone. We assumed this was the only way to stop the Mad Titan in Avengers: Endgame, but maybe Strange’s focus wasn’t on Thanos at all. Maybe he was focused on an even greater threat: the Mind Stone.
An interesting new theory suggests that, while there may have been more than one way to defeat Thanos, Doctor Strange gave the Time Stone away knowing Thanos would destroy all five because that’s exactly what he wanted to happen.
Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead.
Redditor u/cmcraes posits that, knowing the Mind Stone corrupts whoever wields it, Doctor Strange had to make sure the Snap happened so that Thanos would then destroy the Infinity Stones (which he does at the start of Endgame).
The stones each have immense power. We saw what their power did to Hulk’s arm and how it killed Iron Man. Doctor Strange needed to ensure that the stones wouldn’t fall into anyone else’s hands, and Thanos was the only one powerful enough to demolish them.
“Dr. Strange saw the future, 14,000,605 futures, and in them all he realized a pattern,” u/cmcraes writes. “Stopping Thanos is not enough: the Mind Stone continues to corrupt those near it and genocide reigns.”
Endgame made it clear that defeating Thanos is something the Avengers were capable of all along. After all, the Mad Titan was defeated not once, but twice over the course of the film. Ever the magician, Doctor Strange knew exactly what he was doing, though he maintained the cover that Thanos was the ultimate big bad. The destruction of the Mind Stone in the present (and Captain America returning it to the past) means it really is gone for good in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This theory makes a lot of sense, especially if we stop to consider the Sorcerer Supreme’s reaction to Strange willingly handing off the Time Stone. She knew it had to have been for a good reason and trusted Strange’s judgement. After all, the Mind Stone has the power to warp minds, and every time someone’s taken hold of it, it’s only led to violence and chaos. The Mind Stone has influenced several characters over the course of 22 films, including Loki, who Marvel confirmed was corrupted by the scepter that used to house it.
Redditor u/cmcraes believes that, without the power of the Mind Stone, Loki’s actions in The Avengers wouldn’t have been so extreme. He’s always sought to cause mischief, but that doesn’t make him evil (though that’s up for fan debate). Then there’s Tony, who built Ultron after seeing the vision from Scarlet Witch. How did Scarlet Witch get her powers? You guessed it: from the Mind Stone.
In addition, Ultron, influenced by the powerful stone, wanted to wreak havoc on Earth without a second thought. It could even be argued that Hydra, already a dangerous organization, wanted to cause even more destruction while briefly under the scepter’s influence in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
The Mind Stone was also the first stone in Thanos’ possession before he lost it. Interestingly, it was also the last stone to be collected in Endgame. He “had the mind stone for a long while,” u/cmcraes continues. “And when Titan was on the brink of collapse, he asked it for a solution and it led him to genocide.”
Prior to Endgame, one leak hinted that the movie would reveal a bigger threat than Thanos. What if that bigger threat was never another powerful alien entity? What if, instead, it was the Mind Stone all along? Its influence helped shape many of the major events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the other Infinity Stones are powerful, too, none of them corrupted anyone like the Mind Stone did, officially making it even more dangerous than Thanos.
Thankfully, the Avengers can rest easy now that it’s gone for good, though we’re sure Marvel will come up with another reason to assemble Earth’s mightiest heroes before too long.
Avengers: Endgame is currently playing in theaters.