Few movies in history became the cultural event that Avengers: Infinity War was. Culminating a cinematic universe that spent over a decade laying the groundwork, the film was one of the most ambitious projects ever produced in Hollywood.
With one snap, its antagonist, Thanos, briefly killed off several of the universe’s biggest characters. Those who remained, however, were the original Avengers. Convenient coincidence or by design? A recent fan theory posited how this happened.
The road to Infinity War
In 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe became the unlikely hit it is today on the back of Iron Man. At the time, Iron Man had never headlined a project of this level.
A string of flops had people wondering about the prospects of a cinematic universe. With an embattled Robert Downey Jr. in the lead and a comedic actor, Jon Favreau, behind the camera, the film was a smash both critically and financially.
Over the next few years, the universe expanded. Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, War Machine, Nick Fury, and Hawkeye joined Iron Man to form the titular Avengers.
While Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and several others eventually joined in on the fun, this was always the core of the Avengers. By the end of the Infinity War, they were the bulk of the remaining heroes.
With one snap, Thanos changed the future of the universe. Although audiences presumed they would presume, Spider-Man, Starlord, and several other major characters were briefly taken out after the supervillain collected all the magic stones he needed to control the universe’s fate. For the next year, speculation abounded about what would happen with the universe.
However, the most fascinating aspect of these events was not with who was gone, but who remained.
The survivor theory
It’s easy to chop up the fact that every core member of the Avengers survived the snap to convenience in the plot. However, in a universe as well-thought-out as the MCU, many fans don’t buy that it was mere coincidence. TikTok user ElisAlley posited that this core survived not due to lazy writing, but due to the time stone that was so important to the plot.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is one of the most powerful heroes in the universe thanks to his possession of the time stone. As the film’s events go south, he spends a large portion going through millions of timelines trying to find one that leads to victory.
ElisAlley posits that Doctor Strange may have traveled back in time and told Nick Fury which combination of heroes to recruit to defeat Thanos. This explains why characters like Black Widow and Hawkeye managed to make the Avengers team in a world where other more abled superheroes exist.
This means that the timeline that audiences saw never diverted based on any character’s actions. Instead, it was the lone timeline, starting with the introduction of Iron Man and moving forward, which led to victory. It’s a compelling theory that has not been confirmed nor denied by the writers.
What did the writers say?
During a live-tweet event for Infinity War, screenwriter Christopher Markus confirmed that the core members of the Avengers were always going to be the focus of Endgame. However, he did not elaborate on why.
Whatever the case may be, fans have offered several compelling theories on the subject. Whether or not this was a grandly constructed timeline or a deliberate coincidence, this is what helps the MCU go strong.
When Endgame dropped a year later, most of the characters that perished during Infinity War came back to life thanks to the heroes’ actions. It was a proper send-off to Captain America and Iron Man that also paved the way for the later members to take over the reins.
Now heading into another chapter of the saga, perhaps these questions will be answered. Until they are, fans can speculate as often as they want about why these core characters happened to live through Infinity War and what it will mean to the franchise’s future.