At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, audiences are left in a state of shock, trying to process the insanity they just witnessed and desperately wanting to find out what comes next. But although the last 10 minutes are in some ways totally baffling, there’s a key part of it that isn’t immediately apparent during an initial viewing. And it all has to do with one line of dialogue (page 5) and the huge implication it has (page 7).
Here’s a look at why that Infinity War ending needs to be rethought in light of what one character says. Warning: This post will contain spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
The movie ends with Thanos successfully carrying out his plan
To say that the ending of Avengers: Infinity War is shocking is a bit of an understatement. In the movie, Thanos’ goal is to gather all of the Infinity Stones, putting them together in a gauntlet to wipe out half of the universe.
The Avengers hope to stop him from getting the last few stones, especially the Mind Stone and the Time Stone. The former is with Vision, and the latter is with Doctor Strange. However, Thanos does end up getting both, and the way he gets the Time Stone was a bit puzzling to some viewers.
Next: Why some people were confused about the way Thanos gets the Time Stone.
Doctor Strange willingly gives Thanos the Time Stone
A question some have been asking after Infinity War is, “Why would Doctor Strange give Thanos the Time Stone?” Near the end of the movie, Thanos just needs more Infinity Stones; he has come to Titan to steal the Time Stone from Strange.
But it is revealed that Strange has been carrying a decoy in order to keep Thanos from getting the real one. However, as Thanos is about to kill Tony Stark, Strange offers to hand over the real stone in exchange for Tony’s life being spared.
Sure, Strange may have come to like Tony over the course of their adventure together. But was it really worth saving one man if it means dooming half of the universe?
Next: Strange’s final line holds a lot of significance.
Strange tells Tony that there was ‘no other way’
Tony is understandably frustrated when Strange gives over the Time Stone in exchange for his life. Clearly, Tony was perfectly willing to die on Titan if it meant stopping Thanos. But because Thanos gets the Time Stone, and then a few minutes later, the Mind Stone, he is able to snap his fingers and wipe out half the universe.
Tony survives the snap, but Strange doesn’t. Just before he disappears, Strange — who is much calmer than everyone else — looks at Tony and says, “There was no other way.”
So what does that mean, exactly?
Next: Strange did this earlier in the film, and it’s quite crucial.
Strange looked into the future and saw 14 million possible outcomes
There’s one exchange in Infinity War that becomes a lot more noteworthy after we see how the movie ends. Earlier in the film, before the final battle with Thanos, Doctor Strange had looked into the future and seen over 14 million possible outcomes to the conflict.
For the whole rest of the film, Strange seems highly aware of what’s going to happen; he even tells Tony that they’re “in the endgame” at a certain point. And when he ultimately gives Thanos the stone, he really doesn’t seem that devastated, as if he has some plan in place.
Next: We need to pay more attention to this line from Strange.
There was only one outcome in which the Avengers beat Thanos
The key line we really need to be paying more attention to, though, is Strange’s response when Tony asks him about how many of the 14 million scenarios involve the Avengers winning. Strange says, “One.”
This means that there’s only one highly specific set of circumstances that will lead them to victory. Every single aspect of that vision must be adhered to if they are to have any chance. So we need to read Strange’s actions in the entire last half-hour of the movie as his attempts to ensure that the characters end up in that reality.
If anything is different, they’ll end up in one of the 14 million other versions of events. It’s possible that this is why Strange didn’t do more to stop Star-Lord from freaking out on Thanos: because he saw that this is what happens in the reality where they win.
Next: An interpretation of the line that has big implications for Avengers 4.
Strange must have seen that Tony plays a key role in defeating Thanos
With that in mind, we need to seriously reassess Strange’s decision to hand over the Time Stone. At first, we read this as Strange just wanting to save Tony’s life the way a person might want to save any friend.
But while that might be part of it, it seems even more likely that Strange knew that in the one scenario where they win, Iron Man is highly involved in defeating Thanos. Maybe he sacrifices his life to bring down Thanos. Or maybe he survives the whole thing, and Strange saw a vision of Tony still being alive long after Thanos is defeated.
So Strange knows that if Tony dies, they must be in one of the 14 million realities where they lose. Therefore, it makes sense to do whatever it takes in order to save him.
Next: Another significant aspect of Strange’s line
Thanos must have wiped out half the universe in the reality where they win
Another possibility is that Strange looked into the future and saw that in the reality where they win, Thanos is at first victorious in wiping out half the universe.
So if that’s what Strange saw, it would actually make sense to give Thanos the Time Stone. When Strange said there was no other way, what he meant is that allowing half of the universe to die a horrible death was an unavoidable step in ensuring Thanos is ultimately defeated.
So actually, the ending of the movie likely isn’t a defeat at all. It might seem like one, but it’s just the way to ensure the Avengers are victorious in Avengers 4. However, Strange probably can’t tell Tony any of this because Tony knowing about the future might change his actions and prevent it from happening.
Next: This reading might indicate that none of those characters are actually dead.
If Strange could see past the snap, that may indicate he’s not really dead
There’s another interesting reading of Strange’s line that may make it an even bigger deal. You may recall that in Doctor Strange, there’s a scene where the Ancient One says she has used her powers to peer through time in order to see countless possible futures. But every time she does so, she can never see past the moment that she dies.
In Infinity War, Doctor Strange seemingly dies when Thanos wipes him out of existence. But clearly, Strange was able to see past this moment, as he saw the scenarios in which the Avengers are victorious. If he’s able to see past his “death,” this could imply that none of the Avengers are really dead and that, as some fans have speculated, their souls are actually just trapped in Soul World, where they can be rescued in Avengers 4.
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