A Prediction For Avengers 4
Avengers: Infinity War has been in cinemas for an eternity. And why not? Thanos’ quest has become the fourth film in history ever to cross into the barely-charted territory of earning $2 billion dollars at the global box office, surpassing both the original Avengers movie and its sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Evidently, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has cultivated a fan base that spans half the universe; and this fan base, even while the ash of Infinity War is still settling, is already overwhelming the internet with enough rumours and hypotheses and theories and predictions and hopes and desires for the forthcoming untitled Avengers film to fill the other half of the universe. Among this tornado of reports about the conclusion to Infinity War’s storyline, it has become difficult to separate the scarce gems of actual information about the film from the plentiful illusory bubbles of misinformation circulating online. So if we are to speculate about the next Avengers sequel, it seems appropriate to do so by using only both the information we have about Avengers 4 and the events of Infinity War.
Only a synopsis, a few leaked set photos and even fewer pieces of concept art combine to half-fill the gauntlet of actual information we have about Avengers 4. To begin, the synopsis reads:
“A culmination of 22 interconnected films, the fourth instalment of the Avengers saga will draw audiences to witness the turning point of this epic journey. Our beloved heroes will truly understand how fragile this reality is and the sacrifices that must be made to uphold it.”
The fact that Avengers 4 will be a turning point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unsurprising, since it is hardly a secret that Robert Downey Jr.’s on-screen leadership of the franchise will be inherited by Brie Larson and her character of Captain Marvel, after she’s played the pivotal role in Thanos’ defeat hinted at in Infinity War’s faintly hopeful post-credit scene.
However, the second line of the synopsis provides a more interesting insight into the potential plot of the film. The idea that our heroes will understand the fragility of reality lends credence to fan speculation which suggests that the unfamiliar technology worn on the wrists of Captain America, Iron Man and Ant Man in the leaked set photos allows the wearer to pass into different realities. Considering the set photos reveal these three heroes situated in the Battle of New York featured at the end of the original Avengers movie, one could assume that this new technology allows them either to travel to another reality in which the battle occurs, or to travel backwards in time to New York in 2012. In addition, it is mildly safe to assume that this wrist-wrapping technology will first appear in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp film, which takes place before the events of Infinity War. The movie will involve accessing the “Quantum Realm”, which is a subatomic dimension depicted as one wherein space and time are distorted. Therefore, any technology which can be used to travel into this realm could conceivably – and by conceivably, I mean purely within the realm of fantastical science fiction – allow for both travel to other realities or, through the Quantum realm itself, travel through time. Either way, it is indisputable that Avengers 4 will attempt to widen the stage and raise the stakes from the already hyper-ambitious Infinity War.
But why would the remaining Avengers wish to travel either to different dimensions or back in time? The obvious answer would be to collect the infinity stones themselves, either from other realities or before Thanos retrieves them in this reality, and build a gauntlet of their own to undo Thanos’ realised cataclysm. And one could predict that the heroes travel to the Battle of New York at the climax of The Avengers because it is the only known event throughout Marvel’s films in which two infinity stones are located in a single place: The mind stone, which powered Loki’s Sceptre, and the space stone, which was called the Tesseract. Therefore, if the Avengers are to assemble the infinity stones for themselves, then travelling to this battle – perhaps they travel to the moment when Thor has apprehended Loki and has possession of both the mind and space stones – would be the most efficient course of action, as well as a fitting and nostalgic celebration of the most beloved Marvel franchise.
Moving to the final part of the synopsis, the notion that our heroes must make sacrifices to uphold reality is a continuation of the central theme of Avengers: Infinity War, exemplified byThanos in his role as a utilitarian philosopher king. For Thanos, as a utilitarian with unlimited power, it is his moral obligation to free reality from the suffering of overpopulation by randomly sacrificing half of all life in the universe in order for the other half to prosper, since utilitarianism deems it ethical to maximise the wellbeing of the majority of people – and Thanos deems this as the ultimate utilitarian act. He even sacrifices the one thing he loves in the universe, his daughter Gamora, to fulfil his obligation.
Yet where Thanos succeeded in realising his utilitarian wishes, the heroes failed to do the same to stop him. The reason for this can be found in the words of Captain America – the moral mouthpiece of Marvel – who says in the film: “We don’t trade lives”. This is the ethical code of the Avengers.Unlike Thanos, the heroes are naturally unwilling to trade the lives of others for the greater good, and so when they are forced into making a utilitarian decision, they are thwarted: Peter Quill fails in his attempt to shoot Gamora in order to stop Thanos from abducting her, Scarlett Witch’s reluctant execution of Vision to destroy the mind stone is reversed by Thanos, and Doctor Strange abandons his commitment to let Tony Stark die if it meant protecting the time stone by giving Thanos the infinity stone in exchange for Iron Man’s survival.
Fortunately, it is heavily implied that Doctor Strange’s allegiance to the moral code “we don’t trade lives”, by refusing to let Tony Stark die, ultimately will be the catalyst for the heroes’ victory in Avengers 4. The sorcerer seemed to have foreseen Stark’s integral role in defeating Thanos when he consulted the time stone to observe a plenitude of possible futures, as while dying, he ominously tells Stark that saving him was “the only way” – probably, the only way for the heroes to succeed. In a way, Doctor Strange trades his own life to preserve the life of Stark, just as the heroes who had to be sacrificed to stop Thanos – Gamora, Vision and Iron Man – were willing to sacrifice themselves. Here we see the central difference between Thanos and the Avengers: The Avengers will not trade lives willingly for the greater good, unless they are trading their own.
Ultimately, to bring this prediction full circle, if the synopsis is not misleading, the sacrifice which the remaining Avengers must make to uphold reality could be the trading of their own lives to return the lives of the ashen dead. Symbolically, this would represent the passing of the torch from the old Avengers to the new Avengers to usher in the next ten years of Marvel movies. But whatever happens on 3rd May 2019 when Avengers 4 is released, the inevitable toppling of Thanos’ balancing act will come at a cost of infinite value which will define our heroes forever in their final hour. Yes, these are title predictions.
Words / JAMIE KONTIS