Warning! Not even the Avengers can save you from the possible spoilers below for "Infinity War" and "Avengers 4."
If you're still reeling from the end of "Avengers: Infinity War," take solace in the fact that you're not alone in your misery. You, like everyone else, still have to wait a year for the second half of the story, which will take place in the Russo brothers' upcoming, still-untitled "Avengers" movie.
Or do you?
An interesting idea popped up in the Marvel spoilers subreddit this month, after user ilurkthingsreborn claimed to have access to an inside source with intelligence on the upcoming movie.
Specifically, intel on the fate of Captain America and the weapon he's hinted at wielding for some time.
Now, stay with us here, because in the world of leaks things can get complicated quickly. A bit of background information:
An account with the name ilurkthings existed prior to the ilurkthingsreborn version, and it leaked accurate plot points about "Infinity War" weeks before the movie's release, apparently revealing details about the post-credit scene and Spider-Man's death in Iron Man's arms. That account has since been deleted, but you can still see remnants of it when Redditors refer to ilurkthings leaks.
This new account, ilurkthingsreborn, is allegedly the same person(s) using the same Marvel source(s). Subreddit moderators have allowed this May 1 post to remain in the forum for more than a week; they've given no indication that ilurkthingsreborn isn't the same leaker as before.
Now to the post. It contains a lot of disparate details.
The plot of "Avengers 4" will revolve around the Avengers who survived Thanos' deadly finger snap in "Infinity War" going back in time, possibly to retrieve the Infinity Stones (using a Tony Stark-made Infinity Gauntlet) to prevent Thanos from ever procuring them. Hulk will also apparently use the Stark Gauntlet and lose his arm in the process.
It sounds like a bunch of really riveting fan fiction until you get to one particular piece of information that could validate the whole thing. It pertains to a fight scene involving Captain America, Thor and Thanos:
I was told that at one point bearded Steve and Thor have a fight scene against Thanos where Thor gets blown away and Cap actually ends up weilding Mjolnir because he has finally been found worthy. However I was told that Thanos does end up killing Cap.
OK, setting Cap's possible death aside (fans were predicting he'd kick the bucket in "Infinity War," and that didn't happen), this "leak," if true, could provide an answer to a long-standing question in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Yes, Cap is worthy of Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.
At first, the Reddit detail about the hammer seemed questionable for a few reasons. Primarily because Thor's sister Hela shattered his hammer in "Thor Ragnarok" (2017), causing the god of thunder to wield a new weapon in "Infinity War," dubbed Stormbreaker. Getting the new weapon is a significant part of Thor's storyline. So why would Mjolnir come back into play in the proceeding movie? This requires an explanation, right?
Then I remembered an interview I had with the directors of "Infinity War" and the upcoming "Avengers 4" film, Joe and Anthony Russo, following the release of "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) two years ago. During that interview, I asked them about Cap and Mjolnir.
It's important to know that in the MCU, only characters who are "worthy" can pick up Thor's hammer. No one knows exactly what "worthy" means. But if you're not worthy, then stop. There's no hammer time. But in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015), Captain America attempts to lift Mjolnir, and it moves ever so slightly in the process. He doesn't succeed in picking it up, but Thor is effectively spooked by Cap's abilities.
It seemed relevant enough a budge to ask the Russos, since I had the opportunity, whether Cap was actually worthy and just let go too soon. Their cagey responses had my spidey reporter senses tingling, even back then.
"I don't know that might be a ..." Anthony Russo said, considering his words, "that might be a question for future storytellers."
"Might be a little too specific for us to answer," Joe Russo said.
A question for "future storytellers"? Might be "too specific for us to answer"?
The Russo brothers directed "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014) and "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) for Marvel. If anyone knew about Cap's worthiness at the time, it was them. I didn't end up including the Mjolnir/Cap quotes in my story two years ago, but why were they being so coy?
Could it be that Cap holding Thor's hammer was a spoiler for one of the Russos' two then-yet-to-be-released "Avengers" movies? (Mjolnir didn't appear in "Infinity War," so that leaves "Avengers 4" on the table.)
Maybe, but in order for that to be so, "Avengers 4" would need to involve some sort of time travel, which, coincidentally, is the exact rumor that's been going around.
Leaked set photos support the theory that we're going to see the surviving Avengers revisit iconic scenes from the previous movies. The pics show Ant-Man and Captain America at the battle of New York, which occurred in 2012′s "The Avengers" and did not originally feature Ant-Man.
Thor's hammer was definitely present at the battle. So if the characters do indeed fly back in time, a Thanos-vs.-Thor-and-Cap battle scene, in which Cap finally gets his hand on Mjolnir, is possible. (The thing is, ilurkthingsreborn also claimed Thanos eventually kills Cap with the hammer, adding a whole other, devastating layer to things. Is Thanos' cause ― destroying half the life in the universe ― worthy, too? Uh, I hope not.)
Of course, time travel has its problems. The Infinity Stones play a role in several different Marvel films, so a change in the stones' timeline could potentially alter the plots of the other MCU movies that already exist, like "Guardians of the Galaxy."
As an alternative to straight-up time traveling, some fans have suggested the Avengers could journey into the past using alternate realities connected to the Quantum Realm, a concept we first learned about in "Ant-Man." This is another dimension where space and time are irrelevant, which you access through magical energy ― or by turning subatomic, like Ant-Man does.
The Quantum Realm would explain why "Ant-Man and the Wasp" and "Captain Marvel," both movies that supposedly use the realm in some capacity, are set to come out before "Avengers 4." They might establish more ground rules for the final "Avengers" installment.
Heavier use of this other realm could also explain why Sebastian Stan (who plays Bucky Barnes) has talked about acting in a scene with Michelle Pfeiffer in the MCU. (The actress is set to play Janet Van Dyne in "Ant-Man and the Wasp," a character thought to be lost forever in the Quantum Realm. And Bucky, aka the Winter Soldier, turned to ash in "Infinity War.")
Some reality altering has to happen here.
On a recent episode of the "Happy Sad Confused" podcast, the Russo brothers told host Josh Horowitz that the upcoming "Avengers" movie is mostly filmed but could change a lot in editing. So, who knows what we'll actually see in the end! But these leaks could be somewhat of a road map for those hoping not to turn to ash before the next movie comes out.
Here are a few other theories on the fate of "Avengers 4":
Ant-Man secretly becomes part of all the Marvel movies
Was Ant-Man secretly in the previous "Avengers" movies, just miniaturized and pulling strings in the background?
Well, according to the supposedly leaked photos, he was/will be?
An Avenger will sacrifice another
If part of the new movie revolves around retrieving the Infinity Stones before Thanos does, an Avenger will have to obtain the Soul Stone. And in order to do that, they'll have to kill someone they love. So far, the internet is betting Iron Man will sacrifice Captain America.
Do they actually love each other right now, though?
It seems more likely, to me at least, that Black Widow will have to sacrifice Hulk (or vice versa) and that's the reason the movies have focused on their potential romance so much. (Ilurkthingsreborn suggested Iron Man will sacrifice Pepper Potts, but that seems a little too dark.)
An Avenger will wield the Infinity Gauntlet
The leaks said it'll be Hulk, but I'd put my money on Captain America. In an interview with "Infinity War" writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, they said the goal for "Infinity War" is to put Cap, a former sickly, scrawny kid, in the most unbelievable situation imaginable.
What would be more unbelievable than that same kid, all grown up, using a gauntlet that's powerful enough to destroy half the universe?
That or using a weapon in place of the god of thunder. Either choice sounds pretty worthy.