Before diving into the most interesting and plausible theories, lets look at who remains from the superhero roster that was decimated with Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet-enhanced snap:
Captain America is assembling whoever remains. The heart and soul of the Avengers, it appears that Cap has gone back to what he does best; having an unending amount of hope for the goodness of the universe. He is joined by his right-hand woman, Black Widow, the Russian superspy who will be his steadying force in the toughest challenge he has faced yet. With both the Hulk and Thor surviving the snap and hoping for a rematch with Thanos, the Avengers still have all of the firepower in a fight that they could possibly need. Iron Man, while surviving, is floating through space with no way to contact help.
From there, the survivors include Warmachine, Nebula, and Rocket Raccoon. Ant-Man, who was last seen trapped in the Quantum Realm and was missing throughout the events of Avengers: Civil War, has come knocking at the Avengers door. Hawkeye also sat out the first war with Thanos, but is seen in the Endgame trailers as Ronin, the grittier, darker anti-hero that Hawkeye becomes after a traumatic experience causes Clint to return to the superhero lifestyle. At least Thanos was nice enough to leave all of the original Avengers intact!
If you’re counting, that’s 10 Avengers who survived the snap. Thanos wiped out exactly half of the lifeforms in the universe, so it makes sense that 10 avengers disintegrated from the snap as well: Spiderman (although the new trailer for Spiderman: Homecoming hints we may see him again), Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Winter Soldier, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and 4/5 of the remaining Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Groot, Drax, and Mantis – Gamora was already dead). Even when it comes to wiping out the greatest superhero team of all time, Thanos likes to keep everything perfectly balanced. But how could Avengers: Endgame possibly end well for our heroes when Thanos has unlimited power? Here are three of the most popular theories:
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Theory #1: The Comic Classic Theory
In the source material for the ‘Infinity War’ storyline, Thanos becomes a farmer. No, don’t go back and read that again; you read it right the first time. The big, bad purple guy from Avengers: Infinity War is happy with the results from his quest to balance the universe, so he settles down on a space farm. Judging from the ending of Avengers: Infinity War and the first Avengers: Endgame trailer, the movie is going to be no different. In the comic, the remaining Avengers defeat Thanos with the help of Adam Warlock, the man inside the giant golden sarcophagus at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2”.
Adam Warlock is an incredibly powerful, slightly obscure superhero. If the film stays true to its source, then Adam Warlock will help steal the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos, where it then falls into the possession of Nebula. He will then convince Nebula to use the Gauntlet for good, using it to reverse the snap and resetting the universe to its rightful order.
Theory #2: The Multiverse Theory
What if none of the Avengers that were disintegrated by the snap were killed, but rather transported to another reality. First suggested by ‘joethehamface’ on reddit, this theory has an interesting twist. Instead of wiping out half the universe with his snap, Thanos split reality into two different universes, with half of the beings from the original universe being moved to the new universe. The Quantum Realm, which Ant-Man was stuck in, is outside of this universe, leaving Ant-Man unaffected by the snap and able to travel between the two realities. This may sound like a wild guess about the possible outcome of Avengers: Endgame, but according to sources the Captain Marvel movie will also use the Quantum Realm as a main plot point. This theory would leave it up to Ant-Man to travel between dimensions to unite the efforts of the Avengers in defeating Thanos. Another addition to this theory is that the Infinity Stones will be split between dimensions, and Ant-Man will be the only person able to unite them all.
Theory #3: The Time Loop Theory
Everything in the Avengers: Infinity War has happened an infinite amount of times. At least, that’s one theory gaining traction for the plot of Avengers: Endgame. In Avengers: Infinity War, Dr. Strange says that he see’s only 1 possible victory for the Avengers out of 14,000,605 different outcomes. This means that even if Dr. Strange somehow created a time loop with the Time Stone, the odds of ever defeating Thanos are still incredibly small (interesting side note: when Dr. Strange gives the Time Stone to Thanos, it is glowing, which it only does when activated). As we saw with Dormannu, death does not break Dr. Strange’s spell, something that becomes even more interesting when we consider Dr. Strange telling Ebony Maw, “You will find a dead man’s spell hard to break” earlier in Avengers: Infinity War. The one way that Dr. Strange saw to defeat Thanos was to throw a wild card into the time loop: Ant-Man. Much like the last theory, Ant-Man was stuck in the Quantum Realm during all of the events of Avengers: Infinity War, which caused him to be unaffected by the time loop. He eventually shows up to the Avengers door, and with the help of the Quantum Realm he will be a major factor in defeating Thanos once and restoring the universe.