Avengers: Infinity War is finally out and leaving a lot of people wondering about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s talk spoilers!
This is your official SPOILER WARNING for Avengers: Infinity War. Heavy spoilers ahead.
At the film’s climax, Thanos has driven a blade through Tony Stark’s abdomen. It’s a very dramatic moment. Iron Man – the genesis of the MCU – is going to die. Then Doctor Strange trades the Time Stone for Tony’s life. This paves the way for Thanos to travel to Wakanda, pluck the Mind Stone out of Vision’s head, and complete his collection of Infinity Stones. The Mad Titan snaps his fingers and erases half the life in the universe. End of film.
As Strange himself fades away into oblivion, he looks at Tony and says, “it was the only way.”
It’s worth noting that Thanos wouldn’t have been able to take the Mind Stone without the Time Stone. A lot of the Avengers’ failure hangs on Doctor Strange’s decision to give up his Stone.
But did the heroes actually fail?
Earlier in the movie, Doctor Strange tells Tony that, given the choice between protecting the Time Stone or Tony’s life, he’s going to protect the Stone. So why the change of heart? Strange is literally given that exact choice, and he chooses to save Tony. One life saved for billions lost. Seems fishy.
Also earlier in the movie, Strange is seen perusing a myriad of alternate timelines, searching for one where the heroes defeat Thanos. He sees a ridiculous number of futures, but only one where they win. One.
In theory, Doctor Strange knew the one way to beat the Big Purple Meanie. Maybe he had to give up the Time Stone in order to set off a specific chain of events.
Think again about the Sorcerer Supreme’s final words: “It was the only way.”
Literally, it was the only scenario where the heroes could eventually win. Similar to Agent Coulson’s sacrifice in the first Avengers film, Strange had to give the team something to avenge.
In Infinity Gauntlet, the comic that the film is based on, Doctor Strange plays an important role in the heroes’ victory. Though events play out very differently, and involve characters that have not yet been introduced in the MCU, the Master of the Mystic Arts is still front-and-center during the big finale. He plays a critical role in bringing the heroes back together, keeping them alive, and keeping Thanos away from the Gauntlet. He could be doing the same in the movies.
Did Doctor Strange steal the Reality Stone?
Strange might have also set up the heroes for victory in a different way. During the battle with Thanos, Stephen wraps the Cloak of Levitation around the Infinity Gauntlet. It’s to keep the Mad Titan from using the Stones. But is he doing more than meets the eye?
Thanos eventually rips the Clock from his arm. He rips it off hard. Like, it’s a noticeable moment, almost like the filmmakers wanted to make a point of it.
Perhaps Strange managed to get one of the Stones from the Gauntlet in this moment. Maybe it was even the Reality Stone. Then, everything that came after this scene could be in question. Stephen could actually be behind the scenes manipulating events like the Sorcerer Supreme he is.
Again, in the Infinity Gauntlet comic, Strange pulled some literal behind-the-back magic to help secure a victory. It tracks well that he’s doing the same in live-action.
Either way, Doctor Strange played a huge role in Avengers: Infinity War and it seems clear that he did something to give his allies a way to win in the next film. Both of the theories above might even work together in some way. Luckily, we only have to wait until May 3rd of next year to find out.
What did you think of Avengers: Infinity War? Do you think there was more to Doctor Strange’s decision than just saving Tony’s life? Sound off in the comments!