In Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange tells Iron Man/Tony Stark that he's looked into the future and millions of possible outcomes for their predicament with Thanos and discovers that there is one and only one outcome in which the heroes prevail in the end. It's a dramatic moment and one that gives the film's ending a lot of gravity especially when it seems like, in the moment Thanos snaps his fingers, they didn't win. Ultimately, though, in Avengers: Endgame, the heroes do manage to prevail making that one out of millions victory a reality. But why only one scenario in which the Avengers win? A new fan theory may explain it all and it comes down to the idea of learning from loss.
Over on Reddit's r/FanTheories, user u/Solid_Waste crafts a theory that suggests exactly that. There's a lot of great explanation of the idea (which you can check out in full here) but the nuts and bolts of things is pretty direct: the key to the one possible winning outcome was not timing, but that the heroes had to learn from their defeat. As the theory explains, the heroes initially lost in their battle against Thanos in Infinity War, but by the time the face him again in Endgame, they've learned from the mistakes they've made. Thor realizes he has to "go for the head" in attacking the Mad Titan. The heroes realize that have to come together to fight -- meaning Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have to put their differences aside and create a united front. The mistakes from Infinity War that cost them everything end up being lessons for the heroes to learn from. It gives them the edge.
Of course, as other fans pointed out that while the concept of the heroes needing to learn from their mistakes is certainly a critical part of things, there's likely a bit more to it and that, realistically, there were probably more "successful" outcomes that Doctor Strange could have seen. One fan suggests that there are actually billions more possible outcomes, but Strange stopped when he hit one that was a winner -- which was after the 14 million failures. The learning aspect is great and probably played a role in any victory, but there could have been limitless other options.
Another fan pointed out that it might not have been learning from mistakes at all and, instead, comes down to the good fortune that was the rat saving Scott Lang from the Quantum Realm and thus opening up the possibility of time travel for the heroes. It's certainly worth considering.
As for how Strange actually managed to see those outcomes -- even if he didn't look at all of them, as some fans suggest -- it's something that directors Anthony and Joe Russo addressed in an interview earlier this year in what sounds like a complex, mystical form of time travel.
"Strange has to exert an immense amount of energy to go into this state and the amount of time he's in this state, as we know from his history in his own standalone film Doctor Strange, he can be in the state for who knows how long," Anthony mentions. "It could have taken Strange an immensely large time to review all these scenarios.
Joe very much echoed the sentiment, explaining that Strange was physically traveling to all 14 million futures. "He has to physically review all of these scenarios and die in them and right before he dies, he has to reset it as we saw at the end of Doctor Strange, and do it again, taking copious notes each time he does it," Joe says.
What do you think about this theory? Let us know in the comments below.