More than probably any other part of Avengers: Infinity War, much has been made of the fact that Dr. Stephen Strange peered into the multiverse and discovered that there was only one scenario -- out of over 14 million possibilities -- that resulted in the Avengers defeating Thanos and saving the universe from the Decimation. Shortly thereafter, Stranger surrendered the Time Stone to Thanos -- something that he had promised he would never do, even if it meant giving up the lives of Spider-Man and Iron Man. His magic, it had been assumed up until then, would protect the stone from Thanos in much the same way it protected it from the Black Order -- although Thanos was able to break open the Eye of Agamotto almost immediately and claim the prize.
In the months since the movie was in theaters, fans have speculated furiously about just how Doctor Strange's actions would somehow guarantee a win for the good guys -- and one new possibility occurred to us after seeing today's teaser footage, in which original Avengers Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man finally stand shoulder to shoulder for the first time since Avengers: Age of Ultron. The working assumption has always been that "The Snap" needed to happen for some reason in order for Thanos to ultimately be defeated...but if Strange could see that using the stone, why couldn't Thanos see it and do something to prevent it?
A likely scenario is that the full scope of the Time Stone was not available to Thanos, since part of it was locked down with Strange's magic...but he likely did that in such a way that it was invisible to Thanos. Think about Watchmen, and the way Ozymandias managed to trick the all-seeing Doctor Manhattan by creating a cloud of distortion which removed his time-sight/precognitive abilities. Given the global security situation, Manhattan took it at face value when it was suggested that the distortion could come from nuclear fallout from a global war.
It seems possible that in Avengers: Endgame, audiences will learn that Doctor Strange did a lot more than it seemed to shape the way things turned out after his apparent death in the Decimation. One thing that seems likely, given the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is that it could be more important than is immediately evident that the original Avengers -- particularly the "Trinity" of Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man -- came together to face Thanos. Fans were excited to see that scene for the emotional impact that comes from seeing them back together again after all this time -- something that fans of the comics can remember from when Marvel Comics transitioned from the post-Civil War status quo into the "Heroic Age" titles.
But emotion and connection are an important part of what makes heroes tick, and it is possible that, either for strategic reasons or for something more ineffable, it was necessary to get Cap, Thor, and Iron Man to play nice in order to put a stop to Thanos. Think about, for instance, the importance of the friendship forged by the Guardians of the Galaxy in their first film, and the way that friendship shaped the film's third act when it became key to allowing Peter to wield the Power Stone to defeat Ronan the Accuser. It would not be beyond the pale to imagine the three key Avengers having to share such a burdern -- maybe not quite as literally as the Guardians, but one never knows.
After all, before the intervention of Star-Lord's rage, a highly-skilled unit working tightly together with a battle plan gave he Avengers their best chance at removing the Gauntlet from Thanos and sparing the universe his wrath. And certainly given Tony's brains, Thor's power, and Cap's leadership skills, it would be difficult to imagine a more effective fighting unit than three guys with those skillsets and years of experience working together prior to Civil War. If that turns out to be the case, it is distinctly possible that bringing the original team back together one last time was the key aspect of Doctor Strange's plan. We will see when Avengers: Endgame zooms into theaters April 26th.
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