The latest batch of set photos from the filming of Avengers 4, it’s becoming undeniable that the film will feature time travel. Kevin Feige has described the fourth outing of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as a “finale” for the MCU, drawing together countless story threads, ending a plot that has spanned (at the point of Avengers 4’s release) 11 years, and 22 films.

However, the movie itself largely remains a mystery, with Marvel opting to not even announce the title, considering it to be a spoiler in itself.

Avengers 4 was intended to be a continuation of this year’s Avengers: Infinity War, with it being dubbed “Part 2” in the original announcement. Though something has obviously changed during the project’s development, with the Russo Brothers teasing that while the two films would be closely connected, they would also be very different: “The first movie is very clearly Avengers: Infinity War, and, in time, we will reveal what the second film is.”

It’s understandable that this statement left fans intrigued, with every new set photo being closely examined for any little hint at what Avengers 4 could hold.

But now, it’s possible to say with a degree of certainty that Avengers 4 will deal with a fair amount of time travel. And if that is the case, it gives us a hint of what the outcome of Infinity War could be – and perhaps explains one of Marvel’s longstanding mysteries.

Avengers 4 began filming in August last year, straight after Infinity War’s filming had finished – and it didn’t take long for photos to hit the internet. Many pictures showed the original Avengers suited up in their classic outfits from 2012’s Avengers. Chris Hemsworth was seen sporting Thor‘s long golden locks, Chris Evans was pictured wearing Cap‘s “old-fashioned” costume, and one image even showed Loki in chains being led away for imprisonment in Asgard.

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Along with these, other set photos and casting calls have suggested that there will be more flashbacks. Evangeline Lilly posted a set photo showing her hair in a bob (as in Ant-Man) which from pictures we know is not the case in Ant-Man and The Wasp, Chris Evans was spotted shooting a scene in the past, walking down a street of classic cars, and a photo of Robert Downey Jr. showed him in a S.H.I.E.L.D. tactical vest – an organisation that no longer exists in the present MCU, which interestingly was taken around the same time as another set photo which shows Tony looking as he did in The Avengers, with darker hair than his golden Infinity War locks.

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One of the many Marvel casting calls also included an appeal for actors in an office scene set in the ‘60s.

There is also evidence of the return of characters that are long dead in Avengers 4. Rumours of Frank Grillo’s reprisal of Crossbones have been confirmed when he attended an event in Atlanta alongside Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. They were also accompanied by Maximiliano Hernandez, who played Agent Sitwell, killed in Winter Soldier.

Why so many flashbacks, you ask?

Well, the latest photos released by Just Jared show Chris Evans on set alongside Paul Rudd – however, while Rudd is suited up as Ant-Man, Evans is again wearing his original Avengers outfit. Leading to only one logical conclusion: Ant-Man must (at some point in Avengers 4) travel back in time. Possibly with the help of Doctor Strange, and an odd timepiece device that has also been shown in set pictures.

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Given the large amount of time travel in its sequel, it’s likely that the Avengers wont’s defeat Thanos in Infinity War – which is understandable, given that footage shown to fans at D23 and SDCC last year showed Thanos wielding the power of the Infinity Stones and tossing comets at the Avengers. So, it’s difficult to imagine the heroes beating them.

This might mean that Ant-Man is one of the few survivors of Thanos’ attack, and so he goes back in time in order to take possession of the Infinity Stones before Thanos can get his hands on them. Which would make sense given the times he is returning to – events that involved the Tesseract/Mind Stone in particular. Or maybe the potential loss of Captain America in Infinity War prompts them to reclaim the hero from his earlier days?

Whether this is the case or not, the idea of time travel being involved in the defeat of Thanos is certainly an intriguing idea.

Avengers 4 is set for release on May 3rd, 2019.

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