Fans are excited for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, partly because it looks rather epic, and partly because it promises to introduce a monumental shift in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By all accounts, everything is set to change after this story is done, however, viewers won't find out how exactly until the as-yet untitled fourth Avengers film, which will also feature Thanos as the main antagonist.
Over the past few weeks, multiple photos from the set of Avengers 4 have been released, teasing various new costumes, items and mysteries that have sparked a flood of fan theories relating to how Thanos' attack will bring about a new era. A lot of them involve time travel and alternate realities, and given what we know about Thanos and the power granted by the Infinity Stones, all theories at the moment seem equally plausible.
Just when you think you're prepared for what Avengers 4 has in store, new images surface to wrinkle those seemingly airtight theories. Take these set images for example, courtesy of photographer Joe Passori, which feature an orange prop case with a familiar name stuck to it: B.A.R.F.
Binary Augmented Retro Framing sounds complicated and vaguely familiar, and here's why. We actually heard that name before right after being given a demonstration of the technology back in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, which, like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. Stark's tech was given just one scene, mostly so the film could give us a little more insight into Tony Stark's tragic youth.
The B.A.R.F. (an acronym Tony said he'd work on but clearly hasn't) is, according to Stark, a $600 million dollar device that connects to a user's hippocampus and allows for external projections of traumatic memories via holograms. Its purpose was to offer a therapeutic method for users to, hopefully, work through their emotional wounds, as shown by Stark when he revealed the device at MIT, along with the things he wished he said to his parents when he saw them for the last time.
It served its purpose as an expository device in Civil War, but clearly that was not the only reason why the Russo brothers introduced it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But why is it showing up in Avengers 4?
As we said, we know that time travel and alternate realities are a possibility in the film. In fact, several photos of our heroes in older costumes from the set of Avengers 4 suggest that time travel is more than a possibility, it's almost guaranteed, but perhaps not in the way we think. Tony Stark's frames could be the reason why we'll be seeing our heroes as they appeared in earlier films. It's entirely possible that Stark will be using his tech to search for something he encountered once before.
Considering the large cast of characters, it's also possible that the capabilities of the B.A.R.F. could be drastically expanded, not through more technology but with the help of magic instead. Doctor Strange will be appearing in the film, presumably without the Time Stone in the Eye of Agamotto, or its time controlling powers. It's possible that Strange will require Stark's tech to somehow regain that ability to combat Thanos and his Black Order, after all, the MCU has always made it a point to depict magic as simply being science us mere mortals cannot fully comprehend yet.
Speaking of which, the inclusion of B.A.R.F. provides insight into a scene from the Infinity War trailer, which shows Tony wearing glasses similar to the frames in Civil War. Considering all the destruction around them, it's doubtful he's wearing them as a fashion statement. The way he holds them certainly makes it seem as though they might serve a greater purpose, which means it's likely they are the very same B.A.R.F. glasses we were introduced to in Civil War. They could be helping to counteract some of Thanos' powers. The possibilities are endless.
It's also worth noting that there may not be just one user. Several images surfaced from the set of Avengers 4, showing multiple characters such as Captain America, Ant-Man, Hulk and of course Tony, sporting odd devices on their fists. In the background is a New York street, littered with rubble and destruction, which fits with the backdrop of Passori's set photos. Of course, seeing as how the battle for New York will be a major event in the film, linking B.A.R.F. to those devices based on the backdrop might be a stretch, but that doesn't mean a connection is completely impossible. It could be that multiple users will be immersed in a memory or alternate reality through Tony's Binary Augmented Retro Frames.
Hopefully, as more photos and details are released, we'll start getting a clearer picture about the potential role of B.A.R.F. in the plot of Avengers 4. Hopefully more so after the release Avengers: Infinity War. For now, it's anyone's guess.
In theatres May 2018, Avengers: Infinity War is directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and stars Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Anthony Mackie, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Tom Hiddleston and Josh Brolin.