WARNING: The following article contains potential spoilers for Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, based on the teaser trailer.
Between promises of seismic changes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and key actors reaching the end of their multi-picture deals, fans have come to expect the deaths of prominent characters in Avengers: Infinity War and its still-untitled sequel. Although there's been plenty of speculation about which heroes might fall in the films, we may very well have seen at least one of the casualties in the opening moments of the Infinity War trailer.
Contrasting with the rousing voiceover, the footage opens on a somber shot of Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark sitting amid debris, holding a dirty, or bloody, hand to his lips. While it's certainly possible that's his own hand -- the camera's angle makes it difficult to tell for certain -- repeated viewings of that, oh, two-second segment suggest otherwise. (Don't pretend you haven't watched the trailer over and over again, searching for plot clues and Easter eggs.)
To begin with, absolutely no one, ever, has held their own hand to their mouth like that, unless it's to lick up errant drops of chocolate, and then not with that air of somberness. That would suggest Tony is indeed holding someone else's hand.
However, there aren't many characters in the MCU who could stir that kind of emotion, or tenderness, from the billionaire-philanthropist-superhero. Therefore, it doesn't require a leap of logic to conclude he's mourning the loss of someone extremely close to him -- someone like Pepper Potts.
Played by Gwyneth Paltrow, the chief executive officer of Stark Industries appeared in all three Iron Man films and The Avengers, but was only mentioned in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, in which it was explained Pepper and Tony were on a break because of his inability to commit to a relationship. However, by Spider-Man: Homecoming they had reconciled, with Paltrow making a cameo, signaling better times -- and likely a wedding ceremony -- ahead for the MCU's power couple.
But this moment from the trailer suggests that may not be the case. Yes, we're aware that Paltrow was spotted in August on the set of Avengers 4, wearing an engagement ring, no less, but we're now left to wonder whether that scene might be part of a dream sequence or a flashback. Or a result of the Infinity Gauntlet restoring the dead to life, or altering the fabric of reality. (Keep in min that Michael Rooker, who played Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, has seemingly teased his own involvement in Infinity War.)
The other possibility, of course, is that we're completely wrong, and that's not Pepper's hand after all. Hey, it's a working theory.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland and Anthony Mackie. The film opens May 4, 2018.