WARNING: The following article contains spoilers ahead for Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, in theaters now.
Following the shocking events of Avengers: Infinity War, a new fan theory connects Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange to the arrival of Brie Larson's Captain Marvel next year in Avengers 4.
Although Carol Danvers didn't debut in Infinity War, the movie's post-credits scene depicts Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury reaching for a pager to send a distress call to Captain Marvel before he too turned to dust. This theory connects Fury's last act, next year's Captain Marvel and Danvers' involvement in Avengers 4.
Posted on Reddit, user WamsyTheOneAndOnly suggests Doctor Strange's use of the Eye of Agamotto will lead to actor Benedict Cumberbatch's cameo in Captain Marvel. "Doctor Strange knows what happens in the future, he sets it up in fact," the Redditor suggests.
The theory seems to cover every base: "He knew that Thanos had to snap his fingers at that exact right time and under all these certain conditions for them to win. He's setting up Captain Marvel's return to Earth. I believe he'll appear in the CM movie and tell Fury it is vital for him to carry around with him the pager to contact Captain Marvel."
Interestingly, the theory also explains why Strange was mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. "Nick Fury, knowing about Steven Strange lists him as an ally to shield which of course is how Hydra knows about him despite him being a neurosurgeon (anyone who is an ally of SHIELD is a threat to Hydra)."
Finally, WamsyTheOneAndOnly reveals why Fury wasn't completely shocked to see Maria Hill perish before his eyes, and immediately seemed to know what to do: "He warns him of an event in the future referring to the people turning to dust without warning, this is why Fury's instant reaction to seeing Maria Hill turn to ash was to run to the pager, but what our good friend Sorcerer Supreme didn't mention was the fact that he does not survive hence the 'Mother Fu...' at the very end. We should also take note that the way he says it isn't panicked or scared, he's confident that Strange knows what he's doing."
As Strange faded away into a pile of ash, he gave Tony Stark a cryptic final message of "It was the only way." Bearing in mind that Strange used the Time Stone to look through all the possible outcomes to find only one where Earth's Mightiest Heroes win, it's possible that Thanos' finger-snap moment was needed to put events in motion and actually save the galaxy.
The defeat of Dormammu in Doctor Strange showed how time can pass in the blink of an eye while actually going on for an eternity, so although Strange's meditation scene in Infinity War only looked to be short, it could've gone on for an infinite amount of time to go through all the possibilities.
Over the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have been more fan theories than anyone cares to count, but only a handful have come true. Let's also remember that many thought Carol Danvers was alluded to in 2016 when Doctor Strange was asked to operate on a woman who had been struck by lightning.
Cumberbatch hasn't been spotted on the set of Captain Marvel, but if the theory is true, his cameo would likely be one of the movie's closest-guarded secrets.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Infinity War stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Tom Hiddleston, and Josh Brolin.