Infinity War has finally landed, and we all need a moment. Thanos did the thing! That hero bit the big one! Our feelings! OUR FEELINGS! Before the movie dropped, though, fans around the globe were speculating wildly as to what would happen. Who would die? Who would live? Would Thanos actually win? The theories ranged from shockingly accurate to hilariously wrong. At the end of the day, though, pretty much everything was a guess, and a few got lucky -- a bit like the characters in the film, itself. We can largely attribute this accuracy record to the almost unprecedented levels of secrecy surrounding the production, along with some outright deceptive marketing.
What we're doing here is compiling a big ol' list of some of the most believable pre-release theories (and a few more out-there ones), and seeing who got to run around to their friends saying how they called it. It should go without saying, but this list includes some major, MAJOR SPOILERS. Seriously. If you haven't seen the movie yet, turn back now. Thanos might have demanded our silence, but, well, he is a fictional character and also not the dad of us. But seriously, we're giving you plenty of warning.
DO NOT READ THIS LIST IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS.
20 FALSE: AVENGERS 4 TITLE REVEAL
Just in case you didn't pay attention to all those warnings in the intro (or you just didn't read it), we're giving you one last chance to back out before we get to the real spoilers. So this is it. Final warning. Turn back now if you haven't seen the movie. Initially, the third and fourth Avengers movies were announced as Infinity War Part 1 and Infinity War Part 2. As production progressed, the titles were changed up, and Infinity War Part 1 was re-titled to simply Infinity War, and Part 2 was re-titled to something as yet unannounced.
A popular theory in the run-up to Infinity War involved an MCU credits staple. At the very end of the credits, usually after the post-credits stinger, the audience is told "The Avengers will return." Occasionally, the credits would include the title of the next movie they appeared in. Winter Soldier, for example, ended with "Captain America will return in Avengers: Age of Ultron." Due to the high levels of secrecy surrounding both Infinity War and the title of Avengers 4, fans naturally started speculating that the title for Avengers 4 would be revealed at the end of Infinity War. Instead, we simply got the ominous "Thanos will return."
19 TRUE: BRUCE BANNER'S IN THE HULKBUSTER
In the very first trailer for Infinity War, we saw the Hulkbuster Iron Man armor battling alongside the Avengers in Wakanda. This raised several eyebrows, as we also saw Tony Stark in his fancy new Iron Man armor. Speculation naturally ran rampant as to who was in the armor, if not Tony. Sharp-eyed fans noticed that Hulk himself was conspicuously absent in the trailers, with only a brief shot of Bruce Banner appearing in Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. This in turn led to theories that Bruce Banner was piloting the Hulkbuster, for unknown reasons.
Once the movie came out, these theories were confirmed.
Thanos wrecks Hulk so thoroughly that Bruce finds himself unable to transform. Tony, meanwhile, has his new nanotech armor and also goes to space. Banner instead starts piloting the Hulkbuster armor so he can still be useful in the battle against Thanos' invasion (why he chooses to fight on the front lines rather than help Shuri save Vision is another question). While it proves to be useless against Thanos himself, it does serve to battle two of his Black Order, and defeat one of them. Where he got the armor goes unanswered, as well as why he can't transform into Hulk.
18 FALSE: LOKI BETRAYS THOR
One of the big moments of the Infinity War trailers saw Loki offering the Tesseract to Thanos. Because he is Loki, fans assumed that he would betray Thor once again to serve Thanos. After all, Loki served Thanos in the very first Avengers movie, attempting to use the Tesseract (not yet revealed to be an Infinity Stone) along with the Mind Stone (still inside the scepter and not yet revealed to be an Infinity Stone) to conquer Earth. And he's betrayed Thor multiple times. But after Thor: Ragnarok, he seemed to have finally turned the corner.
But in the opening scene of Infinity War, we see the scene play out, and it seems Loki really has turned the corner. He offers Thanos the Tesseract, but only to save Thor's life. He pledges undying loyalty to Thanos, only to get in close to stab him. Neither scheme ends up working, but Loki still maintains his newfound morality, even at the cost of his life. This marks Loki as perhaps the biggest turnaround in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, going from one of the Avengers' biggest villains to a true hero, or at least the attempt at one. Here's hoping he comes back to live up to it.
17 TRUE: LOKI DIES
Part and parcel with the "Loki betrays Thor" theory was Loki dying either way. After all, he failed and betrayed Thanos, and Thanos didn't seem like the kind of guy to let things go. From the first trailer, we knew Loki would offer the Tesseract to Thanos, and that Thanos would obtain the Space Stone from it. We also didn't see Loki in scenes that could be assumed to come later in the movie. There also isn't a fourth Thor movie announced (yet). So, theories began to spring up that Loki would die when he confronted Thanos.
Not only was this theory proven correct, it was proven in the opening scene.
Infinity War picks up almost immediately after Thor: Ragnarok's final post-credits stinger. The Asgardian refugees have been wiped out by Thanos and his minions. Thor is beaten and bloodied. Loki offers Thanos the Tesseract to save Thor, but this is merely a distraction for the Hulk to come in. Thanos kicks the hell out of the Hulk, but this leaves Loki helpless before him. He pledges undying loyalty to Thanos, but this is again a ruse to attempt to kill Thanos. Thanos sees through the scheme, and strangles Loki, leaving his corpse to be destroyed with the rest of the Asgardians in a Power Stone explosion.
16 FALSE: CAP DIES
Captain America has long been a major player in Marvel, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But rumors have swirled about the character dying, as Chris Evans' contract is due to expire. First came theories that he would die in Civil War, in keeping with the comics. The theory went that he would return from the dead in Infinity War to battle Thanos. This, obviously, went out the window when he didn't die in Civil War. With the Infinity War trailer, we saw Steve Rogers struggling against Thanos directly. While he's strong, he wouldn't stand a chance against the Big T, so fans shifted into overdrive speculating that he would die at the hands of Thanos, to be replaced by Bucky or Falcon.
THE SPOILERS ARE IN, and Cap doesn't die. The movie had a distressingly high body count, but Cap isn't one of them. With him, the theories about Bucky or Falcon taking his place also go out the window, not least because they die instead. Granted, Avengers 4 is still looming, and Chris Evans' contract is still due to expire, so this theory might end up coming true in a year. But as of Infinity War, Cap is still kicking, if not very depressed.
15 TRUE: VISION DIES WHEN HE LOSES THE MIND STONE
One of the biggest concerns going into Infinity War was the fate of Vision. Since Thanos' main goal was to gather the Infinity Stones, and Vision has an Infinity Stone in his head, there was obviously going to be a confrontation there. The trailers also showed Vision in considerable distress as someone attempts to dig the Mind Stone out of his forehead. Fans quickly started speculating about just what would happen to Vision without the Mind Stone. After all, it was pretty integral to his creation. The prevailing theory quickly became that he would die upon losing it.
This theory turned out true, even if it wasn't in quite the way people were expecting.
A large chunk of the film is dedicated to removing the Mind Stone safely from Vision, using Wakandan tech and Shuri's smarts. An incredibly delicate process, it requires time the Avengers don't really have. The final goal is to destroy the Mind Stone without killing Vision in the process. They ultimately fail, however, and Scarlet Witch is forced to destroy the stone while it's still attached to Vision. Even this fails, as a Time Stone empowered Thanos simply uses the Time Stone to rewind Vision's destruction. And his removal of the Mind Stone is considerably less delicate than Shuri's.
14 TRUE: EVERYONE HECKIN' DIES
Infinity War is a partial adaptation of the Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet comics. Thanos gathers the Infinity Stones/Gems, and uses them to become a god and wipe out half of all life in the universe. The directors certainly didn't do anything to dissuade fan fears that characters would be dying left and right in this movie. Trailers even outright stated this as his end goal. As such, most fans were expecting and/or fearing the movie having a pretty high body count.
But not like this. Oh Lord, not like this. Thanos succeeds in his plan, and executes the iconic snap. The film ends with an extended sequence of most of the characters fading into dust. While not everyone actually heckin' dies, it's still a pretty distressing number of them. Casualties include: Bucky, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, every Guardian of the Galaxy besides Rocket, and just for a special gut-punch, the post-credits stinger sees Maria Hill and Nick Fury turn to dust as well. Further rumors about Avengers 4 involve Wasp and Hawkeye's family dying as well. Fortunately, a good chunk of these characters already have future movie appearances lined up, so at least some of them should return. Still. Not like this.
13 FALSE: T-H-A-N-O-S
In the run-up to Infinity War, one of the biggest questions on everyone's mind was "Where's the Soul Stone?" A few discerning fans noticed that the locations of those revealed so far almost spelled out THANOS. T: Tesseract (Space Stone), H: (Soul Stone), A: Aether (Reality Stone), N: Necklace (Time Stone), O: Orb (Power Stone), and S: Scepter (Mind Stone). Fans quickly began brainstorming about where the Soul Stone might be that started with H. Since Thor: Ragnarok was the final movie before Infinity War, most fans speculated that the Soul Stone would be revealed there, in either Heimdall or Hela.
A few even floated the theory that it would be in Tony Stark's (H)eart, or in Wakanda as the (H)eart-shaped Herb.
Of course, all that turned out to be wrong, and the theory itself flew out the window. The Soul Stone is on the planet Vormir, which, as you may notice, does not start with H. A few fans argued that it still counted, since it was guarded by the Red Skull, leader of (H)ydra, but let's be honest, that's stretching it a little too far. Beyond that Hydra connection, there's no real way to make the T-H-A-N-O-S theory work.
12 FALSE: EVERY OTHER THEORY ABOUT THE SOUL STONE
The Soul Stone was the center of possibly the most fan theories surround Infinity War. Due to being the last true mystery available that didn't have a binary answer (who lives, who dies, for example), fans went wild. Every scrap of information that could be gleaned was analyzed, re-analyzed, and over-analyzed, searching for some hint of where it could be. A poster showing the heroes inside the Infinity Stones from their movies, with Iron Man inside the Soul Stone, sparked theories that Iron Man had the Soul Stone. The T-H-A-N-O-S theory also contributed some of the wilder theories. A few theories even revolved around Odin having it somehow, despite turning into motes of light.
But no. Every theory about the location of the Soul Stone turned out to be wrong. The planet Vormir, although a neat Easter egg for the most dedicated comic fans, has nothing to do with the Soul Stone in the comics, and thus never came up in theories. While Red Skull was predicted to return (more on him later), he never came up in connection to the Soul Stone's location. Although some theories predicted that Gamora had a connection the Stone, those who subscribed to this theory were expecting it to literally be inside her.
11 TRUE: THANOS KILLS GAMORA
With the release of the second Infinity War trailer, fans turned their eyes to Gamora. The apparent tenderness Thanos showed Gamora in the trailer led to speculation that she would be the key to the as yet unrevealed Soul Stone. This speculation was further augmented by Gamora's initial role in Guardians of Galaxy, hunting the Power Stone for Thanos. Most theories went along the lines of the Soul Stone being inside Gamora, possibly hidden there by Thanos. Thanos would then have to kill Gamora to retrieve the Stone.
As much as our hearts wish it wasn't, this one came true.
Gamora was revealed to know the location of the Soul Stone, and led Thanos to it. There, they meet the Red Skull, banished there by his use of the Tesseract. He tells them Thanos must kill something he loves in order to gain the Soul Stone. Gamora does not initially realize that Thanos does love her, or at least enough to gain the Soul Stone with her death. She is cast off a cliff to her death. With her death, Thanos gains the Soul Stone. On the bright side, because the Soul Stone is apparently tied to Gamora, odds are good that she'll return upon Thanos' defeat.
10 FALSE: ADAM WARLOCK POPS UP
In the comics, Thanos' quest for the Infinity Gems is a lot more complicated than what we saw in Infinity War. Part of the speculation about the location of the Soul Stone involved its wielder in the comics, Adam Warlock. One of Thanos' original nemeses, Warlock was the first to hold the Soul Gem, and indeed, the Infinity Gems were initially called the Soul Gems in their first appearance. Fans naturally turned the comics in the run-up to Infinity War. These theories were further fueled by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In its final post-credits stinger, we saw Ayesha create an artificial being to destroy the Guardians, called Adam.
This theory was shot down before Infinity War even came out, by Guardians director James Gunn. After a fan tweeted him that the Soul Stone was with Warlock, James Gunn responded that they were incorrect. Of course, a lot of the advertising and director comments before Infinity War proved to be deceptive, but the movie itself also proved the theory incorrect. Warlock also fit into the T-H-A-N-O-S theory, with his alternate name of HIM. On the flip side, Warlock is confirmed to appear in the third instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy.
9 TRUE: DOCTOR STRANGE AND HIS TIME STONE SCHEMES
In Doctor Strange, the Eye of Agamotto was revealed to be housing Time Stone, capable of creating time loops and allowing the wielder to peer into the future. Naturally, fans began to theorize about how he would end up using it in Infinity War. After all, the ability to see the future and rewrite time would probably be pretty useful in a battle against a seemingly all-powerful god. Most theories centered around the events of Infinity War being part of a time loop set up by Strange, to view a possible future where Thanos won.
As it turns out, Strange did end up using the Time Stone, but not in a way people expected.
Its primary use in Infinity War (by Strange, anyway) was to view possible futures of the Avengers' battle against Thanos. After viewing 16 million+ possible futures, he determines that there's only one way where Thanos is defeated. Initially, it seems like Thanos wins pretty hard, gaining all six Infinity Stones and carrying out his endgame. But Doctor Strange, just before he dissolves into dust, tells Tony "This was the only way." This seems to imply there's some Time Stone scheme to be revealed in Avengers 4, and this theory is further reinforced by leaked set photos showing an aging Tony Stark interacting with Captain America in his original Avengers costume.
8 FALSE: HELA IS THE REAL VILLAIN
In the comics, Thanos' primary motivation is his love for the anthropomorphic personification of Death. With Thor Ragnarok, we got at least one of those, in Hela, Norse god of death. With Hela's revelation, fans began to speculate that she would take the place of Death for Thanos' affection. This theory was fed more fuel by the T-H-A-N-O-S theory, with some fans speculating that she would carry the Soul Stone. Even Hela's apparent death at the end of Ragnarok didn't dampen these theories. After all, what would Thanos be without his love for Death?
Infinity War answered that question pretty resoundingly, though. Hela does not make a comeback from the ruins of Asgard. And despite that teaser in the first Avengers about courting death/Death, Thanos is not in love with Death. Unlike the comics, Thanos wipes out half of all life to maintain sustainability in the universe, not to impress or otherwise woo Death. And to top it off, Hela doesn't have the Soul Stone. While it would have been nice to see a more faithful adaptation of the comics, what we got is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Hela's return or lack thereof is certainly not a foregone conclusion, either.
7 TRUE: THOR GETS A NEW HAMMER
Thor Ragnarok brought a lot of changes to Thor's world. Odin died. Asgard was destroyed. He lost an eye. Loki turned into a full ally. But most of all, his hammer was destroyed. With the return of Hela, Mjolnir was shattered. However, it was revealed that Thor never truly needed the hammer, and he was just as powerful, if not moreso, without it. But theories swirled before Infinity War that Thor would gain a new hammer to battle Thanos and his hordes.
This theory was spoiled by a toy promotion, unfortunately. We saw Thor with his new hammer well before the movie actually came out.
But Thor's major plotline in Infinity War saw him seeking and eventually forging (with the help of Groot) a new hammer, Stormbreaker. He puts it to incredibly effective and impressive use upon his return to Earth, and nearly stops Thanos with it. Although he fails to stop Thanos (really should have aimed for the head), he retains the hammer by the end of the film, and it will likely see further use in Avengers 4 and beyond. However, with the forging of the new hammer, the destruction of the people of Asgard, and getting a new robot eye from Rocket, one wonders why Ragnarok happened at all.
6 FALSE: SKRULLS!
Between Infinity War and Avengers 4, we've got two movies coming out. They're both flashbacks. The first, Ant-Man and the Wasp, takes place shortly after Captain America Civil War, and will likely explain Ant-Man's absence in Infinity War in a bit more detail. The second, Captain Marvel takes us way back to the 1990s, to follow Carol Danvers as she gains the powers of Captain Marvel and battles a Skrull invasion. Fans speculated that Captain Marvel would get a bit of foreshadowing in Infinity War, with Thanos somehow revealing the presence of Skrull infiltrators on Earth. Most theories pointed to the Soul Stone revealing them, or being revealed as they died to the snap.
Infinity War has come, and with it, there were no Skrulls. But at two hours and and forty minutes, perhaps it's better there wasn't much runtime dedicated to setting up future movies, beyond Avengers 4, obviously. Captain Marvel did get a tease in the post-credits stinger, with Nick Fury sending out a distress signal to her moments before disintegrating to Thanos' snap. Where Carol is, and why she hasn't shown up for all these attacks, will presumably be answered in her upcoming movie. No word on Ant-Man, though.
5 TRUE: CAPTAIN MARVEL SHOWS UP
In the comics, Thanos' first storyline takes place in the pages of Captain Marvel. Mar-Vell, predecessor to present-day Captain Marvel Carol Danvers, would go on to be one of Thanos' greatest foes. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Captain Marvel movie is set to release between Infinity War and Avengers 4. Due to the connection between Marvel and Thanos, and the fact that the movie takes place in the past, fans began speculating that Carol Danvers would appear to take the fight to Thanos. After all, it's been confirmed that Nick Fury appears in Captain Marvel, and a threat like Thanos would probably cause Fury to call in backup.
Infinity War took us back to the Phase 1 post-credits stinger; just one, after all the credits had rolled.
It shows Nick Fury and Maria Hill together, going through the aftermath of Thanos' fateful snap. Nick Fury sends out a last minute distress call as he dissolves into dust. We see the signal going out. A response is received in the form of Captain Marvel's red-and-blue color scheme, with her star symbol overlaid. So, it was not a full appearance, but she's out there, and she's on her way. Where she was up to now will hopefully be answered soon.
4 FALSE: SCARLET WITCH BETRAYS THE AVENGERS
Despite being an Avengers mainstay, Scarlet Witch's morality has always been a bit flexible in the comics. Starting out as a mutant villain under Magneto, she later converted to the Avengers. While she fought for the side of good for a long dang time, Avengers Disassembled saw her lose her mind and kill several Avengers. Later, in House of M, she wiped out most of the mutant population. Due to Vision's importance to Thanos' quest, and his importance to Scarlet Witch, many fans speculated that she would betray the Avengers in order to save Vision, or that Thanos would use the Mind Stone to reassert control over her.
But if you've made it this far into the article, you know that doesn't happen. Scarlet Witch does kill the Vision, but it's to keep the Mind Stone from falling into the hands of Thanos. But Scarlet Witch maintains her morality throughout Infinity War, until she is dusted by the snap. However, Vision's death is one of the key moments that sets off Wanda in Avengers Disassembled, and her morality may shift radically in the future. While it's likely, if not certain, that all the dusted characters return, Vision's return is far less certain.
3 TRUE: RED SKULL RETURNS
Captain America: The First Avenger saw the beginning of the Infinity Stone plot. The Red Skull, leader of HYDRA, had obtained the powerful Tesseract, later revealed to be the Space Stone. Initially, he uses it to create super-tech weapons for HYDRA, in order to conquer America and win World War 2. In his final confrontation with Captain America, he attempts to use it bare-handed. As we would later learn in Guardians of the Galaxy, that rarely works out for people. He is seemingly disintegrated in a beam of light. After the revelation that the Tesseract is the Space Stone, fans began speculating that Red Skull was actually warped somewhere else, and had survived.
One of the most popular theories about Infinity War was that old villains would return, and Red Skull usually topped the list.
After all, he's the only one with an ambiguous "death." As it turns out, those theories were correct. In one of the most legitimately surprising moments in the movie, Red Skull reappears as a guardian of the Soul Stone. Cursed with knowledge he can never use thanks to his wielding the Space Stone, he tells Thanos the key to acquiring the Soul Stone. What he'll do now that the Stone is gone remains to be seen.
2 FALSE: HAWKEYE SHOWS UP
One conspicuous absence in the promotional material for Infinity War was Hawkeye. Fans first noticed his absence in the trailer, and again on the big full-cast poster. As more promotional material appeared, all with a startling lack of Hawkeye, fans began clamoring to know: where the heck is Hawkeye? A popular theory revolved around a comics identity change. The theory went Clint Barton had left behind the Hawkeye name, and was now going by Ronin. He was missing from the promotional material because his presence would be a spoiler in itself.
But here we are, traumatized by Infinity War with no Hawkeye to show for it. An offhand mention places him with his family, but his absence is still keenly felt. The only original Avenger to not make it into the movie, his absence is a pretty glaring reminder that Infinity War is literally half a movie. Directors the Russo brothers confirmed that Hawkeye and fellow absentee Ant-Man would have larger roles in Avengers 4, at least. And at least we didn't to watch either of them disintegrate. Fortunately, Ant-Man has been confirmed by set photos for Avengers 4, and we got a glimpse of a possible new Hawkeye look from Vanity Fair.
1 TRUE: THE SNAP
One of the most iconic images from Infinity Gauntlet is Thanos' fateful snap that wipes out half of all life in the universe. Even before Infinity War was announced, speculation began as to when, how, and if the snap would be adapted. Most theories pointed to the snap happening at the end of the movie. Some thought we would see the aftermath immediately, others thought it would be a smash cut to the credits. The second trailer, with Gamora talking about Thanos ending half of all life with a snap of his fingers only lent fuel to these theories.
Well, here we are. Thanos snapped.
The Russo brothers teased us that he might have been stopped. But no. Thanos pulled it off, And we got to witness the heart-breaking aftermath. Interestingly, the Gauntlet itself seems to have been destroyed or heavily damaged by the snap, a departure from the comics. This raises questions about how the effects of the snap will be reversed in Avengers 4. But that is the bright side of all this: most of the characters disintegrated by the snap have upcoming movies. We can rest assured that a good chunk of them will be returning. We hope.