Earlier this summer, Thanos (Josh Brolin) laid to waste half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the snap of his fingers -- one that was wearing an Infinity Gauntlet, mind you -- and ended Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Infinity War on an unprecedented, downbeat ending. The villain prevailed. That never happens. We assume that Thanos' victory over the Avengers will be temporary -- likely resolved in Avengers 4 (which still doesn't have an official title). But HOW can the Mad Titan be bested? Let's venture down the rabbit hole and investigate a few clues that we picked up from the commentary track for Avengers: Infinity War.
For starters, the theory that Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) witnessed the one path to victory was confirmed by co-writer Christopher Markus, who was discussing Stephen Strange's powers in the MCU and elaborated:
He generally comes off as the adult in the room. Very reassuring. And that, regardless of what happens over the course of the movie, I think Strange might know how this is going to work out. I have faith in him.
So, too, do we now. We always assumed that Doctor Strange turning over the Time Stone to Thanos in an effort to save Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) meant that Iron Man was essential to the one route to victory that the remaining heroes might have. This means that yes, there IS a chance at a win. There is a possible way for the Avengers to prevail over Thanos. But while the Titan has the Infinity Gauntlet, he might be unstoppable.
Except, the Gauntlet is probably damaged after the snap.
When you fast-forward to that moment in the film, Joe Russo comments on the sizzled weapon that's on Thanos' mitt, and states:
See there, with the Gauntlet and his arm... the power that it takes to use all six stones is significant, and it clearly damaged the Gauntlet. And damaged Thanos permanently.
That got me thinking. Is there another being in the MCU strong enough to wield a Gauntlet that has all six Infinity Stones? Hulk, maybe, but he's intimidated by Thanos at the moment. Thor, potentially. But really, I think the comment by Joe Russo was a set up to the introduction of a hero who we KNOW is going to be the mightiest power that the MCU has ever seen: Captain Marvel.
Things don't happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by accident. There's a reason that Captain Marvel's origin movie arrives between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. We will meet Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), be introduced to her powers and her skill set, and likely deliver on the tease in the end credits of Infinity War, when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) called Carol on a strange device. Assuming Carol is in Avengers 4, she seems like the hero who is powerful enough to wield a Gauntlet and stop Thanos' reign.
And where is there another, undamaged Gauntlet? Well, we saw one on Nidavellir when Thor, Rocket and Groot arrived to speak with Eitri (Peter Dinklage). Again, that was no accident.
My best guess? These clues dropped into the commentary track of Avengers: Infinity War set up a means for the Avengers to get their revenge on Thanos. They have a second Gauntlet waiting for them on Nidavellir. And they're about to meet a superhero powerful enough to wield such a weapon. It will require the remaining heroes to retrieve the Stones. And it might lead to a reunion in the place where I "think" the dusted Avengers are waiting: Inside the Soul Stone.
After he uses the Gauntlet, Thanos immediately arrives into a scene with young Gamora. On the commentary track for this scene. Joe Russo explains that this is Soul World, confirming:
Thanos is transported, through the power that was needed to wipe out half of the life in the universe, into this dream state inside the Soul Stone. He was allowed one last meeting with that which he gave up to get there. The spiritual representation of his daughter.
There's a theme throughout Infinity War (available now on Blu-ray) that's important to note. "We don't trade lives." Captain America (Chris Evans) swears by it. Vision (Paul Bettany) playfully tosses it back at Cap. And yet, after the snap, every member of the MCU that's left has traded a life that is invaluable to them. Cap loses Bucky. Okoye loses T'Challa. Rocket loses Groot. And in the most painful, Tony Stark loses Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Are they all waiting in the Soul Stone? Will the surviving members sacrifice themselves to bring these heroes back?
Avengers 4 really can't get here quick enough.