Avengers: Endgame: Time-travel, the quantum realm and how Ant Man could save the day

Marvel fans have been desperately discussing the events of Avengers: Infinity War over the last year, hoping to work out how the remaining superheroes will finally defeat Thanos (and bring back their dusted friends) in Avengers: Endgame.

While the film's directors, the Russo brothers, have remained tight-lipped about the upcoming blockbuster, trailers and cast interviews have hinted at how things will play out.

So, what’s going to happen in Avengers: Endgame? Let’s take a deep dive into where the sequel could go. Warning: potential spoilers ahead.

As everyone who has seen Infinity War knows, the film ends with the Avengers being defeated by Thanos, who destroys half the universe’s population. Among those “snapped” by the Mad Titan are Star-Lord, Black Panther, Spider-Man, The Wasp, Nick Fury and Doctor Strange.

However, despite such mass destruction, the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe looks set in stone. Sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy have already been confirmed, while a trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home was released in January, alongside confirmation its story takes place after Endgame.

With those sequels coming soon, we can assume those characters will be un-dusted and that the Avengers will defeat Thanos. But how will they beat Josh Brolin’s all-powerful CGI monster? And how will the Avengers bring back those “dead” characters who still have films to come?

The answer to both those questions, it appears, involves both time travel and the quantum realm.

There have numerous hints that Endgame will feature time-travel, the first being multiple spoiler-filled photos from the film’s set leaking online. These include shots of Captain America in his “old-fashioned” costume, Thor with long hair, and Tony Stark wearing SHIELD gear (despite the group being defunct by the time Endgame is set). Multiple reports have also emerged concerning characters who previously died coming back for the sequel – including Peggy Carter and Crossbones.

All this heavily hints at time-travel. But how exactly will the Avengers go back? That’s where the quantum realm comes into play.


The quantum realm was a major part of Ant-Man and the Wasp, a film released after Infinity War. The film depicts Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang traversing through the quantum realm to find Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet van Dyne, who has been stuck there since 1987. After being rescued, Janet discusses the power of quantum energy with her daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and husband Hank (Michael Douglas). They then decide to send Lang back into the realm. As we see during the film’s post-credits scene, Ant-Man gets stuck in the quantum realm as Hope, Hank and Janet get dusted by Thanos.

The trailer for Endgame has since revealed that Lang escapes the quantum realm and reaches the Avengers facility. However, that scene from the trailer itself hints at time-travel.

“Is this an old message?” asks Captain America, as a video of Lang banging on the facility’s door plays. And while we’re led to believe the message is from the present day, Cap may not actually be wrong – the footage is dated back to 1983. (Look closely at the top left-hand corner of the screen as the message plays and you can see the date; the Avengers facility also looks rundown in Ant-Man's message, yet is pristine in the present day.)

Avengers: 1983? (Disney/Marvel)
Avengers: 1983? (Disney/Marvel)

The likely answer appears to be that Lang escaped the quantum realm but ended up in the wrong time period, travelling back to 1983 rather than 2019. Considering Janet Van Dyne mentions that the quantum realm is filled with “time vortexes” during the Ant Man and the Wasp post-credits scene, it seems very likely Lang fell into one.

However, one thing to note: Lang does not know that Thanos destroyed half the universe. He will therefore be unable to warn of the impending catastrophic event. Some fans believe Lang may end up going back into the quantum realm in order to travel to the present day to meet the Avengers. They will then use the quantum technology to go back in time, defeat Thanos and save the universe.

If the post-credit scene from Ant-Man and the Wasp was not enough to guarantee that the quantum realm will feature in Endgame, then there’s also an interview with Tom Holland – from before the release of Infinity War – that backs up this theory. Discussing the third Avengers film, the Spider-Man actor said that Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Doctor Strange, had “the most difficult lines” of the film.

“He has to talk about so much quantum realm... stuff,” Holland said, adding: “I just have to talk about, ‘Yeah man, that’s awesome.’ So mine’s easy, but his is all so difficult.“

Curiously, Doctor Strange never mentions the quantum realm during Infinity War. And considering the final two Avengers films were shot-back-to-back, Holland is likely referring to a scene that will feature in Endgame in which Strange will talk about the workings of the quantum realm.

Unsurprisingly, the Russo brothers have tried to put Marvel fans off the scent. Speaking about the leaked set photos, one of the brothers previously said: “It’s interesting because photos always leak, and there’s lots of conjecture about what those photos mean. Certainly, there is a five-minute sequence in Civil War around a piece of technology that was laid in for a very specific reason. If you go back and look at that film, you may get a hint as to the direction.”

That piece of technology, fans believe, is Binary Augmented Retro-Framing (BARF), a machine that allows people to augment their memories, as demonstrated by Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man. Could the Avengers be using this, rather than time travel, to discover the key to beating Thanos? If they augment memories, this would explain the set photo leaks.

Whatever the case, the original Avengers – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye (now Ronin) – are probably not going to survive Endgame, and everyone who was snapped in Infinity War will live on. It will be a bittersweet ending for the super-group, but one that would probably appease fans whose expectations are through the proverbial roof.

Of course, this is all just speculation, and we should keep in mind these comments from Infinity War screenwriter Christopher Markus. “[Endgame] doesn’t do what you think it does. It is a different movie than you think it is. Also... [the deaths are] real. I just want to tell you it’s real, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be able to move on to the next stage of grief.”

Avengers: Endgame reaches UK cinemas 25 April 2019.