Officially, with the exception of casting announcements, Marvel hasn't released any specific details about Avengers 4, which is understandable. Although Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 are no longer being labeled as two parts of the same story, the movies are still heavily tied to one another, and since Infinity War is still five months away from release, Marvel can't risk revealing anything about Avengers 4's plot until its predecessor has been out for a little bit. Unofficially, however, certain reports and set images from recent months seemingly imply that Avengers 4 may feature time travel. While this is in no way official yet, if Avengers 4 does incorporate time travel into its story, it would be an incredible game changer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe by honoring the franchise's history in a unique way, as well as opening the door for new storytelling possibilities that have been present in the Marvel Comics universe for decades.
To catch everyone up to speed, Avengers 4 stunt performer Heidi Moneymaker posted some pictures from the set of the 2019 Marvel movie last week, some of which showed Scarlett Johansson wearing the same outfit and rocking the same hairdo that she did in the opening of Captain America: Civil War. It was also reported in early November that Frank Grillo, who plays Brock Rumlow, a.k.a. Crossbones, was sighted on the Avengers 4 set. While some may have wondered if this meant Crossbones would be resurrected during Avengers 4, this Johansson picture suggests that we'll instead be revisit when Crossbones and his mercenary gang battled the Avengers in Lagos, Nigeria. While it's certainly possible that we could be flashing back to some unseen events during Captain America: Civil War, these aren't the only pieces of information we're working with concerning this time travel idea.
Back in October, Hayley Atwell, who plays Peggy Carter, posted on Instagram that she was in Georgia, the state where Avengers 4 is filming. A month later, a set photo was taken that showed 1940s-era cars, suggesting that Avengers 4 will revisit the Captain America: The First Avenger period. Again, it's possible that this is merely a flashback or even some kind of hallucination, but re-visiting two distinct time periods that have already been explored in the MCU suggest there's more going on here than providing background from years past. We also can't forget that Avengers 4 is not only concluding the MCU's Phase Three, but wrapping up numerous plot threads going back to when this franchise launched in 2008. Revisiting key events through time travel would be a great way to cap off this era and pay tribute to what's come before.
It's important to note that when factoring in the TV shows that also exist within the MCU, Avengers 4 wouldn't be the first time that time travel has been touched upon. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 debuted last month, and at the end of the season premiere, it was revealed that Phil Coulson and some of his agents had been transported over seven decades into the future. Nevertheless, while the Marvel TV shows have sizable fan bases, there's no denying that the movies have larger audiences, so for those who've only kept track of what's happened in this world on the big screen, this would be their first time seeng such temporal manipulation in this "world." Granted, Doctor Strange showed the Time Stone being used to rewind and fast forward time, but we have yet to see anyone directly transported to the past or future.
Whether the Time Stone is the reason for how time travel is possible in Avengers 4 or it's due to another reason (like Scarlet Witch's powers reaching House of M levels), one can imagine that it won't simply be used to re-experience times long past. After all, we already have Tony Stark's B.A.R.F. technology for that, so if time travel is used in Avengers 4, no doubt it will play an integral role in defeating Thanos or whomever is the main antagonist. But Avengers 4 could also pave the way for time travel to be used as a more frequent plot device in Phase Four movies and beyond, whether it's a hero going back in time to stop a villain from changing the past or going to the future to have an adventure. Which isn't to say that the creative minds in the MCU shouldn't be cautious with this. Even with stories that rely on time travel as its main hook, like Doctor Who or Legends of Tomorrow, this is a concept that's tricky to work with, and the end result doesn't always pay off effectively. So while the MCU would certainly be well within its rights to use time travel in other movies, it should be careful with not only where it should be used, but also the manner in which it's used.
Avengers 4 opens in theaters on May 3, 2019. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more news on how the movie is developing (including whether or not it will indeed use time travel), and don't forget to look through our Marvel movies guide to see what other MCU entries are arriving in the coming years.