Iron Man in Avengers: Infinity War

Even though Marvel is keeping silent on what Avengers 4 has in store for moviegoers next year, set pictures have prompted speculation aplenty. From 1940s-era cars being photographed on a street to a scene being shot showing Chris Evans wearing the same Captain America uniform he wore in The Avengers, it's been theorized that Avengers 4 will incorporate time travel into the story. That idea was finally broached with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who like that kind of "technique," but hinted that there may be another explanation for these scenes. As Anthony Russo put it:

It's interesting, because yes, there are photos that always leak, and then 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. So if you go back and look at that film, you may get a hint as to a direction.

The technology that Anthony Russo is referring to is Binary Augmented Retro-Framing, a.k.a. B.A.R.F (an unfortunate acronym), which Tony Stark presented at MIT early into Captain America: Civil War by showing the audience the last time he saw his parents, Howard and Maria Stark, before they died December 16, 1991 (as depicted below). So rather than having Tony Stark and other certain characters actually go back in time and revisit key historic moments in the MCU, Joe and Anthony Russo suggested during their appearance on MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast that it's actually through B.A.R.F. that this will be accomplished. Captain America: Civil War only offered a taste of this technology, so seeing it put to be even better use in Avengers 4 sounds like it could be cool.

Tony Stark using B.A.R.F. technology in Captain America: Civil War

This isn't the first time it's been indicated that B.A.R.F. will be used during Avengers 4. In addition to other set photos showing cases labeled B.A.R.F., it was rumored last fall that there's a scene in Avengers 4 where Tony Stark is running a simulation with Harley Keener (the kid from Iron Man 3) to study Battle of New York and figure out a way to use the Tesseract against Thanos. However, I still have my suspicions that time travel will factor into Avengers 4 somehow. While B.A.R.F. can certainly explain how some of these past events are revisited, the technology also works off memories, and Tony Stark wasn't around for moments like the battle against Crossbones in Lagos. So unless Tony's bringing in some of his fellow heroes to share their memories, which is certainly plausible, we shouldn't entirely discount yet the idea that there will be some temporal shenanigans in Avengers 4, presumably via the Time Stone.

Avengers 4 will be released in theaters on May 3, 2019, but you can see Avengers: Infinity War set the stage for the final Phase Three installment when that drops on May 4.

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