New art from , a film set “minutes after” Avengers 4. Logically, then, the plot of Avengers 4 is the story of how the surviving Avengers undo or avert the snap.
Since, an abundance of set photos has confirmed that Avengers 4 will revisit a number of key events in the history of the MCU, most notably the Battle of New York. Tony Stark was seen wearing the same Black Sabbath shirt he wore in The Avengers, complete with bruises on his face suggesting this was immediately after the Avengers battled the Chitauri invaders. Thor and Loki were snapped in their Avengers-era costumes, with one photo showing Loki taken away in chains. And Captain America was spotted wearing that “old-fashioned” uniform, standing next to an older Tony Stark and – most surprising of all – Scott Lang’s Ant-Man. There’s evidence the movie will revisit other events too, but that image of Scott Lang stood on set with 2012’s Captain America seemed pretty conclusive; this is a time travel film. The most likely scenario is that the Avengers are attempting to change history, perhaps by obtaining the Infinity Stones themselves and bringing them to their own time.
But how could the Avengers travel in time? The key, it’s been suggested, is the Quantum Realm, the mysterious subatomic dimension where the laws of time and space break down. The time aspect is crucial. When it was introduced in 2015’s Ant-Man, Marvel’s scientific consultants openly admitted it could potentially be used for time travel. The post-credits scene of Ant-Man & the Wasp confirmed exactly that, with Janet Van Dyne warning Scott Lang not to get caught in a “time vortex” inside the Quantum Realm. As Scott was trapped in the microverse shortly after that tease, it seems reasonable to assume he’ll escape through one of these time vortexes, perhaps emerging a few years in the future, and that his knowledge will lead Tony Stark to realize time travel is possible.
It’s a complex idea, but it fits all the known facts and would explain why Marvel was willing to kill off so many of their key characters; they knew that history would be rewritten, that the deaths would be averted. According to this theory, Avengers 4 will tell the story of how Earth’s surviving heroes prevented Thanos from ever snapping his fingers in the first place.
New Avengers 4 Artwork Reveals Quantum Realm Costumes?
That’s where these new costumes come in. They appear to be vaguely reminiscent of an astronaut’s outfit – albeit with the kind of sleek, science-fiction twist you’d expect from Tony Stark. Notice that, although they don’t cover the characters’ heads, they’re otherwise form-fitting. They’re clearly environmental suits of some kind – and Ant-Man & the Wasp already confirmed that you need to wear just this sort of clothing when traveling through the Quantum Realm.
Significantly, these designs are similar to concept art Marvel considered while creating Hank Pym’s own Quantum Realm suit in Ant-Man & the Wasp. As concept artist Jackson Sze explained in The Art of Ant-Man & the Wasp, “I… thought about how the Quantum Realm could be a pretty harsh environment, similar to what an astronaut would face when exploring space, so [my design] definitely has an astronaut feel to it.” It’s true that they’re not identical, feeling very different to the costumes Marvel toyed with during production of Ant-Man & the Wasp, but there’s a good reason for that. Another of Marvel’s concept artists, Andy Park, pointed out that Hank Pym and Tony Stark have a very different approach to technology. “Stark’s sensibilities are always as sleek as can be,” he observed, “much like a fancy European sports car. Pym, on the other hand, is more old school. He comes from a former era so his sensibilities will be less fancy, a bit more clunky, but still state of the art.” These new costumes, then, are exactly what you’d expect from Stark’s interpretation of a Quantum Realm environmental suit.
Marvel originally toyed with the idea of having the Quantum Realm suits in Ant-Man & the Wasp be airtight, but ultimately decided it should be safe to unmask while subatomic. That decision made perfect sense in the film itself – Janet Van Dyne was supposed to have somehow survived in that strange dimension for decades – but it now chimes with these new Avengers suits.
The Quantum Realm Suits Go Over Normal Costumes
The Captain America inset on the box offers an important detail; these aren’t really costumes at all. While it’s not possible to tell with Thor and Rocket, it’s clear that Cap is wearing his actual Avengers uniform underneath this environmental suit. It seems like the Avengers can slip these on in order to survive in the Quantum Realm, travel to the past through whatever means, and then ditch the environmental suits in order to interact with their own personal yesterdays. That neatly explains why we haven’t seen any hint of these suits in set photos; because they’ll only really be used in a limited number of scenes, most of which would be in the CGI environment of the Quantum Realm.
This also explains why previous Avengers 4 artwork – some of which is actually displayed at the top of the toy box – hasn’t shown the Avengers in these sleek white uniforms. These environmental suits are only worn part of the time for a specific purpose. From a merchandise viewpoint, they’re ideal for commissioning additional action figures, but these are effectively variants rather than the main design.
Avengers 4 Costumes Also Feature Set Photo Wrist Devices
And now we get to one of the most interesting details. The Avengers 4 set photos have consistently shown some characters – notably Ant-Man and an older Tony Stark – wearing mysterious devices on their left wrists. They look almost like expanded wrist-watches and have always been spotted in scenes set in the past.
In the leaked merchandise art, Thor’s left hand is obscured. However, Rocket’s is visible, and he appears to be wearing one of these wrist-devices. That implies this mysterious tech is somehow tied to the Quantum Realm as well.
Why would the time-traveling Avengers keep the wrist-device on when they’ve left the Quantum Realm, even though they’ve ditched the rest of the suits? There are three notable possibilities, all of which have comic book precedents. The first is that they could serve as a temporal “compass“, guiding the Avengers through spacetime until they emerge at the right time and place. The second is that they could be temporal “anchors“, allowing the Avengers to exist in a time-period they aren’t native to. Finally, it’s also possible they serve as temporal “locks“, allowing the Avengers to interact with the past without fracturing reality into myriad different timelines. All of these ideas are lifted straight from the comics, commonly associated with the technology of the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror.
Given we don’t yet know the MCU’s approach to time travel, it’s impossible to say which of these ideas is true – or if there’s another alternative, one entirely original to the Russo brothers’ film.
Captain Marvel Isn’t Wearing A Quantum Realm Suit – Why?
This brings us to one of the strangest details, though: the Captain Marvel inset. There, Carol Danvers appears to be in her traditional costume instead of an environmental suit, unlike her toy pairing Captain America. Why is that the case?
This may be a suggestion that, simply, Captain Marvel doesn’t travel in time in Avengers 4. Brie Larson wasn’t spotted on set for any of the scenes involving previous films, after all, so maybe the classic Avengers are the only ones who attempt to rewrite history. The other option, though, is far more interesting. The trailer for Captain Marvel showed a brief glimpse of the hero’s origin, with Carol Danvers caught in the explosion of an alien device. In the comics, this was the Kree Psyche-Magnetron; in the MCU, though, the energy effect looked very similar to Quantum Realm explosions in Ant-Man & the Wasp. If Captain Marvel’s powers derive from the Quantum Realm in the MCU, then there’s a chance she may not need an environmental suit to travel through it at all.
The evidence is building that the Avengers will use the Quantum Realm to rewrite history in next year’s Avengers 4. If this theory is right, we’ve just gotten our first real look at the environmental suits the Avengers will need to wear in order to make their way through this harsh, inhospitable dimension.