Out of all the questions that Infinity War left viewers with, how exactly Thanos recognized Tony Stark during what you’d think think was their first meeting on Titan probably doesn’t fall particularly high on your list. All the same – and despite the Russo Brothers seemingly answering this question already – fans have been keen to present their theories, and as with so many predictions about next year’s Avengers 4, this new one involves a little time travel.
Before Redditor AVigz explains their idea, they first acknowledge the explanation offered by directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who’ve gone on record stating that the Mad Titan was made aware of Stark’s existence by the events of The Avengers, in which Iron Man thwarts his attack on New York.
While it would be easy to assume that this answer puts the issue to bed once and for all, it’s worth noting that if Stark does eventually run into the despot via time travel, you could hardly expect the spoiler-sensitive Marvel Studios to hint at this possibility so long before Avengers 4 has its premiere. While we can take it as true that Thanos knows Tony in part via the 2012 battle, perhaps we can’t rule out this official explanation being a mere half-truth to keep fans satisfied until the full story is revealed.
Anyway, AVigz goes on to suggest that not only did the hero and the big bad meet previously, but that this first encounter ended pretty badly for Iron Man.
“What if the real reason Thanos knows who Tony is is because they already previously fought. An encounter that happens in Avengers 4 back in time.
Something that Thanos has already experienced and ‘won’ in that timeline, but could potentially lose in another. I know a lot of moving pieces, but I understand pretty much anything is possible with dimensional time travel.”
While this theory doesn’t stray much from previous ideas we’ve heard, the idea of Stark fighting Thanos in multiple timelines would tie in pretty well with one of Doctor Strange’s most scrutinized lines in Infinity War. Specifically, if there are indeed a variety of possible futures – all but one of which see the Avengers lose the fight – then maybe a similar logic could apply to the past (which, from a time-travelling Stark’s perspective, would still be his future).
Of course, this user’s theory is just one of many possible futures for the MCU, and perhaps we should be taking the Russo Brothers at their word after all. In any case, our questions will be answered when Avengers 4 comes out on May 3rd, 2018.