By the standard of MCU villains – a demographic known for their short lifespans – Thanos had a pretty good run in the Marvel franchise, featuring in a total of five films before his eventual defeat in this year’s Avengers: Endgame. But should Marvel Studios ever wish to bring back the Mad Titan, a deleted scene from the character’s last screen outing may have already hinted at how a comeback could be arranged.
The unused footage is taken from the exchange between Hulk and the Ancient One in 2012 New York. In an apparent contradiction of developments from 2016’s Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton’s character explains that she’s been able to see into the future beyond the moment of her death, and is even able to clarify exactly how the snap will work.
As it turns out, the people who turned to dust at the end of Avengers: Infinity War weren’t so much killed as they were willed out of existence, and while death is final, the snap is not. This key distinction explains how Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could resurrect the dusted victims in Endgame but were unable to bring back Black Widow or anyone else who died a regular death.
On top of that, the Ancient One’s explanation also offers a convenient loophole for how Thanos could still be alive and even possibly return one day. After all, if the victims of the first snap weren’t exactly dead, then it stands to reason that the purple tyrant didn’t really die either when Iron Man turned him to dust.
To take things further, perhaps some trace of the snap victims still exists on an alternate plane of reality, just waiting to be restored. And while we already know that the Infinity Stones have the power to call dusted people back into existence, who’s to say that there isn’t some other way of undoing an Infinity Gauntlet snap?
In any case, the climax of Avengers: Endgame suggests that the Mad Titan probably isn’t going to be a major threat again for a while at least, but in the meantime, Marvel’s Phase 4 finally gets underway with the release of Black Widow on May 1st, 2020.