Marvel fans have always found it odd that out of the 14 million possibilities that Doctor Strange experienced via the Time Stone, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes only managed to defeat Thanos in one.
In Avengers: Endgame, that twist turned out to be Tony Stark’s ultimate sacrifice. The Mad Titan overpowered every member of the team, even Thor and Captain Marvel, so Iron Man had to step in and take away the Infinity Stones using the nanotech imbued in his new suit. The event was a heartbreaking development, one that paid homage to Robert Downey Jr.’s character as the person who started it all. But what if there’s more to it than we originally thought?
According to a new theory by the folks at ScreenRant, it could very well be that Strange purposefully manipulated the events of the last two movies in the Infinity Saga to get the most favorable outcome. In Infinity War, the Sorcerer Supreme is adamant that if it came to Tony Stark’s life and the Time Stone, he wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice him and protect reality. And yet, when Iron Man’s life was threatened when he went toe-to-toe with Thanos, he gave the stone away to save him, implying that “it was the only way.”
Fans always interpreted this as Tony’s sacrifice being the only thing that can stop the Mad Titan, but what if Strange went beyond the events of Avengers: Endgame to see the future of the universe?
There’s no denying that the Avengers have saved the world on more than one occasion, and it’s also clear that Stark has had a huge impact on safeguarding Earth and its inhabitants, human or otherwise. But when you look at the history, the man is also responsible for creating most of MCU’s villains.
After all, his actions motivated Ivan Vanko to become Whiplash in Iron Man 2, not to mention that Aldrich Kilian’s evil origins story traces back to how Stark treated him in the 90s. Even Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s Quentin Beck was out to get vengeance on Iron Man, and Adrian Toomes lost his job and became Vulture after Stark founded the United States Department of Damage Control. Then there’s Ultron’s creation, the murder bot who almost destroyed the world, which is another perfect case in point for the character’s dangerous futuristic philosophy.
In this sense, maybe Strange saw several outcomes where the Avengers won but chose the one that would ensure the universe’s safety, a future that would only work if Stark sacrificed himself during the events of Avengers: Endgame.