'Avengers 4' Director May Have Debunked The Time-Travel Theory

Avengers 4 remains shrouded in mystery, with not even a title to hint at the plot of the climactic comic book movie. So that has left fans picking apart every photo taken from the Atlanta set of the Marvel Studios film for clues. This has helped to spawn a popular time travel theory which suggests that Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet fractures the Avengers team, sending them spinning off into different timelines.

But a new interview from director Joe Russo, who helms Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 alongside brother Anthony Russo, may just have debunked that time travel theory. 

Russo appeared on MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast, where he was inevitably asked about the leaked Avengers 4 sets photo and admitted that leaks come with the job. But Russo was predictably vague about the rumors springing up around those photos, saying, "It's interesting because photos always leak, and there's lots of conjecture about what those photos mean."

The only hint that Russo would give about the plot to the highly anticipated Avengers 4 is to start looking for clues in different places:

"Certainly, there is a five minute sequence in Civil War around a piece of technology that was laid in for a very specific reason. If you go back and look at that film, you may get a hint as to the direction."

Russo is most likely pointing to Tony Stark's "B.A.R.F." technology (title in progress), which stands for Binary Augmented Retro-Framing. The technology was introduced at the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, where it allowed Tony to re-experience his memories in vivid detail. It even revealed a vulnerable moment of regret in the superhero's teen life: the last time he saw his parents alive. It acts as the emotional impetus for Tony's conflict with Steve over the fate of Bucky — though it got more attention for the film's use of de-aging technology on star Robert Downey Jr., rendered to look like the young star from the '80s films we first saw him in. But its effects may reach further than we expected when we first saw the tech in Civil War.

In my initial story breaking down the time travel theory, I suggested that B.A.R.F. (ugh, that really needs a new name) could be a possible explanation for the presence of younger superheroes as they were seen in the earlier Marvel films. B.A.R.F. would explain the presence of a clean-shaven Steve Rogers that was spotted on the set of Avengers 4, wearing his Avengers-era suit. And it would explain the eyepatch-less Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who was recently spotted on set with Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill.

But this may also be a piece of misdirection from Joe Russo. Marvel is famously tight-lipped about any plot spoilers, so any hints being dropped now should all be taken with a grain of salt.