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Avengers 4 set photos hint at major spoiler

Warning: This article contains potential spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4

What little information Marvel has teased about Avengers 4, the untitled sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, has stirred up tons of speculation from fans hungry for more hints. A new batch of set photos has done the same, but this time around, it's serious.

Just Jared released 42 brand-new photos from the Avengers 4 set on Wednesday, and from the very first shot, it's evident that something unusual is going on. The collection of snaps center on Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/the Hulk, and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man. 

It's a surprising bunch of heroes appearing in a scene together, certainly, but what has really taken Marvel lovers aback is the characters' costumes. Ruffalo is seen wearing his motion-capture suit (as is standard for his portrayal of the green-skinned guy), Downey Jr. is wearing Tony Stark's S.H.I.E.L.D. suit, and Rudd is sporting Scott Lang's updated Ant-Man costume–but Evans is in his old Avengers suit. What makes the whole situation even weirder is the fact that Cap is beardless, a huge red flag that something is afoot, since all Avengers: Infinity War promotion (like the trailer) has shown the Star-Spangled Avenger with thick facial hair. So, what could this all mean?

The photos have sparked two separate theories: 1) Captain America will survive Avengers: Infinity War, and the timeline that comes after it in Avengers 4 will be a total mess, thus explaining the heroes' inconsistent costumes; 2) Captain America will die in Avengers: Infinity War, meaning that the pictures indicate the scene Ruffalo, Downey Jr., Rudd, and Evans are filming together is a flashback. 

However, the fact that Rudd is outfitted in the new Ant-Man suit throws a wrench in the flashback postulation, so perhaps some element of time travel is at play here. Or maybe Avengers 4 will take a page from the Star Wars canon and feature a ghost version of Captain America. (Hey, one can dream.)

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves in philosophizing about what might happen in Avengers 4, we have Avengers: Infinity War to focus on. That film, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, is set for release on May 4.