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The Big Doctor Strange Plot Hole In Endgame Finally Explained

Another day, another tidy explanation of what seems to be a gaping plot hole in Avengers: Endgame.

The flick's directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, addressed a bevy of burning questions during a recent Q&A in China. Among these: why couldn't Doctor Strange simply, say, portal Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet hand into another dimension? The answer is illuminating, but do be aware that spoilers for Avengers: Endgame follow.

Now, this is an excellent question for one simple reason: those yellow sparklies have proven to be quite effective as a weapon. In Avengers: Infinity War, during Wong's battle with Cull Obsidian, the gigantic beast had his arm severed by one of the portals; why couldn't Strange have done the exact same thing to Thanos during Endgame's climactic clash? Here's the Russos' response, courtesy of We Got This Covered:

"Thanos' skin is almost impenetrable, we don't know whether Doctor Strange had the capability to do it. If he failed to cut it on time, Thanos would still be able to do the snap. Doctor Strange realized this issue during his millions of test runs."

That last part is actually an extremely strong explanation, one that could be offered up to any variation of the same question and kind of defies second-guessing, if you think about it. Strange didn't attempt to lay the old magical arm-chopping trick on Thanos because he knew it wouldn't work. In fact, he had already seen every possible strategy for defeating the Mad Titan — 14,000,605 of them, to be exact — during his future viewing-fest on Titan in Infinity War, and he alone was privy to the one strategy out of all of those that would work. In order for Thanos to ultimately fail, he would first have to succeed; Strange would have known that there was no way to stop him from gathering all of the Infinity Stones, and no way to prevent the Decimation from happening. Hence his one condition for voluntarily offering up the Time Stone to Thanos: that Tony Stark's life be spared. Without Stark around to perfect the technology for time travel, the Avengers' strategy of deploying teams to various points in time to pre-emptively acquire all of the stones wouldn't have been possible; Strange knew, as well, that only Stark (who designed the Infinity Gauntlet 2.0) would have the wherewithal to pull the ol' Guantlet switcheroo on Thanos at the crucial moment. 

That's the beauty of the Russos' explanation: it's absolutely bulletproof, and it applies to literally any alternate scenario. Why didn't our heroes attempt the same trick they had on Titan, using Mantis to distract Thanos until someone could yank his Gauntlet off? Well, because Strange knew it wouldn't work. Why didn't Stark design a Thanos-sized suit of armor that would trap the Mad Titan and fly him into the sun? Because Strange knew it wouldn't work. Why didn't Captain Marvel just crater his big purple ass? Ask Doctor Strange. He'll tell you it's because he knew it wouldn't work.

Besides, in case you had forgotten, the good Doctor was just a little bit busy during the big battle, holding back an enormous tsunami that would have washed all of our heroes a hundred miles out into the ocean. Too busy, really, to abandon that vital task in order to switch gears and attempt a strategy that he already knew would have been futile. Strange knew everything that was going to happen before it did; when he locked eyes with Stark and held up a single finger right before Iron Man took his heroic final action, he wasn't proclaiming himself to be #1. For that matter, he even knew that the fate of the Avengers and everyone else in the universe hinged on the actions of one... single... mouse.

The more you think about Strange's viewing of those millions of possible outcomes, the more mind-blowing it becomes as a storytelling device. On the surface, it seemed designed only to illustrate just how stacked the odds were against our heroes — but actually, it served to dismiss any and all questions beginning with "Why couldn't they have just" in one fell swoop. You have to think that screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely must have nearly broken their own spines patting each other on the back after coming up with it, because it is just that ingenious.

At any rate, the Russos have been busy shutting down all the "full of plot holes" talk since Endgame's release, and their explanations only serve to make the film more rewarding upon repeat viewings. Armed with their insider knowledge, you'll probably want to go check it out another time or two while it's still in theaters, although James Cameron would rather you didn't. The flick is expected to go screaming past the $2 billion dollar mark globally by the end of its second full week in theaters; with Cameron's Avatar holding the all-time worldwide record of $2.788 billion dollars, we think it's safe to say it won't be long before the new champ is crowned.