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Directors Just Hinted At A Major Return From Endgame

Contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame

Now that Avengers: Endgame is out in theaters, directors Joe and Anthony Russo no longer have to keep a tight lip on plot details. Where in past interviews, the filmmaking siblings held back on answering questions in full for fear of spoiling the film, they've now opened the floodgates and are freely chatting about anything and everything Endgame-related. After patching up plot holes and defending controversial scenes that divided Marvel fans, the Russo brothers made an intriguing comment about something from Endgame that could possibly make a return in future Marvel movies. 

The revelation came during a recent Q&A session for Avengers: Endgame. According to Slashfilm, someone in attendance asked the Russos to run through exactly what happened with the Infinity Stones at the start of the movie. A little over three weeks after his initial Snap, Thanos (Josh Brolin) utilized the Infinity Stones once again — this time to destroy them, as he explained to the surviving Avengers when they tracked his location and confronted him. This admission crushed the Avengers, causing Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to spiral into depression, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to withdraw into herself, and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to give up the superhero life and settle down with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his daughter Morgan (Lexi Rabe). It also gave the Avengers even more motivation to execute their time heist mission to retrieve the Infinity Stones from various points in the past, bring them to the present, and snap their own fingers. 

Thanos using the Stones to destroy the Stones was one of the major inciting incidents of Avengers: Endgame, but there's an issue with it: time doesn't function correctly without them. While the heroes are snatching up the Infinity Stones in the past, the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) explains to Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) at the Sanctum Sanctorum that one can't just pluck a Stone from a certain place in time and not return it, as that would create a branch alternate timeline overrun with disorder. She tells him that the Infinity Stones are "essential to the flow of time," and they must be replaced at the exact moment in time from which they are taken. 

So, if the Stones are so important to preserving a properly functioning timeline, why didn't the universe devolve into complete chaos after Thanos destroyed them? As the Russos explained, Thanos didn't wipe the Infinity Stones out of existence. Rather, as the Mad Titan says in Avengers: Endgame, he reduced them to atoms. The Russo brothers indicated during the Q&A session that this means the Stones are still out there, floating around on "an atomic level." Though they may not be tangible or fit for use in their current state, the Infinity Stones remain a part of the universe and continue to keep things in order.

Not only does this solve a confusing story thread of Avengers: Endgame, but it also, as We Got This Covered notes, hints that the Infinity Stones could appear in another Marvel movie sometime in the future. Plenty of Marvel characters beyond Thanos and the Avengers (specifically Professor Hulk and Iron Man, both of whom snapped their fingers in Avengers: Endgame) have wielded the Infinity Gauntlet throughout Marvel Comics — so there's a ton of information for writers and filmmakers to source if they wish to incorporate the Stones into the MCU again post-Endgame

Our money is on Adam Warlock being the key to the Infinity Stones showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe once more, as he's been tied to the Stones since their print debut. (The first appearance of one of the Stones, the Soul Stone, came in the 1972 issue Marvel Premiere #1, which centered around Adam.) For some time, he was the primary bearer of the Infinity Stones and the Infinity Gauntlet. What's more is that Adam, a synthetic being crafted as the template for the perfect man who ultimately rebelled against his creators, has had quite the messy history with Thanos and has served as the Living Tribunal, a cosmic entity that preserves equilibrium amongst all realities in the Marvel Comics Multiverse. The kicker here? Both Avengers: Endgame and its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War, were meant to include the Living Tribunal, and Adam himself was supposed to be in Infinity War

Might Marvel be saving Adam for the cosmic-y Phase 4 of the MCU, seamlessly folding him into the franchise off the back of the atomic-level Infinity Stones? It seems plausible. Should it come true, Marvel could bring the Stones back and introduce Adam through his very own movie, as Infinity War and Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely previously mentioned that Marvel would "practically have to make an Adam Warlock movie to introduce him ...  he just can't walk onscreen." If a solo movie isn't in the cards for Adam, he will certainly play a pivotal role in the MCU moving forward. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige once relayed to Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta that Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was working on bringing Adam into the cosmic phase of the MCU. Gunn then told Sciretta that Adam will indeed "be a part of the future Marvel cosmic universe and a pretty important part of that."

For the time being, what's coming next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a closed book. A few scribbled pages are scattered around here and there, but Marvel Studios hasn't come forward to present a polished plan — and won't until later this year, after Spider-Man: Far From Home swings into theaters on July 5. Even if the Infinity Stones never appear in the MCU again, if they aren't included in Marvel's Phase 4 plans, at least fans won't lose any more sleep wondering what the heck happened to them.