The first trailer for Avengers 4 has finally arrived and - as we speculated back in April - the movie's title is Avengers: Endgame. The title isn't exactly a spoiler, but it is a reference to a very important line in Avengers: Infinity War, when Doctor Strange tells Iron Man, "We're in the endgame now." Yes, while all might seem lost (half of all living creatures in the universe being wiped out is a bit of a downer), there's every reason to believe that Doctor Strange had a plan for the Avengers to ultimately win.

Unfortunately, Doctor Strange himself is no longer around to explain what the plan was, since he was turned to dust at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, the roster of superheroes is currently looking a little thin, with only the original Avengers (and Rocket Raccoon) left to try and undo the devastation.

Related: WATCH the Trailer For Avengers: Endgame

The Avengers: Endgame trailer makes it clear that the Avengers do have some kind of plan, with Black Widow telling Captain America, "This is going to work, Steve," and Cap replying, "I know it is. Because I don't know what I'm going to do if it doesn't." But whatever they have in mind, it's part of a larger plan that was set in motion by Doctor Strange - a plan that started with letting Thanos win.

Endgame Is Doctor Strange's Infinity War Plan

When Doctor Strange decided to hand over the Time Stone to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, many fans guessed that he probably had a good reason for doing so. While he was stuck on Titan with Iron Man, Spider-Man, Nebula, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Strange went into a trance and looked into more than 14 million possible outcomes of the battle ahead, searching for one in which they would beat Thanos. It turned out that there was, in fact, only when possible future that didn't end in total defeat - and judging by Doctor Strange's tone, it sounds like that one possible outcome would require a considerable sacrifice.

The general assumption right now - based on the clues proffered in set photos - is that the Avengers will find a way to undo Thanos' actions through time travel, going back as far as the Battle of New York (or perhaps even further) in order to change the course of history. The big question that remains, however, is whether Doctor Strange somehow managed to put together a plan and leave a message explaining it all (maybe as a recording on the Guardians' ship, the Benatar), or whether he simply foresaw the Avengers coming up with a plan of their own in the wake of the Decimation. Either way, Strange telling Tony that "we're in the endgame now" was a clear indication that they were on the path to victory - however painful and difficult that path might be.

Is This The Only Way To Defeat Thanos?

Another obvious question that arises is why the only way for the Avengers to win was to let Thanos win first. When we last saw the Mad Titan, he had finally settled down for retirement, content in the fact that he had achieved his goals. The trailer for Avengers: Endgame even shows that he has turned his armor into a scarecrow - a fun nod to the comics upon which these two movies are based. Thanos has clearly let his guard down, which actually creates an opening for the Avengers to undo "the snap" while he's not paying attention. Moreover, the Infinity Gauntlet itself was permanently damaged by the devastating force of the snap, so Thanos may not be able to repeat his actions even if he wanted to. Perhaps Doctor Strange handed over the Time Stone precisely because he knew the only way to cripple the Gauntlet was to unleash its full, horrifying potential.

Page 2: Previous Teases Of Endgame in the MCU

The Endgame Title Was Teased In Avengers: Age of Ultron

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo played a coy game in the seven months between Avengers: Infinity War's release and the arrival of the trailer for Avengers: Endgame. When fans theorized that the fourth Avengers movie would be titled Endgame, the Russos insisted that the title wasn't spoken aloud at any point in Infinity War, and further insisted that no one had correctly guessed it yet. Whether they changed their minds about the title or whether they were just, well, lying, the Marvel Cinematic Universe actually planted a reference to an "endgame" scenario well before Doctor Strange brought it up in Infinity War.

Related: Avengers 4's Trailer May Debunk Time Jump Theory

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, after Ultron's initial escape from Avengers Tower, the other Avengers confront Tony about the fact that he (as Bruce Banner puts it) created a murderbot. Tony stands defiant, saying that he was trying to develop a real system of planetary defense that could stand up against something like the Chitauri invasion. "We're the Avengers," Tony says. "We can bust arms dealers all the live long day, but that up there... that's the endgame." Whether intentional or otherwise (Age of Ultron was directed by Joss Whedon, not the Russos), this scene is actually perfect foreshadowing for Infinity War and Endgame. When Tony asks the others how they were planning on stopping another alien invasion, Cap replies simply, "Together." Tony tells him that they'll lose, and Cap retorts, "Then we'll do that together too."

The Russo Brothers Revealed The Title In A Behind-the-Scenes Photo

As the months ticked on with still no title reveal, many fans wondered what the purpose was behind all the secrecy. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige admitted as early as April 2018 that the decision not to reveal the title had "backfired," and that the original intention had simply been to keep all the focus on Infinity War in the lead-up to its release. So, why continue to keep it a secret for the rest of the year?

One possibility is that the studio and directors genuinely hadn't settled on a title at the time of Infinity War's release (for a while Avengers 4 was strongly rumored to be called Annihilation, not Endgame), and didn't want to commit until they were certain. The other possibility is simply that it served as a free source of hype, with fans feverishly trying to work out the title based on the hints and clues offered.

In a behind-the-scenes photo that came pretty close to driving the entire Marvel fandom insane, the Russo brothers showed an oddly specific positioning of lighting and equipment that, they hinted, contained some kind of clue to Avengers 4. Fans quickly dove into a deep investigation of this photo, trying to find hidden clues and mapping out possible words in the composition, but the most compelling theories were those that picked out the word "ENDGAME" from the arrangement of items in the photo. If this really was intentional, and not just some kind of mass Rorschach test, then it indicates that the rumors of Marvel and the Russos struggling to settle on a title are misleading, and that Avengers 4 was really called Endgame all along.

More: Avengers: Endgame Trailer Breakdown - 10 Story Reveals & Secrets You Missed

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