Clues continue to mount that Avengers 4 will revisit the Battle of New York - but how, and most importantly, why? Avengers: Infinity War left the MCU in total chaos following Thanos' snap, effectively wiping out half of life in the universe. As the remaining Avengers scramble to find a way to get out of the predicament that the Mad Titan left them in, it seems like the answer lies in the past, particularly six years ago, when Earth's Mightiest Heroes first assembled to defend Earth against Loki's takeover attempt.

The final act of Joss Whedon's The Avengers, the Battle of New York is one of the biggest and most important events in the MCU thus far. While Earth's Mightiest Heroes' have successfully fended off the Chitauri and defended Earth, it resulted in some unexpected consequences that the Avengers had to deal with a few years later as seen in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming. And apparently, it looks like it will also have a huge part to play in next year's Marvel ensemble film.

Avengers 4 Is Revisiting The Battle of New York

The first indication that Avengers 4 is re-examining the Battle of New York came late last year via some set photos featuring Tony Stark wearing the same Black Sabbath shirt he was sporting for the most part of The Avengers. While there's nothing wrong with re-wearing certain articles of clothing, it's not something we usually see in these movies (be it armor or casual wear). Interestingly, however, the bruises on his face weren't present during the t-shirt scenes fom the first Avengers because he got them during the Battle of New York - meaning that the scene where he's wearing the same shirt in Avengers 4 is a new look at what went down right after Loki's defeat. Also included in the set of photos is an older Stark wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform - again, something that we've never seen before.

This is backed up by a different batch of images featuring a long-haired Thor and Loki wearing the same Asgardian outfit during his failed attempt to take over Earth, as well as a mouth-guard during his arrest towards the end of the 2012 blockbuster. The images, (including the aforementioned ones featuring Tony) leaked online almost the same day last November. Both scenes are filmed on the same building further proving that the images are all part of a single sequence showing what happened in the aftermath of the Battle of New York.

The last batch of set photos from Avengers 4 that corroborates with this theory emerged later in principal photography. In fact, it's the last sequence the Russos filmed before they wrapped up filming. An older Tony is once again present in the sequence, but this time, he's with Ant-Man, Hulk, and Captain America. While the rubble in the background can easily be from any other action set piece in the MCU, Cap wearing his original uniform gives it away.

More recently, another set of images from the Atlanta filming location of Avengers 4 also checks out with this claim as it looks like directors Joe and Anthony Russo re-created a specific backdrop from the Battle of New York. While it's not an exact replica from the first Marvel ensemble flick, the said background is very similar to the destruction path Tony trod right after he was knocked down by one of the Chitauri ships, just before Nick Fury informed him that a nuclear missile has been fired toward the city.

Page 2: They're Using Time Travel, But Why The Battle of New York?

The Avengers Are (Probably) Using Time Travel

The Russos have previously debunked theories of an alternate universe being a factor in Avengers 4, so we're left with time travel as the most plausible way for the Avengers to revisit Battle of New York. While the concept hasn't been fully explored in the MCU, there are few ways that it could play out in next year's Phase 3 capper.

Considering that the Time Stone is currently with Thanos, chances are that the means of time travel in the movie would be purely rooted in science. Both Ant-Man and Tony are present during the re-exploration of the Battle of New York as seen in Avengers 4 set photos, lending credence to theories about possibly using either Quantum Realm or a Stark-developed technology (possibly an enhanced B.A.R.F.) - or maybe even a combination of both. Ant-Man & The Wasp, as well as Captain Marvel is set to further reveal the specifics of the Microverse, but considering that it's "a reality where all concepts of time and space become irrelevant as you shrink for all eternity," time travel is within its realm of possibility.

It's also worth noting that in the aforementioned set photos of Stark wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform,  he is noticeably rocking more grayed hair compared to the one where he's wearing the Black Sabbath shirt. This gives us the impression that these are two versions of the character from different timeframes. The older Stark travels back in time to disguise himself as an agent, and in the process, he meets his younger self. It's interesting to know if they'll have any interaction whatsoever, but based on the leaked images alone, it appears as if Stark's the only original Avenger to time warp to that specific moment.

Why The Battle of New York Is Important

Granted that the Avengers has found a way to travel back in time, why would they choose to return to the Battle of New York - specifically towards its end? There could be a few reasons. From a storytelling standpoint, it would serve the idea that Avengers 4 is the culmination of everything that has transpired in the franchise, it makes sense that we go back to the first time that Avengers assembled.  The Battle of New York is the debut mission for the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and considering that Avengers 4 will be the swan song for some of the original members of the team, it's only fitting to look back at the very first time they teamed-up together. It's also the perfect way to evoke nostalgia seeing how the MCU has evolved since 2012 starting from a squad of six to having almost two dozen new characters who could lead the charge come Phase 4.

Narrative-wise, The Battle of New York is the first time that Thanos' presence was really felt in the MCU. While his existence has been teased as early as the first Thor movie, it wasn't until The Avengers that he attempted to make a move against Earth with the help of Loki. The film's post-credit scene even marked the Mad Titan's on-screen debut. At that point, it was made clear that there is a bigger looming threat the Avengers will need to take care of down the line. Fast forward to Infinity War, it finally happened, but the result is very different from what Earth's Mightiest Heroes wanted it to be.

What's interesting, however, is that Avengers 4 seems to only revisit the tail-end of the Battle of New York and its immediate aftermath (something we've never seen before). Obviously, the movie can't devote its full runtime recreating The Avengers' whole third act, but if they plan to sabotage Thanos' final plan, why not start from the beginning instead? Theories have suggested that the reason the Mad Titan has an idea who the Avengers are, particularly Tony Stark, was because it was Iron Man who launched a nuclear bomb at his troops at the opposite end of the portal opened by the Cosmic Cube. If the intergalactic villain doesn't have as much knowledge about what he's up against, the Avengers gets the advantage of knowing more about their adversary and be more prepared by the time he finally arrives on Earth.

It was also the only time in MCU history prior to Infinity War where two Infinity Stones - Space Stone/Tesseract and Mind Stone/Scepter - were activated at the same time. Natasha even used the scepter to close the Chitauri portal opened by the Cosmic Cube, allowing the stones to directly interact with each other. At the end of the film, the Tesseract was brought back to Asgard by Thor and Loki, while the Scepter was confiscated by S.H.I.E.L.D.. But since the organization was secretly infiltrated by HYDRA for decades, it ended up with Baron von Strucker and was used to experiment on the Maximoff twins (Wanda and Pietro) before the gem ended up powering Vision as seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

If the Avengers go back in time armed with more knowledge about the stones (and long before Thanos started actively seeking them out), they'd be able to better handle the powerful magical singularities that could ultimately foil Thanos' plans of galactic genocide.

MORE: Avengers 4 Theory: How Thanos Already Knew About Tony Stark

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