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Last warning: There will be spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War within this article. Turn back now if you haven't seen it.
Avengers: Infinity War is a superhero film on an unprecedented scale, masterfully interweaving multiple story arcs and numerous characters together in a way you wouldn't think possible. While it is not without its flaws, the majority of viewers came away having been greatly impacted by the film, particularly, that ending.
With literally half the Marvel Universe disintegrated into nothingness, speculation has been rampant as to what will be done to amend this. Clearly, Marvel and Disney aren't going to relegate their greatest cash cows to being sucked up by a vacuum cleaner. So, how can they fix this situation? Why, with one of comic books' most famous tropes, and the bane of continuity's existence, time travel!
If you've been following the leaked set photos from the informally titled Avengers 4, you know that time travel is pretty undoubtedly involved at some capacity. So, does this mean we'll have a beaten and bruised Tony Stark traveling to the past to warn his younger self of the tragedies to come? I don't think so, personally. In fact, I think Avengers 4 will have a very unlikely savior: Thanos the Mad Titan himself.
There's much talk in the fan community of how Thanos seems to have a fear of succeeding, and constantly sabotages his own schemes, such as in The Infinity Gauntlet comic story arc, in which, in the penultimate fight against the heroes, Thanos decides to limit his power, stopping sensory input from the Infinity Gems, which causes him to be caught off-guard and eventually defeated. In the comics, Thanos has made some pretty odd mistakes that have led to his defeat, causing many fans to speculate that he is doing it subconsciously because he does not really want to win.
However, Thanos's characterization has changed much from the comics to the film, especially his motivations. Whereas in the comics, he is obsessed with Lady Death and his actions are meant to be tributes to her, the film has him acting with arguably more noble goals in mind. The film does much to humanize him, giving him a more sympathetic relationship with his adopted daughter Gamora, which makes it all the worse when he must sacrifice her in order to claim the Soul Stone. Why?
Because Gamora is the only thing he truly loves.
That's important. I can't stress how important. Thanos loves Gamora. And there's a reason they made sure we knew that, aside from just trying to make us cry. Another important element is the fact that Doctor Strange insisted that giving the Time Stone to Thanos was "the only way." Many people played this up as being less about giving up the Time Stone, and more about saving Tony Stark's life, but both might be equally important. Strange knows what has to be done in order to win, he's seen the one future where Thanos is defeated. And Thanos will be defeated because he has the Time Stone.
It is pertinent that after Thanos's perceived victory, he speaks with the young Gamora. And that's not just his perception of Gamora, it's strongly implied that this really is Gamora, as the Russo brothers have confirmed that she is alive inside the Soul Stone.
"He said at the end that it cost him everything and that it was the only thing he loved which was Gamora which is why we put him back with her at the end. I just want to reiterate with the audience that he does feel true emotion even though he is a monster."
This sets things up nicely with my prediction for Avengers 4. Rather than Iron Man or any other hero, I think it will be self-sabotaging Thanos himself who will fix the Infinity Gauntlet and use the Time Stone to resurrect Gamora. Why? Because she is the only thing she loves. More than winning, more than his perceived destiny, in his own distorted way, he loves his daughter, and his victory will be hollow without her.
I think that Thanos will take the blasted-out Infinity Gauntlet to Etri to be repaired (which also gives them the convenient excuse to bring back Peter Dinklage), and he will then travel back in time with the Time Stone to the moment before he sacrifices Gamora, and make the decision not to kill her. He will then continue to claim all but the Soul Stone, which will limit his power enough for the heroes to take him down.
This is, of course, just a theory, but I feel it is supported by both the comic lore and the film itself. Thanos, the self-sabotaging Mad Titan, will be his own undoing.