This 'Eternals' Fan Theory Suggests Doctor Strange Let Thanos Win for a Different Reason

·4 min read
Photo credit: Marvel Studios
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

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Avengers: Infinity War was released almost four years ago, but Marvel fans still debate one key moment involving Doctor Strange.

In order to save Tony Stark's life, Strange gives Thanos the Time Stone, which effectively makes his victory an inevitability. As the Sorcerer Supreme fades into dust, he tells Tony that there was "no other way" despite the fact he foresaw 14,000,605 other potential futures.

It's always felt a bit weird that, with as many options as that, there was only one chain of events that would lead to the Avengers winning, especially since that chain of events also included the deaths of Black Widow and Iron Man.

Marvel fans have since argued that maybe Strange just picked the best future he viewed for humanity and that there were other futures he saw where the Avengers won, but perhaps at a greater cost to the world. Their eventual victory in Avengers: Endgame reset the world back to how it was before Thanos, so that was clearly the best option.

Since the release of Eternals on Disney+, this viewpoint has been strengthened by a new theory that argues Strange had another reason for choosing this particular future.

Photo credit: Marvel Studios
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

In Eternals, it was revealed that the Avengers bringing everybody back had dire consequences for Earth.

It's revealed in the MCU epic that Earth is simply a breeding ground for the Celestials to bring another one of them into the universe. The Eternals aren't battling Deviants to protect humanity – they're doing it to ensure that the population of Earth grows big enough to allow Tiamut (the Celestial inside the Earth) to emerge, destroying the planet in the process.

When Thanos snapped his fingers, he delayed the Emergence from happening as the population was cut in half. However, when the Avengers brought everybody back, they unwittingly started the countdown to the Emergence and the end of Earth as we know it.

Luckily for humanity, when the Eternals found out their true purpose, most of them banded together to stop Tiamut from emerging (and saved the Earth). But even before Sersi (Gemma Chan) led the Eternals to fight back, it was their former leader Ajak (Salma Hayek) who decided to stop the Emergence.

Photo credit: Marvel Studios
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

She tells Ikaris (Richard Madden) about her decision to save humanity, defying "millions of years" of service to Arishem, the Prime Celestial. Ajak explains to Ikaris that it was the Avengers bringing back half the population that confirmed her belief that humanity was worth saving.

"Five years ago, Thanos erased half of the population of the universe. Delayed the Emergence. But the people of this planet brought everyone back with a snap of a finger," she notes.

"After I let you all go, I travelled the world, living among them. I have seen them fight and lie and kill, but I have also seen them laugh and love. I've seen them create and dream. This planet and these people have changed me. The cost of Arishem's design – it's not worth it. Not this time."

The new Marvel theory from Reddit user LuckyMe111 suggests that Strange saw Ajak's change of heart coming – and that's actually the main reason he chose to let Thanos win and set this timeline in motion.

"I think Strange saw the future where they beat Thanos on Titan and the Snap didn't happen but later on the Emergence happened," they write. "Strange purposely gave the stone for the Snap to happen to delay the Emergence, and later on bring everyone back for the Eternals and Ajak to see that Earth is a planet that is worth betraying Arishem [for]."

Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

As retcon theories go, this one holds together better than most as there is no doubt that without the Eternals, Earth is pretty screwed. Even the Avengers couldn't fight back against a Celestial bursting from the Earth's core.

Had Strange helped the Avengers defeat Thanos back in 2018, then the Emergence would have happened shortly after the events of Infinity War. Ajak might already have been swaying towards helping humanity, but the fact she namechecks Thanos and his defeat in her speech to Ikaris shows it was important to her decision.

If the Avengers had just notched up a regular victory against Thanos, there's no guarantee that Ajak would have felt as compelled to betray Arishem. Yes, she might not have been around to stop Tiamut, but her decision sets in motion a crucial series of events that leads to the Emergence being stopped.

Without the Snap, she wouldn't have given that speech to Ikaris who, in turn, wouldn't have fed her to the Deviants. While he might have assumed he'd take over as leader, it ends up being Sersi, and when she learns the truth, she's the one to lead the majority of the Eternals to fight back against their intended purpose.

Take away Thanos' actions and Ajak probably doesn't choose to betray Arishem and these events never happen. The Emergence happens as planned shortly after Infinity War and that would be that for Earth.

In other words, as well as thanking Strange for his foresight, we should also be tipping our hat to Thanos for being the terrible bastard that he was.

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