Avengers: Endgame's confusing time travel is explained by an interactive map. Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Earth's Mightiest Heroes, alongside a handful of their new allies band together to go back in time in order to collect all six Infinity Stones and undo Thanos' (Josh Brolin) snap. Split into four (five after the Morag and Vormir teams separated) groups, they go to different parts of the MCU where the elemental crystals popped. The catch was, they have to be able to bring them back to where they were to not create a slew of alternate realities. Long story short, the Avengers succeeded in their endeavor with Captain America (Chris Evans) returning all stones to their respective timelines. It seems like a simple concept, but there are a slew of consequences for their time-hopping adventures.
Marvel Studios kept story details of Endgame close to their chest leading up to their release, but it was a known fact that it would involve going back in time thanks to leaked set photos. What's surprising was the way they handled the rules of time travel. Throughout the three-hour blockbuster, they repeatedly emphasized how time warping works in the MCU - unlike other films that dealt with the same idea, the franchise established that changing a moment from the past doesn't have a ripple effect to the future, instead, it only creates a splinter in the timeline. This is the reason why the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) was adamant that Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) returned all six stones to their original locations. Thinking about it can still be confusing, thankfully one fan made it much easier to understand the concept through his interactive chart.
Creator Oren Bell shared an interactive map on his website that illustrates how Endgame's time travel worked. On top of that, he also included the potential alternate timelines that the heroes created during their journey. In the intro, the creator said that "assuming all goes well, events will play out in these alternate realities the same way they did in prime reality. These new branched timelines would have their own snap, their own time travel, and their own fractal branches." However,"not all the branches created have their own snap." The guide is straightforward and easy to understand, and hopefully will clear out some of the confusion for fans.
Swinton recently revealed that Endgame reshoots changed the rules of time travel in the MCU. Fully knowing that the concept is often tricky to execute, the filmmakers opted to add a visual timeline that would help the audience better understand how it works in the franchise. While this helped the film explain how the Time Heist worked, the concept was convoluted as it is that changing course in the middle of production may have made it murkier. Proof of just how complicated the notion is, even directors Joe and Anthony Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely failed to agree on how it would actually work in the film.
Whether or not the movie's time travel works remains to be a favorite topic of conversations among fans. Bell's interactive map implies that the scene with old Captain America at the end of the film is actually from a different timeline, which doesn't really make sense. Ultimately, it's up to Marvel Studios to make sense of what Avengers: Endgame's time travel means for the future of the MCU. As of now, fans can just take it as it is, but it's the responsibilities of the upcoming films and TV shows to explain the remaining anomalies from the ensemble project - that's if they'll ever address them.
Source: Oren Bell
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