- Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for “Avengers: Endgame.” Do not read this post if you haven’t seen the movie.
- Most of “Endgame” has to deal with the Avengers trying to figure out how to bring back those they lost at the end of “Infinity War.”
- The Avengers decide to gather the Infinity Stones before Thanos can ever get a hold of them. They go back to different moments from other movies to retrieve them.
- Some of the moments they choose seem really inconvenient. There were other times they could have traveled to in order to retrieve the stones.
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My largest quibble with “Avengers: Endgame” has nothing to do with how time travel works in the three-hour movie or making sense of Nebula’s consciousness syncing up with herself from another timeline.
I’m not even bothered by the potential conundrum of Captain America going back to the past to live out his days with Peggy Carter while possibly wiping her former family from existence. (Unless, of course, this was Cap’s destiny all along!)
No, I can’t stop thinking about how the Avengers should’ve chosen different moments in time to travel back to in order to retrieve the six Infinity Stones.
They had some of the smartest people in the galaxy together (Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, and Rocket Raccoon) and all the time in the world to come up with the perfect plan of where and when to travel back to. They had characters there who knew where all six stones had been at some point in the previous 21 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Some interacted with multiple stones across multiple movies.
Instead, the Avengers picked some truly mind-boggling moments to revisit, where the stones weren’t easily accessible.
It seems they could have made it a bit easier on themselves. There were specific moments in the 21 MCU movies where someone held a stone in peace for a year or numerous years at a time.
When the Avengers should have traveled back in time to get each stone
Aside from the Soul Stone on Vormir (there’s really no avoiding the repercussions of that one) and the Time Stone (Bruce has a pretty simple time acquiring that), here’s when the Avengers could’ve gone back in time to get the other stones.
Power Stone (purple): Nebula and War Machine should’ve gone back to the events at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Rocket Raccoon was there when Peter Quill left the stone with the Nova Corps for protection. I genuinely thought he survived the snap to tell the group that intel. We also wouldn’t have had to deal with Gamora from 2014 not knowing anyone.
Aether/Reality Stone (red): Thor could’ve visited the Collector after the events of “Thor: The Dark World” when he told Sif to leave the stone with Benicio del Toro’s character.
Tesseract/Space Stone (blue): There are a few other times the Avengers could have gotten the Tesseract that probably would’ve been easier. One of the most logical would’ve been going to Asgard during “Thor: Ragnarok” when the stone was just chilling in Odin’s vault. Loki steals it from the planet before it’s destroyed.
The team also could’ve visited any other moment when S.H.I.E.L.D. has the stone safely in its possession before Loki comes to take it in 2012’s “The Avengers.” If Captain Marvel were around, she could’ve just gone back to the events of her movie to get it from Nick Fury when she leaves the stone with him. It’s convenient she’s off saving other planets and isn’t consulted after the time jump.
Mind Stone (yellow): Instead of returning to the events of the Battle of New York, Cap could’ve returned a little earlier in “The Avengers.” The team has the scepter for a while on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier after Loki is imprisoned on board. Stark later uses the stone in “Age of Ultron” to create Vision. They could’ve gone back and just nabbed it before putting it in Vision’s head.
- Marvel Studios
Soul Stone (orange): The Avengers got this one right. I don’t think there’s any great moment to go to Vormir to acquire this stone. They probably could’ve gone to any year other than when Thanos was there during “Infinity War” to retrieve it.
Time Stone (green): No one really knew Doctor Strange before the events of “Infinity War” and Strange’s sidekick, Wong, certainly wasn’t around to help as I thought he’d be after Marvel released a full-color poster of him ahead of the movie.
The problem with the times they selected and traveled to: Good luck returning some of those stones!
- Disney / Marvel
The Ancient One told Bruce Banner they needed to return each stone to precisely the same moment they retrieved it after they set their timeline intact. Yes, they didn’t know this before they commenced their time-travel expedition, but shouldn’t Tony Stark – genius, billionaire, no-longer playboy, philanthropist – know that if he figured out the physics of time travel?
It was tough enough for some of those characters to retrieve their stones. I’m a bit confused about how Captain America returns a few to the exact same moments in the past. How does Cap take the Reality Stone and insert it back into Jane? How do you return the Soul Stone to the Red Skull on Vormir? And Cap won’t hurt his hand by putting the Power Stone back in the temple on Morag.
The most difficult stones to return should be the Tesseract and the Mind Stone. Cap wasn’t even with Tony when he acquired the Tesseract in the basement of the S.H.I.E.L.D./government building in 1970. And it’s not like Tony is around to tell him where it goes. Cap had to fight off himself to get the Mind Stone – does that mean he’ll be in the same room with his two former selves? Weird. And it’s weirder because at that point the Captain America who went back in time to retrieve the Mind Stone isn’t aware he’ll need to also return the stone to the same moment.
The other problem that seemed easily solvable: The limited supply of Pym Particles
Ant-Man made a big deal over and over again about how they had a limited supply of Pym Particles. That seems like a simple enough problem to fix when you have a time machine. Couldn’t they go back a few years and get a supply from Pym to bring back to the future? Then they would’ve had unlimited times (or several more shots) to go back in the past. Tony and Cap do that later in the movie, as if they’d just realized they could do that.
What’s not made clear is whether they’re trying to avoid confrontation with their past selves at all costs. If so – and that’s what it seems – that would make going to some of these points a little trickier. However, Cap ran into himself, and there wasn’t a giant hole ripped in time and space.
Why all of this is frustrating
So much of “Endgame” is a love letter to fans who have seen all 21 movies before it. There are countless callbacks, references, and Easter eggs for fans to find. So it’s a bit insulting to fans’ knowledge of the films to go back to certain moments to retrieve a stone when they know there are easier times to travel back to and do the same thing. It’s as if an amateur who saw only several MCU movies picked a few out of a hat for the Avengers decided to travel back to as a challenge.
- Disney / Marvel
The only reasons they traveled back to those moments were to set up the future of the MCU (“The Avengers”), or to help push a narrative arc (Thor/Cap) or close others (Tony seeing his dad). I’ll explain.
In going back to “The Avengers,” there’s a moment where Tony messes up and Loki winds up with the Tesseract and uses it to simply disappear. That’s not good. We have no idea where Loki goes. That’s not what happens in the original timeline of events. However, Disney is planning to release a show called “Loki” on its Disney Plus streaming platform. Since Loki is dead in 2023, maybe that will give us some answers.
By returning to “Thor: The Dark World,” the God of Thunder is able to have one more moment with his mother. It’s a much-needed one that helps set him on a course. By the movie’s end, we see him relinquish what’s left of the Asgardians to Valkyrie and set off on a new adventure with Rocket and the Guardians.
For Cap and Tony, going back to the 1970s was a convenient way for Steve Rogers to realize he wants to eventually go back in time to be with the love of his life, Peggy. He sees that she still thinks about him too, keeping a photo of Steve on her work desk. That gets to him. For Tony, he’s finally able to say goodbye to his father, a moment he admits in “Iron Man” has been haunting him.
In defense of the Avengers: They didn’t watch and rewatch every MCU movie
Here’s where I’ll give Tony Stark and the Avengers a pass. Maybe they simply didn’t know or remember each time they interacted with the stones. Before 2018’s “Infinity War,” most of them had no idea that Thanos was on a mission to collect them.
When the Avengers gather to recall where each stone was throughout history, they’re in 2023, thinking back to 2012’s “The Avengers.” Unless you have a photographic memory, you most likely don’t precisely remember every moment in your life. Unlike the Avengers, fans have had the ability to rewatch these movies to know exactly when and where each stone was at various moments.
Or, as I mentioned earlier, maybe they knew of the other moments and tried to select events to avoid running into their former selves. That holds up to some extent, but Cap wound up running into himself anyway in 2012.
Perhaps I’m being a little too critical of them. Or maybe the filmmakers knew exactly when they could’ve sent them back in time and realized where’s the fun in that? That would just make things too easy.
- Read more:
- Our review of ‘Avengers: Endgame’
- The 25 biggest questions we have after ‘Endgame’
- 55 details you may have missed in “Avengers Endgame”
- ‘Avengers: Endgame’ has a subtle nod to ‘Iron Man 3’ you probably missed
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