If you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame what are you doing? Go watch it! If you haven’t, be warned because this article will contain spoilers.
In Endgame, a key part of the plot is the Time Heists. The theory is that if the heroes travel back in time, nothing they do will affect the present because the act of them travelling into the past becomes their future rather than them actually being a part of the past. Complicated? yes. But in a nutshell, if they change something in the past it creates a new timeline rather than affecting their future.
Even though Cap returned the Stones to the points they were taken from, things still changed in those timelines and this article will explore what those changes are and how they would impact that timeline.
Once all of the Infinity Stones and Mjolnir were put back where they came from, Steve finally did something for himself. He travelled back to 1940… something (the actual year isn’t specified) and had that dance that he had promised Peggy all those years ago.
It was a touching, well deserved ending to Cap’s story knowing that he would get to spend his remaining years with the love of his life after pretty much watching her die of old age in his own timeline.
The Russos and the writers have publicly stated differing opinions about what timeline Steve actually wound up living in. The Russos support the time travel logic established by the film but the writers like to suspend belief a little and imagine Peggy’s unseen husband was Steve all along so he somehow managed to live in his own timeline.
However, I’m not here to discuss the complicated dispute about where he lived his life.
Assuming a new timeline was created by this it raises a number of questions. Does Steve tell Peggy the truth about who he is or does he let her believe he is the same Steve that went down with the plane?
Is the universe the same with two Steve Rogers living side by side in the reality? Would Steve really just sit back and let everything he knows will happen, happen? Surely Steve would try and rescue Bucky from Hydra rather than let them torture and abuse him for years. There are countless events that happen over the next 80 years that it’s hard to believe that Steve would just sit back and let happen.
It was the earliest timeline that was visited so has the most potential to change throughout the years. Steve’s presence alone would surely change a lot of things.
It is unlikely that this timeline will be revisited because they’ve wrapped up Steve’s storyline with a happy ending and they probably wouldn’t want to ruin that. But who knows? Anything is possible…
Other than the Tesseract and Pym Particles being taken, not a lot changed in this timeline and in theory, Steve replaced both of these things. However, we don’t know what originally happened in this timeline. So here’s what changed that could have had an effect:
Howard Stark, whilst looking for Arnim Zola, comes across “Howard Potts” who in reality, is Tony Stark, his currently unborn son as an adult. Whilst the conversation Tony had with his father likely had no ramifications, we don’t know the reason Howard was looking for Zola or what Zola was doing at the time.
Zola basically kept Hydra alive and transferred his consciousness into a computer which can be glimpsed in the back of the underground bunker. For all we know in the original timeline, Howard might have interrupted Zola from doing something crucial, delaying his plans.
It’s unknown why Howard was looking for Zola but it could have been important to the timeline. If he no longer finds him due to being distracted by “Potts” this could create a serious knock-on effect.
What does this mean? Zola’s plans/plot could happen earlier in this timeline, we have no idea what this would mean for this timeline moving forwards. If Howard’s reasons for looking for Zola were to with an important project, him becoming distracted by “Potts” and not finding Zola could delay whatever that project was throwing the whole timeline out of whack.
It’s hard to tell because we don’t know enough about what was happening in 1970 but who knows what this could have caused.
Another thing that happened in the 70s was Hank Pym being lured away from his lab. Again, we don’t really know what Pym was working on but there is an early Ant-Man helmet on his desk and Pym Particles too so it’s safe to assume it was Ant-Man related. It was likely only a delay of a few minutes but if Hank was about to have a breakthrough this could have set him back in his research.
A final change would be with Yvette Nicole Brown’s S.H.I.E.L.D. agent “Phyllis Jenkins“. We don’t know what she was doing, where she was going, or how important she is to the overall scheme of things but in the 1970 Time Heist, she devoted her time solely to tracking down the intruders “Howard Potts” (Tony Stark) and “Roscoe/Captain Stevens” (Steve Rogers) and led a search party to do so.
We don’t know enough about what was happening in the MCU in 1970 to know if these changes would have had much of an impact but if Marvel Studios wanted to revisit this timeline the above are things that could have changed.
There’s a pretty obvious one in the 2012 Time Heist that would have messed up the timeline. When Tony Stark and Scott Lang tried to get away with the Tesseract, 2012 Hulk crashed through a door and knocked the case out of Tony’s hands. Then seizing his opportunity, the God of Mischief, Loki got his hands on the Tesseract and escaped.
We know for a fact that this timeline is going to be revisited in the upcoming Loki Disney+ series set to be released in 2021. The series is set to show us exactly where Loki went and what he did after escaping.
Baring in mind the Loki that was killed in Avengers: Infinity War had practically redeemed himself and became a hero and ally to Thor. This Loki has none of that character development, he is the bitter Loki fresh from defeat at the hands of the Avengers. Who knows what he did next? we do know it will involve Loki doing some time travel of his own.
Loki isn’t the only change that occurred in the 2012 timeline, Captain America also shook things up. To retrieve the Chitauri Scepter from Jasper Sitwell and the Strike Team, Cap said “Hail Hydra.”
This would have ramifications because the Hydra sleeper agents in that timeline would think Cap is also part of Hydra or would be quickly set straight by Pierce making 2012 Cap a target earlier than in the mainstream timeline.
There’s also the matter that 2023 Cap told 2012 Cap that Bucky was still alive which would kick start his mission in tracking Bucky down two years earlier providing he believed his future self. Starting earlier might mean he never met Sam Wilson and with Hydra on his tail would make things increasingly difficult for the Super Soldier.
The other change that may occur would be with Tony Stark. He had a bypass thanks to Ant-Man. Tony being Tony, would surely be concerned by this and investigate or work on something to make sure nothing like it happens again. Who knows, it could even push him to kick start the Ultron program sooner in fear that he would die and be unable to protect the world.
In the 2013 Time Heist, Rocket and Thor went to Asgard to retrieve the Aether from Jane Foster but they also came away with Mjolnir. In theory, Cap returned these within seconds of them being removed, so what changed? Thor spoke to his mother, Frigga. His mother who was about to be killed by the Dark Elves. He doesn’t outright tell her what happens to her but it’s hard to believe she wouldn’t have an inkling.
It’s unlikely that it would have much impact on the timeline if any but this was the only real change that occurred. Thor was very emotional to see her so there’s a chance she knew she would die and perhaps she is more cautious going forward. Perhaps she may have even survived the attack. We may never know but it’s something that the MCU could explore.
The 2014 Time Heist led to Thanos and his entire army to leave the timeline and then be erased. That means that the 2014 timeline would continue with no Thanos and most likely no Guardians of the Galaxy as Gamora is either erased or in the main timeline.
This would create a radically different world moving forwards without the threat of Thanos looming over them. Others would likely seek the Stones and new threats would arise to take Thanos’ place. It would certainly be interesting to see the state of a universe without Thanos.
Wait…Something Doesn’t Make Sense Here!
Like with all things time travel, it’s incredibly convoluted and complicated to unravel. Many people believe that by replacing the Stones moments after their removal Cap erased any changes to that timeline but by the MCU’s own guidelines you can’t change the past.
When Cap went back in time to return the Stones it would once again be his future so the timelines where the Stones were removed and everything subsequent would still exist, he’d just create ANOTHER timeline in which the Stones were removed and quickly replaced.
This, of course, means what I’ve discussed above would only be the half of it not revolving around the removal of the Stones because in theory there are four timelines where the Tesseract, Time Stone, Mind Stone, Aether, Power Stone and Soul Stone were all removed as well as the four where they were both removed and returned.
If you were able to get your head around any of what I’ve just said, which of these timelines would you like to see be revisited? Do you think Marvel will return to any of them?