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I know the Marvel Cinematic Universe likes to keep the locations vague to avoid questions like this, but it's been established by director James Gunn that the events of the Guardians of the Galaxy take place in the Andromeda Galaxy, not our local Milky Way. That suggests that locations such as Knowhere, Xandar, and Titan are in the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light-years away from the Milky Way. (For comparison, that's approximately 25 times the 100,000-light-year diameter of the Milky Way.)

Given that, we seem to have a scramble of locations in Infinity War:

  • The Asgardian refugee vessel(s), which left the ruins of Asgard (location unspecified) and from which Heimdall sent Hulk to Earth.
  • Thanos then dispatches his minions to Earth.
  • The Guardians, who are nominally in Andromeda, respond to the distress call from the Asgardian refugees and pick up Thor.
  • Some Guardians go to Knowhere in the Benatar (the Milano's successor), while others go to Nidavellir via a pod. (Isn't Nidavellir supposed to be in its own realm?)
  • Tony Stark, Peter Parker, and Doctor Strange wind up on Titan after a what seems like a relatively short trip.
  • Thor and Thanos wind up on Earth, but their instantaneous travel is explained by either bifrost powers or the Space Stone.

Did Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo retcon James Gunn's distinction between the two galaxies, or did they simply fuzz everything over?

Is there an MCU or out-of-universe answer?

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    As far as I remember, this has not been addressed in the MCU, so you might have a better chance to get an answer from the comics. – Rebel-Scum May 20 '18 at 18:40
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    “That would go a long way toward explaining how it was so easy to collect the six Infinity Stones that had been scattered across a universe that's 28 billion light years across.” I don’t think that bit needs explaining. Thanos first gets the Power Stone from Xandar, which (assuming the MCU’s timeline roughly tracks movie release dates) could have happened almost four years previously, just after the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Then, right at the start of Infinity War, he gets the Space Stone, allowing apparently instantaneous travel to collect the other four. – Paul D. Waite May 21 '18 at 7:06
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    In terms of the distances in general, I think the most in-universe detail you’re likely to get is the on-screen caption in Infinity War just before we see the Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time. – Paul D. Waite May 21 '18 at 7:08
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    @PaulD.Waite I take your point here. I was thinking more about how most of the stones wound up in either the Milky Way or Andromeda (out of the vastness of the universe) even before Thanos went after them. (I'm assuming the Soul Stone could have been anywhere in the universe, since Thanos goes to Vormir using the Space Stone, though it seems like a very remote planet wouldn't have a recognizable name. Perhaps it's in a plane of its own.) – jeffronicus May 21 '18 at 14:57
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    Just to clarify what is your actual question here? Which galaxy each location is in? How they appear to travel between locations so quickly? Where the Infinity Stones were located? At the moment, if my understanding is correct, this appears to be a mix of all 3 and would be too broad. Could you edit to be clearer what you're actually asking about? – TheLethalCarrot May 22 '18 at 11:21
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Did Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo retcon James Gunn's distinction between the two galaxies, or did they simply fuzz everything over?

Neither. As far as we can tell, James Gunn’s Milky Way/Andromeda distinction* still holds as well as it ever did during Avengers: Infinity War.

Abundant spoilers ahead!

We don’t get much more accurate in the movie than the “SPACE” caption early on, but we can probably assume that all of the movie’s locations except for Earth are in the Andromeda galaxy:

  • While the Asgardian ship originated on Asgard, the location of which is super-unclear, it left when Asgard was destroyed at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. Given that the Guardians picked up its distress call, it was presumably in Andromeda when it was attacked by Thanos and co. Given that Thor was taking his people to Earth, it was presumably on the way there already.

  • I don’t think we’re ever told that Nidavellir is in its own “realm”, like Asgard, so given that Thor, Rocket and Groot can reach it via one of the Milano’s pods, we can assume it’s in Andromeda too, like Knowhere.

As we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy, ships like the Milano can apparently travel to a bunch of Andromeda galaxy locations in fairly short order, so that takes care of most of the Guardians’ travel.

As you say, all of Thanos’s journeys in the movie (including his trip to Vormir, wherever the hell that is) are done using the Space Stone’s presumably-instantaneous teleportation powers, so they’re fine. Both the Hulk’s journey from the Asgardian ship, and Thor’s trip to earth with Rocket and Groot, are via the presumably-near-instantaneous Bifrost, so they’re cool too.

The only other journeys between the Milky Way and Andromeda are made by Thanos’s minions — from the Asgardian wreckage to Earth, and then Ebony Maw heading back towards Titan with Tony, Peter and Stephen along for the ride.

We know from the first Guardians movie that the Milano picked up Peter Quill on Earth in 1988, and presumably made it back to Andromeda without it taking years to do so, so it seems reasonable that Team Thanos’s big donut ships can do the journey really quickly. As Maw’s leaves earth, we see it shoot off into some sort of lightning effect, so I guess he turned on the hyperdrive or whatever at that point.

Out-of-universe, the movies have almost always been pretty vague about the distances and journey times involved in space travel, because they’re not really about that. This isn’t Star Trek, and we’re not calculating warp factors: all the ships can get to where they need to be, quickly enough for the story to proceed.


* Which, given that it’s not mentioned in any of the movies, is strictly-speaking non-canon.

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    Coincidentally started rewatching GotG2 last night, which implied at least three types of space drive: 1) In-system/sublight. 2) whatever they use to travel between systems in minutes or hours. 3) the jump points (which might be the same as No. 2, but don't look like it. 4) Ego's super-fast-to-the-edge-of-nowhere drive, which required hundreds of jumps to replicate. plus 5) Space Stone travel. – jeffronicus Aug 17 '18 at 15:58
  • Yup yup. We definitely don’t see any jump points in Infinity War or the first Guardians movie, but for all we know they could be in use off-screen. – Paul D. Waite Aug 17 '18 at 16:20
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    It's not even clear what a "realm" is. You can apparently fly a "normal" Sakarian ship from Asgard to Earth (via Andromeda), and the Dark Elves arrived in ships too. But maybe they took one of Loki's "shortcuts"? – OrangeDog Nov 23 '18 at 12:06

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