The main plan of Avengers: Endgame for solving what Thanos did in Avengers: Infinity War involves the

Time Heist.

As part of the plan Tony misplaces

the Tesseract

and so he and Cap have to go looking for it elsewhere. They decide to go back to

a SHIELD base in 1970 where both the Tesseract is stored and Hank Pym is based working on the Pym Particle. Whilst there Tony also bumps into his father, Howard Stark, working on the base.

Tony and Cap have a conversation in hushed tones about choosing it and it seems to be that they both know about it. Is there anything special about this place and time and how did they both know about it?

  • My assumption while viewing was that it was Tony's birthday (he'd sure-as-hell remember if Howard had been absent from his birthday for work! Howard suggests that it's not near Maria's due date yet, but that could be explained by his absence, too), but [1] seems to suggest that that's incorrect. [1] marvel-movies.fandom.com/wiki/Anthony_Stark – scubbo May 1 '19 at 15:04
  • In Iron Man 3, Tony says, "1983 [...] I'm 14 years old," which would mean that Tony was born between January 2, 1968 and December 31, 1969. – Joe Sep 1 '19 at 10:03

Tony remembers (just about) that his dad, Howard Stark, told him that he worked there with Hank Pym in this period. This means they can get the Tesseract, and the extra Pym Particles they need to get the Tesseract back to the present (as originally they only had enough for one round trip each).

The base is actually Camp Lehigh, the army base where Steve Rogers trained before becoming Captain America, so it’s kind of special for him. (A sign is visible outside the base declaring it the birthplace of Captain America.) The SHIELD facility within is the bunker that Cap visited in The Winter Soldier, which then housed the digitised Arnim Zola.

But only Tony was aware of the likelihood that both the Tesseract and Pym particles were there at that time.

  • Unfortunately, I thought we'd only get a rough idea of how he might have known. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 25 '19 at 11:28
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    I think it fits with what we know of Tony and his relationship with his dad — his dad apparently mentioned knowing Captain America a lot, as per Civil War, and probably tried to tell Tony a lot of useful stuff about his work that Tony largely ignored but sometimes vaguely remembered. – Paul D. Waite Apr 25 '19 at 11:31

(Perhaps this should be merged with Paul D. Waite's answer, but I don't know how to do that.)

The way the trip to 1970 is introduced as Tony's idea in the film definitely makes it a little bit mysterious. The importance of the situation is emphasized by Scott Lang totally losing his cool and ranting about how the mission has failed, accusing Tony of not wanting it to succeed, and otherwise being of no help whatsoever.

Tony doesn't have an exact date or details, yet he seems completely certain that the two things they need (the Tesseract and Pym particles) can be found there. Steve Rogers wonders how he can be so sure, and the audience is invited to wonder the same thing.

TONY: I got it. There's another way. To retake the Tesseract and acquire new particles. A little stroll down memory lane. Military installation, Garden State.

STEVE: When were they both there?

TONY: They were there at a...I've a vaguely exact idea.

STEVE: How vague?

SCOTT: What are you talking about? Where are we going?

TONY: I know for a fact they were there...

SCOTT: Who's they? What are we doing?

TONY: And I know how I know.

I think the mystery of Tony's "vague" yet "exact" knowledge is answered when Tony meets his father in 1970 and Howard Stark mentions that his wife is expecting a child-- this is shortly before Tony Stark's birth.

Our memories of events from decades ago are cloudy. It's unlikely that Tony could have remembered when SHIELD was running experiments on the Tesseract or which times Dr. Pym was on site-- except that he had the one sure frame of reference of his birth date. It explains how he could be so certain without being able to give any details. Our memories tend to be very self-focused. (Perhaps even more so in the case of Tony Stark.) For example, I couldn't tell you what my grandfather's job title was, but I could tell you the exact date of a worker's strike at his company because it happened on my birthday and he told me about how he was afraid he was going to be stuck there and miss the birth of his grandson.

I think it's an effective storytelling move because it brings the focus away from the cosmic and fantastical and puts it in the realm of the personal and mundane. How do you defeat the big purple guy named after Death? With the simple connections with your family and past that make up this thing we call Life.


I think it might hint at "The Secret Origin of Tony Stark" storyline. Howard said Maria was expecting and from his depiction, it seemed that Maria was going to give birth soon. However, Tony wouldn't be born until almost 2 months later on May 29. If you rewatch the scene, you can see how confused Tony looks and he even asks for clarification, asking "how far along is she?"

  • 3
    Hi there. For those of us who haven't read that particular act, could you please edit in a bit more about the story, like for instance how it would point towards both Cap and Stark knowing that time and place and the events that happened there? – Jenayah May 2 '19 at 17:00

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