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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?

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  • 2
    Related: How did Tony Stark know where to go?
    – TARS
    May 1 '19 at 10:55
  • 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
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Tony remembers (just about) that his dad, Howard Stark, told him that he worked there with Hank Pym in this period.

As Tony says in Civil War, his dad mentioned knowing Captain America a lot; and as we see a bit in Iron Man 2, he probably tried to tell Tony a lot of useful stuff about his work that Tony largely ignored but sometimes vaguely remembered. Finally, as Nathan K. points out, the date they go back to is shortly before Tony's own birth, so it's not surprising Tony has a good idea of when his dad and Pym were there together.

As Pym is present, they can get both 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 same bunker that Cap visited in The Winter Soldier, which at that time 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.

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5

(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.

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In the first Avengers movie, Tony hacks into SHIELD's computers while onboard the helicarrier by placing a device of some sort on the command terminals used by Nick Fury on the bridge.

Later when Tony, Bruce, and Steve are in the lab working on a way to locate the Tesseract, Tony tells Steve that Jarvis is currently hacking SHIELD's computers and, "In a few hours, I will know every dirty secret SHIELD has tried to hide."

It is safe to assume that this information would have included data on both the history of the Tesseract and Dr. Pym.

It is reasonable to assume that before starting the mission to travel back in time that Tony, Steve, and the rest of the team would have reviewed all of this information looking for places in time where they could locate the infinity stones.

This piece of information, in particular, might have piqued their interest and drawn their attention as it involved; one of the items they were looking for, a place Steve was very familiar with, a place Tony's dad worked, and the Pym particles they were using to execute the time travel plan.

It might even have been on the list of possible times and places to get the space stone but was ruled out as there was a better opportunity to get three stones at one time during the battle of New York.

The fact that Scott Lang doesn't seem to know about his alternative time and location s while Tony and Steve do, is a brilliant use of the character driving plot. Tony and Steve are both detailed oriented and would have read the briefings in-depth and committed them to memory. Scott on the other hand, well he's been established as a bit of a slacker and probably would not have read all of the briefing data.

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  • "In the first Avengers movie, Tony hacks into SHIELD's computers while onboard the helicarrier by placing a device of some sort on the command terminals used by Nick Fury on the bridge." There's also that one time where Black Widow made every Shield/Hydra document public knowledge by releasing everything onto the open Internet. So, this knowledge is probably available to anyone who cares to look for it.
    – Ellesedil
    Jun 17 at 15:36
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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?"

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    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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