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So, in the climax of Avengers: Endgame,

the Thanos from 2014 travels forward in time to 2023 and dies in the climactic battle.

This should, logically, prevent the events of Avengers: Infinity War from ever taking place, since he ceased to be present in the time line 4 years prior to this.

However, the movie seems to imply that the events of Infinity War still happened, creating a time travel paradox - a variant of the Grandfather Paradox.

Is there any official statement as to what occurred, or is this just a plot hole in the movie?

  • I don’t know how to use this site’s spoiler tags, so if anyone with post- editing privileges wants to do so, feel free to do so. – nick012000 Apr 27 at 22:25
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    I tried to remove part of the spoilers from the title but I'm not overly happy with the result... If someone's more inspired, feel free to put a new one. And by the way, nick, you can hide spoilers by preceding them with >!, for instance >! he was a ghost all this time – Jenayah Apr 27 at 22:29
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    It was made very clear that time travel can't change the past, in which case the Thanos you're talking about is from an alternate timeline, or a quantum fluctuation, or something. Of course at the end of the movie, time travel changes the past. So, um, yeah. (There are workarounds: for example, you could suppose that changes that are at least potentially consistent with your own past become part of your timeline, whereas changes that aren't get wiped out or become an alternative timeline. But that's not canon AFAIK.) – Harry Johnston Apr 28 at 0:54
  • “Of course at the end of the movie, time travel changes the past.“ Or does it? Bruce says that when you travel to the past, it becomes your future. Maybe it only exists from your point of view. Time travel, relative to the traveller. – Paul D. Waite Apr 28 at 15:07
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You’ve misunderstood how time travel works in the MCU. You can’t change the future by changing things in the past because you are in your future not your past. Things don’t work like in Back to the Future, this was made very clear in the events of the film.

In fact the only way to change a timeline is to remove an Infinity Stone from it as explained by The Ancient One to Bruce. Therefore, the Thanos in 2023 is the Thanos in an alternate reality separate from the main timeline. As the Infinity Stone from 2014 was put back there the alternate reality where Thanos goes to 2023 then ceases to exist as explained by Bruce.

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    I have a feeing that this will be a very popular answer in the next few weeks. – SH7890 Apr 28 at 11:57
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    If you can't change the future by changing the past, then why was Tony so worried about "losing what he had" by changing the past? – Kevin Workman Apr 28 at 16:53
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    One potential problem with this interpretation is that it means there is no obvious reason not to use time travel as a way to resurrect dead characters. For example, why not travel back a few days before the Avengers first went back in time and bring both N. and T. back to the present? – Harry Johnston Apr 28 at 22:47
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    The MCU time travel model is truly confusing at this point. – Stark07 Apr 29 at 7:31
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    @TheLethalCarrot, hmmm. I'm not sure what you mean by that. G. was retrieved from a no-longer-existing alternate reality, what stops them from doing the same for anyone else? – Harry Johnston Apr 29 at 8:43
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We don't know what the intent of the final snap was, but we do know the infinity stones should have power beyond 'remove half the population' and

'bring them back'

It's something of a guess, but to keep the timeline intact, it seems reasonable to assume that the final snap was intended to

return Thanos and his army to 2014, with all memories of their temporal excursion wiped

If that's the case, it would also close the issue of

the Nebulae not wiping themselves out of time, and explain where Gamora is (i.e. back in 2014)

  • Whilst potentially possible, the alternate reality where Thanos, his army and Gamora travel to the future is wiped from existence when the Infinity Stones are returned to 2014. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 29 at 11:19

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