Time Out of Mind: Overthinking the Endgame

Time travel: every screenwriter’s worst nightmare

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS AN IRREVERENT, OPEN LETTER TO MCU CHIEF KEVIN FEIGE, AND CONTAINS SO MANY SPOILERS IT IS NOT FUNNY. OKAY, IT TRIES TO BE FUNNY, BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

THE POINT IS, IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN AVENGERS: ENDGAME, DON’T READ THIS.

OR BETTER YET, GO SEE IT AND THEN READ THIS — IT’LL BLOW YOUR MCU MIND!

Listen up, Kevin Feige!

Like many other MCU fanatics, I was so caught up in the climatic, battle royale slash hero reunion at the finale of Avengers: Endgame that I missed many plausible anachronisms — characters who in hindsight should and/or should not have be there based on the fact that I fundamentally disagree with the Ancient One’s assessment: that removing Infinity Stones from the timeline doesn’t create into alternative timelines. Choices do that, not cosmic objects. In fact, their absence should have literally changed the singular timeline brilliantly illustrated by Tilda Swinton in a bald cap. Or perhaps she shaved her head, all for the sake of art.

Case in point:

The Mind Stone, trapped in Loki’s scepter. When Cap ‘Hail Hydra’ed’ it away from SHIELD and sent it forward in time with Ant-Man, it should have ensured Baron Von Strucker would not be able to experiment on the Maximoff twins. That’s not an alternate timeline, it’s the actual timeline: because going forward from the Battle of New York, the Stone no longer exists.

So no Mind Stone, no chaos magic, no super-speed, and perhaps even Vision would have been reduced to a Jarvis-only powered android and be even less human without it. Even if we assume their absences won’t affect the timeline— i.e. even without Tony’s witch-induced vision, he would still build Ultron; that Avengers minus Wanda’s magic and Vision’s mind powers still defeat him; that the Sokovia Accords proceed and the Civil War goes down almost the same. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that perhaps Falcon crashes into War Machine, so Rhodey’s still going to be paralyzed.

Yet as an important side note, Clint Barton/Haweye/Ronin would be dead without Quicksilver to take those bullets for him. How would the Avengers get the Soul Stone from Vormir without him? (I’ll address that later).

The point is, Mr. Feige, take the Mind Stone away after the Battle of New York, and Wanda and Pietro would be powerless (and therefore ineligible to be superheroes), Vision would be weakened and Haweye would be dead. Therefore, Wanda and Vision would be unnecessary during Infinity War, since, again: 1) She has no powers! and 2) He has no Mind Stone! and 3) Said Mind Stone is in the future, making me question how she was able to have that ultimate showdown with Thanos.

Think about it, Kevin.

In the meantime, it is the Pandora’s Box of alternative choices made available from the Stone’s absence that would split up the timeline; not just a fork, but a tangle of multiple spaghetti-like timelines that may or may not dissipate with that Stone’s ultimate return.

Hence, it is now necessary, though completely unsolicited, to share the other impossibilities present in Avengers: Endgame due to the Infinity Stones being taken out of the timeline: something that should have given your screen writers late-night ulcers and Monday morning migraines.

Consider the following:

The Time Stone: The moment Hulk Banner (or should I call him Brulk?) returned to HQ with that emerald gemstone, he should have faced a conundrum of sorts.

But first, this unnecessary aside: I see what you did there, Kevy! The green guy gets the green Stone, huh? Cap ‘Merica goes for the blue one ‘cuz… he wears blue? The purple guy punches Cap Marvel with the purple stone, cuz… he’s purple? I digress.

Without the Time Stone, even if Doctor Strange had become the Sorcerer Supreme, he would not be able to defeat Dormammu without the pupil (or is it the iris?) of the Eye of Agamotto.

Or say when Dr. Banner arrives, the other Doctor takes the Time Stone and then defeats that denizen of the dark realm: what would a post-Dormammu world look like? And with all sorcerers and sorceroos-in-training dying by the spinning hands of Kaecilius and his gang, and then Dormammu himself, shouldn’t there have been a lot less at that final battle in Endgame? And with less portals, comes less backup — and could that have turned the tides of war? I’d take some “time” to think about that one.

See what I did there?

The Reality Stone: Okay, this might not change the timeline by much. I mean, it might piss Malekith off to no end when he arrives in Asgard and realizes his precious Aether has no longer possessed Jane Foster (as it was taken by Rocket, that wily raccoonoid!), so perhaps he would kill her? It’s not like Thor and her were dating during Infinity War and beyond or anything.

Could the Asgardians have kicked their butts and stopped the invasion? Let’s say yes, optimistically so. And as a bonus, the Collector would not have it in his, um, collection, so there goes Thanos’ plan to stop by and trash the place.

Maybe he would have finally collected them all, and then he becomes the Thanos of the universe. I shudder at that thought. Or let’s get stupid here: The Infinity Gauntlet, worn by none other than Howard the Duck.

Howard! The! Freaking! Duck!

My point is, it probably wouldn’t change anything for Endgame. ‘Nuff said.

The Power Stone: So, if Nebula knocked out Peter Quill before taking the Power Stone, and Gamora followed her father to locate the other stones, wouldn’t that break up the beloved fellowship of a-holes before they even started? In other words, if Gamora has no need to chase the Star Lord, would he have ended up in a Xandarian prison? Perhaps he does get caught, but who’s to say that Rocket and Groot would have gotten the jump on him when they did? Or that he even befriends Drax in prison, but without the tree guy, would escape would be futile? Or better yet: What if Yondu finally deliverers Peter to Ego and together they take over the universe?

They be like, eat your heart, Thanos — Ego and Son just conquered the universe. Bam! You wanna to half all of life in the cosmos? Well we just duplicated it! Bada-bing, bada-boom! Did you ever consider that, Feige!? Huh?! HUH!?!

The Space Stone: This one gets trickier, what with Loki taking it and portaling it away to who knows where — I’d assume Asgard, in order to conquer it? — but with an earlier version of the Space Stone spirited away by Cap and Irony (yeah, I just coined that), wouldn’t it disappear from Loki’s future hands? And would this truly split the timeline in two? I mean, let’s say he’s just chilling in Asgard and then poof! The stone is gone… what would that do to the timeline?

Well, for starters Thanos might have little need to attack the Asgardian refugees after Ragnarok, or perhaps he does so, as he believes Loki has the Space Stone —but does he then kill off Hulk and Thor in his rage, ending their bromance (and their future appearances in Infinity War and Endgame? And yet again, another split in the timeline. And how does this affect Endgame?

Well, there could several versions: one with fatty Thor, and one without. One with smarty Hulk and one without — or one with Thor and no Hulk, or Hulk and no Thor. The possibilities are endless!

There’s one with smarmy Loki in the mix, along with his trickery; and one without him; or perhaps one with swole-y Heimdall and even more swole-n Asgardian warriors, and one without — it’s mind-boggling how taking this one might mess up the endgame. So yeah, I’m basically just rambling here.

The Soul Stone: As mentioned earlier, without the Mind Stone, Hawkeye should be dead. Now which duo would go to Vormir? I’d say Ant-man and Hawkeye, because hello, everyone is loving the Paul Rudd/Jeremy Renner viral internet love fest. Ant-Man could be clinging to Hawkeye, each tearfully willing themselves to die instead of the other…

Sigh.

But that’s just purefan-fiction. Perhaps Tony Stark and Pepper Potts? Let’s not even go there. Lemme see… No WandaVision (again, because of the missing Mind Stone), Rhodey’s still single and hasn’t hooked up with Captain Marvel yet (what? It could happen, just like in the comics…), the Wasp was dusted, along with, we can only assume, Scott’s ex and even her new husband and his ever lovin’ bear hugs; and who knows what happened to Peter Parker’s beloved and recently enhanced Aunt May. T’Challa was t’decimated before he and Nakia could break up again, and even Cap’s beloved Bucky went bye-bye.

That leaves one logical conclusion and bone-chilling question: would Cap “borrow” Peggy Carter and then sacrifice her on the spot?

I feel awful writing that last sentence. Let me write a new one:

Perhaps the one from the MCU television series, which let’s face it, exists in an separate universe — amirite?

More importantly, without the Soul Stone, there is no way for the Avengers to assemble all the stones for a smart Hulk snap or the final Iron snap. So many snaps! And fumbles, with the Gauntlet as the football! It was a full on Super Bowl game — see WHAT I DID THERE!?!

In short, the Endgame would have ended before it even began. Bummer.

Okay, so let’s review: No Mind Stone, no Scarlet Witch, no Quicksilver, Vision becomes Data from Star Trek and Clint Barton gets riddled with bullets (like those gangsters on that one episode when Data, Picard and others get stuck in a 1950’s holodeck because of a virus).

No Time Stone, more Dormammu and less sorcerers and sorceroos, which should make Mordo happy. Remember that guy? “Too many sorcerers!” And yet too little sorcerers and too little lil’ sorcerers, too little portals to back up Steve “Got America’s Ass Handed to Me and My Now Half-Shield” Rogers.

No Reality Stone… No sweat (but plenty of blood if Malekith don’t get no stinkin’ Aether!).

No Power Stone, no Guardians of the Galaxy or even Asgardians of the Galaxy.

And no Soul Stone, and your signature film of the entire 10-year MCU cannon dusts away much like after Thanos’ snap — unless the new Ronin, much like the Mad Titan himself, also loves death, and so he goes solo to Vormir to sacrifice… death for the Soul Stone? That a head-scratcher, for sure.

Now obviously, I’m overthinking all this, and I really did enjoy the show. In fact, I was thrilled: what a roller coaster of emotion! Devotion! Violence! Improbable quantum physics!

But if I were a screenwriter at Marvel, I would have totally presented these findings to you, the head of the MCU yourself — and then most likely be shown the door, lest the screen-writers revolt and really “go for the head”. Besides, the odds of you reading this are, well, your 1.4 billion dollars to my negative 10, which is how much I owe my friend for taking me to see your complex accomplishment of film.

Did I mention that I liked the movie?

Human being, former Mormon, decent person, villainous activist and short order chef.

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