The more a movie tries to explain time travel, the more confusing the concept gets. Even something as simple as “no betting on sports events,” a la Back to the Future, is “bullshit,” to quote Scott Lang. So when Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo recently participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, one Marvel fan took the opportunity to ask about an apparent plot hole, arguably the film’s biggest among viewers, as it relates to time travel.
“Can you help me/everyone understand how Captain America got back to the main time line when he returned all the stones, because it contradicts the time travel theory stated by Banner earlier in the movie,” the Reddit user wrote. “Banner said that when you go back in time you make a separate time line, so it doesn’t effect the past, but if Captain America was in a different time line when he returned the stones, how did he back to the main time line without the use of the quantum suits.” I’m perplexed, but the Russos cleared up the confusion:
“You are correct in that he would have had to have worn the quantum suit, using a pym particle to make the jump. He’s not wearing the suit on the bench, because that is not the exact moment to which he returned.”
In other words, Cap used the suit to go back in time to return the Stones, then ditched it so he could live happily ever after with his one true love, Peggy Carter. If you put it that way… it’s still kind of confusing. It was originally even more puzzling, according to Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, who revealed on the Empire live podcast that “there were early cuts of the movie where the audience didn’t understand that they had come back to the present day… The audience thought when they returned to the compound, it was the compound from five years before, and everything was good. [That’s] why we added things like Tony Stark saying to Hulk, ‘Now remember, bring everybody back here to now.’ We were like, ‘Just say it’ and then it worked and people got it.”
If only all movies explained time travel as succinctly as Looper.