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Avengers: Endgame |Spoiler OT2| I love you three thousand

Nov 1, 2017
2,780
If the Avengers always go back to the past, then their own reality always has been altered. It's a time travel conundrum.

If Steve is the father of Peggy's kids, then he always was supposed to comeback. It's truly not hard to wrap around the concept at all. And it doesn't negate what the film says at all.
What do you mean “always”

They don’t always go back to the past. The past cannot be altered. They are going to another reality that is in a different point in time, not going back to their own past.
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,420
If there are two Steves, one in the ice and one with Peggy, then the past has been altered.
Just existing in the past isn't changing it. If the mere fact that someone from 2023 time traveled to a previous year is enough to create a new timeline, then that means the whole purpose of Steve's trip is a failure because his returning to 1970, 2012, 13, and 14 would just split off new alternate timelines once the stones and Mjolnir were returned. It might also mean that old man Scott and baby Scott being brought into 2023 created a couple new alternate timelines right then and there too.
 
It's not back to the future and you can't change the past. The movie spells it out.

The only way for there to be two Steve's is if the timeline was altered and the MCU isnt the main timeline but a branch.
It is not Back to the Future. Steve staying with Peggy isn't a BTTF time travel rule. If Steve's future was always going back to the past and staying there, that's a time conundrum. You are saying time as something linear, but think like this: if Cap always go back and always stays with Peggy, then that always was his future. He didn't altered anything, if that was what always what was supposed to happen.
 
Just existing in the past isn't changing it. If the mere fact that someone from 2023 time traveled to a previous year is enough to create a new timeline, then that means the whole purpose of Steve's trip is a failure because his returning to 1970, 2012, 13, and 14 would just split off new alternate timelines once the stones and Mjolnir were returned. It might also mean that old man Scott and baby Scott being brought into 2023 created a couple new alternate timelines right then and there too.
This.
 
What do you mean “always”

They don’t always go back to the past. The past cannot be altered. They are going to another reality that is in a different point in time, not going back to their own past.
Steve's past was always his future. Simply going back and staying there isn't altering the past, especially because that was what he was always supposed to do, he just didn't know that he did, just like 2012 Cap didn't know what 2023 Cap does. Quantum theory says that the same object can exist in the same space if time travel was possible through quantum physics, and while that would create a parallel reality in theory, the film rule is that as long as the infinity stone don't leave their realities, there are no branches. If simply by time travelling an alternate reality is created, Cap's mission would never be successful: he simply going back would mean an alternate reality than the one they got the stones before.

The more I think about it, more the Russos explanation doesn't make sense and the screenwriters does.
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,583
Steve's past was always his future. Simply going back and staying there isn't altering the past, especially because that was what he was always supposed to do, he just didn't know that he did, just like 2012 Cap didn't know what 2023 Cap does. Quantum theory says that the same object can exist in the same space if time travel was possible through quantum physics, and while that would create a parallel reality in theory, the film rule is that as long as the infinity stone don't leave their realities, there are no branches. If simply by time travelling an alternate reality is created, Cap's mission would never be successful: he simply going back would mean an alternate reality than the one they got the stones before.

The more I think about it, more the Russos explanation doesn't make sense and the screenwriters does.
No, again, you're getting it wrong.

The Infinity Stones missing dooms the already alternate timeline becasue it messes with the balance of that universe and leaves them vulnerable, it's not the only way a branch is created. When jumping into the past, they create a branche. Then they use the GPS to find that already branched timeline so the balance is never lost. It doesnt create a "A.1" timeline when returning to it, because they have the "space-time location" thanks to the GPS thing.


I don't think it does. Since Cap was always supposed to go back in time, the main timeline we've been following is the one in which Cap did go back in time. It's possible that there is another timeline out there in which Cap never went back depending on the interpretation of the Ancient One, but that is not our main timeline.
It does, the film scientists that figured out a way of traveling through the quantum realm states that you can't alter your own past. It means that there is one timeline, the prime, where Steve either doesn't come back, or does it after giving Falcon the Shield in our MCU Timeline.



In any case, this is where I am now: This discussion is a way of keeping people talking about it, going to the cinema again, and getting the public used to this shit since they are going to double down on it going forward.

I saw a picture that outlined in Gamora's death scene, that there is a redish sillouette where Natasha died. It kind of is there... COULD IT BE !?!??!!?!?!?
 
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No, again, you're getting it wrong.

The Infinity Stones missing dooms the already alternate timeline becasue it messes with the balance of that universe and leaves them vulnerable, it's not the only way a branch is created. When jumping into the past, they create a branche. Then they use the GPS to find that already branched timeline so the balance is never lost. It doesnt create a "A.1" timeline when returning to it, because they have the "space-time location" thanks to the GPS thing.
What you are saying is that they use the GPS to go back to a moment in their timeline. Whatever happens there, creates a branched timeline. They already HAVE the GPS for that moment when they go back in the first place, but they don't really create a different timeline for just being there. If that is true, not even going back with the GPS would make it possible for them to not create another branched timeline.

Russos theory is flawed for this very reason, so while the screenwriters theory might not be completely accurate with how quantum theory explains time travel would work, it's the only explanation that doesn't break the film. If everytime they go back they create a new timeline for just being there, Cap's mission would never be successful.

Closed time loops do not contradict multiple timelines
Also this.
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,583
They use the GPS to go back to a moment in their timeline. Whatever happens there, creates a branched timeline. They already HAVE the GPS for that moment when they go back in the first place, but they don't really create a different timeline for just being there. If that is true, not even going back with the GPS would make it possible for them to not create another branched timeline.

Russos theory is flawed for this very reason, so while the screenwriters theory might not be completely accurate with how quantum theory explains time travel would work, it's the only explanation that doesn't break the film. If everytime they go back they alterate reality for just being there, Cap's mission would never be successful.


Also this.
Remember that Loki used the Tesseract to escape? That never happened in our timeline, right? It should have changed a lot of things. It didn't. It's an alternate timeline. Saying that Captain "always goes back" breaks the film. There should at least be one reality where there aren't two Steve Rogers to not break the film. And that turns our timeline into a branched one if what the screenwriters say is right.

We are going to go in circles here, because the GPS prevents them to go into a timeline they don't want to go. If they go in a line, then when they return they should return into a reality without Thanos having the stones since they removed it. Or one where Thor didn't go through every event of his films, etc. It creates endless paradoxes if you think that. Even after all that changed, they did return to their own timeline where none of that ever happened. That's because it branched.

The GPS allowed them to go back to the timeline and return the stones without creating a new branch.

Again, the screenwriters can be correct, only if our timeline isn't the original one.
 
Nov 1, 2017
2,780
I don’t even understand people who want the time loop theory to be true.

You want Steve to just sit there while Bucky is being tortured/controlled and hydra is rebuilding itself inside Sheild? You want Steve to abandon Peggy to die alone in a nursing home?

This “would have always” logic doesn’t work because then you could kill baby Thanos and you would have always been able to kill baby thanos.
 
Remember that Loki used the Tesseract to escape? That never happened in our timeline, right? It should have changed a lot of things. It didn't. It's an alternate timeline. Saying that Captain "always goes back" breaks the film. There should at least be one reality where there aren't two Steve Rogers to not break the film. And that turns our timeline into a branched one if what the screenwriters say is right.

We are going to go in circles here, because the GPS prevents them to go into a timeline they don't want to go. If they go in a line, then when they return they should return into a reality without Thanos having the stones since they removed it. Or one where Thor didn't go through every event of his films, etc. It creates endless paradoxes if you think that. Even after all that changed, they did return to their own timeline where none of that ever happened. That's because it branched.

The GPS allowed them to go back to the timeline and return the stones without creating a new branch.

Again, the screenwriters can be correct, only if our timeline isn't the original one.
You are thinking linearly. If in our timeline we always go back to the past, and the past can't be altered, then the time travel always happens. What I mean is that if you look the timeline as a big picture, if Cap always goes back and stays with Peggy, then that's actually his future.

The way I see it, what happened in the MCU past cannot be altered, hence why while Loki escaping might indeed be a branch for example, Steve staying might not be a branch because that's what always happens. If the GPS always allows them to go back to the timeline they want, then it is possible for Cap to go back to his own timeline, ie our MCU timeline.
 
I don’t even understand people who want the time loop theory to be true.

You want Steve to just sit there while Bucky is being tortured/controlled and hydra is rebuilding itself inside Sheild? You want Steve to abandon Peggy to die alone in a nursing home?

This “would have always” logic doesn’t work because then you could kill baby Thanos and you would have always been able to kill baby thanos.
No, because Thanos still existed and did the snap. That is BTTF time travel rules. What we are saying, isn't. If Cap always goes back, that's a time loop / paradox.
 
Allow me to break the Russos theory for good now:

If they are correct and Steve WASN'T in his own timeline, the moment he would supposedly "go back from the future" to his own timeline in the past - the only way he could travel back and not show up in the platform was if he was traveling back from a future point - and deliver a shield that wasn't even on our own timeline, he was ALSO making a branch on our own timeline. Russos explanation simply doesn't hold up to further inspection. The screenwriters theory works within the film itself.
 
Nov 1, 2017
2,780
No, because Thanos still existed and did the snap. That is BTTF time travel rules. What we are saying, isn't. If Cap always goes back, that's a time loop / paradox.
There is no “always.” He chose to go back. He altered the timeline he went back to just by being there, and if it were the prime universe it means that he changed the past when the movie explicitly says it is impossible.

You’re trying to argue for some sort of schrodingers husband, where Peggy’s husband could either be Steve or not Steve because we haven’t seen him as the audience. However that doesn’t work because there is no evidence to show that nobody in universe has ever seen her husband. She talks about him publicly. It’s obviously not Steve Rogers.

You didn’t answer my other question. So you think Steve would abandon his wife to die with dementia in a nursing home while he’s alive and well?
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,583
You are thinking linearly. If in our timeline we always go back to the past, and the past can't be altered, then the time travel always happens. What I mean is that if you look the timeline as a big picture, if Cap always goes back and stays with Peggy, then that's actually his future.

The way I see it, what happened in the MCU past cannot be altered, hence why while Loki escaping might indeed be a branch for example, Steve staying might not be a branch because that's what always happens. If the GPS always allows them to go back to the timeline they want, then it is possible for Cap to go back to his own timeline, ie our MCU timeline.
We are moving forward.

Now consider: there are 14 millions possible futures in IW, right? There is only one where they win. Then, there is only one reality where Captain can return in time to give back the stones and then stays with Peggy. However the film also states that you can't change your own past. That means that Steve travels to another timeline and stays with Peggy.

If in our timeline there were two Caps, then our reality isn't "the original one".
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,749
Something I am really curious about in the MCU is how every day peoples lives went post snap and post reverse snap.

You could argue that a reverse snap 5 years later is going to cause more damage than the initial snap. You had 5 years to move on. Start a family again. And then all of a sudden your old family is back.

Half the amount of people would also mean production got halved. More resources, but less people to produce them as well. Now you got 3.5 billion more mouths to feed.

There have been sci fi shows that deal with similar premises. But they still largely follow the "important" characters. The ones who are trying to solve what happened and fix it. Not just every day people dealing with extraordinary situations. I'd love a MCU TV show like that.

At the very least, something more grounded like Daredevil/Jessica Jones/Defenders in either a post snap world and then post reverse snap.


I do hope the future MCU movies touch on how the world has changed (are people even aware of Thanos/Infinity Stones). But I sorta expect them to handwave that all away and "things are back to normal"
 
There is no “always.” He chose to go back. He altered the timeline he went back to just by being there, and if it were the prime universe it means that he changed the past when the movie explicitly says it is impossible.

You’re trying to argue for some sort of schrodingers husband, where Peggy’s husband could either be Steve or not Steve because we haven’t seen him as the audience. However that doesn’t work because there is no evidence to show that nobody in universe has ever seen her husband. She talks about him publicly. It’s obviously not Steve Rogers.

You didn’t answer my other question. So you think Steve would abandon his wife to die with dementia in a nursing home while he’s alive and well?
Again, you are thinking time chronologically / linear when you can't look like that. He always goes back to return the stones, and he always goes back to Peggy.

Of course he didn't abandon Peggy, he lived her last moment in the shadows, it's not like he didn't do exactly that when he goes back in time the first time. He didn't meet his former self when he meets her in The Winter Soldier because that was actually something that could create a branch with a different timeline. He lived with Peggy until her death, and they lived a good life.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,654
There have been sci fi shows that deal with similar premises. But they still largely follow the "important" characters. The ones who are trying to solve what happened and fix it. Not just every day people dealing with extraordinary situations. I'd love a MCU TV show like that.
You should check out The Leftovers if you haven't already. The main cast is just regular people.
 
Oct 31, 2017
4,581
Steve's past was always his future. Simply going back and staying there isn't altering the past, especially because that was what he was always supposed to do, he just didn't know that he did, just like 2012 Cap didn't know what 2023 Cap does. Quantum theory says that the same object can exist in the same space if time travel was possible through quantum physics, and while that would create a parallel reality in theory, the film rule is that as long as the infinity stone don't leave their realities, there are no branches. If simply by time travelling an alternate reality is created, Cap's mission would never be successful: he simply going back would mean an alternate reality than the one they got the stones before.

The more I think about it, more the Russos explanation doesn't make sense and the screenwriters does.
You're all seeing the light finally!
 
We are moving forward.

Now consider: there are 14 millions possible futures in IW, right? There is only one where they win. Then, there is only one reality where Captain can return in time to give back the stones and then stays with Peggy. However the film also states that you can't change your own past. That means that Steve travels to another timeline and stays with Peggy.

If in our timeline there were two Caps, then our reality isn't "the original one".
Yes, there are 14 million futures in IW, and they only won in one. What happens if they don't win? The end of the universe, Thanos says so. So if Stark doesn't sacrifice himself, the time loop never happens, because the universe ceases to exist. But they do, and Cap completes the time loop.

Like I've said on my post above, Russos explanation breaks the film, because the only way for that to work is to Cap to create an alternate reality in the MCU by the end as well.
 
Nov 1, 2017
2,780
Again, you are thinking time chronologically / linear when you can't look like that. He always goes back to return the stones, and he always goes back to Peggy.

Of course he didn't abandon Peggy, he lived her last moment in the shadows, it's not like he didn't do exactly that when he goes back in time the first time. He didn't meet his former self when he meets her in The Winter Soldier because that was actually something that could create a branch with a different timeline. He lived with Peggy until her death, and they lived a good life.
Alright man, just ignore everything the movie explained about time travel. I clearly can’t help you get it.

Your headcanon Steve is a shitty human who allows atrocities to happen when he could stop them for no reason.
 
Alright man, just ignore everything the movie explained about time travel. I clearly can’t help you get it.

Your headcanon Steve is a shitty human who allows atrocities to happen when he could stop them for no reason.
He can't stop them without creating alternative timelines. If the Russos are correct, the simple fact that Cap went back to that bench in the end would create an alternate timeline. That's clearly not what the film tells us.
 
Nov 1, 2017
2,780
Like I've said on my post above, Russos explanation breaks the film, because the only way for that to work is to Cap to create an alternate reality in the MCU by the end as well.
He did come back to the platform but he was shrunk with Pym particles at the time so they couldn’t see him enter. He then snuck over to the bench to create a dramatic entrance.

He can't stop them without creating alternative timelines. If the Russos are correct, the simple fact that Cap went back to that bench in the end would create an alternate timeline. That's clearly not what the film tells us.
Why would he care whether it would make an alternate timeline? They have done it throughout the movie. There are infinite timelines, one more doesn’t matter.
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,583
Again, you are thinking time chronologically / linear when you can't look like that. He always goes back to return the stones, and he always goes back to Peggy.

Of course he didn't abandon Peggy, he lived her last moment in the shadows, it's not like he didn't do exactly that when he goes back in time the first time. He didn't meet his former self when he meets her in The Winter Soldier because that was actually something that could create a branch with a different timeline. He lived with Peggy until her death, and they lived a good life.
Yes, there are 14 million futures in IW, and they only won in one. What happens if they don't win? The end of the universe, Thanos says so. So if Stark doesn't sacrifice himself, the time loop never happens, because the universe ceases to exist. But they do, and Cap completes the time loop.

Like I've said on my post above, Russos explanation breaks the film, because the only way for that to work is to Cap to create an alternate reality in the MCU by the end as well.

The film states with capital letters that you can't change your own past. There are no time loops. Steve can't "always" come back because he can do it only if they win, which happens in only one reality. After they win, they can branch everything again

Either out MCU is a branch or it isn't, there are no more options.
 
That's what the film tell us.
So Cap just said screw it and started creating alternative timelines including at the end, when he shows up at the end? There are only two explanation for him NOT to show up at the platform and they see him on that t bench instead:

a) Cap went back from a point in the future, which means that the moment he does this, let alone gives a new shield to Sam, he creates an alternate timeline;
b) He was in the MCU timeline all along. That explanation works even if he does goes back, because it means that simply going back in the timeline doesn't create an alternative branch.

Russos explanation doesn't hold up with further inspection, the screenwriters explanation works with the film time travel logic.
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,420
Alright man, just ignore everything the movie explained about time travel. I clearly can’t help you get it.

Your headcanon Steve is a shitty human who allows atrocities to happen when he could stop them for no reason.
With the infinity stones and Thor’s hammer Steve could travel across all realities and stop all atrocities. He knows about the Holocaust, why doesn’t he unleash his new godly powers on the Nazis in one timeline after another?

After the five year jump Steve has resigned himself to finally start living his own life and leave the superhero-ing to others. That’s why he doesn’t join Natasha’s Avengers. That’s why he basically takes himself off the board at the end, depriving the future of super soldier Captain America and having not-super-powered Sam take his place. That’s the point of his arc in the movie: learning to become a little more selfish and live his own life, because there always others who will be righting wrongs and saving lives in his place.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,061
I think there are just missing pieces here, y'all. They played it real cagey, like Cap was hiding the details. I don't think we're supposed to be able to put it together with the information we have. It's presented as "obviously inconsistent" because there were some kind of shenanigans we just aren't privy to. I see it as a set-up for future explanation, not something we're supposed to necessarily reason out right now.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,752
So Cap just said screw it and started creating alternative timelines including at the end, when he shows up at the end? There are only two explanation for him NOT to show up at the platform and they see him on that t bench instead:

a) Cap went back from a point in the future, which means that the moment he does this, let alone gives a new shield to Sam, he creates an alternate timeline;
b) He was in the MCU timeline all along. That explanation works even if he does goes back, because it means that simply going back in the timeline doesn't create an alternative branch.

Russos explanation doesn't hold up with further inspection, the screenwriters explanation works with the film time travel logic.
You are putting to much focus on the fact that he didn't return on the platform, it isn't so important.

And again, your interpration destroy cap character.
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,583
So Cap just said screw it and started creating alternative timelines including at the end, when he shows up at the end? There are only two explanation for him NOT to show up at the platform and they see him on that t bench instead:

a) Cap went back from a point in the future, which means that the moment he does this, let alone gives a new shield to Sam, he creates an alternate timeline;
b) He was in the MCU timeline all along. That explanation works even if he does goes back, because it means that simply going back in the timeline doesn't create an alternative branch.

Russos explanation doesn't hold up with further inspection, the screenwriters explanation works with the film time travel logic.
Again, there are two possibilities:

a) Our timeline is the original: Cap came out of the tunnel shrinked, then sits on the bench and gives a shield he took from another one.

b) Our timeline isn't the original: There are two steves, and yes, he created another branch.


I think there are just missing pieces here, y'all. They played it real cagey, like Cap was hiding the details. I don't think we're supposed to be able to put it together with the information we have. It's presented as "obviously inconsistent" because there were some kind of shenanigans we just aren't privy to. I see it as a set-up for future explanation, not something we're supposed to necessarily reason out right now.
I think they are keeping people talking to go to the cinema again, and they are going to double down on this stuff on the next phase
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,420
The film states with capital letters that you can't change your own past. There are no time loops. Steve can't "always" come back because he can do it only if they win, which happens in only one reality. After they win, they can branch everything again

Either out MCU is a branch or it isn't, there are no more options.
Steve going back to 1948 to be with Peggy isn’t changing his past. Steve’s 1948-2011 past is spent in the ice. That isn’t changed by time travel.

Again, if just the act of traveling backward in time is enough to automatically branch off new timelines, then that means when Steve returns the stones and Mjolnir to their years he’s not really saving those realities, he’s creating new ones that have stones vs. timelines that remain without stones. Which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite point of having him go back in the first place.

You are putting to much focus on the fact that he didn't return on the platform, it isn't so important.

And again, your interpration destroy cap character.
The platform is pretty plainly important, it’s how anyone travels to 2023 at all. It’s used in every single instance of coming to the present.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,465
Because we are seeing it unfold linearly, when that's not how time works. If we could see all, we'd see that it happened like that.
There's nothing established in the lore to explain why this phenomenon would happen or why it would be unique to Steve.

It's safe to say the same rules that everyone else experienced (traveling back to a point already lived leads to a branch) applies to any instance of Steve traveling back.
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,583
Steve going back to 1948 to be with Peggy isn’t changing his past. Steve’s 1948-2011 past is spent in the ice. That isn’t changed by time travel.

Again, if just the act of traveling backward in time is enough to automatically branch off new timelines, then that means when Steve returns the stones and Mjolnir to their years he’s not really saving those realities, he’s creating new ones that have stones vs. timelines that remain without stones. Which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite point of having him go back in the first place.


The platform is pretty plainly important, it’s how anyone travels to 2023 at all. It’s used in every single instance of coming to the present.
They have a machine dedicated to go to exact points in space-time. He travel TO the already branched reality so it doesn't become a doomed one.
 
It wasn't important when cap and Tony had to do an emergency jump to the 1970.
They can go back, but to return to the present, they need the platform. Either Steve was always there, or he went back from a point in the future and this way created yet again another timeline.

They have a machine dedicated to go to exact points in space-time. He travel TO the already branched reality so it doesn't become a doomed one.
If the mere fact of going back in time creates a branch in the reality, Steve going back would create another branch in the reality: that doesn’t work like that because the Ancient One herself says it doesn’t work like that. She says that if they return the stones, the branch disappears. If what the Russos said and you are all believing was correct, despite what the film says is true, then Cap’s mission would never be successful, and it would invalidate what the Ancient One says.
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,583
If the mere fact of going back in time creates a branch in the reality, Steve going back would create another branch in the reality: that doesn’t work like that because the Ancient One herself says it doesn’t work like that. She says that if they return the stones, the branch disappears. If what the Russos said and you are all believing was correct, despite what the film says is true, then Cap’s mission would never be successful, and it would invalidate what the Ancient One says.
NOOOOoooo, the Ancient One never says that, she explains that without the stones, THAT timeline would DEVIATE into a doomed one because the stability of the universe, and their only weapon against interdimentional threats, would be lost. Giving back the stones prevents THOSE timelines from becoming a dark, doomed one. She doesn't say that "branches disappears", Banner explains that the doomed future would never happen. It's just that.

Again, going back in time creates a branch because they were never there originally. Loki originally doesn't escape, TAO originally never saw the future where they come because it wasn't real until they came to that now branched timeline.

Cap mission is succeful because they have the "coordinates" of that specific branched, alternate, timeline.
 
NOOOOoooo, the Ancient One never says that, she explains that without the stones, THAT timeline would DEVIATE into a doomed one because the stability of the universe, and their only weapon against interdimentional threats, would be lost. Giving back the stones prevents THOSE timelines from becoming a dark, doomed one. She doesn't say that "branches disappears", Banner explains that the doomed future would never happen. It's just that.

Again, going back in time creates a branch because they were never there originally. Loki originally doesn't escape, TAO originally never saw the future where they come because it wasn't real until they came to that now branched timeline.

Cap mission is succeful because they have the "coordinates" of that specific branched, alternate, timeline.
Cap wasn’t originally in 2013 and 2014 time heist missions. That would also create an alternate branch according with the Russos explanation.
 
OP
OP
The Kree
Oct 25, 2017
8,090
I don’t even understand people who want the time loop theory to be true.

You want Steve to just sit there while Bucky is being tortured/controlled and hydra is rebuilding itself inside Sheild? You want Steve to abandon Peggy to die alone in a nursing home?

This “would have always” logic doesn’t work because then you could kill baby Thanos and you would have always been able to kill baby thanos.
You want Steve to fight the entire multiverse forever until the end of time? How is that more reasonable?
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,805
It does, the film scientists that figured out a way of traveling through the quantum realm states that you can't alter your own past. It means that there is one timeline, the prime, where Steve either doesn't come back, or does it after giving Falcon the Shield in our MCU Timeline.
Cap didn't change the past by time travelling. He was always supposed to go back. In the main MCU timeline a second Cap from the future appeared and married Peggy. We just didn't know about it until now. In the 70s Peggy had a picture of Steve on her desk.

Closed time loops do not contradict multiple timelines
Yup.

There is no “always.” He chose to go back. He altered the timeline he went back to just by being there, and if it were the prime universe it means that he changed the past when the movie explicitly says it is impossible.
He didn't alter the timeline. The main MCU timeline isthe one in which future Cap appeared in the 40s. He's been here the whole time. There may be a reality put there in which he didn't stay back but that's not our main timeline.