Time Travel is the concept of traveling either backwards or forwards in time from the present date.
Time Travel Sources
- "The Infinity Stones create what you experience as the flow of time. Remove one of the stones, and that flow splits. Now, this may benefit your reality, but my new one, not so much. In this new branch reality, without our chief weapon against the forces of darkness, our world will be overrun, millions would suffer."
- ―Ancient One
The time stone has shown to have the ability to rewind time in a given area seeing time unfold. The wielder of the time stone can choose to be unaffected by the manipulation of time from the time stone. Sorcerers such as Doctor Strange can cast spells to make others unaffected by a reversal of time, as he did to Wong at the Battle at the Hong Kong Sanctum. Some sorcerers can have their minds unaffected by the time reversal, and eventually build up the willpower to break free from the spell, as Kaecilius and his followers did, likely due to the power given to them from the Dark Dimension.
Time loops can also be cast. The participants' body will be reset, even if one is killed. Their consciousnesses however will continue on until the loop is ended.
The time stone can also be used to view possible futures and even futures that extend into pasts of other timelines, enabling the wielder to choose the perfect course of action to win their conflict. They can also view these futures at a sped up pace, with Doctor Strange viewing 14,000,605 futures, some spanning up to 5 years, in the space of only a few minutes.
The White Monolith was an artifact which could be used to send a group of people across time. Having been warned by the Inhuman Robin Hinton that a cataclysmic event threatened Humanity, the Chronicom Enoch sent a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents into year 2091 with the White Monolith, leaving only Leo Fitz behind, so that they would find a way to avert the catastrophe.
During their stay in the future, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents recovered a shard of the White Monolith kept by the True Believers in the remnants of the Zephyr One, as well as a machine connected to the shard which they were supposed to use to return into their time. They thus tasked the Inhuman Flint, whose powers were based on geokinetics, to rebuild a White Monolith using the shard they had reclaimed, and then activated both the White Monolith and the machine, thanks to Enoch and Deke Shaw, to return into their time. Although it was not planned, Shaw was also sent into what was the past to him due to being hit by a fragment of the White Monolith.
What remained of the White Monolith after this time travel was destroyed by Melinda May in the aftermath of the Battle of Chicago, thus rendering other time travels through the White Monolith impossible. The White Monolith was briefly rebuilt by Izel using Flint's powers to open a portal to the Fear Dimension, but this new Monolith was lost when the Temple of the Forgotten was destroyed by the Chronicom Hunters.
Utilising a fragment of the White Monolith sampled by S.H.I.E.L.D. prior to the destruction of the Temple of the Forgotten, Jemma Simmons was able to modify the Zephyr One's Phase Harmonic Teleportation Device to be able to travel in time, bringing Daisy Johnson, Alphonso Mackenzie, Deke Shaw, Melinda May, as well as a group of S.H.I.E.L.D scientists to 1930s New York City.
Using a theory based on interactions between gravity, light and time, Victor Stein created a time machine which was supposed to be able to receive messages from the future. Victor tested the time machine with his son Chase, and although he deemed it not functional, the machine did display pictures of the destruction of Los Angeles, which could have occurred because of PRIDE's activities. However, no one saw this alarming message.
Victor later received another message from the time machine, in which he saw a future version of Chase trying to warn him and instructing him not to pick up the Fistigons, in order to prevent Victor from being shot by his wife Janet to protect Chase. However, Victor failed to heed this advice and later attacked Chase with the Fistigons. Later, the time machine once again displayed the same message, and Victor expressed joy at it, taking this as evidence that Chase would survive whatever events involving Jonah were coming.
During a battle between the Runaways and Morgan le Fay, Gert Yorkes died from the injury inflicted to her by the enchantress. Chase Stein, who had been deeply in love with Yorkes, thus spent the next years engineering a portable time machine he wanted to use to return into the past and prevent Yorkes' death. It took Stein a decade to complete the time machine, with help from Alex Wilder and the knowledge contained in the Abstract. However, due to Wilder having gone rogue and deciding to murder all the Runaways in the past, Stein was forced to chase him in year 2021 before going to save Yorkes.
In 2021, this version of Stein met with the other Runaways, except his past self who he needed to leave alone in order not to disrupt the timeline. He gave them all time machines, enabling them to chase Wilder further into the past, in year 2017. Once they captured him, the 2021 Wilder was instructed to return into this year, while the rest of the group jumped in year 2018 during the battle at the Hostel. Thanks to Stein convincing Yorkes to take her place against le Fay, Yorkes' death was averted. Instead, the future Stein died after defeating le Fay. Due to the timeline being altered, the versions of Wilder, Karolina Dean, Nico Minoru and Molly Hernandez who had time traveled were erased.
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Due to the exotic physics of the Quantum Realm, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner were able to build a time machine and suits for the Avengers. However time travelling like this would not send a person back in time through their own universe, but instead create a parallel timeline. This meant that any changes they made in the past would not affect their own reality. Despite being from a different reality, Infinity Stones taken from a timeline created this way would work in another timeline.
73 years after the destruction of planet Earth, Deke Shaw claimed that Quake was the one who caused it. When she replied that she was not strong enough to cause such a disaster, Shaw explained a quantum physics theory that for every universe there are infinite parallel universes, implying that she came from the past into the future of an alternate universe and not her own. When the S.H.I.E.L.D. team returned to the past they prevented the destruction of Earth, which they eventually learned was caused by the Gravitonium-infused and mentally unstable Glenn Talbot, altering the original chain of events and creating a different timeline.
Gert Yorkes' Absence
Therefore, in year 2021 of this timeline, the Runaways were shocked as they were confronted with two of their future selves: Stein and Wilder, the latter of whom had traveled into the past in an attempt to murder them all. However, the Runaways were able to stop him before returning at the time of the battle at the Hostel, during which Stein took Yorkes' place and thus died instead of her. Due to Yorkes' surviving the battle, the whole alternate timeline which had resulted from her death was cancelled, and the versions of the Runaways who had built their new lives were erased from the timeline they had jumped into.
When the Avengers utilized the properties of the Quantum Realm, following Ant-Man's advice, and created the Quantum Tunnel that allowed them to collect the Infinity Stones years before Thanos and the Snap, they initiated a Time Heist, which involved them traveling to the past and amassing all six Infinity Stones.
Hulk, Ant-Man, Iron Man and Captain America were sent back to the Battle of New York in 2012, where Hulk was sent to the New York Sanctum to request the Time Stone. The Ancient One refused, however, explaining that she could not give him the Infinity Stone so Banner could alter his timeline and subsequently leave hers undefended without the stone, although Hulk promised that he would return the stone to her at the exact moment it was taken. After the Battle of Earth, Captain America returns the stones to their proper place in time before their eventual destruction, averting the creation of an alternative timeline or a splinter reality.
However, despite the Avengers' success in returning the Infinity Stones to their proper places in history, as Hulk had promised the Ancient One they would, a few unintended consequences caused by their interference resulted in the creation of a few alternate timelines.
Loki's Sudden Escape
Iron Man and Ant-Man, tasked wth obtaining the Space Stone that was still contained within the Tesseract, waited for their moment as Loki, who had just been defeated following the Battle of New York, was being escorted by Thor and the 2012 Stark out of the building with the case containing the Tesseract. During the argument between them and Alexander Pierce regarding the custody of both Loki and the cube, 2023 Stark had Ant-Man shut off 2012 Stark's Arc Reactor to give him a cardiac arrest as a distraction. This allowed 2023 Stark to covertly snag the briefcase containing the Tesseract, but just before Stark could depart, 2012 Hulk crashed open a wall, sending both Stark and the Tesseract flying. Loki used this distraction to steal the Space Stone and escape captivity by opening a wormhole, fleeing through it with the Tesseract, and ruining Lang and Stark's mission.
As a result, this past alternative version of Loki not only avoided his fate of being confined on Asgard, which would have seen him begin a path of reconciliation with his brother before being killed at the hands of Thanos, but apparently prevented the Mad Titan from obtaining the Space Stone, and thus keeping Thanos from ever completing the Infinity Gauntlet nor carrying out either the Infinity War or the Snap.
During Nebula and War Machine's mission to retrieve the Power Stone from Morag in 2014, the unanticipated linking of the 2023 Nebula's synaptic drive with her 2014 counterpart's, causing an overload with led the 2014 Thanos to have Ebony Maw examine her. Discovering that Nebula's synaptic drive had become entangled with a version of herself from nine years into the future, the subsequent scanning of the 2023 Nebula's memory files revealed to Thanos that his mission to eliminate half of all life would eventually succeed, though after his future counterpart's death, the Avengers would eventually come up with a plan to undo his work.
Thanos thus realized that his plan was wrong since the survivors would never be able to stop remembering the victims, which would prevent them from thriving and always resist what he had done for them. Deciding to take advantage of the Avengers' plans to collect the Stones in the future, Thanos had the 2023 Nebula captured on Morag and had her 2014 counterpart take her place in returning to the future, leading to 2014 Nebula hijacking the Quantum Tunnel and allowing Thanos to travel to 2023 with his army with the intention of using the gathered Infinity Stones to destroy the entire universe and create a new one in its place.
In doing so, this created an alternate timeline where Thanos and his forces disappeared from existence in 2014. This means that Thanos never began his campaign to collect the Infinity Stones and cause the Snap, thus sparing countless lives, including the ones that would have been claimed prior to the Snap. Additionally, the absence of Thanos and his entire army, including his daughters, changed the course of the Quest for the Orb and prevented the formation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, leaving the Power Stone in the hands of either Star-Lord or Ronan. With the Guardians never coming to be formed, it's unknown if this also prevented Ego, Star-Lord's father, from finding his son, as he only found him due to the Guardians' interference in Ronan's plans to destroy Xandar.
Steve Rogers' Choice
After successfully returning the Infinity Stones back into their proper timeline, Steve Rogers decided to follow Tony Stark's advice for him to get a normal life, which Stark had suggested before his death. Rogers traveled back to the 1949 in order to live out the rest of his life with Peggy Carter, instead of returning to 2023 as planned, thus creating an alternate timeline.
Upon being reunited with Carter, he finally gave her the dance he had promised her, and the two eventually got married. After his marriage, Rogers retired from his "Captain America" moniker, but would continue to help out when he was needed in his new timeline.
- Phil Coulson †
- Melinda May
- Jemma Simmons
- Daisy Johnson/Quake
- Alphonso Mackenzie
- Yo-Yo Rodriguez
- Leo Fitz † (alternate timeline)
- Deke Shaw
- Phil Coulson (Chronicom LMD)
- Scott Lang/Ant-Man
- Clint Barton/Hawkeye
- Steve Rogers/Captain America
- Tony Stark/Iron Man †
- Bruce Banner/Hulk
- Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow †
- James Rhodes/War Machine
- Rocket Raccoon
- Nebula † (alternate timeline)
- Gamora (alternate timeline)
- Proxima Midnight † (alternate timeline)
- Corvus Glaive † (alternate timeline)
- Cull Obsidian † (alternate timeline)
- Ebony Maw † (alternate timeline)
- Thanos † (alternate timeline)
- Alex Wilder † (alternate timeline)
- Chase Stein † (alternate timeline)
- Nico Minoru † (alternate timeline)
- Karolina Dean † (alternate timeline)
- Molly Hernandez † (alternate timeline)
Behind the Scenes
- Joe and Anthony Russo went to great lengths to make the audience understand that time travel does not work in the events of Avengers: Endgame as it does in Back to the Future, which has informed many people's understanding of the mechanics of time travel. Clifford V. Johnson and Sean M. Carroll served as consultants on the film to create a version of time travel that was true to real-life theoretical physics.
- ↑ Doctor Strange
- ↑ Avengers: Infinity War
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 5.01: Orientation Part One
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 5.08: The Last Day
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 5.10: Past Life
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 5.11: All the Comforts of Home
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 5.22: The End
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 6.12: The Sign
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 6.13: New Life
- ↑ Runaways: 1.05: Kingdom
- ↑ Runaways: 1.07: Refraction
- ↑ Runaways: 2.07: Last Rites
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Runaways: 3.10: Cheat The Gallows
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Avengers: Endgame
- ↑ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 5.03: A Life Spent
- ↑ Runaways: 3.09: The Broken Circle
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Director Joe Russo answers pivotal questions about ‘Avengers: Endgame’ plot
- ↑ 'Avengers: Endgame' Directors Explain the Final Shot That's Sparking a Fan Debate
- ↑ A physicist explains the science of Avengers: Endgame
- ↑ A science adviser for 'Avengers: Endgame' describes the real physics of time travel and multiple universes that underpin the movie