Fans are still scratching their heads over the many events that happen in Avengers: Endgame so I thought I’d put together a video explaining everything you need to know about how the timeline and parallel universes in the film operate.
Throughout this, we’ll be breaking down the things as they happen to give you a rough overview of how everything tied up by the finale and how Captain America was able to appear to Sam and Bucky at the end of the film even though he was in an alternate timeline. Marvel Mega Fan, Oren Bell, has created an amazing interactive map that showcases the journey that the heroes went on in the movie in an easy to understand fashion and if you’d like to follow along with this video click here.
This is full spoilers ahead, so if you’re one of the two people that haven’t seen Avengers Endgame yet and don’t want anything ruined for yourself then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
With that out the way let’s get into the timeline breakdown.
Avengers: Endgame Timeline
So the movie opens three weeks after Thanos carried out the snap. The universe is devastated but after the surviving Avengers track him down and Thor finally goes for the head we pick up with them five years down the line, in 2023, which is where things start to get a bit confusing.
Due to the discovery of Time Travel, we start off with our heroes all in the same position at the Quantum Tunnel. They have split into groups, all with their own objectives and we initially follow Team A, made up of Captain America, Iron-Man, Ant-Man and Hulk.
Team A – Iron-Man, Captain America, Ant-man & Hulk
This group travels to the Battle of New York to retrieve 3 infinity stones and split off into their own smaller groups. This is set during 2012 and it’s pretty much the moment that the entire infinity stone saga began with Thanos appearing in the post-credits scene of The Avengers to kick everything off. However, things don’t play out exactly as expected and it’s at this point that Loki takes the Tesseract and travels off to Disney + thus creating an alternate timeline.
Hulk and Ant-Man gain the Time and Mind Stone and together they travel back to 2023, however, Tony and Cap still need to secure the tesseract and from here and thus they travel to the 1970s to secure the Tesseract. We will call this group Team AA and Hulk and Ant-man, Team AB. But what happened to the timeline they’d just left?
Well for now, that’s royally screwed up for the moment and at this point Thanos would probably still most of the stones, however he wouldn’t be able to carry out the snap so would probably just go planet to planet murdering people the old fashioned way.
In addition to this the timeline that they’ve just left is slightly altered with the stones missing and though Tony managed to get some stuff off his chest, he’s still left this timeline very vulnerable.
Team B – War Machine, Nebula, Hawkeye & Black Widow
Team B made up of War Machine, Nebula, Hawkeye and Black Widow then travel to 2014 during the events of Guardians of The Galaxy. This team then splits into Team BA and Team BB with Team BA, made up of War Machine and Nebula securing the power stone from Morag.
Rhodey returns back to the present with the power stone, but Nebula is kidnapped, and replaced with evil Nebula who is carrying out the bidding of Thanos. We will call this team, made up of Thanos’ forces Team BC.
This timeline is really messed up now too. The events of Guardians Of The Galaxy do not happen as Quill is unable to get the Powerstone and the Gamora from this universe travels with Thanos to 2023 to fight the avengers, which I’ll get into later.
On Vormir we join Team BB, Black Widow sacrifices herself in order for Hawkeye to gain the Soul Stone and he travels back to the present.
Before we go into what happens to team BC, lets go to team C made up of Rocket and Thor.
Team C – Rocket And Thor
They travel to Asgard in 2013 to retrieve the reality stone. Along the way Thor takes Moljnir and together the two journey back to 2023.
This timeline too is pretty messed up with Thor dying during the events of Thor: The Dark World due to not having his hammer and thus the Convergence is able to be carried out by the Dark Elves making them rulers of the universe and therefore Thanos cannot carry out the snap.
Avengers: Endgame Ending Explained
We now go to Team BC in which Evil Nebula journeys back to 2023.
She pulls through the rest of Team BC at this point and they too arrive in the present.
Now everyone is in 2023 which is where Tony carries out the snap that kills Thanos and his forces. Evil Nebula is murdered by Nebula from the present and Gamora stays in this timeline.
Tony dies at the scene and from here the stones pass over to Captain America who, along with Moljnir travels back placing them back in their correct timelines. After jumping between alternate realities (plothole) without creating new branched realities, catching up with Red Skull, and replacing all the stones in their original places, he finally returned to Peggy for that dance in 1950.
In timeline A that Team A traveled to Cap interacted with Hydra, possibly interfering with the events of Winter Soldier, and Loki escaped. It’s likely Thanos still gets all the stones, but the snap would play out very differently with the God Of Mischief potentially not dying.
Avengers Endgame Alternate Timelines
In timeline B that Team B traveled to Gamora is absent. Therefore, Drax never would’ve met Quill and Rocket without Gamora being assaulted in the prison. The prison breakout would only be performed by Quill, Rocket, and Groot. Rocket and Groot leave Quill behind when he goes to get his cassette player. And thus, Quill stays in jail and Ronan gets the power stone from him when he raids the prison later. Also, Thanos is now absent from this timeline, greatly upsetting the political balance of the universe and thus Ronan probably becomes the one that tries to get all of the Infinity Stones.
In timeline C when the reality stone and Mjolnir are returned to this timeline, events play out the same way they would’ve in prime reality. Thus this reality has its own snap, its own time travel, and its own branched timelines. These branches have their own branches on and on into infinite fractals.
In timeline AA that Team AA made up of Cap and Iron-Man, when the tesseract is returned to this timeline, events play out the same way they would’ve in prime reality. Similar to timeline C, this leads to infinite branching timelines.
Captain America then grows old with Peggy Carter. As he has Super Soldier Serum coursing through his veins, Cap outlives her and thus survives until 2023.
Old Captain America Explained
Now, this is where the film gets slightly more confusing with Sam seeing Captain America on the bench at the end. Since cap doesn’t return through the machine, we can conclude he never returns to his own reality. The Cap sitting on the bench is not the Cap that we just saw travel back in time. Rather, the Cap on the bench is from another branched reality that had similar events play out in which another Captain America traveled to this universe to live out the rest of his days with Peggy Carter.
Peggy’s husband was always alluded to but never properly shown so we can guess that this was deliberately done by the character so that he would not interfere with events further and from this create multiple realities. This explains why when Cap goes to visit Peggy in the nursing home that she says ‘you look so young’ as she would still class him as an older man.
Whilst we may never see our Cap again it’s good to know that somewhere out there he is living the life he always wanted with Peggy and this ending will definitely bring a tear to most people’s eye.
Obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the timeline and hopefully, this has cleared things up. If you’re still stumped make sure you comment below with your questions.