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In Avengers: Endgame, how was Nebula from past able to bring Thanos and the army into the future?

The Avengers who build the machine could not do this and required Pym particles which they were short of and had only limited attempts to travel time.

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    There is no need to hide the question behind large yellow box. Just keep the title spoiler free. – A J Apr 26 at 8:36
  • Okay. Was being overly cautious about spoiling – Thanthu Apr 26 at 8:40
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  • I hope this revised title is okay. But people are repeatedly reasking this question over and over and it seems they simply can't find it with the old title. – Napoleon Wilson Apr 29 at 16:40
  • Look at the user interface she used (movie). A bunch of flip switches on a circuit board that somehow position co-ordinates in absolute space time. It would be very difficult to use binary flip switches to position co-ordinates in that room she was standing, not to mention any place and any time – abbaf33f May 7 at 16:07
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Thanos and Maw recreated Pym particles that 2023 Nebula brought with her.

Confirmed by the directors in an interview with QQ

The Russos also explained how Thanos brought his ship to the future, and it’s exactly what we thought it’d be, he and his children recreated the Pym particles needed to travel through the Quantum Realm:

Q: How did Thanos bring his army to the future?

A: There is a guy called Maw in his army; he was a great wizard. Thanos himself was a brilliant genius as well. Those two easily reverse engineered, and mass-produced Pym Particles.

'Avengers: Endgame’ directors just explained some of the movie’s biggest mysteries, BGR, April 30th, 2019

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Unclear

But a couple points to note here:

  • Past Nebula stole the time device from the present Nebula, Thanos and his allies could have replicated this in a larger scale, to support him and his army.
  • When Past Nebula arrived in the present, we can see her adjusting the Machine, it's possible that she was receiving information through her brain from the past in what to adjust to bring Thanos army to the present.

A reminder is that time in the past is not the same for those in the present, Thanos could have taken as much time as he wants, and it would only take 5 seconds for those in the present.

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Nebula stole the Pym Particles from future Nebula and gave them to Thanos who would presumably have replicated the technology to create more as Nebula had to use them to get back.

  • If Nebula gave Pym Particles to Thanos then how was she able to come to the present/future ? – Thanthu Apr 26 at 8:51
  • @Thanthu Did you not read the answer? "who would presumably have replicated the technology to create more" – TheLethalCarrot Apr 26 at 8:55
  • But din't she almost immediately join the Avenger's, was there enough time to do this. I can understand that after they reached the present even 5 minutes in present would have been more time in past and they could have replicated it by the time Nebula started the machine – Thanthu Apr 26 at 8:57
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    @Thanthu As Hulk explained when Captain America was about to travel back in time at the end of the movie, he can take all the time he needs in the past but it will still be the same amount of time in the present (about 5 seconds). War Machine travelled back to the present well before 2014-Nebula did, but all of them return to the present at the exact same time. There's really no way of knowing how much time passed between 2023(?)-Nebula being captured and 2014-Nebula returning to the "present". – Anthony Grist Apr 26 at 9:51
  • Good answer @AnthonyGrist – MovieMe Apr 28 at 17:59
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Captain America and Tony Stark used their suits to travel back to 1970 from 2012, but the time machine was also shown as being capable of pulling people forward itself, in the tests with both Hawkeye and Scott Lang.

Instead of having to duplicate Pym Particles, all Thanos had to do was duplicate the time GPS so Nebula had a signal to lock on to (since presumably she needed hers to return to 2023). Or, since she knew where the ship was, just pull it forward manually.

They had enough Pym Particles in the present to do more time travel, since Cap stole four from 1970 but only used two to get home.

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2 GPS & 2 Pym particle doses from Nebula and Black Widow + 1 dose of Pym particle from Benatar

Past-Nebula could use the Pym particle dose and space time GPS stolen from present-Nebula to perform time travel.

Since we do not see Hawkeye returning from Vormir with Black Widow's equipment or the spaceship Benatar, he presumably left those behind (he was transported away from the mountain after obtaining the Soul Stone and didn't seem to be in a state to take the trek back to it).

This leaves two doses of Pym particles and a space time GPS on Vormir for past-Thanos to find with the help of present-Nebula's memories. One dose from Black Widow and the other from Benatar, which was intended to be used to shrink the spaceship and bring it back (Rocket's quip to Hawkeye about bringing Benatar back in one peace suggests this was the plan).

Past-Thanos can use one dose of Pym particles to shrink his spaceship (army inside) and the other dose for time travel, with past-Nebula tinkering with the time machine to pull the ship to the correct location and time in the present, probably through a link with the GPS. (Actually, since there is no size limitation imposed by the physical size of the time machine in the past, the spaceship could be shrank at the moment of time travel, needing only one dose of Pym particles.)

Of course, this is only possible if the amount of Pym particles needed to shrink an object does not depend on its size or mass. From the Ant-Man movies, we know that shrinking an entire building and a manned vehicle is possible, but if the amount of required Pym particles differs in these cases, as compared to simple objects, is unclear. However, shrinking (or growing) an object consumes one Pym particle disk, suggesting that the amount might not be dependent on the properties of the target (correct me if I'm wrong, it's been some time since I saw the movies).

Though, this raises the question why didn't the Avengers headed for Morag just travel inside the Benatar to conserve Pym particles...

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