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Towards the end of 'Endgame', Captain America goes back in time to return all the stones. But instead of returning to the current timeline, he stays back in the earlier timeline and ages naturally.

The question is, how did he end up back in the present timeline? It is already mentioned in the movie that altering the past does not alter the future, it merely creates new timelines. So this Captain that travelled back in time cannot exist in the new timeline.

In the present timeline, the young captain exists. In fact, he existed a couple of minutes before the older one turned up. The existence of the younger Captain cannot be changed in the current timeline. This is what Bruce says - changing the past cannot change the future. There can now only be a new timeline where the older Captain exists but NOT in the 'present' timeline.

marked as duplicate by Paulie_D plot-explanation Apr 27 at 14:38

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    You seem to be very stuck on the "alternate timelines" paradigm. I think they disclaimed that in the MCU with "Back to the Future was a lie!" There's only one timeline, and it seems you can do anything that doesn't create a paradox... and if you do anything that would, then it just doesn't work out](youtu.be/XU3NWji4h7s?t=220). – Harper Apr 27 at 13:35
  • That is exactly my point! How can the Captain who went back in time exist in the current timeline? – bobbyalex Apr 28 at 1:59
  • And to all the people negging - I am not the first to ask this question. polygon.com/2019/4/26/18517205/… – bobbyalex Apr 28 at 2:11
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    This question is NOT a duplicate of other question. This question revolves around time travel rules of the universe, while other question revolves around the timeline of Steve Rogers. – Matej Drobnič Apr 29 at 21:55
  • Please vote to reopen this question. It is obvious from the comments and the answer below that this is not a duplicate. – bobbyalex May 4 at 3:10
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It's the young Steve from the present that went to the past to live with Peggy. When he goes into the past to return all the Infinity Stones and Mjolnir to their original timeline, he makes a choice there and decides not to come back to present. Later, that Steve appears as an old man.

As director Joe Russo explains,

"It's not a time loop," according to Joe Russo in a recent Q&A. "Both Ancient One and Hulk were right. You can't change the future by simply going back to past. But it's possible to create a different alternate future. It's not butterfly effect. Every decision you made in the past could potentially create a new timeline. For example, the old Cap at the end movie, he lived his married life in a different universe from the main one. He had to make another jump back to the main universe at the end to give the shield to Sam."

From a reddit thread with the translation of original article,

Did Captain America's action at the end affect the timeline? Does that mean there was a time where two CA existed in a same universe?

A: To me, CA's action in the end wasn't the fact he wanted to change anything, it's more like me has made a choice. He chose to go back to past and lived with the one he loved for the rest of his life. The time travel in this movie created an alternate reality. He lived a completely different life in that world. We don't know how exactly his life turned out, but I'd like to believe he still helped many others when they were needed in that world. Yes, there were two CA in that reality, it's just like what Hulk said, what happened in the past has already happened. If you go back to past, you simply created a new reality. The characters in this movie created new timeline when they went back to the past, but it had no effect to the prime universe. What happened in the past 22 movies was still canon.

In conclusion, it was an alternate timeline created by the choice young Rogers made.

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    My point is that this is not possible. See movies.stackexchange.com/a/99663/1111. You cannot go back to the past and continue into the present timeline. If this was possible then it would mean that changes to the past will affect the future. – bobbyalex Apr 27 at 12:45
  • He doesn't do any changes to the past timeline. Everything goes as it was supposed to. SHIELD does dig up frozen Steve who fights with Thanos. This timeline changes in Endgame did confuse everyone. – A J Apr 27 at 12:49
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    What do you mean? The old Captain never existed in this timeline. Current timelines cannot be changed. That is the whole purpose of returning the stones - it resets all timeline branches that would have been created because of the missing stones. – bobbyalex Apr 27 at 12:52
  • Of course, the current timeline cannot be altered. There are no official words about Cap's whereabouts in the past, so this is the only explanation we have. – A J Apr 27 at 12:55
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    Except that this explanation does not abide to the rules of the universe. Previously in the movie they mentioned that you cannot alter current timeline (that is why they couldn't kill Thanos as a baby), so if old cap met with Peggy, that would create a branch and he would be sitting on a bench, waiting for Avengers in different timeline, not the one we are seeing in the movie. – Matej Drobnič Apr 29 at 21:56

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