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So, in Avengers: Endgame The Ancient One explained that the Infinity Stones create the passage of time (or words to that effect).

We are told that Thanos snapped the Stones out of existence, to protect his work (and have no evidence to suggest that this is false).

The Avengers go and collect the stones, and snap the other half of the Universe back into existence, and then they rturn the stones to their original locations in time.

That means that at the end of Endgame, there are no Infinity Stones in that time-reality.

So ... what happens to time? (For that matter, how did 5 years manage to pass between Snap 2 of 4, and Scott Lang returning?)

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We aren't sure at the moment, however we know that the timeline is ok(?1).

My understanding was that what the Ancient One was talking about wasn't the flow of time itself but implying that the Infinity Stones create a barrier or protection against other forces and that if Banner took the Time Stone, this barrier would be broken leaving that point onward vulnerable to "The Darkness" and create a split in the timeline with a new sequence of events. this is what the black line splitting off the main one represented.

Banner however explained that they would return the Time Stone back to when they took it, maintaining the established timeline and not creating this split and this is why the black line vanished when he put the stone back. in regards to the timeline the stones were never really gone1

in a sense i took the Ancient One's explanation as that the Infinity Stones act like something similar to how the Sanctuaries are a defence against The Dark Dimension.

but of cause considering that the Ancient One knew of Strange before he even had his accident she might already have known that he would use the Time Stone against Dormammu and stop the Hong Kong Sanctuary from being destroyed and the split she shows is that of Earth being taken into the Dark Dimension. however she was talking about all the stones, not just the Time Stone which makes me think she was talking about more than Dormammu and the Dark Dimension

1: this ignores the fact that Loki escaped with the Tesseract in New York after he was captured. we don't know if the timeline changed because of this or if Loki was recaptured

  • We saw nothing in Avengers or Thor: The Dark World that conflicts with the events we saw in Endgame. Of course Thor would have hunted down Loki and dragged him and the Tesseract back to Asgard. We just didn't get to see a movie about it. – Harper Apr 28 at 17:43
  • The Ancient One cannot see a future where Doctor Strange uses the Time gem against Dormammu. From Doctor Strange (2016) - "I've spent so many years peering through time, looking at this exact moment. But I can't see past it. I've prevented countless terrible futures and after each one there's always another, and they all lead here but never further." Also - "I never saw your future, only its possibilities." – DariM Apr 29 at 4:37
  • @Harper I disagree - Rhodes knocking out Quill showed that the time travel is not simply single-universe consistent, so there is no reason to believe that the changes to Avengers that resulted in Loki getting an artifact that let him escape anywhere in the universe would, without more time modification, lead to the same moment shown at the end of (original) Avengers with Thor on Earth, taking Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard (even if he did recapture Loki, there would be no reason to take him back to Earth and say hi to the Avengers first). – Vigil Apr 30 at 14:29
  • @Vigil that only matters if it changes an important outcome, like inability to get the stone. No doubt when he wakes up, Thanos has gone since he has Nebula and found the vault empty; and Cap has reinstalled the stone. Quill simply proceeds to the vault and collects the stone as before. If it does not change the important outcome, then the process to the outcome always happened that way all along. – Harper May 2 at 17:56

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