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I understand that Captain America returns the Infinity Stones at the end of Avengers: Endgame to allow the original MCU timeline to continue. My question is, how does Thanos retrieve the Soul Stone the second time round without Gamora?

I am making the assumption that 2014 Gamora does not not exist there anymore, as she is in 2023. So if she isn't around to be sacrificed for the Soul Stone, then how does Thanos obtain it in order to make sure the timeline is not impacted?

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    Gamora went to 2023 with Thanos and his Army, and Thanos dies, so he is not there anymore to retrieve the soul stone.. – Gustavo Gabriel Apr 29 at 13:46
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To be blunt, in that timeline Thanos doesn't get the soul stone. In that timeline Thanos is dead and the snap never happens - at least that seems to be the logic of it.

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    Thanks, I thought so too but then surely Captain America putting the stones back means the original timeline continues? Just a bit confused! – Gingerninja Apr 29 at 13:54
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    I'm not entirely sure, TBH. I think so, but I think what he did was not doom the other multiverse. Professor Hulk said, at one point, that when you alter the past you aren't altering your past - your past has already happened. – Phlegon_of_Tralles Apr 29 at 14:00
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    This brings up other questions, like how the time machine is able to return Steve to the specific pasts that allow him to return the stones, but time travel stories always bring up these sorts of issues. – DoctorPenguin Apr 29 at 14:28
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    @DoctorPenguin He can return the stones, he just can't return them to before they were taken away (because he can't alter the past). What's more puzzling is how he ended up living his life with Peggy, where the only sensible explanation seems to be that it happened in a parallel universe and that he returned to this one only to hand over the shield (the only explanation for time travel that makes sense to me is that they're actually travelling to time shifted parallel universes rather than through time) – Cubic Apr 29 at 15:16
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    @EconomySizeAl So sneaky that Thanos from one of those timelines actually chased them into the present? That one at the very least surely can't remain in the mainline timeline, surely? It's just hurting my head. – DoctorPenguin Apr 29 at 16:05
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2014 Thanos can't sacrifice Gamora, because he was also stolen from that timeline

Endgame established that changing the past would not change their past, it would only create a new timeline. In the new timeline where Gamora was taken to the future, Thanos was also taken and then dusted. So for that new timeline, Thanos will never complete his quest or need the soul stone. This is one change to the timeline which is unavoidable, but also manages to save a second timeline from the snap in the process.

However, for lots of other things to happen correctly in that timeline, the stones must be returned. The main one pointed to by the movie is the time stone being used by Doctor Strange to stop Dormamu. However, there are many other things they would want to happen that require returning the stones:

Without the tesseract from 1970 onwards:

  • Captain Marvel doesn't get her powers
  • The Kree/Skrull war isn't ended
  • The Kree intelligence isn't defeated by Captain Marvel
  • Any other feats in future Captain Marvel movies
  • Nick Fury isn't awakened to the wider world
  • The Avengers Initiative isn't started
  • Loki wouldn't need to attack Earth, which also prevents the Avengers from forming.
  • No staff brought to earth, which causes all of the following

Without the Mind Stone being returned:

  • Age Of Ultron doesn't happen
  • Vision is never created

Without the Power Stone being returned:

  • The Guardians of the Galaxy never form

Without the Reality Stone being returned

  • Whatever happened in the end of Thor: The Dark World wouldn't come to pass?

I think for the sake of that/those timelines they had to return them, or risk sacrificing another universe for their own.

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    thanks for that incredibly clear answer! :-) – Gingerninja May 2 at 15:08
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Thanos is dead in the timeline.

For that timeline, Thanos, Gamora and Nebula have all gone through a portal and never come back. We actually know they jumped into our dimension and died/remained there.

The Soul Stone from that timeline will remain in its place, assuming Captain puts it back there.

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Cap will return the stones to their places and times, that means before Thanos and Gamora went to the futur, so Thanos and Gamora will be there, nothing changes

  • I think that's flatly contradicted by Hulk in the movie - he states something to the effect that the past with Thanos using the infinity gauntlet has already happened - it's in their past - which means that when they time travel they are going into other universe's (MCU = multiverse) pasts. – Phlegon_of_Tralles Apr 29 at 19:24

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