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At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Captain America is given the job to go back in time and restore the Stones to where they stole them originally. The question: what exactly happened?

Did he plan on restoring them to right after they were stolen to make it as if they were never taken, or before? And either way, according to their time travel rules -- changing the past doesn't change the future, only create a new alternate universe. So how could they possibly travel back into that same alternate universe, if every time a new alternate reality is created?

  • It's not possible to answer this at this time, because there are zero scenes in the theatrical release showing how the mission is accomplished. I think we can safely assume "the how works," since Rogers makes it back to the main timeline the long way. On the other hand, Leopold Fitz also travels to the future the long way, with the result that different versions of him wake up in separate timelines. – Jesse Amano Apr 29 at 22:53
  • @JesseAmano ya but banner sent him on a mission with some kind of expectation -- what exactly were they excepting to accomplosh? Banner even talked about it with that dimension-women earlier -- what were they possibly talking about if going in time only creates another reality? – wow ow Apr 29 at 23:10
  • Removing an Infinity Stone (or all of them) creates branches in reality / the timeline. The exact ways these branches manifest are unclear and might even be different for each Stone, but it's apparently really scary because the Ancient One was certain that moving the Time Stone through a "quantum tunnel" would be a really bad idea. Rogers says his mission is to "clip all the branches", and when he returns he says his mission completed successfully. – Jesse Amano Apr 29 at 23:38
  • It's unclear exactly how Rogers managed to clip all the branches, and several are still being hotly debated. Rogers has to return the Aether to Jane right after she's just been stabbed by a raccoon, and that's the easiest one! He has to put the Power Stone back in its cage and make sure Quill wakes up in time to retrieve it before Korath catches up. He must return the Soul Stone to Vormir, the Sceptre to Hydra, etc. – Jesse Amano Apr 29 at 23:54
  • @Jesse probably the easiest one is thatdimension woman ( forot her name even, do they callher the dark lord?) and so they indeeddoreturn them after theyve been stolen? Why do they even care about this alternate reality,if theyjust createdit? why should it matter, cant they just destroy it? – wow ow Apr 30 at 0:35
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They can control which timelines they appear at.

Since they travel through the Quantum realm, it stands to reason they can control what time and time-line they appear at (as their entire plan is based on this). The Captain simply returns to the changed timelines and returns each stone, to ensure no timeline is left without the stones (which would destabilize it).

Their idea, as you've said, is to make it as if they were never taken, but that's obviously impossible, they were noticed in multiple timelines. They had to do their best from there.

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    but first of all, if they can control what timeline their in, why didn't they just change their own, like originally planned? Ant-man I think asked banner originally why dont they just stop thanos from taking them, then banner said that whole thing about how your future cant change your past etc... but if so then how is changing the future of another timeline different than their own? – wow ow Apr 29 at 23:21
  • @wowow They can't change their current timeline, because if they tried to, they're just create a new one. They can just go back to the new ones they created and return the stones. The timelines won't merge back, but they will be stable with all stones existing as usual. – BlueMoon93 Apr 29 at 23:24
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    why would they not create a new one if they try to go back to an existing one? And also, when they all traveled back in time to different times, why didn't they each create a separate timeline? – wow ow Apr 29 at 23:36
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    @wowow They did create a ton of timelines! They don't create new ones when they go back, because they are going back to new-timelines, whose future hasn't been written yet. Check that question, it might help you – BlueMoon93 Apr 29 at 23:41
  • BlueMoon93 I understand everything, but has it been discussed in a question somewhere how Captain America was able to do what he did at the end (don't want to spoil anything). Didn't he change the timeline? – Kodos Johnson Apr 30 at 0:56

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