Was There a Better Way the Avengers Could Have Won the Final Battle Against Thanos?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe may have written itself into a corner with the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. With half of the heroes vanished, and the half that remained feeling utterly beaten down, there seemed to be very little hope. So out came the “get out of jail free” card – time travel. 

When a movie introduces time travel into the mix, fans are always going to nitpick and poke holes in the logic, and Avengers: Endgame is certainly no exception. Who’s right, Back to the Future or the Hulk? The debate rages on. 

The cast of 'Avengers: Endgame'
The cast of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Doc Brown vs. The Hulk on time travel

Although no time travel story has absolutely impervious logic, generally speaking, movie fans pointed to the Back to the Future movies as having the most believable rules.

Those movies operated on the principle that a time traveler could go to the past and change the future, and vice versa. Probably the best explanation came in Back to the Future Part II, when Marty and Doc were discussing how to undo the scary alternate 1985

Marty: So we go back to the future, and we stop Biff from stealing the time machine.

Doc Brown: We can’t, because if we travel into the future from this point in time, it will be the future of THIS reality, in which Biff is corrupt, powerful, and married to your mother, and in which THIS has happened to ME!! [holds up newspaper reading “EMMETT BROWN COMMITTED”] No, our only chance to repair the present is in the past, at the point where the timeline skewed into this (alternate)  tangent.”

However, Avengers: Endgame upended this with its own logic: 

James Rhodes: If we can do this, you know, go back in time… why don’t we just find baby Thanos, you know, and…

[Pantomimes strangulation]

Hulk: Okay, first of all, that’s horrible.

James Rhodes: It’s Thanos!

Hulk: And secondly, time doesn’t work that way. Changing the past doesn’t change the future  … I don’t know why everyone believes that, but that isn’t true. Think about it. If you go into the past, that past becomes your future, and your former present becomes the past, which can’t now be changed by your new future!

Nebula: Exactly!

Scott Lang: So, Back to the Future’s a bunch of bull***?” 

What fans say about ‘Endgame’s’ time travel

Marvel fans are enterprising, not only in the theories they come up with, but in how they debate the logic of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In discussing time travel, one fan on Reddit presented himself as J. Jonah Jameson, the newspaper publisher who’s always railing against Spider-Man. Jameson also rails against the Avengers on Reddit: 

“In Endgame, The Avengers failed to understand the rules of time travel and almost lost everything.

“With time travel when you leave is not important. When you arrive is what matters. They could have kept the stones for 100 years and still put them back right when they came from.

“Therefore the best tactic would’ve been to have The Wasp shrink with the gauntlet and bug out. Once the gauntlet is out of play you just let the heavy hitters wax Thanos. Captain Marvel might have taken him solo if not for the power stone.

“The Avengers are a menace!”

Fans disagreed, with one saying, “Nah. You’re looking at this backwards. The Avengers weren’t trying to send it back in time. They were trying to make it inaccessible to Thanos. Sending it back in time was just the most straightforward way to do that.” Another wondered how Pym particles would react with Infinity Stones. In other words, debating a nebulous concept like time travel can be fruitless. 

‘Back to the Future’ reacts to Marvel

It just so happens that Bob Gale, the co-writer of all three Back to the Future movies responded to Marvel after Endgame supposedly undid their logic.

Slashfilm quoted a Hollywood Reporter interview where Gale said: “I was delighted to learn from Endgame that all of the Marvel superheroes are fans of Back to the Future. I knew our movie had been seen in almost every part of our world, but I had no idea we’d been playing in other parts of the multiverse too. Now I need to find out if we’re owed some money from those multi-verse theatrical runs, and if not, why my contract didn’t cover those territories!”

In other words, Bob Gale can give just as good as he gets from J. Jonah Jameson.