Avengers: Endgame has been available for streaming from day one on Disney+, which is great news, considering that the film also comes with several deleted scenes that are exciting to watch. We’ve got an epic clip where several Avengers meet in a trench during the final battle to discuss their game plan, an alternate version of one of Avengers 4’s most epic scenes, as well as the Endgame scene that we’ve been dying to see. But it doesn’t stop there. The most pivotal deleted scene from Endgame is the one you’ll see below, and it features a most unexpected character. This particular deleted scene might not seem like a big deal at first, but with it, Marvel has answered one of the biggest questions from the movie.

Time travel in Endgame was a cause of debate right from the get-go. As I’ve explained in the past, everything makes perfect sense. The heroes can’t change the past since this isn’t Back to the Future. They can interact with it, though every small change made in the past will not change the future. Instead, it’ll create a brand new timeline. The simplest example is Hawkeye bringing back that baseball glove while they were testing the machine. It’s a minor change that could have massive effects on that new timeline.

Then we have major timeline changes that spawned new timelines, like Loki escaping with the Space Stone in 2012, Thanos disappearing in from a timeline in 2014, and Steve Rogers staying behind to marry Peggy at some point in the years following the end of World War 2.

Image Source: Marvel Studios

The deleted scene that provides a different look at all that time traveling is an alternate version of the meeting between Hulk and the Ancient One, which reveals a few key details about the way the screenwriters and directors imagined the rules of traveling through time.

Unlike the scene that made it in the final cut, we have a more relaxed Ancient One in this deleted clip. She knows the Avengers will deal with Thanos’s invading army, and therefore she’s barbecuing rather than defending the Sanctum. Also, she’s aware that Bruce Banner is coming for the Time Stone, having seen this moment before.

The scene also explains why she’s never felt the urge to deal with Thanos before, which is an excellent callback to Doctor Strange and something we’ve discussed in the past. She can’t see the future after her own death and has no idea what Thanos will do to the world. What is puzzling, however, is that the Ancient One would know the people who have been snapped away wouldn’t be dead. Instead, they’d be simply willed out of existence.

Given her knowledge of time manipulation, it’s the Ancient One who explains to Bruce how time travel works — that explanation made it in the final cut, but it’s Banner who speaks the lines. And she makes it clear that if someone dies, they’re dead forever in that timeline. That’s a great detail that would help the audience understand why some of the fallen heroes, including Natasha, can’t be brought back. But that would imply that 2012 Loki and 2014 Gamora can’t be alive either. One reason this part of the scene wouldn’t have worked out is that it would have dumbed down all the brilliant minds that set up the time heist. There’s no way Tony Stark and Bruce Banner would have embarked on this mission without knowing how their trips would influence time. Banner would have to know precisely what happens once they mess with the past before actually jumping back to New York in 2012.

Image Source: Marvel Studios

This brings us to the key detail in the scene that reveals Marvel had a different take on timelines. In this alternate conversation, the Ancient One tells Bruce that removing the Stones from her timeline will spawn new timelines. But bringing them back to the moment they were taken would fold all the timelines into the main one. This means that events like Loki’s escape and Steve Roger’s retirement plan would all take place in this main timeline. In other words, Captain America would have quietly lived his life married to Peggy, witnessing everything that went wrong with the world in the 50+ years that followed the Second World War, including the dawn of the Avengers, and the recovery of his younger self from the ice.

Marvel set the record straight on Steve’s fate at the end of Endgame, saying that staying behind with Peggy creates a new timeline for Steve. Interestingly enough, the writers of Endgame, who have been working with the directors on the last Captain America and Avengers films, disagree about Steve’s timeline. It’s interesting to point out that Marvel may have planted all the crumbs that would support having Rogers age in the main timeline, but they ultimately chose not to go forward with any of it.

All of this makes the Hulk-Ancient One alternate scene a lot more interesting than all the other deleted scenes, as it offers us a different take on the key plot detail of Endgame: Time travel. YouTube channel ScreenCrush has a great breakdown of the scene, complete with actual clips from it: