It’s been more than two years since Marvel stunned the world with Avengers: Endgame, a massive accomplishment for the movie industry and a feat that’s never been done before. Marvel needed a decade to tell 20 different interconnected stories that culminated with Infinity War and Endgame. The last Avengers film was the most anticipated film of 2019, the longest film of 2019, and the top-grossing film of 2019 — on the last note, Endgame was the world’s top-grossing movie of all time before Avatar took that title back with a sneaky re-release.
Endgame was dissected and analyzed endlessly from the moment it hit theaters in late April 2019, with fans finding new details in the picture with every subsequent rewatch. With that in mind, it’s not surprising to see that someone figured out a brilliant Endgame plot hole that we all missed before. However, as is the case with all the other plot holes that we’ve looked at before, this one can be explained right away with ease.
When the film premiered, we listed several potential plot holes that needed more explaining after that first viewing experience. Some of them had obvious explanations, and others were addressed later. But all of them could be explained by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The wizard told Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Infinity War that of all the possible futures he looked at, only one in 14 million gave the Avengers a win against Thanos (Josh Brolin). Though he didn’t know it at the time, it was Stark who would have to sacrifice himself to help everyone else — and that’s what he did in the final battle in Endgame.
This catch-all excuse (that events have to happen in a predetermined way for the Avengers to win) spawned several exciting fan theories about Endgame in the weeks leading to the film’s release. Some of them had Dr. Strange going back in time to ensure that events were scheduled in such a manner for the Avengers to win. That was before we learned that Endgame time travel differs from time travel in other movies. Changing the past will not change the future. Instead, it just forks a different version of that reality.
What this 1-in-14-million chance of a win does for Endgame is instantly fix any plot holes that might come up. Should Marvel have messed the script in a significant manner, Strange’s revelation would fix everything. Everything that happened in Endgame happened because it was the only way for the Avengers to triumph.
A TikTokker challenged others to answer the following question: “What’s the most unrealistic thing in the Marvel movies, excluding the superpowers?” User @mariedmoonlight came up with a brilliant answer, which is a seemingly massive Endgame plot hole that you’re going to have a hard time dealing with. She wondered why the Avengers never considered going back in time to Thanos’s “garden,” his retirement planet, right before he destroyed the Infinity Stones. The Titan was already weakened from the snap on Earth that halved all life in the known universe, and they might have had a better chance of getting the Stones right there rather than splitting up in teams across time and space to get the Stones from different locations.
As amazing as this Endgame plot hole sounds, there are obvious explanations even aside from the catch-all, 1-in-14-million answer.
First of all, the Avengers wanted to pull off the heist as covertly as possible and not die in the process, to paraphrase the Avenger who sacrificed his life at the end of the movie. Thanos might be weakened on his lonely planet, but the Infinity Gauntlet still packs quite a punch. Thanos could certainly have killed some of the Avengers in a battle for the gauntlet. Or, he could use it to escape to an unknown location if he wasn’t strong enough to fight.
Not to mention that all chaos would ensue, assuming the Avengers got the Stones. They’d have no idea that the Stones protect the reality and flow of time because Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) would not meet The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). It’s that encounter that prompted the Avengers to return the Stones at the end of the movie. That’s why Captain America (Steve Rogers) goes back on this final mission.
Finally, there is one major thing that @mariedmoonlight hasn’t considered here. Of all the Stones in the Infinity Gauntlet, there is one that you can’t trade or borrow. You have to win the Soul Stone by sacrificing that what you love most. We’re deep into speculation territory, but it’s likely that stealing the Stones from Thanos wouldn’t necessarily work. The Soul Stone might just evaporate and return to its handler. Then again, the Soul Stone does move back and forth between various characters during the battle of Endgame. And it’s Cap who takes it home, so there’s some wiggle room when theorizing about the Stone’s behavior, at least when it’s in a different reality than its own.
The upcoming Loki series on Disney+ will give us even more context about the multiverse, alternate timelines, and the way time flows in the MCU. And according to an unreleased interview with Loki actor Tom Hiddleston, the TV show will explain a critical detail that will make us see Endgame from a different perspective. It’s that detail that also makes it clear that a certain time and space authority might not have allowed the Avengers to steal the Infinity Stones from Thanos and leave the ensuing reality in disarray by not returning them — check it out here if you don’t mind a few Marvel spoilers.