One of the best choices Avengers: Endgame could have made was going back to the Battle of New York in 2012 when the Avengers fought together for the first time ever. Not only was it a nice callback to the last 10 years of MCU films, it also gave audiences the chance to experience the event through a vastly different lens.
(If you still haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet, this story contains plot spoilers for the movie.)
Of course, this specific date was chosen based on the fact that the Mind Stone, Space Stone, and Time Stone were all in Manhattan at the same exact time. Just as it seems that our heroes (traveling back to the past) have safely secured all three, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) bursts into the lobby of Avengers Tower, knocking future Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) off course and allowing a shackled Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to re-obtain the Space Stone and escape custody.
Where Loki went was a pressing question for the rest of the film, with many of us hoping to get an answer in a post-credits scene that never came. However, Endgame's two directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, are now placing bets on what may have become of Asgard's mischievous god and the Infinity Stone.
"Loki, when he teleports away... would create his own timeline. It gets very complicated, but it would be impossible for [Cap] to rectify the timeline unless he found Loki. The minute that Loki does something as dramatic as take the Space Stone, he creates a branched reality," Joe told Business Insider.
"We're dealing with this idea of multiverses and branched realities, so there are many realities," added Anthony, alluding to a plot point that will factor heavily into Spider-Man: Far From Home.
In line with the Ancient One's (Tilda Swinton) wishes, Captain America (Chris Evans) has to return each Stone to the moment it was stolen, so as not to doom those other timelines. As Professor Hulk says, Steve can take as long as he needs to return them, which allowed him to pump the breaks and start a life/grow old with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Per Joe's statement, though, it feels like Cap may have spent his reverse Time Heist tracking down Loki in order to set everything back to the way it was.
That opens up some fun possibilities and as Entertainment Weekly infers, this could become a major story beat in the live-action Loki standalone series coming to Disney+. Will Chris Evans return as Cap one more time to pursue Loki across the galaxy for the Space Stone? We'll have to wait and see, but that would be quite the selling point for the streaming service.
Avengers: Endgame is now playing in theaters. Disney+ launches on Nov. 12.