One of the more interesting aspects of Avengers: Endgame is its concept of time travel. While movies like Back to the Future and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban take a more linear approach to time travel, the Russo brothers do something completely different in Endgame. In the MCU film, when characters travel back in time, they’re not doing so within the same “prime timeline” but rather travelling to the past of an alternate timeline. It’s an interesting idea, one that opens the door wide open for Marvel Studios to explore the multiverse.
However, the concept of alternate timelines wasn’t part of the original drafts for the film. Not exactly, anyway. In an interview with IndieWire, Tilda Swinton who plays The Ancient One in the Marvel Cinematic Universe mentioned that the scene where she shares the screen with Bruce Banner underwent reshoots a year after the first take.
“But what was a real surprise was, we shot it one summer day, and then over a year later, I went back to reshoot it because a couple of lines had been changed, a couple of plot points had been changed. And there was a tweaking of my costume.”
When asked to explain what exactly were the changes made, Swinton said that it was a “plot thing” which contains some essential information the Ancient One delivers to the Hulk. The actress went on to explain that the changes were “all about that very, very important” visual timeline that the Ancient One uses to illustrate to Hulk — and the audience — the importance of the Infinity Stones to every timeline. Remember, when the Avengers travel back in (alternate) time, Hulk tries to convince The Ancient One to give him the Time Stone. The Ancient One then tells Hulk about the consequences that would befall the other timelines if the stones are removed from it.
I can’t help but wonder what the initial version of the script was like? Did the Russos and screenwriters Markus and McFeely first use a linear time travelling concept? Had that been the case, we couldn’t have had the scene where good Nebula kills evil (alternate) past Nebula. The whole Star-Lord Gamora dynamic would’ve played out differently too.
Avengers: Endgame is currently running in Malaysian cinemas.