A World With More than One Captain America


SPOILERS about Avengers: Endgame ahead.

I agree with Jonah Goldberg more than I disagree with him, but sometimes a guy has to stand firm in what he believes.  Of all the complaints one can make about the last of the Avengers movies (at least in this cycle), inconsistency about its treatment of time travel is not one of them.

I should note that I think the movies’ conception of how time works is pure fantasy not applicable to reality, but if one accepts their physics framework, the story is just fine.

Please consider a voluntary, tax-deductible subscription to keep the Current growing and free.

Seemingly in order to make a fun reference to the Back to the Future movies, the smarter characters explain that it isn’t possible to go back in the past in order to change the present.  The heroes live in a world where the bad guy, Thanos, has used the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of all life in the universe.  The problem is that the people whom they left behind when they went into the past would still be in a future in which Thanos had already accomplished his goal.  It would be along a different time stream that Thanos had failed.  Undoing what has already been done is a logical impossibility if we accept a tangible universe.

Jonah’s complaint is about the end of the movie.  Once the world is saved, Captain America travels into the past to return the stones to their proper times, and he doesn’t return.  It turns out he’d decided to stay in the past and live out a lifelong retirement with his one-time love.  But then… there he is, as an old man sitting nearby a few seconds after the younger him had gone into the past.  Weren’t we already told that changing things in the past put you on a different time stream?

Yes, but we’ve also seen evidence that two copies of the same person could exist alongside each other.  Indeed, Captain America had to fight with himself!  Jonah’s complaint is that Captain America’s staying in the past would have changed reality in all sorts of unpredictable ways, but as long as he stayed quiet and lived as a regular Joe far away from the action of the Avengers, he would have done nothing logically incompatible with the world of the story that we’ve been following over the past eleven years.  For all we know, he was out there all along.

  • ShannonEntropy

    The MAD magazine spoof of this movie calls
    the villain Th’Anus

    But as to the matter at hand…

    Time travel isn’t possible cuz Time itself is not a physical reality to be manipulated, but merely a social construct
    — just like “Tuesday” only exists in the human mind

    The very concept of “time” began with the observation of the cyclical nature of life, as in the day-night-day or the recurring seasons cycles
    [ Did you know the Nazi swastika is a visual symbol of their belief in the cyclical nature of life ?? Or that it was originally a Roman Catholic symbol ?? ]

    What we perceive of as time is just Entropy in action: disorder never decreases.
    [ DS = q/T is the E = mc² of entropy math ]

    If you watch a video of an egg rolling off a table and smashing on the floor, it looks normal cuz it shows disorder increasing. But if the video shows a splattered heap of egg goop magically pulling itself together into a whole unbroken egg, then you know the tape is running backwards, cuz from experience you know that disorder never decreases. This one-way-only action is sometimes called “The Arrow of Time”; but again that’s just an illusion in our minds

    Realizing all this was a big disappointment to me cuz Sci-Fi in general & time travel in particular always fascinated me as a boy. One of my Top Ten Movies is the 1960 Oscar-winning film The Time Machine starring Rod Taylor as the time-traveling George who thousands of centuries in the future meets the breath-takingly gorgeous Weena, played by then 17 yr old Yvette Mimieux

    TMC plays it once or twice a year, and I watch it every time. But I refuse to see any MCU film, especially after all the PC bull-carp spewed by Brie Larson

    p.s. Want all the Spoilers removed from your Google search of the movie ?? Then here’s a pretty cool Easter Egg for ya: Google “Thanos”, then click on the little gold hand on the right side of the screen under the words “More Images”. Now sit back & watch as all the spoiler stuff melts away. Click on it again to stop / reverse the process. De nada hermanos. Why can’t Google do this for every movie ??

    • Rhett Hardwick

      The MAD magazine spoof of this movie calls
      the villain Th’Anus

      Until fairly recently we had an Admiral named Rectanus. I believe he preferred the pronunciation “Wrec Tanus”. As to the remainder of your post, you can’t say “analysis” without saying “anal”.

      • ShannonEntropy

        You misread me Rhett

        An “Anal” personality is “someone marked by excessive orderliness, extreme meticulousness, and often suspicion and reserve”

        Most people who know me would prolly describe me as “chronically hypomanic”

        … and I hope they would add the Seinfeldian “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”


        • Rhett Hardwick

          You mistook me. Just a little word play.

          • ShannonEntropy

            Fair enough

            FYI that MAD spoof also poked fun at all the continuity & plot prablems with the script

            That makes me even less likely to go see it