4. Mathematical universes. Another possible avenue is exploring mathematical universes, which, simply put, explain that the structure of mathematics may change depending in which universe you reside. “A mathematical structure is something that you can describe in a way that’s completely independent of human baggage,” said theory-proposer Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as quoted in the 2012 article. “I really believe that there is this universe out there that can exist independently of me that would continue to exist even if there were no humans.”
But rather than seeing this lack of other universes as a limitation, Siegal instead takes the philosophy that it shows how important it is to celebrate being unique. He advises to make the choices that work for you, which “leave you with no regrets.” That’s because there are no other realities where the choices of your dream self play out; you, therefore, are the only person that can make those choices happen.
If you were to travel back in time to kill your grandparents — let’s ignore the ‘why’ here, for the sake of argument — you would never have been born. Which means there was nobody to kill your grandparents. Which means you were actually born after all, which… hold up, what’s going on here?!
Multiple timelines would allow you to travel to a different timeline and kill your grandparents without causing a paradox. But the number of timelines doesn’t have to be infinite for this to work, the researchers calculated.
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, it is up to Captain America to travel throughout time again to clip as many branched realities as he can. Based on what is presented in the film, he should be able to stop new timelines being created by returning the Time Stone to The Ancient One in 2012, the Soul Stone to Vormir in 2014 (however that would work), the Power Stone to Morag in 2014, and the Reality Stone and Mjolnir in 2013. But is it that simple? Based on the logic of Avengers: Endgame (and what’s been said by the filmmakers), here’s every definite – and possible – new timelines the Avengers still created.
The question all these new timelines have left the MCU with is whether or not these multiple timelines will actually have any meaning as the shared universe continues. The MCU has a big enough story on its hands with just the characters and canon that the last 22 films have built, so avoiding the complications of what is happening in other timelines could be for the best. They could just be collateral of the Avengers’ actions and never mentioned again.
This short story is a beautiful fusion of speculative science fiction and philosophy, punctuated with several plot turnabouts and rivulets of thrill.
That opens up avenues for envy and jealousy. When our role models find success, we have the emotional distance to observe and reflect, and perhaps change our own actions in response. But when those models are ourselves, suddenly we can’t help but think that there must be something wrong with us if our counterparts in other timelines are doing well and we are not.
This is often caused by Time Travel and For Want of a Nail.
This trope does get a bit confusing on a meta level, when you take an installment and have Alternate Continuities in parallel. To explain, consider two works of speculative fiction: one optimistic and depicts a utopian future, the other is pessimistic and decpicts a dystopian future. Obviously both can’t happen at once, but until the future arrives they’re both equally valid, and both take place in the same world – our world.