The rules of time travel described in Avengers: Endgame were a departure from the ones used in many other stories, and they left audiences with questions about what exactly happened at certain points in the film.
One wild scene has Tom Hiddleston's Loki making a major change to the past by stealing the Tesseract and escaping, rather than being taken into Asgardian custody as he was in the parallel scene in 2012's The Avengers.
Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors of Endgame, have shed some light on the consequences of Loki's actions in an interview with Business Insider. The question posed to the directors referred to the end of the film, in which Captain America (Chris Evans) restores the six Infinity Stones to their proper places and times.
"At the end, when Cap brings the stones back in time, does he correct all the timelines that got screwed up?" Business Insider's Travis Clark asked the Russos. "Is there a past Loki still out there?"
"The intent was that [Cap] was going to correct the past timelines at the point that the stones left," Joe Russo clarified. He then explained that by taking one of the Stones out of place, Loki "would create his own timeline," just as fans have been speculating.
"It gets very complicated," he continued, "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."
Hiddleston will be starring as Loki in his own TV series on Disney+, so the new timeline he created may explain the setting of the show, especially since the character was killed in the main timeline in last year's Avengers: Infinity War.
One way or another, it's clear the events of Endgame have changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in ways that will affect every new movie and show that comes after it. For example, the newest trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home references the multiple dimensions now established as part of the MCU.
As Anthony Russo says of Loki's split timeline, "We're dealing with this idea of multiverses and branched realities, so there are many realities."
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos. The film is in theaters now.