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Favorite Time Travel Paradoxes

Roller

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Surprised Primer hasn't been mentioned. It's been called the most complex movie ever made, and many people have attempted to explain its timelines in words and graphics. Take a look at this one, for example. (I'm not hiding it as a spoiler because it's practically unreadable unless you zoom in and because it's so convoluted.) I've seen the film more than once, and each viewing has had no effect on my understanding of subsequent screenings. Don't let this dissuade you from watching it, but it demands your full attention and then some.

As for the science of time travel, I discount any possibility that visiting the past is possible. However, I sometimes remind people that our perception of reality though our senses is always delayed, if only by a minuscule amount. In that sense, pun intended, we're always living in the past.
 

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This movie is mentioned in the initial post, but I wanted to say that I watched Time Lapse (2014) last night. I thought it was a pretty good movie. The premise is a camera that takes a picture 24 hours into the future. Unlike a lot of movies that toss in time travel and then hand-wave away any inconsistencies/paradoxes, this one seems to actually give it some thought, and also explores what a knowledge of the future might do to people. I enjoyed it. I watched it for free on the Tubi streaming service.
 

Roller

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This movie is mentioned in the initial post, but I wanted to say that I watched Time Lapse (2014) last night. I thought it was a pretty good movie. The premise is a camera that takes a picture 24 hours into the future. Unlike a lot of movies that toss in time travel and then hand-wave away any inconsistencies/paradoxes, this one seems to actually give it some thought, and also explores what a knowledge of the future might do to people. I enjoyed it. I watched it for free on the Tubi streaming service.
I haven't seen Time Lapse, but from your description it seems like the premise is nearly identical to that of a Twilight Zone episode called "A Most Unusual Camera" from 1960. The camera in that story also took pictures of the future.
 

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I haven't seen Time Lapse, but from your description it seems like the premise is nearly identical to that of a Twilight Zone episode called "A Most Unusual Camera" from 1960. The camera in that story also took pictures of the future.
In reading about that episode on Wikipedia, it seems like it may have been an inspiration for the movie, which also involves gambling... but the rest of the movie is quite different than that episode’s storyline.
 
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Brought over from the MCU thread:

My head hurts. Why do we have to analyze something that isn’t possible (yet)?
Because we write stories based on time travel going backwards based on premises and while completely unsubstantiated, many people have thought about it and have proposed theories and paradoxes to make it seem like a possible occurrence and acknowledge logical or illogical ramifications. The paradoxes usually acknowledge the issues with such travel.

So we know that time travel moving forward relative to each other is possible, with scientific backing. I have seen nothing science based that seriously considers moving backwards in time, maybe in quantum mechanics and the idea of the multiverse? When it comes to science fiction and constructing plausible narratives:
  • The single time line story works as long as it is recognized that any change in the past would significantly effect the future.
  • To promote the idea of an unchangeable past, the idea of branching time line is used to say if you could move yourself back in time, the act would split off a new timeline separating you from your original time line.
  • Use a convention like the Time Variance Authority (which for Loki was kind of brilliant) that has control over timelines, even erases timelines. It exists basically in the realm of magic (outside the reach of quantifiable technology or scientific theory) and there is really not anything to take issue with. Viewers will accept it based on the quality of the narrative as they accept any story about magic.
 

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Brought over from the MCU thread:


Because we write stories based on time travel going backwards based on premises and while completely unsubstantiated, many people have thought about it and have proposed theories and paradoxes to make it seem like a possible occurrence and acknowledge logical or illogical ramifications. The paradoxes usually acknowledge the issues with such travel.

So we know that time travel moving forward relative to each other is possible, with scientific backing. I have seen nothing science based that seriously considers moving backwards in time, maybe in quantum mechanics and the idea of the multiverse? When it comes to science fiction and constructing plausible narratives:
  • The single time line story works as long as it is recognized that any change in the past would significantly effect the future.
  • To promote the idea of an unchangeable past, the idea of branching time line is used to say if you could move yourself back in time, the act would split off a new timeline separating you from your original time line.
  • Use a convention like the Time Variance Authority (which for Loki was kind of brilliant) that has control over timelines, even erases timelines. It exists basically in the realm of magic (outside the reach of quantifiable technology or scientific theory) and there is really not anything to take issue with. Viewers will accept it based on the quality of the narrative as they accept any story about magic.
Also brought over from the MCU thread, sort of:

Do you consider your issue with the time travel in Avengers: Endgame to be that you don’t perceive it to be internally consistent within the movie, or that it does not conform to your expectations based on theories and paradoxes from other works? (Or something else?)
 
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Also brought over from the MCU thread, sort of:

Do you consider your issue with the time travel in Avengers: Endgame to be that you don’t perceive it to be internally consistent within the movie, or that it does not conform to your expectations based on theories and paradoxes from other works? (Or something else?)
The key to any good time travel story is basing it on a premise and sticking to that premise. In End Game, when the discussion takes place of going back in time, and Rhody suggests go back and kill Thanos as a baby, Banner corrects him and tells him time does not work that way:
if you travel to the past, that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past, which can't now be changed by your new future."
Link

I was excited by this because it meant they were laying out their premise for time travel, but then they proceed to ignore the standard they established. There was zero discussion of not only are we creating branching time lines, but my time machine functioning in the quantum realm can return back to this time line. With the bolded statement above, Banner should have not said that or explained to Rhody that despite the bolded statement, his time machine could overcome that obstacle, which he never did.

This is why branching time lines are proposed, the sanctity of the past. Which really means that there is no way to fix this issue by returning to your original time line, because by Banner’s standard you can‘t change your past, ( at least in the same time line), where the infinity stones have been destroyed.

Using branching time lines, an easy solution, at least for you, is go back in time to a point where the Infinity stones still exist, and with a branching time line you created, you kill Thanos or keep the Infinity Stones away from Thanos. :):)

Hell they could have just gone back to Infinity War and prior, tell Peter Quill not to lose his cool when he learns what happened to Gamora, you’d have extra Avengers fighting, a second chance to defeat Thanos during Infinity War, which btw would make no difference to all the people still living in the original timeline. :)

Or the easiest thing is not to think about the details of time travel and just accept what your eyes see. :D
 

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The key to any good time travel story is basing it on a premise and sticking to that premise. In End Game, when the discussion takes place of going back in time, and Rhody suggests go back and kill Thanos as a baby, Banner corrects him and tells him time does not work that way:
if you travel to the past, that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past, which can't now be changed by your new future."
Link

I was excited by this because it meant they were laying out their premise for time travel, but then they proceed to ignore the standard they established. There was zero discussion of not only are we creating branching time lines, but my time machine functioning in the quantum realm can return back to this time line. With the bolded statement above, Banner should have not said that or explained to Rhody that despite the bolded statement, his time machine could overcome that obstacle, which he never did.

This is why branching time lines are proposed, the sanctity of the past. Which really means that there is no way to fix this issue by returning to your original time line, because by Banner’s standard you can‘t change your past, ( at least in the same time line), where the infinity stones have been destroyed.

Using branching time lines, an easy solution, at least for you, is go back in time to a point where the Infinity stones still exist, and with a branching time line you created, you kill Thanos or keep the Infinity Stones away from Thanos. :):)

Hell they could have just gone back to Infinity War and prior, tell Peter Quill not to lose his cool when he learns what happened to Gamora, you’d have extra Avengers fighting, a second chance to defeat Thanos during Infinity War, which btw would make no difference to all the people still living in the original timeline. :)

Or the easiest thing is not to think about the details of time travel and just accept what your eyes see. :D

My objection is that it seems like you are adding a constraint not actually supported by Banner’s explanation and then complain that they neither adhere to that added constraint nor explicitly address how they overcome it.

Banner states that your former present becomes the past, not that your entire former timeline including its future becomes the past. Just up to the former present. There is nothing in Banner’s statement that indicates that the machine can’t simply return you to the same timeline you departed (as long as it doesn’t collide with your immutable former present-past) and let you continue into its mutable future.

Let’s revisit what he said and see if it can make sense —

Banner: If you travel to the past that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past which can’t now be changed by your new future.

Some interpretations compatible both with this statement and what actually happens in Endgame:
  • If you travel to your own past the timeline will appear “split” at the point of arrival. You arrive in another timeline where everything up until that point happened exactly as it did in the original timeline.
  • Nothing you do will change anything that’s already happened. Anything that already happened in one timeline will still have happened that way there, no matter what you do in another timeline. If you go back in time from your original timeline and then live out your life in another timeline, you will never catch up with yourself departing your original timeline (as you are not in your original timeline). You can however potentially catch up with that timeline’s original version of yourself departing in an identical fashion if things play out similar enough. Like hypotetically another timeline’s Mr. Rogers having lived out his life in your timeline and then showing up after your timeline’s original Mr. Rogers departed. The past didn’t suddenly change, it always happened that way in that timeline and the timeline’s original Mr. Rogers didn’t appear in his own past.
  • Your own past includes everything up until your present in every timeline you’ve been part of so far. If you from today in your original timeline travel back to 1980 and then return, your own past is everything up until your present (today) in your original timeline plus everything up until your present (1980) in the other timeline. The futures of your present in the various timelines are not part of your own past. You can return to a timeline you left after you left and make that future your future again. Pretty useful for example to return a borrowed infinity stone at the moment it left, or to return yourself to your original timeline after you left.
In short: Killing baby Thanos? No! Borrowing and returning Infinity Stones? Yes! Meeting an old Steve Rogers? Surprisingly yes.
 

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My objection is that it seems like you are adding a constraint not actually supported by Banner’s explanation and then complain that they neither adhere to that added constraint nor explicitly address how they overcome it.

Banner states that your former present becomes the past, not that your entire former timeline including its future becomes the past. Just up to the former present. There is nothing in Banner’s statement that indicates that the machine can’t simply return you to the same timeline you departed (as long as it doesn’t collide with your immutable former present-past) and let you continue into its mutable future.

Let’s revisit what he said and see if it can make sense —

Banner: If you travel to the past that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past which can’t now be changed by your new future.

Some interpretations compatible both with this statement and what actually happens in Endgame:
  • If you travel to your own past the timeline will appear “split” at the point of arrival. You arrive in another timeline where everything up until that point happened exactly as it did in the original timeline.
  • Nothing you do will change anything that’s already happened. Anything that already happened in one timeline will still have happened that way there, no matter what you do in another timeline. If you go back in time from your original timeline and then live out your life in another timeline, you will never catch up with yourself departing your original timeline (as you are not in your original timeline). You can however potentially catch up with that timeline’s original version of yourself departing in an identical fashion if things play out similar enough. Like hypotetically another timeline’s Mr. Rogers having lived out his life in your timeline and then showing up after your timeline’s original Mr. Rogers departed. The past didn’t suddenly change, it always happened that way in that timeline and the timeline’s original Mr. Rogers didn’t appear in his own past.
  • Your own past includes everything up until your present in every timeline you’ve been part of so far. If you from today in your original timeline travel back to 1980 and then return, your own past is everything up until your present (today) in your original timeline plus everything up until your present (1980) in the other timeline. The futures of your present in the various timelines are not part of your own past. You can return to a timeline you left after you left and make that future your future again. Pretty useful for example to return a borrowed infinity stone at the moment it left, or to return yourself to your original timeline after you left.
In short: Killing baby Thanos? No! Borrowing and returning Infinity Stones? Yes! Meeting an old Steve Rogers? Surprisingly yes.
Completely this. At least within the confines of Endgame, they’re following their own rules.
 

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Completely this. At least within the confines of Endgame, they’re following their own rules.
Yes, this was specifically for Endgame to keep it focused.

I think I have my unified theory pretty much covered for Doctor Strange, Endgame, Loki and What If…? so far, but not getting into that now. Waiting to see where the MCU takes us in the continued Phase Four. There is something in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that could fit very well with the current theory, or be completely unrelated. Time will tell. Either way, it’s entertainment.
 

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Well let’s bring in the final season of Lucifer too. Cause that’s definitely a time travel paradox.
 
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My objection is that it seems like you are adding a constraint not actually supported by Banner’s explanation and then complain that they neither adhere to that added constraint nor explicitly address how they overcome it.

Banner states that your former present becomes the past, not that your entire former timeline including its future becomes the past. Just up to the former present. There is nothing in Banner’s statement that indicates that the machine can’t simply return you to the same timeline you departed (as long as it doesn’t collide with your immutable former present-past) and let you continue into its mutable future.

Let’s revisit what he said and see if it can make sense —

Banner: If you travel to the past that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past which can’t now be changed by your new future.

Some interpretations compatible both with this statement and what actually happens in Endgame:
  • If you travel to your own past the timeline will appear “split” at the point of arrival. You arrive in another timeline where everything up until that point happened exactly as it did in the original timeline.
  • Nothing you do will change anything that’s already happened. Anything that already happened in one timeline will still have happened that way there, no matter what you do in another timeline. If you go back in time from your original timeline and then live out your life in another timeline, you will never catch up with yourself departing your original timeline (as you are not in your original timeline). You can however potentially catch up with that timeline’s original version of yourself departing in an identical fashion if things play out similar enough. Like hypotetically another timeline’s Mr. Rogers having lived out his life in your timeline and then showing up after your timeline’s original Mr. Rogers departed. The past didn’t suddenly change, it always happened that way in that timeline and the timeline’s original Mr. Rogers didn’t appear in his own past.
  • Your own past includes everything up until your present in every timeline you’ve been part of so far. If you from today in your original timeline travel back to 1980 and then return, your own past is everything up until your present (today) in your original timeline plus everything up until your present (1980) in the other timeline. The futures of your present in the various timelines are not part of your own past. You can return to a timeline you left after you left and make that future your future again. Pretty useful for example to return a borrowed infinity stone at the moment it left, or to return yourself to your original timeline after you left.
In short: Killing baby Thanos? No! Borrowing and returning Infinity Stones? Yes! Meeting an old Steve Rogers? Surprisingly yes.
This is a good discussion.
Here is both the answer and the solutions, unfortunately I’ll be repeating myself some what. :)

  • Time travel often results in paradoxes, events that can’t be logically explained. With a single timeline, if you go back to kill Hitler, the effect would be immediate and ripple forward in time, and the reason you went back to kill him would be erased, making there be no reason for you to do so- Grandfather Paradox.
  • The idea of branching timelines associated with time travel backwards is to avoid paradoxes and to protects established time lines. You go back, you are booted into a different timeline. The idea of your old future is now you past means the original timeline is now protected space.
  • Therefore Banner: If you travel to the past that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past which can’t now be changed by your new future.
  • In the realm of branching time lines as popularly understood, it means that you can’t undo half of all life being wiped by Thanos in your original time line, because traveling to the past boots you into branching is line from which you can’t return. This is a barrier.
  • Banner never says I have a gadget that can jump back and forth between branching time lines, it is never discussed.
So imo, this is Marvel wanting their cake and eating it too. The writers take the time to have Banner make this profound statement, but he does not mention branching timelines when he is describing how the time machine works, and avoids discussion about being able to return to the original timeline despite the purpose of introducing branching timelines (to avoid paradoxes) so the story maintains a semblance of logic. Just let the audience witness events and this will be enough.

If you like the story and accept what your eyes see then this is fine. If you read about branching time lines, then you might think this story is not logical, but convenient from a narrative standpoint.


Check out this article, jump to the point about avoiding time travel paradoxes (Kaku’s Three Ways to Defeat the Paradoxes of Time Travel). I don’t believe you’ll see any example where you can jump around at will from timeline to timline.

Sure, with a snap of their fingers Marvel can say and portray anything they like, no problem. :D
 

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This is a good discussion.
Here is both the answer and the solutions, unfortunately I’ll be repeating myself some what. :)

  • Time travel often results in paradoxes, events that can’t be logically explained. With a single timeline, if you go back to kill Hitler, the effect would be immediate and ripple forward in time, and the reason you went back to kill him would be erased, making there be no reason for you to do so- Grandfather Paradox.
  • The idea of branching timelines associated with time travel backwards is to avoid paradoxes and to protects established time lines. You go back, you are booted into a different timeline. The idea of your old future is now you past means the original timeline is now protected space.
  • Therefore Banner: If you travel to the past that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past which can’t now be changed by your new future.
  • In the realm of branching time lines as popularly understood, it means that you can’t undo half of all life being wiped by Thanos in your original time line, because traveling to the past boots you into branching is line from which you can’t return. This is a barrier.
  • Banner never says I have a gadget that can jump back and forth between branching time lines, it is never discussed.
So imo, this is Marvel wanting their cake and eating it too. The writers take the time to have Banner make this profound statement, but he does not mention branching timelines when he is describing how the time machine works, and avoids discussion about being able to return to the original timeline despite the purpose of introducing branching timelines (to avoid paradoxes) so the story maintains a semblance of logic. Just let the audience witness events and this will be enough.

If you like the story and accept what your eyes see then this is fine. If you read about branching time lines, then you might think this story is not logical, but convenient from a narrative standpoint.


Check out this article, jump to the point about avoiding time travel paradoxes (Kaku’s Three Ways to Defeat the Paradoxes of Time Travel). I don’t believe you’ll see any example where you can jump around at will from timeline to timline.

Sure, with a snap of their fingers Marvel can say and portray anything they like, no problem. :D
So in Endgame they go back, take stones, thus creating branches.

Then they return to where they came from. Could be they had some sort of beacon that returns them from where they came. They don’t get into it. But, they also don’t break a rule they stated.

That’s my point. I don’t see them having cake and eating it during Endgame.

Then Cap supposedly returns the stones, possibly eliminating the branches, but they don’t get into that or need to.
 

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Then Cap supposedly returns the stones, possibly eliminating the branches, but they don’t get into that or need to.

He does, then he's in his past which is actually his future (before the travels back to replace the stones ...)
 

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This is a good discussion.
Here is both the answer and the solutions, unfortunately I’ll be repeating myself some what. :)

  • Time travel often results in paradoxes, events that can’t be logically explained. With a single timeline, if you go back to kill Hitler, the effect would be immediate and ripple forward in time, and the reason you went back to kill him would be erased, making there be no reason for you to do so- Grandfather Paradox.
  • The idea of branching timelines associated with time travel backwards is to avoid paradoxes and to protects established time lines. You go back, you are booted into a different timeline. The idea of your old future is now you past means the original timeline is now protected space.
  • Therefore Banner: If you travel to the past that past becomes your future and your former present becomes the past which can’t now be changed by your new future.
  • In the realm of branching time lines as popularly understood, it means that you can’t undo half of all life being wiped by Thanos in your original time line, because traveling to the past boots you into branching is line from which you can’t return. This is a barrier.
  • Banner never says I have a gadget that can jump back and forth between branching time lines, it is never discussed.
So imo, this is Marvel wanting their cake and eating it too. The writers take the time to have Banner make this profound statement, but he does not mention branching timelines when he is describing how the time machine works, and avoids discussion about being able to return to the original timeline despite the purpose of introducing branching timelines (to avoid paradoxes) so the story maintains a semblance of logic. Just let the audience witness events and this will be enough.

If you like the story and accept what your eyes see then this is fine. If you read about branching time lines, then you might think this story is not logical, but convenient from a narrative standpoint.


Check out this article, jump to the point about avoiding time travel paradoxes (Kaku’s Three Ways to Defeat the Paradoxes of Time Travel). I don’t believe you’ll see any example where you can jump around at will from timeline to timline.

Sure, with a snap of their fingers Marvel can say and portray anything they like, no problem. :D
I’ve made a case for how Avengers: Endgame is internally consistent. Point out a flaw with that and I’m game.

No point in a discussion about the internal consistency of time travel in the movie when you are adding an external constraint to the mix in order to make it break. The Banner quote does not support your constraint and how it’s done elsewhere in other external works doesn’t mean jack. Why should the movie be required to explicitly acknowledge and present workarounds for constraints that does not exist in the movie? What’s next, do they need to explain why Superman didn’t stop Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War?
 
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So in Endgame they go back, take stones, thus creating branches.

Then they return to where they came from. Could be they had some sort of beacon that returns them from where they came. They don’t get into it. But, they also don’t break a rule they stated.

That’s my point. I don’t see them having cake and eating it during Endgame.

Then Cap supposedly returns the stones, possibly eliminating the branches, but they don’t get into that or need to.
I think I‘m about talked out regarding this topic. :)

Ultimately this is all fictional, creative writing so we can’t insist on what is realistic or not, all we can go by is the premise that is established. If the writers say by means of some technological device a character creates, they can make up any time travel rule they want to.

If you find this story entertaining, I have no problem with that, you are not wrong. And while I honestly like the flow of the story, although bringing Thanos and his army forward was completely over the top :), I can dislike it because they used either a half assed branching timeline scenario, or they equate their scenario to magic while trying to sound scientific making up the rules as they go and that’s ok too.

It’s more or less a personal choice and I imagine the vast majority of End Game viewers accept the scenario as presented and that’s ok. I have said there are other examples of time travel movies were I see paradoxes and I accept some, and reject others based on how I feel about the other qualities of the story.
 
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I’ve made a case for how Avengers: Endgame is internally consistent. Point out a flaw with that and I’m game.

No point in a discussion about the internal consistency of time travel in the movie when you are adding an external constraint to the mix in order to make it break. The Banner quote does not support your constraint and how it’s done elsewhere in other external works doesn’t mean jack. Why should the movie be required to explicitly acknowledge and present workarounds for constraints that does not exist in the movie? What’s next, do they need to explain why Superman didn’t stop Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War?
See the previous post. I have pointed out the flaw and you reject it as not a flaw. I accept the impasse. :)
 

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Banner never says I have a gadget that can jump back and forth between branching time lines, it is never discussed.

Maybe they don't - maybe the MCU take place IN that alternate timeline, you where Captain American stayed in the past.

Wait, wut? o_O
 
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Maybe they don't - maybe the MCU take place IN that alternate timeline, you where Captain American stayed in the past.

Wait, wut? o_O
Except Captain America by going back in time to put Infinity Stones back would be creating multiple new branching timelines. From a narrative standpoint, if you think about it, it gets too complicated to tell a coherent story IMO.

Sure, the get out of jail free card is the writers imagination and a time machine that can slice across timelines, similar to whatever tech or ability the Time Variance Authority has. Their goal is to erase rogue or unintended timelines, but I would describe this has a level of existence above what we know as reality.

When you read any article about time travel linked to real science, going backwards is not happening. The only time travel I am aware of is moving forward as the only way to experience a relative time difference. So, when the topic of moving back in time is seriously discussed, it does not mention methodology it only examines the effect, and trying to logically examine the obstacles to moving backwards in time. In a single time line, there have to be paradoxes. Branching timelines (Multi-verse) solve the paradoxes, but backward time travel then locks you out of your original time line.

Back to Marvel, if you remember in Infinity War, they came >< close to defeating Thanos. If you go with the branching timeline scenario, going back to fetch 6 stones in 4 different time periods is messy even if they could return to the original timeline, which 1) I’m not convinced they could as based on the reason branching timelines were suggested as a possibility for backwards time travel, or 2) using the writer’s magic pen, which I can accept if they describe it clearly.

There are a couple of easy solutions.
1. Better describe the abilities of your time machine. Suggestion that would have been better: Janet van Dyne (Hank Pym’s wife) who has spent a long period of time in the Quantum world has discovered direct evidence of the multiverse, and how to access access it via the quantum realm. Change the MCU timeline to allow her to provide input to Banner at the crucial time when he is working on his time machine that can access the multiverse.

However, if I was writing this, I’d still want some barriers or dire consequences of jumping from timeline to timeline. :D

2. Accept branching timelines with their restrictions. Accept jumping back into an alternate timeline (with the barrier of a protected past), just as the Infinity War battle started, everyone in your reality follows you, and try the battle again, with knowledge of what happened before. This time have Captain Marvel slice Thanos‘s arm off with her energy blast or instruct Peter Quill not to go Pompeii on Thanos causing Mantis to lose mind control of him. I realize there is chance involved and Dr. Strange looked at a million possible outcomes and there is only one messy path to beating Thanos. ;)

If I understand it I correctly, you must be an Eternal to hold an Infinity Stone and not perish, but there is no such restriction for the Gauntlet. I was thinking of the sequence in End Game with the chase scene trying to keep the Gauntlet away from Thanos. Why not just put it on and use it? Several Avengers had the chance as I recall?
 
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