The Avengers broke time in the Age of Ultron series after multiple failed time travel attempts trying to undo Ultron’s decimation of humanity.
The use of time travel in Avengers: Endgame has been under curious scrutiny since the film’s release, but the Avengers of the comics have made a time travel mistake the MCU heroes haven’t come close to. On one occasion, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes went too far utilizing time travel to keep the world safe.
The Age of Ultron series, created by Brian Michael Bendis, Bryan Hitch and Brandon Peterson, opens with a world already conquered by the deadly Hank Pym-created Ultron. Or rather, a version of Ultron from the future that corrupted the Vision and used the Avenger as a conduit to facilitate his attack on the world in the present. This allowed Ultron to strike almost instantly around the globe before a defense could be mounted and resulted in countless deaths and eliminated many of the strongest heroes. Those remaining, a smattering of Avengers, X-Men and others, meet Nick Fury in a Doomsday bunker in the Savage Land, desperate and willing to do anything to undo Ultron’s damage.
In order to combat Ultron’s use of time to decimate humanity, the depleted Avengers decide two can play that game and seek to travel to the future to defeat the robot. Wolverine rejects the plan, suggesting they execute Hank Pym in the past, before he ever creates Ultron. His idea is shot down when everyone acknowledges the dangers of messing with the timeline. While Fury, Captain America, and a few others make the trip to the future, Wolverine sets off on his own mission to the past, secretly followed by Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four. Sue intended to find an alternative, but ultimately the she didn’t stop Logan from killing Pym. The mission to the future failed, and Sue and Logan’s actions in the past created a twisted alternate timeline, where Earth was plagued by the sorceress Morgana Le Fey. Sue and Logan aren’t there for long before Le Fey strikes and once again destroys New York City, another absolute failure.
As disastrous as all that was, it was not the end. Wolverine travels back to the past once more, stops himself from executing Pym, and presents a suggestion from the last Earth’s alternate Tony Stark. Pym inserts a time release virus into Ultron’s programming to prevent the entire ordeal, and in the present Ultron is stopped at the moment he attempts to launch his attack. While this saves the world from that danger, in Age of Ultron #10, all the abuse of time travel reaches a critical point and shatters all of existence temporarily. Time eventually corrects itself, but the tears in time have giant ramifications. Among the most notable, Galactus was released into the Ultimate Marvel Universe and Angela, an Image Comics character originally from Spawn, is pulled into the Marvel Universe.
The Avengers were victorious in defeating Ultron’s original attack, but the sloppy way they used and abused time travel and the fallout it caused is nothing to celebrate. Nearly every step of this mission saw a major flaw at one point, Wolverine even had to execute a version of himself to avoid a paradox. The MCU’s Avengers made some major flubs during Avengers: Endgame’s “time heist,” like allowing Loki to escape with the tesseract. The potentially disastrous effects of that could manifest in the next phase of the MCU or in the Loki Disney+ series, but it will be tough to top inadvertently unleashing Galactus on an unsuspecting universe and breaking all of reality.
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