It’s a fun bit of trivia that before the Russo Brothers became famous for directing some of the biggest Marvel movies ever, they got their start working on absurdist sitcoms like Arrested Development and Community. There may not be much obvious overlap between those shows and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Community in particular often delved into complex sci-fi themes for some of its best episodes, and one of those episodes might just be the inspiration for Avengers: Endgame’s rumored alternate reality plot twist.
This is just one Inverse String Theory, but it could be true. So consider yourself warned about potential Avengers: Endgame spoilers.
The episode in question, “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Season 3, Episode 3), shows how a dinner party plays out differently depending on which character leaves to answer the door for a pizza delivery. Over the course of 20 minutes, we see seven different scenarios, including a “darkest timeline” where fire and an unsecured handgun injure some characters and kill one. Even if you’ve never watched an episode of Community, you probably recognize this GIF:
So what does any of this have to do with the Avengers? Well, strong evidence suggests our heroes will travel back in time in Endgame to alter the past and avoid the original apocalyptic ending of Avengers: Infinity War, but anyone who’s watched Back to the Future knows that altering the past can have unforeseen consequences in the future.
That’s where Community comes in. The cult classic sitcom provided a clever blueprint for how a story can explore parallel timelines that diverge based on a snap decision. In “Remedial Chaos Theory” it was just seven realities, but in Avengers: Endgame it could be all 14-million-and-something outcomes Doctor Strange saw when he looked into the future. (Or, you know, just a handful of the most interesting ones.)
“Remedial Chaos Theory” also introduces the idea of a “darkest timeline” where evil versions of our heroes lurk. That’s a common trope in superhero stories too, and it could definitely come into play in Avengers: Endgame once the good guys start messing with the timeline.
"Of all the timelines this is clearly the darkest, which is why I propose we commit to being evil. — Evil Abed
It’s worth nothing that Joe and Anthony Russo didn’t actually direct “Remedial Chaos Theory,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t take some inspiration from what’s arguably one of the show’s best episodes. And if Avengers: Endgame really is going to play around with convoluted sci-fi concepts like time travel and alternate realities, grounding it in the clever storytelling of a show like Community could help audiences follow along as the Avengers embark on what may be their trippiest adventure yet.
In the final lead-up to Avengers: Endgame’s release, Inverse is unleashing a few fan theories of our own. Read all of them here and check back for weekly theories from some journalists who spend way too much time thinking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26, 2019.
Got your own Avengers: Endgame theory? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.