The Ancient One’s role in Avengers: Endgame needed to be slightly altered to fit with plot changes.
One of the biggest surprises in Avengers: Endgame was a cameo Tilda Swinton, who reprised her role as the Ancient One from Doctor Strange. He role, while brief, proved to be a key element in the film, but this wasn’t always the case.
IndieWire recently spoke with Swinton about her surprising Endgame role, and the actress revealed that she was just as shocked to get the call from Marvel Studios. She then went onto explain that her scene was shot in a single day. However, she had to return to reshoot it over a year later due to story changes:
"“It was a surprise to me, too! And it was a pleasure. But what was a real surprise was, we shot it one summer day, and then over a year later, I went back to reshoot it because a couple of lines had been changed, a couple of plot points had been changed. And there was a tweaking of my costume.”"
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According to Swinton, the changes were “all about being very, very important” in regard to the visual timeline the Ancient One shows Bruce Banner. More specifically, it was about “the information that the Ancient One holds about the nature of the [Infinity] Stones, that they have to be put back.”
As mentioned, the Ancient One didn’t spend a lot of time on screen, but her presence was vital to the plot. Avengers: Endgame spent a fair amount of time establishing the rules of time travel. But it wasn’t until the Ancient One met with Bruce that the audience learned that altered realities could be formed due to timeline changes.
Without her, the Avengers may not have known the Infinity Stones needed to be returned to their respective timelines at the exact moment they were taken. And as a result, she effectively prevented them from making massive timeline alterations. Of course, this excludes Loki taking the Tesseract in her own timeline.
Marvel Studios likes bringing back actors in cameos and with a Doctor Strange sequel on the way, there’s a strong possibility that Swinton could make another return.