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WMG / Tenet

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Neil is a grown-up Max, the son of Kat and Sator
That's why he remembered the date of the trip to Vietnam and why the camera focuses on him when Kat expresses fear for the future of his son.
  • "Neil" is the last four letters of "Maximilien" read backwards. Max is the beginning, a boy who will go forward to become a friend of the Protagonist in the war against the enemies from the future, and eventually take the identity of Neil, a man who will ultimately go backward and find his end in the past.
    • Maximilien is not a real name.
    • It is a real given name. It's a French name, its equivalent in English is "Maximilian".
    • Max lives in England; his mother is English and his father Russian. If this theory rests on his having a French name, it might be a little tenuous.
  • Once Kat is in his and the Protagonist's protection, he is the one to take care of her and treat her wound, and is implied to have spent a lot of time with her while inverted, prepping for the mission—maybe because he's a Nice Guy, maybe also out of affection for his mother, whom he'll never see in his own timeline again.

Andrei Sator's benefactors from the future are the Fifth-Dimensional Beings from Interstellar
Or at least a faction of them. The Fifth-Dimensional Beings in that movie are established to have the power to control time to an extent (to the point that they can recover Cooper from a black hole and placed him in the fifth-dimension plane so he can influence time via gravity) so it's not that far-fetched to think that they are capable of altering time as they see fit without worrying that the destruction of the past could affect the future (aka their present). So, there is this group of FDBs, who believed that the dying world in Interstellar timeline is the result of the thoughtlessness actions of humans in the past, so they seek to redo it altogether by using Sator to destroy their own past entirely before humanity has a chance to ruin the world. After they wipe the slate clean, then it's their turn to influence a new generation of humanity as they see fit so they won't go down the same path.

Those FDBs are combated by the other FDBs who assisted Cooper. This second group of FDBs believe that they have no right to change the past and must own up for their mistakes. They made their own bed and now they must lie in it, so they decided to move on to other worlds and start over instead of trying to fix what won't be. This group is the one who made the events of Interstellar happen while also being the future incarnations of Tenet who seeks to ensure their opponent does not succeed in wiping the slate clean by influencing The Protagonist to start this faction in the first place. Think of it as a millennium-spanning Xanatos Speed Chess between two groups of FDBs in the far future. One wanting to erase everything and restart humanity over as they see fit, while the other wants humanity to own up for their mistakes in their own way without forcibly wiping out the past.


Advanced technology in previous Nolan films was the result of inversion
While Nolan's films are set in an approximation of the 'real world', very often they feature highly advanced and even futuristic technology. The 'extraction' technology in Inception and the memory fabric in The Dark Knight Trilogy spring to mind, but an even more glaring example is the cloning technology seemingly invented by Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. Could it be possible that this advanced technology is due to Nolan's films being set in a Close-Enough Timeline to the real-world, albeit one in which the past was seeded with advanced technologies due to someone sending blueprints and other information back in time via inversion?

There's no indication that inversion was necessarily invented either by Tenet or by Sator's mysterious backers. It may have been invented by someone else and used by multiple individuals or groups in the future to send objects or people back to influence the past. Maybe someone decided to alter the course of technological development by, say, sending back some information to Nikola Tesla in the late 19th century? And Tesla used this information to invent technologies he never would have in our world, and over time this process of secret technological development led to Wayne Tech developing the memory cloth or extraction being developed by the government or whoever Cobb and his wife originally worked for.


Maybe this was done to create a process of technological development that ultimately makes inversion itself possible, leading to a Stable Time Loop.

Leonard Shelby was a test subject for an early turnstile

The one or two men who broke into Leonard's house injured him. While he was in the hospital, the machine was used on him. However, it didn't quite work properly, and Leonard now exists in in a strange confusion of forward and backward. As a result, the movie memento was not just representing how Leonard thinks, it represents how time actually flows for him. However, the incomplete inversion process means Leonard skips backwards in time, with forward segments to connect, rather than continuous backward time travel. The inversion failure also goofed up his memory somewhat.

Tenet's founding is a self generating stable time loop

The protagonist must have spent years and tons of effort to build up such a powerful organization, right? Not necessarily.

  • To recruit agents: In the protagonist and Neil's case, both kind of recruited each other. Neil taught the protagonist some important details, and protag did so whenever he recruited Neil. Some inversion happened at some point to generate a closed loop. If tenet agents take part in similar cycles, while making sure to hire some extra agents, than the whole organization could recruit itself.
  • Tenet's philosophy/way of operating is a similar time loop: the agents teach the recruits, who tech the previous recruits, and everything cycles around.
  • By using inversion, tenet could use its resources to acquire resources in the past (like the ships, guns, containers, etc.), which are than used to buy things in the future. Tricks like taking advantage of the stock market or future business knowledge could generate money.
  • Priya said "Tenet wasn't founded in the past" which would technically be true, Tenet would not have been founded at any particular time.

Objects don't annihilate when they touch. A turnstile accident was the source of this story

Inverted and normal objects are said to annihilate if the make contact. However, this is impossible, to touch its time reversed self, an object would have to touch itself, continue existing, get turnstiled, than touch the original, but by touching itself it was annihilated, so it can't go back. There's also no physical reason for this, skin constantly sheds, food is eaten, material corrodes, etc., so the exact particles are never the same.

The source of this story is instead a turnstile accident. When designing turnstiles, someone at some point didn't move the inverting objects, instead inverting in place. Doing this places 2 copies of each particle in the object at the exact same place at the exact same time at the instant of inversion, which is impossible, so the object exploded. Turnstiles are always designed to move as a result. When the people involved explained this to others, the story was distorted and simplified into "inverted and normal objects that touch themselves annihilate".

  • Basically confirmed in-film by the fight scene the Protaganist has against himself

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