BIG SPOILERS – Avengers: End Game Explained
The Russo Brothers totally floored the audience with three-hours of Avengers: End Game action, comedy, grief, and emotions. The audience at the theater clapped, cheered, and Wow!-ed several times throughout the film where I went. Avengers: Infinity War was awesome, but End Game was at a whole new level of crazyness.
The film begins with Hawkeye and his family at the park. As many guessed, Hawkeye going to Tokyo under his comics version of Ronin was caused by the loss of his family during the Thanos finger-snap that disintegrated 50% of all life in the universe into dust.
In space, after Ironman recorded the goodbye message, having ran out of fuel and food, Captain Marvel found him in space and carried the ship back to Earth. The remaining Avengers unite and within the first 10 minutes of the movie they located Thanos to take the Infinity Stones from him to undo the snap. They find out that he had willed the Infinity Stones out of existence, making it impossible to undo the snap.
In a rage, Thor aims for Thanos’ head with his magical axe, and kills him instantly. That’s 10 minutes into the movie. Drastic, and amusing considering the 3-hour length. The story wasn’t done by a long shot with his demise. But surprised me because this never happened in the Infinity Gauntlet comics limited series.
None of the theories I have heard for months based on the video teasers came true. Scott Lang (Ant-Man) did not travel back in time to the Avengers building as many YouTubers predicted. The van used to send Ant-Man into the Quantum Realm was at an impound storage, as it was abandoned when Hank Pym and family got snapped out of existance by Thanos. By accident, a rat turned on the machine and Ant-Man was called back from the Quantum Realm. Except he appeared 5 years later, while only 5 hours had passed for him.
He came to the Avengers building to share with Captain America what happened to him in the Quantum Realm, and how only 5 hours had passed for him. There he came up with the idea of possibly using the Quantum Realm to go back in time to undo the snap. Ant-Man asked Captain America to search for someone capable of understanding Quantum physics to make the idea happen.
Captain America, Black Widow, and Ant-Man visited Tony Stark (Ironman) and proposed the idea, but he dismissed the idea as impossible, and laughable. Back to the Future is bullshit. Many things can go wrong. With that, they leave and decide to visit Bruce Banner.
A lot of comedy came about with Hulk Banner. Six months after the snap, somehow Bruce managed to pull Hulk out of his hideout and stroke a sort of bargain with him. This time we see a hulked out banner with his personality intact wearing a muscled green hulk body; and he was funny as heck in all of his lines. The cinema was filled with laughter often.
Banner tried to help with some timetravel tests using Scott Lang’s quantum realm-device van, but all he managed to do was turn Scott Lang into a baby, an old man, and really freak out the team. What they didn’t know is that Tony Stark, while dismissing, he had the idea of time travel stuck in the back of his mind; and as usual, after theorizing it through, he used his intellect to devise a time GPS bracelet and a quantum realm portal.
Some of the theories I heard out there in the wild nailed it. There was timetravel involved. Especifically, events we have already seen in the original Avengers movie, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.
The Avengers split into groups to retrieve an Infinity Stone from a specific point in time.
Tony, Steve Rogers, Ant-Man, and Hulk-Banner went back in time to the invasion of the Chitauri (Avengers Vol. 1). During the invasion, the Tesseract (Space gem) was held by S.H.I.E.L.D. Ant-Man and Tony Stark managed to secure it. On the other hand, Captain America followed the fake S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who were Hydra agents stealing the scepter with the Mind gem. The scene was tense with a bunch of Hydra in the elevator holding their guns in preparation for an intense fight… that never happens.
Here the Russo brothers played a funny easter egg when Captain America says: Hail Hydra, and walks out with the briefcase, fooling them into thinking he was a Hydra agent sent to secure the gem. For those who don’t know what the easter egg is, not long ago in the comics, the Red Skull managed to manipulate a sentient cosmic cube in the shape of a little innocent girl to alter reality by changing the past of Captain America into becoming a secret agent of Hydra. A scene that led to a limited series event: Secret Empire, where Captain America became the leader of Hydra and controlled the United States of America as a Hydra nation.
Things didn’t go according to plan, however. Captain America encountered his own younger self (who thought his older-self was Loki disguised) and a fight broke out between the two. On the other side, Tony Stark is safely carrying away the briefcase with the Tesseract when he accidentally gets knocked out by the younger Hulk who violently opened the stairs door. Tony and the briefcase flew away. Loki manages to grab the tesseract and teleports away.
Things get messy here because they only had one pym particle injector each, and they couldn’t just return to their time without the tesseract. Tony Stark remembered the Tesseract had been stored back in 1970 in the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility that Howard Stark (his father) worked at along with a young Hank Pym. Two birds with a single stone. They used their sole Pym particle to travel back in time to 1970. Tony secured the Tesseract, and had a awkward moment when his father catches him. Captain America infiltrated Hank Pym’s lab and stole two vials of the Pym particle as fuel to go back to their future. This was a fun twist, and well thought out.
However, there is a weird loose end. Loki escaped with the Tesseract during the Chitauri invasion. I can’t fathom how that could have changed the timeline considering he was not resurrected at the end of the film; but we do know that a Loki TV series is in plans for the upcoming Disney+ online service. For all the posture of Tony Stark not wanting to accidentally create alternate timelines with their timetravel, things didn’t really happen as planned — and the fact Loki escaped with the Tesseract means the timeline was altered; and that wasn’t by far the only scene where the timeline was altered. More on the Loki conundrum shortly.
While the others were doing their task during the Chitauri Invasion, Hulk-Banner was at the Sanctum Sanctorum where he is discovered by the Ancient One who by chance had possession of the Time stone (the Eye of Agamotto). The Ancient One and Hulk-Banner argue the impossibility of taking the Time stone into the future. It would create alternate paths in the timeline that could give rise to incursions from magical beings and invasions from dark places.
Hulk-Banner tries to give a scientific spin to counter her assessment of taking the Time stone with him into the future. She refuses, but when Hulk-Banner mentions that Dr. Strange gave the Time stone to Thanos willingly, in the future, the Ancient One was astonished. The only way Dr. Strange could have done that is if the Ancient One had made a mistake. Dr. Strange was the best of them, and if he had determined this path of action was the right one, then she must give the Time stone to Hulk-Banner.
On to the other teams in the timestream, Nebula and War Machine go for the Power Stone. They witness the scene where Peter Quill (Starlord) is singing just before he opened the chamber where the Power Stone was located. Nebula knocks him out with a punch before he does. They enter the chamber and grab the Power stone. War Machine takes the stone and presses the button that sents him forth through time. Nebula was halted by intense pain. An assault on her psynaptic circuitry knocks her unconscious. She is captured by her younger self, and brought to Thanos. Thanos orders Ebony Maw to play her memory bank, and witnesses the Avengers’ plan to go through time to gather the Infinity Stones to undo what he will do in the future.
In Vormir, Hawkeye and Black Widow meet the guardian of the Soul stone. The Red Skull. He tells to them what he told Thanos in the future. For one to obtain the Soul stone, you must give a soul in exchange for the Soul Stone. Black Widow sacrifices so that Hawkeye can bring the Soul stone to the Avengers in the future so that he can recover his family.
In Asgard, Thor and Rocket Raccoon tiptoe their way into the palace. Thor has an encounter with his mother — who immediately knew this was a future Thor. Meanwhile, Rocket took a sample of Jane Foster’s blood — which at the time still contained the Infinity Stone (if I’m not mistaken, the Reality stone). Something awkward happened here, though. Thor summoned that time’s Mjolnir and took it with him to the future.
With all the Infinity Stones recovered, Ironman crafts a new gauntlet and places the gems into its sockets. There is debate on who should be the one to wield the guantlet, but everyone agrees Hulk-Banner is best equipped as a gamma-powered being to survive the snap.
Through a lot of pain and anguish, Hulk-Banner snaps his fingers with the Infinity Gauntlet. Everyone who died due to Thanos’ snap is returned to life. However, Loki, the Asgardians, Black Widow, Gamora, and Vision didn’t resurrect because they were not victims of the snap.
While they were celebrating their effort worked, the Nebula that returned home was not their Nebula. She was the younger-self, still loyal to Thanos. She turned on the Quantum Realm gateway and opened a time vortex that allowed Thanos’ massive spaceship to appear in the sky and bombard the Avengers headquarter.
Most of the Avengers were split in danger deep beneath the rubble. Captain America, Ironman, and Thor battled Thanos above the ground without backup to assist them. This was an epic fight between the four, with Thor using his axe and Mjolnir against Thanos in brutal fashion. Thanos pins Thor down with his own axe, and before he could sink it in further into his chest… the audience went bananas when Mjolnir is lifted and swung toward Thanos… Captain America is worthy to lift Mjolnir. Another nod from the comics as seen in CBR.
I have never seen such a beautiful display of heroism and battle between Thanos and Captain America slamming Mjolnir and calling down lightning from the sky to hurt Thanos. However, the scene doesn’t last long. Captain America lies on the ground heavily hurt, but still refusing to stand down. Before Thanos could finish off Captain America — the best battle scene in the entire MCU happened in the next minutes.
The end of the film was filled with sorrow for the Avengers, and for the audience. As rumored for months, many of the actors are leaving the MCU, and Phase 4 kicks in with a new roster of Avengers. Of course, different rosters of Avengers is common in the comics every few years.
Only Thor and maybe Hawkeye might stick around, but Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans aren’t returning to the MCU.
After Thanos’ defeat, Captain America uses the Pym Particle, and the Quantum Realm-equipped van to return the Infinity Stones back to their corresponding points in time using the GPS bracelet. We don’t get to see the return of the gems, but it is implied. Captain America returned Mjolnir too.
The film was flawed in a few subtle ways via loose ends that are consequences of the timetravel.
Loki escaped with the Tesseract when younger Hulk accidentaly slammed the stairs door and knocked Tony Stark and the briefcase. That was not supposed to happen. This alone caused an alternate timeline where Loki escaped with the Tesseract — as a separate path of time that did not affect their future. So there is a Loki out there that did not get his neck snapped by Thanos.
A younger Gamora from before Avengers Vol. 1 got stuck in 2023, and the Gamora that died in Vormir is still dead. That along with a younger Thanos from before he even started the plan to gather the Infinity Stones now dying in 2023 — both are a heck of a paradox. That Thanos died with the Tony Stark Infinity Stones snap — which means that Thanos did not get to collect the Infinity Stones, did not get to send Loki to invade Earth with the Chitauri, which means Nick Fury didn’t get to recruit the Avengers… and you can imagine the serious domino effect that Thanos’ death at that point did to an alternate timeline where none of the MCU events we know happened, got to happen.
Then we have yet another paradox that still keeps me rolling my eyes back. Hard. Old Nebula killed Young Nebula. Wait, what? How can Old Nebula remain alive at the end of the movie? Well, the answer is hinted by the Russo brothers in Avengers: Endgame. Tony Stark said clearly that Back to the Future is bullshit. All Marvel Comics fans know exactly what that actually meant. We know what the multiverse is, and how timetravel doesn’t work the way we have heard in Back to the Future and other pop culture films. In Marvel Comics, you don’t change the events of your past. You create an alternate timeline that diverges from the one you originally timetraveled from. This is why Old Nebula did not die or disappear. She killed a young Nebula that is now no longer alive in an alternate timeline.
Captain America did something that he never did in the comics, and certainly changed the timeline. Captain America seems to have disabled his GPS. When Hulk-Banner attempted to pull him back from the Quantum Realm 5 seconds after departure, he did not get pulled back. After returning the Infinity Stones and Mjolnir, Captain America decided to stay in the past, and to live a happy life with Agent Carter.
Surprised that Captain America was not pulled back, they look at someone sitting on a nearby bench. It was a very old Captain America. He gave the Shield to Sam Wilson (Falcon) to take the mantle of Captain America. Another nod to the comics. Sam Wilson became Captain America. In the comics, during an event where a villain siphoned the Soldier Serum off Captain America, he became an old man. Captain America decided to pass the shield to Sam Wilson who was the new Captain America from 2012-2015.
Some fans might be pissed that Steve Rogers passed the shield to Sam Wilson, instead of Bucky Barnes. Bucky became Captain America after Steve Rogers was apparently assassinated at the stairs of the Court House in the aftermath of the heroes’ Civil War (2007).
But in this case, because Steve Rogers stayed in the past and lived secretly with Agent Carter, he was now old. So it made sense to make a nod to the comics to somewhat mimic how Sam Wilson became Captain America.
With all the paradox domino effects going on in Avengers: Endgame, basically the Russo brothers can now spin ideas to justify the introduction of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and other heroes into the MCU.
Another thing this film reveals is that Thor might probably be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He departed Earth at the end of Endgame, and took a ride with them. While Gamora did not return to live after being sacrificed by Thanos to obtain the Soul stone, the younger Gamora is alive. Peter Quill (Starlord) is seen running a computer search for Gamora’s location. So it is implied that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will start with the team searching for this Gamora who is alive, but without the memories of love she experienced in the other timeline.
There was another nod when Thor and Starlord are debating who is the leader of the team in Endgame. Thor says: Asgardians of the Galaxy. Currently, that is the name of a comics title.
Another intriguing note from Endgame is that Vision was not resurrected by Hulk-Banner’s snap — because he was not victim of Thanos’ snap. So his demise became permanent. Or is it? Endgame didn’t shed any light on this, but in case you have been living under a rock, when Disney+ Online Service (similar to Netflix) launches this November, there are plans for a Vision and Scarlet Witch TV series with the same actors of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
So… how exactly is that going to play out? How did Vision come back in the TV series, when he did not come to life in Endgame? That might be complicated without further details about the TV series. Technically, with younger Thanos dead, he did never get the chance to collect the Infinity Gems to do the snap. So he didn’t kill Vision — at least in this new awkward alternate timeline that is out of view from the Endgame viewer.
Will the TV series be based on that alternate timeline where the snap didn’t happen? Or will Wakanda somehow manage to revive Vision? Who knows.
So Phase 4 will bring forward a new Avengers roster. So far it seems logical to think the roster will be partially composed of: Captain Marvel, Spiderman, Sam Wilson (as Captain America), Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man & Wasp, and maybe Hawkeye. Some of those might not join The Avengers, for different reasons.
I am unsure if the Hawkeye actor plans to comeback, or if the Russo will just write him off, considering the Steve Rogers and Tony Stark actors are out of the MCU. Black Widow did not come back to life either, which I find extremely odd. Not long ago I read rumors of a Black Widow film.
I am unsure Vision and Scarlet Witch will return to the Avengers films because they are set to co-star in their own Disney+ TV series.
The good thing about the Disney+ online service and plans for all these spin-off TV series is that we might see Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost Rider, Luke Cage, and other heroes pop up at some point. Especially, if there is a Heroes for Hire show, or a Defenders show. Will that intersect with the MCU at some point in an Avengers all-heroes on deck event? Hopefully.
The acquisition of the FOX films and licenses by Disney, also means we will see the Fantastic Four and the X-Men roll into the MCU at some point in the future. That includes all the villains associated with those licenses: Doctor Doom, Namor, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Mephisto, and many more.
The scene where Spiderman is surrounded as he tried to bring the Infinity Gauntlet to Tony, showed the strength of various female characters including Valkyrie, Captain Marvel, Pepper Potts in her Rescue suit, Scarlet Witch, and Shuri. Fans must have smirked wildly seeing yet another easter egg. This is a reference to A-Force, a title composed of women of the Marvel Universe.
In closing, the end credits for Endgame had no visuals. Only a short sound clip of an anvil been struck by a hammer. This could have simply been a homage to the first MCU film: Ironman. That is the exact sound clip that plays when Tony Stark is creating the first Ironman suit to escape his kidnappers.
Or could it actually be a hint of things to come like all past end credits scenes?
Hmmmmmmmmm… here are my thoughts on that.
If the hammer hitting the anvil was a clue, there is a way to have Tony Stark back. It is not the first time Tony Stark has found a way to come back in the comics. As the Avengers: Civil War film played in theaters, in the comics, Marvel had introduced Civil War II — where Carol Danvers struck Ironman, driving him into a coma. Somehow Tony Stark’s mind ran the Ironman suit as a hologram.
In another comics story, long time ago, the Avengers brought into the present a young Tony Stark from the past — that young Tony Stark was around for a long time until he sacrificed with the other heroes to stop the villain in X-Men: Onslaught (1996). This could give the Russo an opportunity to bring a new younger actor to play as Tony Stark.
On the downside, Robert Downey Jr. played his young self in the Ironman 2 film, so that’s visually inconsistent with bringing a new younger actor to play as young Tony Stark.
There is a Marvel Comics event that is strongly hinted in the Captain Marvel film to be coming to the MCU; and for that to happen, Tony Stark needs to be back with the Avengers. I am talking of Secret Invasion — where many of the heroes had been replaced by Skrulls for many years prompting the heroes to question who among them is a skrull. Skrulls are a race capable of shapeshifting into any form.
Tony Stark was pivotal in that story, so it is extremely odd to see what happened in Endgame, considering that the Skrulls have been introduced into the MCU just weeks ago in the Captain Marvel film. It is difficult to see another actor playing as Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. Tony Stark is Robert Downey Jr. But actors age, and eventually it needs to happen. An actor might have to be replaced for the films to continue rolling.