Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of 11 years of storytelling, and while some might view it as an ending of a 22-film arc, it's also a beginning — a fresh start for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it barrels toward the end of Phase 3 (after Spider-Man: Far From Home). Where it goes from here only Kevin Feige and some very lucky Disney stakeholders know, but Endgame marked a mostly satisfying conclusion for some of the MCU's most beloved heroes. And for the sake of spoilers, if you don't want to know what happened in Endgame stop reading now.
After the harrowing events of Infinity War, in which 50 percent of the entire universe turned to dust, the Avengers — joined by Brie Larson's no-nonsense Captain Marvel — made quick work of defeating Thanos, who had retreated to a desolate planet where he could presumably garden in peace. There was only one problem: Thanos had already destroyed the Infinity Stones. Twenty minutes into the film, and the Avengers had killed Thanos but had no way of bringing everyone back. Flash forward five years and that's where Endgame really begins.
The Avengers are scattered. Captain America is running a support group for survivors of The Snap; Black Widow is running things back at Avengers HQ; Hawkeye has gone rogue following the evaporation of his entire family; Iron Man has hung up the suit to start a family with Pepper; Hulk has finally found harmony between Bruce and the Big Green Guy; Thor has lost his way and has the beer gut to prove it; and Captain Marvel is back in space and dealing with the rest of the universe. But when Ant-Man returns from the Quantum Realm with a plan, the film basically turns into a heist movie, as the original Avengers traverse time and space, risking their lives to collect the Infinity Stones and bring everyone back.
And that's not even half of the three-hour epic. We know it's a lot to process, so we broke down the biggest questions we still have after Endgame — and what this could mean for the future of the MCU.
How did any of that time travel work?Marvel Studios
Short answer: It just did. Honestly, try not to question it. Endgame basically said that everything we thought we knew about time travel was a lie ("Back To The Future is bullshit!"), so in that way, it also said that none of it actually had to make sense to be effective. But here's what we do know: What happens in the past does not affect the Avengers' present reality, i.e. going back in time to kill Baby Thanos would not change the fact that 50 percent of the universe was still snapped into oblivion. Or, as Bruce put it: "If you travel back into your own past, that destination becomes your future, and your former present becomes the past, which can’t now be changed by your new future."
A great example of that: Loki escaping with the Tesseract after the Battle of New York in 2012 doesn't change the fact that he's still dead in the present timeline of 2023. And another: Gamora died in Infinity War, but 2014 Gamora is still very much alive and seemingly missing following Thanos's defeat in Endgame. And finally: Steve. When 2023 Captain America traveled back in the time at the end of the movie to safely return the Infinity Stones — remember the Ancient One's warning: Splitting the Infinity Stones also splits time, so it pretty much confirms that these time-travel hijinks in Endgame created numerous alternate timelines — he also chose to remain in the 1940s with Peggy. So, 2023 Steve is also the Old Steve we meet at the end. But 2012 Steve still exists; he's the Steve that was frozen in ice in 1945 and thawed out in 2011. So basically, 2023 Steve's actions created another Steve — the Steve that naturally aged alongside Peggy and seemingly lived on the down-low for decades.
Is Sam Wilson the new Captain America?Marvel Studios
It sure seems that way, doesn't it? For years, hardcore Marvel Comics fans have known that there was a good chance Cap would bestow the shield to either Sam Wilson or his best friend Bucky Barnes, as both characters have held the Captain America mantle in the comics. One of the final scenes of Endgame finds Steve Rogers — now old and grey, after going back in time to live a long, full life with his first love Peggy Carter — giving his shield to Sam as Bucky watches fondly from afar. Sam seems uncertain, but Steve doesn't; the shield is now his.
It's an interesting choice, seeing how the MCU has arguably invested more time in Steve and Bucky's relationship than it has giving Sam his own storyline. It also seems a bit odd that there wouldn't be a final scene between Old Steve and Bucky, given their closeness. But with a Disney+ series in the works starring Sam and Bucky — tentatively titled Falcon and the Winter Soldier — it seems pretty obvious that these guys will deal with the emotional weight of Cap's choice eventually. And maybe it's not even as set in stone as we think it is.
Will Thor be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?Marvel Studios
Following everything that happened in Endgame — which included a heartfelt chat between Thor and his mother Frigga — the God of Thunder decides that he doesn't want to rule New Asgard, or anything for that matter. So he bestows the title to Valkyrie and heads off on his own adventure... with Star-Lord and the Guardians. Infinity War established that Thor could hold his own with the ragtag group of space drifters, and if Ragnarok didn't already do the trick, then Endgame really proved that Chris Hemsworth has the comedic chops to join James Gunn's surreal Guardians universe. Not to mention, Thor's chemistry with Star-Lord could make for a compelling dynamic now that Gamora is M.I.A. somewhere in the universe.
And even though Hemsworth's contract is complete with the release of Endgame, it's not like Marvel doesn't have the money to shell out to sign him on for one more movie — even if it's just an extended scene of the Guardians dropping him off on another planet.
If Peter Parker is five years older, what about his classmates?Marvel Studios
One of the more curious parts of Endgame was how the film addressed its five-year time jump. Time moved differently for those who were dusted at the end of Infinity War — in fact, it didn't move much at all. As Peter Parker explained it, one second he was on the planet Titan fighting Thanos alongside Iron Man; the next, Doctor Strange was telling him to wake up because they had to go fight 2014 Thanos on the planet Earth. So while five years passed, for those who vanished, it felt like no time at all.
Cut to the end of Endgame when Peter Parker has an emotional reunion with his best friend/man in the chair Ned in the school hallway. Does this mean Ned was snapped, too? And what about MJ? Seeing how both Ned and MJ — and Flash Thompson! — are featured in the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer, we're going to assume that the majority of Peter's class were also snapped and that the film will take place in the year 2023.
Where in the universe is Loki?Marvel Studios
Thanks to a botched heist and an angry Hulk, 2012 Loki escapes his arrest after the Battle of New York with the Tesseract in hand. This will presumably set up his Disney+ solo series, tentatively titled Loki. Again, this doesn't negate the fact that Loki is dead in 2023 — but it does present an interesting alternate timeline where the God of Mischief can wreak havoc.
Is Black Widow dead dead?Marvel Studios
Sadly, yes. 2023 Black Widow sacrificed herself at the Vormir shrine so that Hawkeye could take the Soul Stone and help bring everyone back to life. (Similarly, 2018 Gamora is dead, having been Thanos' sacrifice in Infinity War.) While it wasn't a perfect send-off for the embattled character by any means, Black Widow's knowing sacrifice was a testament to her character. Since her introduction in Iron Man 2, Natasha has always been a solitary figure — until she found the Avengers, her family. So it makes sense that she would make the ultimate sacrifice for them (in particular, her best friend Clint).
What this means for Marvel's long-overdue solo Black Widow movie, we have no idea. Though, it seems certain that it will take place in the past. Or in one of those alternate timelines.
Who was that teen at Tony Stark's funeral?Marvel Studios
That was Harley Keener, the kid (now teen) that Tony takes under his wing in Iron Man 3. And he was even played by the same actor, Ty Simpkins.
What's next for the Avengers?Marvel Studios
With Tony Stark and Black Widow dead — and now that Steve Rogers has retired the shield — that leaves several original Avengers: Hulk, Thor, and Hawkeye. There's also Captain Marvel (with her fresh, comics-appropriate 'do), Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Falcon/Captain America, Winter Soldier, and War Machine. We know that Hawkeye's Disney+ series will introduce the other, better Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. (And her introduction could eventually lead to the formation of the Young Avengers — Ms. Marvel! Miss America! — on the big screen.) But where does the team go from there? It's hard to say.
Captain Marvel seems like an obvious leader. (And in the comics she did lead the Avengers for a period of time.) Not to mention, her rapport with the ever-sarcastic Doctor Strange could lead to a similar Steve/Tony dynamic. And Peter Parker is obviously the heart of the team moving forward. As for what's next, well, it's hard to say.
Marvel has been notoriously tight-lipped about their Phase 4 plans. The only confirmed project is Spider-Man: Far From Home (hitting theaters this July). But of course we know Black Panther 2 is in the works, as is the standalone Black Widow movie. Plus, the acquisition of Fox and the X-Men universe could make for a plethora of story options. And if that is the case, then expect Marvel to go back to basics; introduce the characters before the epic future team-up.