This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
We need to talk about Avengers: Endgame. No, seriously, the whole team badly needs to discuss this movie. At length. If you haven’t seen the film yet, this is no place for you! Here be the spoileriest of spoilers. But if you’ve seen it, come on in, we’ll be discussing all the biggest twists and talking points below. You can find our spoiler-free Endgame review here. And please add your thoughts, theories, answers and corrections in the comments at the end.
Where to begin?!
MAJOR Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahead…
Time Travel Paradox No. 1: Old Cap is in the main timeline
There are lots of timey-wimey bits in Endgame, and it’s extremely difficult to make a time travel movie without paradoxes, but this one stuck out for us. The movie makes it clear that the time travel structure they’re going for is not the “Grandfather Paradox” and so going back and killing baby Thanos wouldn’t actually change their current reality (“so Back To The Future is bullshit?” Ant-Man says). Instead, this is a multiverse version of time travel, where a new timeline is created if you go back in time and alter something. So they can go back, get the stones and return to their own timeline, do the reverse-snap, and then take the stones back to the exact points in their timeline where they were removed, then in theory no new timelines should be created. This is explained by Hulk and The Ancient One when Hulk’s getting the Time Stone. Still with us?
But at the end when Cap goes back and decides to stay with Peggy Carter and live a life with her, which is totally cute and lovely, a new timeline would be created. So at the end, Old Cap wouldn’t exist in the same part of the multiverse as the rest of the Avengers. It would be a paradox and would have meant that the Cap that everyone knows and remembers from the rest of the MCU would be one of two Caps that exist in that timeline.
It could be that Old Man Cap traveled between timelines, or multiverses, to bring the shield to Falcon and Bucky. Perhaps he had help from the olden times versions of Howard Stark and Hank Pym. But if our heroes can travel between dimensions in the multiverse, that opens up a whole world of possibilities. And headaches.
Time Travel Paradox No. 2: Thor steals Thor’s hammer
After Chris Hemsworth’s Drunk Histories recap of Thor: The Dark World, the God of Thunder time-travels back to his second standalone movie to try and pick up the Aether. (It’s one of the Infinity Stones, even though it’s more of an angry sludge.) While present-day Thor is drunkenly moping in his own past, he steals a not-yet-destroyed-by-Hela version of Mjolnir from his younger self. He makes off with the mighty mallet and brings it back to the present day, leaving his younger self with one less tool in his godly DIY kit.
This seems to create more time-travel problems: if the 2013 version of Thor didn’t have his hammer, would he have been able to defeat Malekith? Has present-day Thor created a new timeline where his younger self gets beaten by the Dark Elves and the whole galaxy is plunged into darkness by Christopher Eccleston? Back in those days, pre-Ragnarok, Thor hadn’t mastered his powers yet. He still needed the hammer, dammit!
Hopefully, after the showdown with Thanos, present-day Thor time-travelled back to 2013 and gave the hammer back to his younger self. As with the Infinity Stones, the alt-universe consequences could be dire if this weapon wasn’t returned to its rightful place and time.
How did Captain America lift Thor’s hammer?
Speaking of the hammer, you might be wondering how exactly Cap was able to wield it in that final battle. After all, a big deal has been made in the past about how worthy you have to be to pick up Mjolnir. The answer to this question is a simple one, though: Cap is worthy of wielding the hammer, so he does, and he gains the powers of Thor as a result.
The fact that Cap is worthy has been teased before, of course, in the party scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Back in that second Avengers flick, he tried to lift the hammer and it did slightly move. At the time, Thor scoffed with something akin to relief. Now, though, upon seeing confirmation that Cap is worthy, Thor declared happily: “I knew it!”
What’s next for Hawkeye?
By the end of Endgame, the victims of Infinity War’s snap have all been brought back, but those five years still happened for everyone else. This is sure to create some difficult situations, because a lot can happen in five years. (You’ve got to feel bad for anyone that lost their partner to the snap, grieved for them, moved on and remarried before the Avengers put things right.)
Among the core cast, it seems like Hawkeye will have the hardest time readjusting. After all, he became a cold-blooded killer of criminals in the intervening years, and watched his BFF die during that quest for the Soul Stone. As much as he clearly wanted his wife and kids back, will Clint ever be able to get back to normality? He’s got a lot of red on his ledger. The only thing we really know about his future is that Disney+ is developing a TV series in which Clint will train up a new Hawkeye by the name of Kate Bishop. Could that be Clint’s attempt to give up the superhero/vigilante life for good?
What’s going on with Peter Parker’s school?
One of Endgame’s many endings sees the resurrected Peter Parker returning to school. Jacob Batalon’s Ned, who doesn’t seem to have aged a day, met up with his superhero pal to complete a solemn rendition of their secret handshake. Was Ned killed in the snap as well, or has he aged by five years?
After all, the rules of the original snap dictate that 50% of Peter’s classmates should’ve been dusted by Thanos at the end of Infinity War. Half of the school would’ve lived for five years, and presumably, they will have mourned their disintegrated friends for a while before returning to class. Again, this is bound to create some awkward situations.
Now that the other half of the school (the half that was killed in the snap) has been brought back, you’ve got to assume that the school admin staff have one hell of a job on their hands. Who is in which school year at this stage? Does Peter have friends who are now five years older and wiser than him? Perhaps we’ll get some answers in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the next MCU movie, which is arriving in July.
What’s been going down in Wakanda for five years?
T’Challa got snapped and has been out of action for five years, as has his sister Shuri. Who’s been ruling Wakanda in the five years since the snap and how happy were they to give the throne back to T’Challa after snap numero dos? We know that the traditions of the Wakandan monarchy do rely on lineage but can also be challenged in a duel. Perhaps Angela Bassett’s Ramonda took charge of the country, assuming she wasn’t snapped, while her kids were dead (that’s dark). Perhaps we’ll learn more in Black Panther 2?
How was Hope with the rest of the Avengers?
The Wasp had no idea about the Thanos/Stone plot at the time of her dusting, and her only link to them was through Ant-Man, who was already on the field. Can we presume that Doctor Strange got in touch before porting her into battle? They’ve never met, but as he’s seemingly taken over from the all-knowing Ancient One, mastered the Time Stone and looked into the 14 million possible futures – including the one in which the Avengers emerge victorious – we can presume he’d know that Hope would be a powerful ally in the final stand.
Who was the kid at the funeral?
There’s a lot going on at Tony Stark’s funeral (and we explained all of it right here), but one character stands out: a sullen-looking teen with dark hair. This is no mystery, though, and this is one question that we have a clear answer for. He may look a fair bit older than he used to, but this is Harley Keener (played by Ty Simpkins), the kid that helped Tony out during Iron Man 3. It’s unclear if Harley stayed in touch with “The Mechanic” over the years, but he was clearly moved enough by their time together to show up for his funeral.
What was that Jarvis moment about?
The MCU movies have finally picked up a character that debuted on Marvel TV! Endgame legitimized ABC’s short-lived Agent Carter TV show by giving James D’Arcy’s Jarvis a brief cameo. D’Arcy played this human version of Jarvis – the Stark family butler, who served as the inspiration for Tony Stark’s Jarvis AI – across two seasons of Agent Carter.
The finale of Agent Carter took place in the late 1940s. In 1970, as Endgame shows us, Jarvis is still in the service of Howard Stark, even though Howard has aged up a bit (he’s now played by John Slattery instead of Dominic Cooper). And on that…
Exactly when does Dominic Cooper morph into John Slattery?
If Captain America: The First Avenger was made today, Marvel would have likely deployed their now famous de-ageing techniques on John Slattery, who’d already been cast in the role of Howard Stark in Iron Man 2. In that film, he appeared as the character in archive footage from around the time of the 1974 Stark Expo. But without the tech we have now, Stark Sr. was recast as Dominic Cooper for the WW2-set First Avenger.
Cooper resumed his role for the Agent Carter TV show, which took place in the late ‘40s, but a de-aged Slattery appears again in Endgame’s 1970-set segment. The years have obviously been kinder to Stark’s butler Jarvis, who looks the same as ever in Endgame (see above), but when does the Cooper/Slattery transition actually happen? Did Marvel ever consider using the cinematic equivalent of MixBooth? And what would that even look like?
How are they going to do a Wanda and Vision TV show if Vision is gone?
Vision may have been pretty definitively deactivated during the events of Infinity War (at least, if you consider having half of your head ripped out “deactivated”) – and the lack of a Mind Stone in the MCU right now puts a real spanner in the works of anyone trying to bring him back to life.
But hey, Vision isn’t a simple machine, nor was his personality entirely ruled by the mind stone. Perhaps he can be brought back. In the comics, Vision has been ripped to pieces and come back before. Sometimes without his memories or feelings. Sometimes in a new-looking body. And at least once with someone else’s personality in his body. But broadly, it’s always in a way that suggests the Vision we know and love is still in there somehow.
And look at it this way: Vision had the fortune to die on the outskirts of the most technologically-advanced nation on the planet. If anyone on Earth can reactivate Vision, you can only imagine it’s Shuri and her Wakandan scientists.
Did 2019 Cap accidentally change 2012 Cap’s life?
When modern-day Captain America travelled back to 2012 and fought himself for the Sceptre, he dropped a fairly massive truth bomb on his younger self: “Bucky is alive,” said the older Cap, which the younger Cap wasn’t meant to find out until 2014’s The Winter Soldier. These two years of foresight could throw Cap down a very different path, creating a brand new timeline in which key MCU events are altered (lest we forget that Civil War also dealt with the Bucky storyline). But, of course, there’s a chance that 2012-Cap didn’t believe this claim and still thought he was fighting the 2012 version of Loki (who’s been known to disguise himself as Cap). Speaking of whom…
What’s going to happen with Loki next?
We know that the next time Loki’s going to show up is in his eponymous Disney+ series, and Tom Hiddleston’s involvement has already been confirmed. But that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily coming back to life. There are a few possibilities:
Perhaps it’s a prequel – Loki’s life story, as narrated by the now-departed god of mischief himself. Perhaps, as in Matt Fraction’s comics run, Loki returns to life in the body of a child and the spirit of the “old” Loki advises him as a kind of evil mentor (inhabiting the body of a crow named Ikol). Perhaps Loki, having achieved a noble death, will wake up in the halls of Valhalla alongside a lot of dead Asgardians who are not entirely sure he belongs there and the entire show will be set in the afterlife.
But if you’re thinking about loose ends, the version of Loki who teleported away using the Tesseract during the alternate Battle of New York is pretty much the textbook definition of the phrase. A show about a version of Loki in his evil prime – a version who thinks he escaped the Avengers AND doesn’t have to worry about Thanos on his heels – could be just what audiences want to see. Either way, death is never final in superhero fiction, and that goes double when you’re part of a mythical pantheon which has a cycle of death and rebirth as part of their very concept.
Is Black Widow really dead?
Widow’s sacrifice on Vormir to secure the Soul Stone seemed pretty permanent, with Hawkeye stressing that there was no way she could be brought back from the beyond (which begs the question, where was her memorial service?). But we already know that a solo Black Widow movie has been greenlit and is nearing production for inclusion in the MCU’s Phase Four. Nat’s fate in Endgame makes it likely that we’re looking at a prequel – although with the timey-wimey stuff blowing the MCU wide open, there’s now also the possibility of a Widow from a different timeline/multiverse strand. Hey, it worked for Gamora.
How could Hawkeye hold the Soul Stone?
Speaking about the Infinity Stones in Guardians Of The Galaxy, Benicio del Toro’s Collector described them like this: “These stones, it seems, can only be brandished by beings of extraordinary strength.” We later saw the entire Guardians team, including the superpowered Peter Quill, struggling to contain the sheer might of the Power Stone.
In Endgame, though, we see Hawkeye holding the Soul Stone in the palm of his hand like it’s no big whup. How he manages to do this isn’t explained, which leaves us with more questions: do the new Quantum-Realm-ready Avengers suits contain some kind of Infinity-Stone-dampening technology? Is Hawkeye more powerful than we know? Or, and this is the theory that seems most plausible, does the Soul Stone have different rules to the other stones?
Perhaps, once you’ve earned the Soul Stone by sacrificing someone that you love, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a being of “extraordinary strength” or not. Or maybe the writers just chose to forget the rules because they needed Hawkeye to bring the Soul Stone to Earth.
How did Thanos’ army get there at the end?
After evil-Nebula played around with the Avengers’ time-machine, 2014-Thanos flew into the modern day and kicked off the film’s final battle. But we only saw one ship flying through the Quantum Realm and into the present timeline, so where did those millions of Thanos-following soldiers in the battle come from?
There are a few potential answers to this question. Maybe Thanos can cram that many people onto his massive ship, or perhaps there were other ships that came through the time machine that we didn’t see. Or could there be a chance that 2014-Thanos summoned the armies of modern-day-Thanos, who’ve been sitting around awaiting instructions for the last five years? That one feels like a longshot, but enough barmy stuff happens in this film to make it seem plausible.