Watch This Before You See Avengers: Endgame

As we buckle in for the forthcoming premiere
of Avengers: Endgame, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of: after all, we’re talking
about 21 movies over about a decade. It’s the perfect time to look back over the
history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and go over everything fans should have in mind
before scanning that ticket, ordering some popcorn, and settling in for Marvel’s cinematic
event of the year. A quick word of warning: spoilers for Captain
Marvel ahead! One consistent thread throughout many of the
MCU’s films before Infinity War has been the impending approach of Thanos. We saw elements of the Mad Titan all the way
back in the first Avengers movie, when we caught a shot of his grinning face in the
mid-credits scene. He played a role in the Guardians of the Galaxy
franchise as well and reappeared at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron when he donned
an Infinity Gauntlet and uttered the famous line: “Fine. I’ll do it myself.” Infinity War brought Thanos crashing into
the primary narrative, as the big purple one traipsed around the galaxy, gathering up the
Infinity Stones. He already had the Power Stone when the film
began, and his encounter with Thor and the surviving Asgardians in Infinity War’s opening
moments left him with the Tesseract, which hid the Space Stone. He proceeded from there to get the Reality
Stone on Knowhere, the Soul Stone on Vormir after sacrificing Gamora, and the Time Stone
after Doctor Strange surrendered it to him on Titan. Last but not least, he headed to Wakanda,
where he plucked the Mind Stone out of Vision’s forehead, completed his gauntlet, and snapped
his fingers, wiping out half of the life in the universe in what has been dubbed “the
Decimation.” Over time, the Avengers lineup has come to
include characters like War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, and Spider-Man, but
it all started with the Big Six. As The Avengers played out, a nucleus of heroes
slowly came together, including Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, Black Widow, and Captain
America. 2016’s Civil War saw the group split, with
Cap, Hawkeye, and Black Widow heading off into exile in the aftermath. While almost everyone was involved in Infinity
War, the heroes weren’t fully unified throughout the film. But as savvy fans quickly realized, as the
dust from the Decimation settled, not one of the original Avengers had been dusted. Half of the universe’s population may be gone,
but it sure is convenient that all six of the original Avengers survived the dusting…
isn’t it? It seems natural that Endgame would pick up
the storyline where Infinity War left off, just after Thanos’ Decimation swept half of
the life in the universe into the dustbin. That actually might not be the case, however. For quite a while now the timing of Endgame
within the MCU’s greater timeline has been mysteriously impossible to pin down. Some rumors suggest it’ll start with as much
as a five-year jump into the future. So which is it? Well, as each new trailer has hit, it seems
the answer might be “both.” The key to it all: the hair. In the first Endgame teaser, Natasha Romanoff
is seen with the blonde, short hair that she sported throughout Infinity War. In a more recent Endgame trailer, though,
she’s shown repeatedly with red hair past her shoulders, with wisps of blonde on the
end, indicating that she’s been growing it out for some time. However it all pieces together, it’s pretty
certain that we’re in for some kind of time jump, or jumps, either before or throughout
the film. If you haven’t seen Ant-Man and the Wasp yet,
you really ought to before you see Endgame, if not just for the fun of it all, then for
the Quantum Realm. While we caught a glimpse of in the first
Ant-Man, the sequel dove headlong into exploring that other-worldly dimension as the team tried
their hardest to get Janet van Dyne out after decades trapped there. Hank and Hope created a Quantum device that,
by the end of the movie, facilitated Quantum Realm travel quite easily. This led to the now super-important lines
from original Wasp Janet Van Dyne: “And don’t get sucked into a time vortex. We won’t be able to save you.” That, of course, is a huge hint that there
will be some time traveling shenanigans in Endgame. We don’t know how Scott Lang makes his way
out of the Quantum Realm, but it certainly appears that the super-powerful microverse
is going to feature fairly heavily in Endgame. In fact, Hank Pym actor Michael Douglas even
went so far as to say it’s “the key” to Phase 4. Endgame promises to be a heck of a long movie
and the kind of watching experience that’s better off not interrupted by sudden attempts
to remember why a character is or isn’t in a certain location. So let’s recap where some of our beloved heroes,
at least those who weren’t snapped, were when Infinity War wrapped up. Tony Stark and Nebula are the only survivors
of the snap still stranded on Titan. However, the first Endgame trailer reminded
us that the pair have access to the Guardians of the Galaxy’s ship, the Benatar. While their trip home may be fraught with
peril, another trailer seems to indicate that a reunion is in order for Stark, Nebula, and
the gang on Earth. Meanwhile, Cap, Black Widow, Banner, Thor,
Okoye, Rocket, and Rhodey were all present at the fight in Wakanda as the
dust of their allies settled around them. Once again, the trailers seem to hint that
at least some of them will have headed back to the Avengers HQ in the interim. Scott Lang was literally trapped in the Quantum
Realm by the snap, with the trailers showing that he will, somehow, make his way out alive. Finally, Carol Danvers was away when the snap
occurred. But her own film’s mid-credits scene shows
that she’ll respond to Nick Fury’s pager by showing up on Earth again. One sleeper character in all of this is Tony’s
fiancee and Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts. While she did play a brief role in Infinity
War, Potts’ presence was chiefly marked by her repeated insistence that Stark should
hang up his suit for good, followed by a brief, alarming phone call as Tony sped away into
space on the flying donut. But while Pep may have dropped off the radar
at that point, it hardly means she’s sitting out of Endgame. Potts has played a quietly pivotal role in
Tony Stark’s life, providing stability, direction, and wisdom, and giving him a reason to fight. There’s a good chance she’ll actually play
a bigger role than anyone might anticipate. Gwyneth Paltrow has announced that Endgame
will be her last MCU performance, at least for the time being, which makes this film
an ideal spot to drop Potts into the thick of things, maybe even in the form of her own
comic book superhero persona, Rescue. The sight of Potts saving Stark for a second
time after she armored up in Iron Man 3 would be about as sweet as it gets. Of course, if we’re going to cover Stark and
Potts, it’s important to go into Endgame with one other character on our minds: Steve Rogers. Captain America has been an integral presence
throughout the MCU since he first donned that shield and ran out into the battlefields of
World War II. Along with Stark, the second Endgame trailer
focuses heavily on Cap, showing multiple scenes of his past films while featuring his plan
to do whatever it takes. “Whatever it takes.” “Whatever it takes.” “Whatever it takes.” The fact that he kicks off the team’s mantra
isn’t surprising, coming from the man that has served as the Avengers’ moral compass
for years. Rogers’ story arc has been dramatic, to say
the least. He started out desperate to prove himself,
ended up saving the world from the threat of Red Skull, and then survived an icy nap
for decades. Since then, he’s unofficially co-led the Avengers
with Stark, with his storyline feeling like it’s been building towards something big for
quite a while. Cap actor Chris Evans even caused a stir in
late 2018 when he tweeted what appeared to be an emotional farewell to the MCU. While the tweet was excused away, it’s been
hard to shake the uncomfortable feeling that Cap could be in for a tragic story arc in
Endgame. It’s something worth preparing for, at least. It’s impossible to talk about Infinity War
without addressing the conspicuous absence of the Hulk. As the film opened, Hulk was coming off a
galaxy-wide romp that saw him as a gladiator hero on Sakaar, followed by a battle on Asgard
that saw him recklessly tackle a giant wolf and smack an apocalyptic fire demon in the
face. The guy was on a roll, but it only took Thanos
a few seconds and a handful of well-placed punches to get the Green Machine to go down
like a sack of potatoes. Heimdall literally gave his life to save the
Emerald Giant, yet the rest of the film hardly showcased a Hulk that was thankful in the
least. In the battle with Ebony Maw in New York followed
by the big fight in Wakanda, Hulk refused to come out to help, leaving the mild-mannered
Banner to do his best with a Hulkbuster suit. While Hulk may have appeared scared, co-director
Joe Russo explained that he’s simply, quote, “tired of playing hero to Bruce Banner.” Actor Mark Ruffalo has also gone on record
claiming that the two characters are “headed for a showdown,” adding in another interview
that the Hulk has been going through a three-movie story of his own that will end with Endgame. However it plays out, we should expect to
see some green fireworks at some point. Thor has been an MCU staple for a long time,
and the character has definitely been put through the wringer. While he started out as a jolly exile, smashing
coffee cups and asking to ride around on pets, Thor has slowly been shaped into a real leader
through tragedy and grief. He’s lost his entire family, as well as his
home and most of his people. And to top it all off, he also lost his mighty
hammer when his sister crushed it to bits. “You have no idea what’s possible.” To sum it up, Thor has gone through a lot. He put that grief and anger to good use, spending
the greater part of Infinity War off making his new weapon, Stormbreaker, and when he
arrived in Wakanda he was swift to put it to use: in fact, he ended up being the only
Avenger who dealt what looked to be a truly deadly blow to the Mad Titan. Of course, he should have gone for the head. That attack worked mainly because Thor had
the element of surprise, when he and Thanos meet again, things could go very differently…
and possibly because, thanks to time travel, he might be doing things he already did in
Infinity War differently… maybe this time he will have gone for the head, finally putting
Thanos’s advice to good use. Another character glaringly absent from Infinity
War was Clint Barton. Everyone’s favorite sharpshooter sat out the
fight with Thanos after the events of Captain America: Civil War left him under house arrest. But while Hawkeye may not have quite the same
power level in a fight as Hulk or Thor, his presence was seriously missed by fans of the
MCU. Sure, he may not have been able to turn the
tide of the battle in Wakanda, but unlike Thor, he definitely would’ve gone for the
head once Thanos showed up. The trailers for Endgame strongly suggest
that Barton will make his return with the new persona of Ronin, a name he briefly adopted
in the comics. The new Barton looks meaner than ever, with
an ferocious-looking mohawk and an apparent thirst for vengeance, fueled by the potential
loss of all or at least part of his family in Thanos’ Decimation. Another character to remember heading into
Endgame is Carol Danvers. The spacefaring superhero electrified audiences
when she made her debut in March 2019. Up until then, Captain Marvel had only been
hinted at during the end credits scene from Infinity War, with her red, blue, and gold
insignia showing up in Nick Fury’s special pager. The tease sparked much fan speculation over
how her eventual arrival might turn the tables on Thanos in the aftermath of the snap. As Captain Marvel’s solo movie demonstrates,
this war-fighter is incredibly powerful, capable of taking on an entire fleet of spaceships
and warheads single-handedly. The end credits scene of her film reveals
that Captain Marvel will indeed find her way back to Earth to answer Fury’s call, so now
the major question going into Endgame is how she’ll help bring down Thanos and reverse
the effects of the Decimation. She probably won’t be able to pull it off
alone, but as the strongest hero in the MCU, she’ll probably be a pretty big help. The end of Infinity War showed us a brief
epilogue of Thanos beginning what appeared to be a new life as a semi-retired farmer. The Mad Titan is seen in a small hut, watching
the sun rise on what he perhaps imagines to be a grateful universe. Of course, we all know Endgame will show that
the universe really isn’t that grateful for his actions after all. But just because they want vengeance doesn’t
mean our intrepid heroes will be able to just pop over and pay the Mad Titan a visit…
right? Where is Thanos at the end of Infinity War,
anyway? It seems that the Titan has chosen a location
that the Russo brothers have dubbed “Titan II.” The trailers have shown more of his retirement,
with scenes of Thanos walking his fields and a shot of his armor hung up like a scarecrow. In addition, a purported leak for the movie
has hinted that Nebula might have knowledge of a place that her father was preparing to
retire to after his work was done. Wherever the so-called Titan II is, we can
assume that Thanos won’t be spending time there in peaceful solitude for very long. One special element of Infinity War was the
crossover of the Guardians of the Galaxy with the rest of the MCU. The scene where Iron Man, Spider-Man, and
Doctor Strange bump into Star-Lord and the gang on Titan was well worth the wait, feeling
more so than usual like seeing a crossover comic book story come to life. “I’m gonna ask you this one time. Where is Gamora?” “I’ll do you one better. Who’s Gamora?” “I’ll do you one better: Why is Gamora?” The Guardians ended up playing fairly pivotal
roles throughout the film, too. Rocket helped Thor build his new weapon, while
Groot literally lent a hand in order to give the ax a handle. Gamora tried her best to stop her adopted
father, but ultimately ended up leading him to the Soul Stone, and losing her life. On Titan, Mantis played a critical role in
the battle by putting Thanos to sleep at a crucial moment. Who would have thought she’d be that useful
in a fight? But if you’re going to highlight the heroics,
then you’ve also got to balance it out with one of the most boneheaded moves of the whole
film: Star-Lord’s doomed assault on Thanos just when his teammates were about to get
the gauntlet off his hand. From there, things went south pretty quickly,
with the Decimation leaving everyone on the team except Rocket and Nebula a pile of ashes. While Rocket’s role in Endgame will likely
involve helping the Earthbound heroes reach Thanos, Nebula’s role might be even more interesting,
as she was a key player in defeating Thanos in the comics. It’s hard to talk about Infinity War without
bringing up Doctor Strange. Since his entrance into the MCU in 2016, Strange
has played a major role in the series’ greater storyline. In Thor: Ragnarok, he helped Thor and Loki
find Odin; in Infinity War, he pushed the plot forward in a few major ways. For one thing, the Master of the Mystic Arts
was also the keeper of the Time Stone. This made him a prime target on Thanos’ hit
list, with Ebony Maw coming to New York specifically to retrieve it. It was Strange who used his powers to peer
ahead at 14,000,605 future scenarios, only one of which ended in Thanos’ defeat. He played a courageous role in the physical
fight against Thanos, too, but his real strategy started coming together when he unexpectedly
surrendered the stone in exchange for Tony Stark’s life. While Strange may have faded away in the snap
like so many others, he was pretty clearly setting things up for the “endgame” he predicted,
leaving the surviving heroes in the one timeline where there’s any hope for victory. It’s also been noted that Tilda Swinton will
be returning for Endgame as the Ancient One, Strange’s deceased mentor. How she’ll fit into the picture remains a
mystery, but the fact that she’s showing up from beyond the grave probably speaks to the
good Doctor’s importance to the storyline. There’s no doubt that Endgame will be an epic
capstone to the first three phases of the MCU, and Marvel seems to be just getting ramped
up at this point. After Endgame closes out the story arc for
the Infinity Stones saga, a whole new chapter begins, and it’s loaded with potential. Captain Marvel’s arrival bodes well for the
Avengers, as Brie Larson is reportedly signed on for seven features and seems poised to
be the face of the MCU for quite a while. In addition, the Disney/Fox merger promises
to add characters like the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer, X-Men, and Deadpool to
the MCU while also opening the doors for villains like Magneto and Doctor Doom. Sequels for the Black Panther and Doctor Strange
franchises are in the works as well, while Disney’s rehiring of James Gunn has put the
Guardians of the Galaxy series back in fans’ good graces. So while Endgame is likely to be the last
go-around for a few beloved characters and storylines, there’s plenty more being built
for the next chapters in a universe that’s getting bigger all the time. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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