Warning: This post contains spoilers for all of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The shocking end of Infinity War left fans with more questions than answers. Though Thanos (Josh Brolin) destroyed half of all life in the universe, the original Avengers team — Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) — survived. Now they have to undo Thanos’ damage in Avengers: Endgame.
Endgame carries a heavy burden: Not only does it have to wrangle with one of the biggest twists of cinematic history, but it also has to supply a satisfying ending to the Avengers saga. Endgame, out April 26, will be the fourth movie in the Avengers series and the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Several of the cast members have said that they plan to leave the franchise after this film.
So how, exactly, will the current Avengers team undo Thanos’ actions and recover superheroes like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland)? Remember, these are the very same heroes who could replace the likes of Cap and Iron Man as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The plan will probably involve some time travel, resurrection and an essential assist from Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Marvel’s latest and greatest superhero.
Here are all the questions that Avengers: Endgame needs to answer:
Who really died in Avengers: Infinity War?
At the end of Infinity War, Thanos attained all the Infinity Stones, snapped his fingers, and destroyed half of all life in the universe — including half of the superheroes in the movie. But don’t worry: Their deaths probably aren’t permanent. Spider-Man disappeared in the culling at the end of Infinity War, but he will star in his own solo film, set after the events of Endgame, this summer. Black Panther also disintegrated, but the character is set to appear in Black Panther 2.
The remaining Avengers will likely find a way to bring back their dusted compatriots. Depending on how they go about it, that could mean undoing just the snap (bringing back the half of people who disappeared) or going even further back in time to bring back other fallen soldiers.
Will Gamora, Loki and Heimdall return?
Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) all died in the movie before Thanos’ culling. In the opening minutes of the film, Thanos kills Heimdall after he sends Hulk to earth to warn the Avengers of an impending battle. Thanos then chokes Loki to death and quips, “No more resurrections this time.” (Loki has a tendency to “die” and then pop up again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) Later, Thanos sacrifices his adopted daughter Gamora in order to attain the Soul Stone.
If the Avengers do indeed travel back in time during Endgame, they could save several of their compatriots along the way. The most likely to be resurrected is Gamora: If the Avengers get their hands on the Soul Stone before Thanos, he will never have to kill Gamora in order to hold it himself. (But who will the Avengers sacrifice in order to gain the stone?)
Loki is perhaps the second most likely character to return: Thanos is practically begging for the tricky god to return to life by uttering that line. Plus, Loki is set to star in his own show on Disney’s new streaming service.
How did Ant-Man escape the Quantum Realm?
The last we saw Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) in the movies, he had entered the Quantum Realm for an experiment just before Thanos’ culling. The scientists who were supposed to pull him out — Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) — disintegrated in the culling. Ant-Man looked to be stuck in subatomic size.
And yet Ant-Man has shown up in all the trailers for Avengers: Endgame, seemingly life-sized. Some fans are theorizing that Ant-Man’s escape from the Quantum Realm somehow allowed him to time travel: In the first trailer for Endgame, security video footage of Ant-Man that places him outside Avengers headquarters reads “archive,” and Captain America asks Black Widow is they’re watching an old video. It’s hard to make out, but it looks the footage may even date back to the 1980s. So, in theory, Ant-Man could have found a way to turn back time by traveling through the Quantum Realm and will offer that information to the other Avengers.
However, how Ant-Man escaped in the first place when Janet Van Dyne — a capable scientist — was trapped in the Quantum Realm for years, has yet to be explained.
What happened to Hawkeye?
Bad news for fans of Clint Barton’s adorable family: they’re probably all dead. In Avengers: Infinity War, the superheroes discuss how Clint has left the super-team to spend more time with his family. Both trailers for Endgame show Black Widow tracking down a lone Hawkeye in Tokyo, standing over a group of people he’s probably just killed. Fans have speculated that he will take on the Ronin persona from the comic books and spend at least part of the film trying to avenge his family.
Will the Avengers travel through time?
In order to undo Thanos’ actions, the superheroes will probably have to turn back the clock.
One of the Endgame trailers includes a line from Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) from Captain America: Winter Soldier: “The world has changed. None of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best we can do is to start over.” This line seems to carry a lot of weight in the trailer and could offer clues to the plot of the new film.
Since Peggy uttered these words, the Avengers have learned that people can “go back” with the Time Stone. Thanos did just that in Infinity War. “The best we can do is start over” also suggests that maybe the Avengers will indeed try to start a new timeline, one in which they can prevent Thanos from ever acquiring the Infinity Stones.
In order to travel through time, the Avengers will need to somehow get the Time Stone back from Thanos. (Thanos took the Stone from Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, in Infinity War.) Alternatively, they will need to find another way to jump in time — perhaps through the Quantum Realm.
Will the Avengers return to the Battle of New York?
Assuming the Avengers will indeed defeat Thanos through time travel, many fans have speculated that the group will wind back the clock to the Battle of New York from the first Avengers film.
Conveniently, the original Avengers all survived the culling (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye). The plot of Endgame will probably focus on that core team and bring their story to a close. The original Avengers cemented their partnership in the Battle of New York when they saved the Earth from Loki.
Fans have also pointed out that three Infinity Stones were located in New York during that fight: Loki had the Mind Stone, the Space Stone was stored in the Tesseract and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) held the Time Stone in the Sanctum Sanctorum. If the Avengers travel through time and revisit this battle, they could gather three of the six stones at once.
What is Captain Marvel’s role?
In Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers gives Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) a tricked-out pager to alert her to any emergencies on earth. He resists calling the superhero when a Norse God tries to take over the planet or when a maniacal robot threatens to destroy humanity. But he does page her during the post-credits scene for Infinity War.
Captain Marvel answers the call and appears at Avengers headquarters during the after-credits scene for her namesake film. She appears in the trailer for Endgame, too, staring down Thor.
And yet it’s unclear what role Carol will have in the fight against Thanos. The trailer seems to suggest that if Thor heads off on a mission to space, Carol would make a great ally. And given that Carol stopped dozens of warheads headed for earth in her movie, if there’s any superhero who can take on Thanos, it’s her.
What characters who weren’t in Infinity War might show up?
Marvel loves a cameo: Remember when Red Skull (Ross Marquand) randomly showed up in Avengers: Infinity War? And a few actors have already hinted that they will make surprise appearances in Endgame.
Tessa Thompson hinted that her character Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok will show up in Endgame with a recent tweet about her “two films” coming out this summer. (The other is Men in Black: International with Thor co-star Chris Hemsworth.) Valkyrie escaped with Thor and Loki from Asgard on a ship at the end of Ragnarok but was conspicuously missing from that same vessel when Thanos came on board and killed Loki. Perhaps she headed to Earth and will reunite with Thor there. Marvel also recently revealed via a set of posters that Valkyrie is still alive.
Frank Grillo confirmed that his character Crossbones will also appear in Endgame. Grillo played the HYDRA agent who infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. and tried to kill Captain America in both Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. He died in the explosion intended for Cap, and Grillo has suggested that Crossbones’ appearance in Endgame will happen in a flashback.
The Ancient One
Tilda Swinton, who played the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, is listed as a cast member on IMDb. The Ancient One taught Doctor Strange how to wield magic, but died at the end of that film. A meeting between her and the Avengers will most likely be facilitated through time travel.
The directors have confirmed that Stan Lee, the prolific comic book writer who died last year, did film a final Marvel cameo for Endgame. But they’ve remained mum on who exactly he will play.
Does Rocket get that arm?
As fans of Guardians of the Galaxy know, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) is obsessed with prosthetics and is constantly taking them from people. In Infinity War, he covets the hyper-powerful prosthetic arm of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). If the Avengers are able to bring the fallen heroes, including Bucky, back, stealing that arm will be high on Rocket’s to-do list — after hugging his long-lost compatriots, of course.
Who will survive?
Marvel has been teasing the fact that one or more of the original Avengers will have to sacrifice themselves to restore the world to its normal order. From a plot perspective, the death of one of the heroes makes sense. They’re facing their fiercest enemy yet, one who already defeated them in the last film. And then there’s the issue of attaining the Infinity Stones: Thanos had to sacrifice someone he loved (Gamora) in Infinity War in order to attain the Soul Stone. It’s possible that the Avengers would have to make a similar choice in order to attain that same stone.
Several of the original cast members have also expressed their desire to be done with the superheroes they’ve portrayed for the last decade. Chris Evans notoriously tweeted what looked to be a goodbye message on the last day of filming for Endgame: “Playing this role over the last 8 years has been an honor.” Captain America may survive Infinity War, but Evans’ contract is up after this movie, as is that of Chris Hemsworth, who said that he’s “done” with Thor after Endgame.
Another candidate for either death or retirement at the end of the movie Robert Downey Jr., who kicked off the entire franchise with Iron Man way back in 2008. Downey Jr. is conspicuously missing from the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home — which is set after the events of Endgame — even though he played mentor to Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War.