It’s time for the Avengers to live up to their name.
Marvel Studios released a massive collection of character posters for next month’s Avengers: Endgame, the twenty-second and final film in what they are now calling the Infinity Saga. Some of them, however, are not like the others.
As you probably recall (unless you buried the memory, in which case we’re really sorry about this), only the original Avengers plus a handful of others were left standing after the conclusion of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, due to a slight case of the complete eradication of half of all life in the universe. Thanos collected all of the Infinity Stones and housed them in the Infinity Gauntlet, Thor didn’t go for the head, and with a snap of his fingers, the Mad Titan achieved his goal. He won, leaving the survivors to literally pick up the dusty, crumbling pieces of their fallen comrades, and leaving all of us with our jaws on the floor of the theater. The theme of these posters is simple and direct: “Avenge the Fallen,” a task which will be left to the characters that are rendered in color. The ones who didn’t make it are rendered in black and white, and — even though we know for certain that at least a few of them will somehow be recovered from whatever void the Snappening (or Decimation, if you prefer the official lingo) dispatched them to — seeing all of their downcast faces really just kind of stings. Thanks a lot, Marvel.
Without further ado, here they are — all freaking 32 of them, accompanied by our brief yet insightful expert commentary.
Let’s just get this out of the way: the guy who kicked off the whole enchilada will play a pivotal role in the Infinity Saga’s conclusion, and will probably play no more role of any kind thereafter. Robert Downey, Jr. turned Tony Stark/Iron Man into a household name, and his contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — heck, to superhero films in general — simply can’t be overstated. Unless Marvel Studios is preparing to spring the mother of all surprises on us and announce Iron Man 4 later this year (good luck), Endgame will almost certainly be the last hurrah for the iconic character; let’s hope the flick gives Mr. Stank the sendoff he richly deserves.
Speaking of sendoffs, if there’s one likely to hurt even more than Stark’s, it’s this one. Chris Evans has indicated strongly that he’ll be hanging up Steve Rogers’ shield for good after this film; he has plenty of other things brewing, and is even said to be looking forward to trying a director’s chair on for size. But if you’re a Marvel fan, you will agree with this statement: Evans is Captain America, he will always be Captain America, and no Titan — Mad or otherwise — can ever truly take him away from us. Our sadness meter is already inching toward the red, so let’s move on.
Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, has played a pivotal role in the MCU since 2010’s Iron Man 2. Sure, she’s got a solo vehicle in the works — but we all know that Marvel likes to play fast and loose with its timeline, and it’s in no way guaranteed that her standalone won’t be set at some point in the past. One thing we know for sure: if she does go down, she’ll go down fighting.
Ah, the Mighty Thor; God of Thunder, wielder of the insanely powerful Stormbreaker axe, with which he really should have gone for the head. Of course, it’s been speculated based on one of Endgame‘s trailers and the strong likelihood of a time travel element being in play, that he just might get a chance to correct that mistake. If so, it’s unlikely that he’ll miss that big purple dome a second time.
While Bruce Banner was present for the events of Endgame, the Other Guy notably decided to sit out most of the party (if indeed you can call that a party). Not that the Hulk was scared, mind you — just tired of always having to bail puny Banner out of whatever trouble he’d gotten himself into. Of course, it looks pretty likely that we’ll see a new dynamic between the two in Endgame, one which might finally see the scientist and the brute get onto the same page, so to speak.
Completely absent from Infinity War was Clint Barton/Hawkeye, but we know he’ll be a factor this time around — albeit in his new, grittier guise of Ronin. It’s been speculated that he may be driven by losing his family in the Decimation, although the Endgame trailer appears to show him taking on a young girl as a protégé — a girl who may not be his daughter, but rather a character from Marvel’s comics canon that we haven’t seen onscreen before. Whatever the case, Barton will be joining the fight, and he’ll be fighting angry.
Here we have perhaps the biggest wildcard to appear in Endgame: Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, who wields the kind of power that Thanos simply hasn’t had to account for previously. Will she be enough of a handful to allow the Avengers to somehow gain the upper hand? Will she bring some intergalactic buddies to the festivities? Or, will she simply beat the Mad Titan’s big purple ass? There are myriad possibilities.
If there’s a bigger wildcard than Danvers, though, it may be Scott Lang, the Ant-Man. His familiarity with the Quantum Realm, the technology used to exploit it, and those time vortexes he was cautioned not to fall into right before all of his compatriots turned to dust could prove invaluable to the Avengers’ strategy to reverse the damage wrought by the Decimation. He’s goofy, he’s tiny (except when he’s huge), and he’s been inconsequential to the overall story arc of the Infinity Saga thus far — and it’d be just like Marvel to make him the key to our heroes’ eventual victory.
Sure, all of these heroes have a gigantic bone to pick with Thanos — but his adopted daughter, Nebula, has perhaps the biggest. Hey, if your Dad literally took you apart and reassembled you dozens of times over in the interest of turning you into an unstoppable assassin, you probably wouldn’t be too happy about it either. Oh, and also consider that in the pages of Marvel comics, it was Nebula who was able to wrest the Infinity Gauntlet from dear old Dad; while this created a few more problems, it eventually led to the Mad Titan’s defeat.
The General of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje, Okoye watched her King turn to dust — and if we know anything about her, it’s that she’s not gonna waste too much time grieving. As is her wont, she’ll likely fall back on her philosophy that there are few problems that kicking insane amounts of ass can’t fix.
James Rhodes, AKA War Machine, has also been around since the very beginning; he’s seen it all, and even battled back from being paralyzed to don the armor once more. The trailers for Endgame have shown us that this time around, he’ll have an upgrade or two; not only do his eyepieces and arc reactor now glow a menacing red (which has to mean something), but he’ll be rolling into battle with a shoulder-mounted, gun-toting raccoon. We could all use one of those sometimes.
Endgame will also be the last go-round for Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s ace assistant turned true love. Will she, as in the comics, finally get to wear the Rescue armor? The last time she got to kick some ass was in 2013’s Iron Man 3, and the stakes are just a bit higher here. We’re rooting for ya, Pepper.
Thor’s fellow Asgardian Valkyrie was conspicuously absent from Infinity War, but the events of Thor: Ragnarok showed us that she’s a more than capable combatant (even when stinking drunk). She’ll bring a true warrior’s mentality to the table, and let’s face it, the Avengers need all of that they can get at this point.
Speaking of the warrior’s mentality, this sweet rabbit is going to be looking to dole out hot lead to anybody and anything that gives him an excuse. Aside from Nebula, he was the only Guardian of the Galaxy standing at Infinity War‘s conclusion — and in the absence of Groot, he’ll be riding freakin’ War Machine into battle. Who wants to face that combination? Absolutely nobody, that’s who.
Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, may have gotten dusted — but his fellow Kamar Taj alumnus Wong is no slouch. For that matter, his in-depth knowledge of the Infinity Stones could help to give the Avengers an ace in the hole as seek to reverse the damage done by Thanos. He may only have the one name, but Beyoncé he ain’t.
Tony Stark’s right hand man Happy Hogan has seen a lot of weirdness go down, and he isn’t done yet. One thing is fairly certain, though: he’s probably safe. He’ll be appearing in July’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, and likely not in the form a not-so-friendly ghost who appears to begrudgingly counsel young Peter Parker.
And now that we’ve seen all of those still among the living, let’s get into those who… aren’t. Many will make a triumphant return, some almost certainly won’t — but the heroes dusted in the Decimation will all loom large over Endgame‘s proceedings.
King T’Challa, the Black Panther, was one of Infinity War‘s more shocking casualties; the guy survived being hurled off a cliff, but couldn’t escape the power of the Snap. Fortunately, he’s almost certain to be among those coming back from the void — Marvel has a sequel to his box office busting 2018 solo vehicle in active development.
Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord. This freakin’ guy. Look, he’s very capable, smarter than he seems, and has great taste in music; he also delivered the single most poorly-timed sucker punch in the history of anything. He needs to return just so he can get sternly taken to task for that, and maybe he can even find a way to redeem himself while he’s at it. A tall order, we know.
Ouch! Right in the heart. Gamora’s death was the one of the most shocking not only in Infinity War, but perhaps in all of the MCU, as her adopted father Thanos tossed her to her doom as a requirement for securing the Soul Stone. However, it’s been speculated that she may still live within that very Stone, making her return… well, not impossible, we’ll put it that way.
Doctor Strange is the one guy who knows the only possible avenue of victory for the Avengers — having reviewed all possible outcomes of the Thanos situation existent in the Multiverse — and he’s currently dust in the wind. It seemed a little (okay, a lot) out of character for him to surrender the Time Stone to Thanos in exchange for Stark’s life, but his final words before going all crumbly — “It was the only way” — suggest that even in “death,” the good Doctor has a plan, and it is in motion. Why the quotation marks, you ask? Because like T’Challa, Strange has a solo sequel in the works, making his permanent demise highly unlikely.
Speaking of which: Peter Parker, the spectacular Spider-Man, will see his next solo flick drop in just a few months. We know that Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place after — indeed, immediately after — the events of Endgame. So, as utterly heartbreaking as his Infinity War fate was (and it really, really was), he’ll be back to web sling once more.
Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has known practically nothing but tragedy during her time in the MCU; she was even forced to kill her true love, the Vision, only for Thanos to use the Time Stone to undo the action… and kill him again. We know that the Avengers will somehow find a way to restore at least some of their comrades to the land of the living; Thanos had better hope that Wanda isn’t among them.
Ouch! Dammit, Marvel, stop punching us in the heart. Thanos took an extremely formidable piece off the board when he extracted the Mind Stone from Vision’s forehead, leaving the Avenger a cold, gray husk. For that matter, his love Wanda is among the most powerful characters in the MCU… and the fact that the pair have a limited series in development over at Disney+ is a pretty strong indicator that they’ll both be back to bring the pain.
With the words, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger initiative,” Nick Fury became the glue that holds the entire MCU together. Without his quick thinking — putting out a page to Captain Marvel with his dusting imminent — our heroes might never have stood a chance. Heck, without his vision, there never would have been a team assembled to counter the threat in the first place. Sure, Samuel L. Jackson’s initial contract with Marvel Studios is up — but Fury, in the parlance of the franchise, will return. He’s playing a key role in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Jackson has said that he’ll gladly play the superspy until he’s 80. In our humble opinion, Marvel should let him.
We swear, Marvel, one more heart-punch and we’re just going to say screw this entire article and go out for ice cream. Beloved trickster god Loki’s brutal demise at the hands of Thanos in Infinity War‘s opening moments let us know what we were in for, and well, we have good news and bad news. The good: Loki also has his own limited series in development at Disney+, with Tom Hiddleston set to reprise the role. The bad: it will take place in multiple time periods, well before the events of Infinity War, meaning that Loki’s death may very well be permanent. We’d rather not think about that too much, so onward we go.
What?! Okay, just… no. Sure, the Endgame trailer revealed that T’Challa’s genius, badass little sister Shuri was among the missing in the wake of the Decimation, but we were holding out hope. That hope has now crumbled to dust, just like… well, Shuri, apparently. Bring her back, Marvel. Just do it.
We must now own up to the fact that we were bluffing with that ice cream threat. We all saw Teenage Groot disintegrating right in front of Rocket, but did you know that every “I am Groot” represents a line of dialogue to which only James Gunn, the filmmaker behind the Guardians of the Galaxy series, is privy? And, did you know that Gunn went on record saying that the last thing Groot said to Rocket before blowing away in the wind was “Dad?” Look, if we have to feel the pain, so do you.
Hope Van Dyne, AKA the Wasp, also happens to know a thing or two about the Quantum Realm and time vortexes. Although the Endgame trailer put to rest any doubt that Scott would escape from the Quantum Realm (where he was left hanging at the conclusion of Ant-Man and the Wasp), we’ve yet to see exactly how — but you can bet your bottom dollar that once he finds out the fate that befell Hope, he’ll be determined to bring her back if there’s even the faintest possibility of doing so. Heck, Hope’s mother Janet was lost in the subatomic world for 30 years, and they found her.
Captain America didn’t just lose the battle against Thanos, he also lost his two best friends. Assuming that Evans is indeed done with the role of Cap, though, it stands to reason that Sam Wilson, the Falcon, may very well return to take up the shield, as the character has done in comics lore. Then again…
Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, has also done time as Captain America in the pages of Marvel comics. It should also be noted that he and Falcon are heavily rumored to have one of those Disney+ limited series on tap for them in the near future, and considering that the pair haven’t gotten a lot of free time to go on adventures together in between movies, it’s a safe bet that this series would take place after the events of Endgame.
Oh, Mantis. You came so very, very close to disabling Thanos long enough for Iron Man and Spider-Man to yank off that Gauntlet and put an end to his plan once and for all. If it so happens that you and Quill are both fortunate enough to be returned to life, we sincerely hope that you are the one to tell him just how hard he failed in your inimitable deadpan fashion.
And finally, it’s Drax the Destroyer, who had everybody he cared about destroyed by Thanos long before it was fashionable. If he happens to return — and if Dave Bautista is to be believed, it’s a slam dunk — he’s going to be just as single-mindedly focused on revenge as ever, and he deserves it. But he’ll have to get in line, and as you’ve just seen, it’s a pretty long line.
There you have it, true believers: your stars of Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of the single most ambitious storytelling endeavor in film history. We’ve been promised that the MCU is going to look quite a bit different after this flick, and we already have a race of near-immortal, superpowered beings and a deadly master of kung-fu coming our way — to say nothing of the fact that a certain team of heroic mutants and a Merc with a Mouth are sure to enter the fray sometime within the next few years.It’s the end of the MCU as we know it, and we feel… conflicted. We can hardly wait to see what magic Marvel Studios makes after the decade-plus long Infinity Saga finally comes to a close, yet knowing that we’ll never see a number of these faces in an MCU flick again is almost too much to get our heads around. Alas, all good things must come to an end — and this is the Endgame.