Explainers

Avengers Endgame Ending, Explained

Updated April 29, 2019
16 min read

SPOILER ALERT: Right in the beginning, because we are good that way. This is a full-fledged discussion on the film, so claiming that it would be spoiler free would be a futile exercise.

The weekend that the world has waited for ever since the mad titan Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped off half the world’s population is finally here, and while that weekend is to pass, the impact this gigantic conclusion to the current phase of the MCU had on me would hardly seem to wear off. I laughed, I was shook, I beamed like a complete kid, ear to ear, clapped, cheered and even welled up a little during its emotionally heavy finale, bidding farewell to some of the most beloved characters from the original Avengers lineup, and felt a plethora of other emotions I rarely thought a superhero film was capable of putting me through.

I have been a self-professed DC fan all my life, and if this was the impact ‘Endgame’ had on me, I can only imagine what it would do to life-long Marvel fans. For people looking for a microscopic critical examination of the film and the mania behind it, I can definitely say that you are in the wrong place. However, if as majority of the world your emotions resonated with mine, you and I are going to indulge in a conversation as I take you through this magnanimous event of a film again. That is what I intend this article to be: a conversation piece, like you would with your friends or fellow movie watchers outside the theatre, since there is already a load of explainers and breakdowns out there.

Again, as with my other write-ups, I will reserve what my consensus of the movie is, especially if my serious enthusiasm about the film’s many aspects during the writeup just doesn’t give it away. In the meantime, if you haven’t checked out The Cinemaholic’s ‘Endgame’ review, you can do that here. While one can seriously question the need for such movies to be reviewed at all, in the case of films like ‘Endgame’ and even ‘Infinity War’ that are entire sagas in themselves, they can only add to the great credibility and reputation that precedes them. Regardless, the film currently stands at a staggering 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and is already on its way to shattering world box office records and even my predictions, seriously outperforming even my mammoth expectations. For all I can say, it deserves it.

Marvel’s ‘Endgame’ is more than just a neat culmination to the universe it has set up over a course of eleven years: it is a well-earned payoff for every fan who has had faith in the universe and characters, and in the legendary Stan Lee’s vision. A befitting conclusion and an end of an era, lest I fell too old myself. It’s an ode to him and a legacy he has left for us, as plainly and as simply as I can put it. For fear of being overwhelmed by the sheer roller coaster of emotions that ‘Endgame’ was, I am going to jump straight into explaining the very core and basis of the Avengers’ rematch against Thanos whose snappening left half of the world gone, and the remaining half devastated. Read on.

The Master Plan: A Summary of the Plot

All major predictions regarding the plot involving the Avengers travelling back in time to somehow reverse Thanos’ snap and bring everybody lost in the snappening back were somewhat true. As shown in the previous MCU instalments and as fans anticipated, there were two ways the realm of time could be tapped into in the MCU, and that would be either through the Quantum Realm as shown in ‘Antman’ based on the principles of Quantum Physics, or through accessing multiple dimensions through the mystic arts, as shown in ‘Doctor Strange’. With the latter possibility rather closed due to Strange’s disintegration following the events of ‘Infinity War’, the former is kind of the only way that our heroes have of undoing the damage caused by Thanos in his act of world balancing.

The film begins on a very personal note and we immediately have the answer to one of the pining questions from ‘Infinity War’, as to where Clint Barton aka Hawkeye was during its events. In the immediate aftermath of the snap, back at HQ, we see the remaining Avengers, Cap, Natasha, Rhodey, Thor, Rocket and Bruce reeling from the effects of it, and in the hopes of figuring out a way of turning it back. The survivors on Titan, Nebula and Tony Stark are adrift in space, and shortly after Tony embraces his inevitable end and goes off to sleep, the duo are rescued by Captain Marvel from deep space, and brought to Earth, where Tony reconciles with the team and Pepper Potts. By this time, it is presumably obvious that the post credits scene from Captain Marvel has already conspired where she is back on Earth and enquires about the whereabouts of Nick Fury, implying that in all probability, she was sent on a mission to extract Tony from space by the remaining Avengers.

The team then travels to an unknown planet referred to as “the garden” by Nebula, who reveals Thanos planned to retire there after his mission was complete. The Avengers trace him to the location after they detect cosmic activity from the stones being used again, and travel there with the team in tow. An injured Thanos reveals that he used the stones to destroy the stones in order to avoid any temptation among other creatures in the universe, leading to an enraged Thor beheading Thanos. At this point, the film jumps five years forward in time, and the Avengers try to move on in the absence of the infinity stones, with their plan to reverse the snap using them now rendered useless.

The opportunity or rather the possibility of travelling back in time and obtaining the yet undestroyed stones is introduced to the remaining Avengers when Scott Lang, recently escaped from the Quantum Realm, turns up at their doorstep and theorizes travelling back in time due to the construct of time functioning differently in the quantum realm. The team enlists Tony’s help in materialising the time travel, who instantly refuses rather choosing to focus on his family with Pepper and their young daughter, Morgan. A glance over Peter’s picture changes his mind as he begins to unravel possibilities, finally finding one and returning to the Avengers.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Bruce who now dons the Professor Hulk persona, with the brawn of the Hulk and the brain of Bruce Banner carefully balanced and coexisting, and together with Tony, the team chart out a plan to travel back in time in teams to retrieve the six infinity stones between the years 2012-2014 set in real time, and bring them back to the present. Three of the infinity stones: mind, space and time stone are in New York in 2012 (The Avengers), with the exception of the time stone being protected by The Ancient One at the NY Sanctum. The reality stone is in Asgard bound with Jane Foster (Thor: The Dark World), the power stone in Morag where it is due to be retrieved by Star Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy) and finally, the soul stone is located in Vormir guarded by the red skull, as it was in ‘Infinity War’. The team uses Pym particles to fuel their travel to these points, and now the interesting part begins. The time travel. You can read all about it in my breakdown of it, here.

The Ending

With the second act of the film, and a substantial part of the third one too, which is well over 70 minutes in the film’s running time, covered in the time travel arc which I have explained separately, we proceed to the third and final act, the all-out battle. With all the remaining and surviving Avengers back at HQ having retrieved all the six infinity stones, Hulk volunteers to wield the gauntlet prepared by Tony and the six stones, to snap back the effects of Thanos’ snap. He does so, but is injured and charred on his right side, as with Thanos. The snap appears to have been reversed, but meanwhile, Nebula interferes with the time travel apparatus allowing Thanos from 2014 to transport forward to 2023, five years after the original snap, now being the only Thanos in the timeline, as he mercilessly bombards the HQ and faces off with the trio of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, overpowering even a heroic Mjolnir wielding Cap in a complete two minutes of thunderous scene stealing by Chris Evans.

At this point, as he clobbers Cap with his bare hands and hacks into his shield breaking it into pieces, the collective Marvel fandom had an orgasm of sorts in theatres when everybody snapped away in Infinity War returns through portals created by Strange, Wong and other cosmic protectors. Every single fighting MCU character introduced in the previous films, including the original Avengers, the new Avengers including Spider Man, Scarlet Witch, Ant Man and the Wasp, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the remaining Asgardians, the ravagers, the Wakandans and Black Panther, Shuri, Okoye, Valkyrie, Dr. Strange, Wong, Falcon, Winter Soldier, later joined by Captain Marvel face off with Thanos and his army and the undead black order: Ebony Mawe, Corvius Glaive, Proxima Midnight and Super Giant. I know for a fact that Stan Lee must be smiling from the heavens as this scene played.

In the ensuing battle, the outcome of which is obvious, the Russo brothers keep it going through sheer brilliance of fight choreography and giving each and every single character a chance to shine, one of the things I absolutely loved about Infinity War. It’s a task if you ask me, fitting all of it when so much is going on, one that the last two Avengers films pull off with relative ease.

As the battle progresses and the two factions collide, Thanos tries to take control of the new gauntlet in an attempt to perform another snap, one that will erase all existence, giving him a chance to populate the galaxy anew, eliminating the chance for resistance. While he still is quite a formidable foe, even in the face of mounting odds against him, the Avengers are able to resist successfully and attack. In the final bout, Thanos seizes the gauntlet from Captain Marvel, and is about to snap his fingers, just when Tony goes against him single-handedly, and following being signalled by Dr. Strange of this being the 1 in 14,000,605 outcomes that they win, he uses his nanotech to seize the infinity stones for his gauntlet.

In a defining moment for MCU, Stark snaps his fingers leading to Thanos and his army being disintegrated, but immediately after succumbs to the impact of the snap, and dies. He is later given a heart-wrenching funeral by the entire MCU family who must now go on without him. This is the moment you can expect the lump in your throat to sink and reach your heart that has already been shattered into a million pieces. As the Avengers part, Thor declares Valkyrie the “king” of Asgard while himself joining the Guardians of the Galaxy on their next quest.

Finally, Cap is assigned the responsibility to put the infinity stones back in time where they belong so that the continuity of the universe wasn’t disturbed. He is sent back to travel to those points in time and space through the quantum realm, wherein he is expected to return within five seconds of current Earth time. He is slightly delayed, and upon finally returning, he has aged and reveals to have loved a complete life with Peggy Carter, the love of his life. Moving on, he hands over his shield to Sam Wilson, who will now assume the mantle of the new Captain America. The film closes as a fragment from Steve’s past life is shown, where he and Peggy finally have that dance that they were owed.

Now, on to some pining questions.

Who is Professor Hulk?

Among the many points of amusement in the film, one of them that would surely rank in the higher ones would be when the Hulk finally makes an appearance in ‘Endgame’, albeit not as his usual self. The same can be said for Bruce as well. The Hulk remained mostly a no show in Infinity War, with Bruce Banner using the Hulkbuster in the fight against Thanos’ army. In accordance with a number of theories that suggested this, Hulk shows up as Professor Hulk from the comics, something that Banner claims he developed as a sort of equilibrium between Hulk and himself, the best of both worlds with Bruce’s responsibility and intellect and Hulk’s brawn and strengths.

The film description and appearance of professor Hulk is not too far from the comic books too, wearing glasses and proper clothes instead of his iconic half torn purple pants when he is the “green rage monster”. He is even capable of feeling emotion, as he does for Natasha’s death, and talks with Bruce’s eloquence and as he would. In the comics, the professor is only one of the personalities that stems from Bruce’s fractured psyche as a result of childhood trauma, before his accident with Gamma rays made him into the Hulk.

Why was Captain America “Worthy”?

This was first teased in ‘Age of Ultron’, when during Tony’s party, Steve is able to slightly move Mjolnir, much to Thor’s hesitation and shock, his face at the time absolute comedic gold. ‘Age of Ultron’ is also notorious for being the film where if not Cap, but Mjolnir found someone other than Thor to be called worthy: Vision. In ‘Endgame’, while I was almost deafened by the cheer that followed when Cap lifts Mjolnir and fights Thanos with it and his shield, Thor too exclaims in happiness that “he knew it!”, signifying that Cap was and has always been in some measure, worthy. What surprised me here is the relative ease with which he just lifts it, and gets straight into battle with it like a natural, as I have observed is the penchant for the MCU and the Russo brothers in particular, to deliver twists like this without any pre-emption whatsoever, amplifying their effect, usually disbursing in a loud cheer or laughter.

‘Infinity War’ had tons of amazing moments of twists, and the Vision lifting Mjolnir scene too is a good example of that. Coming to explaining the header of this section, well, who else can you think of from the entire MCU could be worthier? Thor’s willingness to let him take Mjolnir while he continues to fight with the stormbreaker as opposed to his reaction in ‘Age of Ultron’ clearly gives the answer. If there is a man in the MCU who is the literal embodiment of everything good and American, it is Cap. It should be a no-brainer why he was worthy, maybe even worthier than Thor who has by now lost much of his honour, to lift Mjolnir. Even if for some seconds, he is able to hold his own against Thanos despite being a mortal, mixing his fighting acumen with the powers of thunder endowed upon him upon lifting Mjolnir.

Who is the Teen at Stark’s Funeral?

If your eyes were not too misty eyed from Iron Man’s final goodbye, you might have paused to glance at one of the figures at the funeral who isn’t instantly recognisable. Those with a keen eye would quickly recall the kid to be a call back to (in my opinion) one of the weaker films in the MCU cannon, ‘Iron Man 3’. Played by actor Ty Simpkins, he is the one Tony befriends when he crashes in his garage where he rebuilds his suit. Named Harley Keener in the film, he plays a sort of sidekick to Downey’s Iron Man. His inclusion just goes on to show how much Tony impacted the lives of those around him, which is befitting since the MCU too owes it all to him. As for the kid, seems like they were really, well, “connected”. Incoming feels all the way.

The Future, Explained

While there is little to no information clearly available on the immediate plans for the MCU other than ‘Spider Man: Far From Home’ or Disney+, the future is all bright the MCU, the fourth phase of which I am guessing would be put into motion after a short hiatus. There is an entire article that details out all possible and probable avenues that the MCU could go in following ‘Endgame’ that you can read here.

Is There a Post Credits scene?

Well, fair and straight, as you may already be knowing, ‘Endgame’ has no mid or post credits scene, actually signifying that it was indeed the end of a glorious era, a metaphorical dusk if you may. MCU wraps up its 22 film long Infinity saga in undeniable superhero fashion, but for the foreseeable future of the Avengers, there is nothing that they can tease or promote for upcoming movies.

However, fans might stay for something special. The first, the six original Avengers are given a special treatment in the final credits: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and finally Robert Downey Jr. have their names in the credits accompanied with special montages from their previous MCU films, and their autographs. Hearteningly, this would seem like the MCU’s final goodbye to them. To add to the fanfare, when the final credit rolls, a large Marvel logo fills up the screen with the accompanying “clank” sound. That sound is actually the same sound that Tony’s mallet/hammer makes when struck against metal when he is building Mark I inside that cave in Afghanistan, the point where everything began and started materialising for the MCU. It is only befitting, almost poetic even, that it end right where it starts.

Final Word

Part of the journey is the end, and if the end is this glorious, you can recount what the journey has been. ‘Endgame’ doesn’t need a final word, it is the final word, capping off eleven years of storytelling for Marvel studios that laid its foundations with ‘Iron Man’ in 2008, and stands tall eleven years later with the penultimate conclusion. For fans of the MCU, fans that have come along for the journey, I am sure ‘Endgame’ will echo as an emotion in the years to come. This one is truly for the fans, and if fan servicing has a name, let it be in the name of this film, from this day forth. From an unwavering DC fan, I’d say job darn well done X3000.

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