Calling Avengers: Endgame a dense movie is like saying Tony Stark has a fascination with metalworking. In other words, it’s a massive understatement.
As the culmination of 22 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,has the unenviable task of wrapping up a decade’s worth of story and character arcs and, of course, addressing that massive cliff-hanger at the end of Infinity War.
For the most part, it succeeds, offering fans — especially hard-core fans who’ve obsessed over— a satisfying conclusion. That it can serve so many different functions and work as an entertaining blockbuster in its own right is a testament to the vision of Marvel Studios and the skill of Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo.
But it’s not perfect. And after a bit of reflection, you might scratch your head at the implications of some of Endgame’s twists.
If you haven’t watched the film, STOP READING NOW. This is your spoiler warning.
Seriously, back away now.
Here are the biggest questions we have after Endgame:
What’s the deal with Hawkeye’s new getup?
Let’s start with an easy one before we really go down the rabbit hole.
Comics fans will recognize Clint Barton’s switch from Hawkeye to Ronin, but the movie didn’t fully explain the need for the new identity and costume. I get that losing your family is traumatic, but does it justify a hero costume makeover — not to mention a full-sleeve tattoo? And where the heck did he get those new weapons and gear? He doesn’t have the support of SHIELD anymore, so is he independently wealthy like Bruce Wayne?
It seems Hawkeye is a victim of the limited character development he’s had in the past. Endgame makes it up to him, but there’s a little too much at once.
At least he looks cool though.
What about those five years?
Early in Endgame the story jumps ahead five years, showing the survivors living with the fallout of what’s been called “The Decimation.” When the Avengers save the day, everyone returns to the present, five years after the crisis. It’s a bold decision that ensures the MCU remains scarred by Thanos’ infamous snap.
But the five-year gap leads to a lot of questions. What about the people who died in those five years? And as fellow CNET editor Mike Sorrentino pointed out, what if someone moved on in life and remarried in that period? That would make for an awkward reunion.
On top of that, can humanity even rebuild from becoming a postapocalyptic society? It’s hard to see everyone going back to the way things were, though that seemed to be the implication when we saw Peter Parker returning to school.
Speaking of which…
How will Phase 4 address the time jump?
The trailers for Spider-Man: Far From Home — thein the MCU’s Phase 3 — hint at Peter Parker and friends on a fun international romp through Europe. Should we assume they were all affected by The Snap but are now continuing their education five years later like nothing happened? Has international tourism just picked up where it left off? How will Far From Home address the time jump?
The ramifications are even more serious with Black Panther, whosewill likely be part of Phase 4. Wakanda lost its king, and his sister, for five years. What happened? Did someone else take over? And does T’Challa automatically regain the throne after his return?
One of the final scenes had T’Challa overlooking his kingdom alongside Queen Ramanda and Shuri. But that glosses over some serious constitutional questions about how things operated while he was gone.
What about the history of the MCU?
Any time you employ time travel in a story, you’re going to open cracks in logic. The Russo brothers admirably tried to button up the leaks by havingreturn the stones to their various places in the timeline — but that doesn’t fix everything.
Are there two Captain Americas now?
We have the original Steve Rogers frozen in ice until he woke up in the 21st century MCU, as we saw in the movies. But now there’s a second, older Steve Rogers hanging out in Peggy Carter’s home in the intervening years. One theory is that Captain America was always going to go back in time and secretly reunite and marry Peggy.
There was a reference to Peggy getting married and having kids, but in a scene between Rogers and Carter in Captain America: Winter Soldier, there aren’t any photos of her husband.
Still, it’s a stretch to imagine Captain America staying hidden all that time — especially knowing that Hydra had infiltrated Shield years earlier.
Where the heck is Loki?
During the Back to the Future-style trip back to the events of the original Avengers movie, Scott Lang and Tony Stark’s attempt to nab the Space Stone backfires, allowing the freshly apprehended Loki to nab the gem and disappear.
Ultimately, did Loki’s escape change his fate at the hands of Thanos in Infinity War? It’s plausible, given reports that Disney Plus is working on an original show based on the character.
But if that’s true, then wouldn’t it have affected the events of Thor: The Dark World, also revisited in Endgame? But during Thor’s own time-jaunt we briefly see Loki in a cell, so the timeline wasn’t altered.
How are Nebula and Gamora alive?
When Present Good Nebula shoots Past Evil Nebula, shouldn’t Present Good Nebula cease to exist, like the photograph in Back to the Future? Alternatively, if it did happen to Past Evil Nebula, then Present Good Nebula should remember it, and in turn that memory would’ve been downloaded so Past Evil Nebula would see the hit coming.
And don’t get us started on how there’s now an alternate version of Gamora.
Did Infinity War even happen?
Thanos and his crew jumped ahead from 2013 (during the original Guardians of the Galaxy) to the present, and are defeated. So past-Thanos couldn’t have manipulated the events that led to Infinity War. If he never gathered the stones, Tony couldn’t have undone the snap, which didn’t even happen anyway.
Bruce Banner attempts to explain away the time paradox by noting that going back in the past and changing something doesn’t necessarily affect you. Instead, as the Ancient One seems to imply, it creates a divergent timeline (essentially an alternate universe) that is different from the MCU we’ve seen. Thus, the MCU we’ve seen over the past 11 years remains intact, although there are different realities or timelines where, for instance, Loki is alive and hopping around with the Space Stone.
And now my head hurts…
How did 2014 Thanos send his ship to the present?
There’s a scene where Nebula hands over a vial of the Pym particles to Thanos, but the Avengers all seemed to need those snazzy white suits to travel through the Quantum Realm. Why is Thanos’ ship different?
Also, if Nebula handed her one and only vial to Thanos, how did she get back? Or if she used that final vial, how did Thanos go forward in time?
Can the gauntlet revive Thanos?
Don’t forget, the gauntlet is still around. You just need to go back in time for the stones again.
Speaking of which…
Don’t the Avengers have a working time machine?
We see a portable version of the time machine at the end, which means the Avengers have Tony’s plans backed up. With Hank Pym around to supply an unlimited amount of Pym Particles, don’t the Avengers have a working time machine to fix, well, everything?
Seems like a handy thing to have, but my guess is it barely gets a mention in future movies. It’d be a little too easy to use time travel as a solution every time.
Did Captain America reconnect with the Red Skull?
Remember, Cap went back in time to return all of the Infinity Stones, right? If he returned the soul stone to Vormir, wouldn’t he have run into the Red Skull? Granted, Red Skull was likely freed from his burden of watching over the stone, but it’s not like he has a ship to take him off planet.
That would be a heck of an awkward reunion.
Would Tony Stark back his brain up?
He’s done it in the comics. Or maybe I’m still in denial about losing Robert Downey Jr. Let’s hope the Avengers don’t pluck a teenage Tony from earlier in the timeline either… that’s happened too.
Is Black Widow really dead?
This is one death that seems permanent, as it completes Natasha Romanov’s arc as a loner spy who found a family worth sacrificing herself for. As she said in Avengers, “I’ve got red in my ledger, I’d like to wipe it out.” Consider it wiped.
But there’s the persistent buzz that Black Widow will star in her own film. Sure, it could be a prequel, but this is a comic book universe, and deaths are all too easily reversed. In fact, of all the people left supposedly dead at the end of Endgame, three — Black Widow, Loki and the Vision — are all headlining future MCU movies and TV shows.
There’s always that time machine.
With WandaVision coming to the Disney Plus streaming service, there was a chance that Vision would return. But aside from a passing reference at the end by Wanda, Vision was nowhere to be found. The show could be a prequel to Infinity War, but in that movie Shuri was working on separating Vision from his Infinity Stone — could he be resurrected without it?
Is Hulk’s consciousness gone?
Bruce Banner and the Hulk have merged into “Professor Hulk.” It seems Bruce is more in control, presumably submerging the Hulk personality we last saw in Thor: Ragnarok. How did that even happen? It’s a pretty big deal to just explain away as happening offscreen.
Does Thor ever eat a salad?
Big Belly Thor is the best Thor.
CNET’s Iyaz Akhtar, Michael Sorrentino and Sean Keane contributed to this story.
First published on April 26 at 5 a.m. PT.
Updated at 6:30 a.m. PT: Clarifies Spider-Man: Far From Home’s placement in the timeline.
Updated at 11:24 a.m. PT: Adds an additional question about the Red Skull.
Updated on April 28 at 4 a.m. PT: With additional questions.
Updated on April 29 at 5 a.m. PT: With additional questions.