What does the end of Avengers: Endgame mean for the future of the MCU?

Who lives? Who dies? And where do the other heroes end up? We break down the huge shifts coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr in Avengers: Endgame (Disney)

We all knew Avengers: Endgame would change things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but now the film has been released it’s clear that things will be VERY different in the intertwined superhero franchises going forward.

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But how will the film’s final scenes impact what comes next? How will THAT big change affect the Marvel movies coming out in the coming months and years? And which characters’ futures will have to be completely re-mapped now that the dust (or ash) has settled?

Check out our full spoiler-filled discussion below, but beware – we’re starting with some of the biggest moments in the film, so now’s the time to check out if you haven’t seen it.


Who dies in Avengers: Endgame – and what does it mean for future Marvel movies?

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Quite a few characters from Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame are left dead at the end of the latter film, which could have a large impact on their respective franchises going forward.

By far the biggest death in the film is that of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man, who kicked off the entire MCU with 2008’s Iron Man but now looks set to have bowed out of Marvel movies for good.

In other words, we shouldn’t expect any more solo Iron Man films or for Downey Jr to turn up in future team-up movies, though it’s possible his supporting cast will. Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan, for example, is already set to turn up in Spider-Man: Far From Home later this summer, and we’d be surprised if this was the last we saw of Tony’s daughter Morgan.

The film’s end also sees the apparent death of Josh Brolin’s Thanos, who dissolves along with his army, while a few deaths from the first movie are confirmed to be sticking after all.

Paul Bettany’s Vision? Dead – at least for now (see below). Idris Elba’s Heimdall? In the ground. Gamora? Still dead – though thanks to a little time-travel chicanery, a younger pre-Guardians of the Galaxy version of Zoe Saldana’s green-skinned assassin does appear to have been brought into the present.

(Marvel, JG)
(Marvel)

If she does stick around (which seems likely) there will still be a Gamora to join her Guardians teammates, but she won’t have the romantic past with Peter (Chris Pratt) or the years of shared friendship with the others that she once did, setting up potential difficulties and conflicts in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy sequel (which might be a few years off yet).

Joining her in the ranks of the dead-but-not-dead is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, the fan-favourite villain who also fell at Thanos’ hands in Infinity War, but may have found an early escape route ahead of his already-confirmed solo series on streaming service Disney+.

During the Avengers’ mission through time to pick up various Infinity stones, a past version of Loki – specifically the one from the end of the first Avengers film, just after his defeat – manages to get his hands on the Tesseract and teleport away, his new location and plan unknown.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel, HF)
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel)

Like Gamora, this version of Loki hasn’t had the character development of the older version we last saw, who grew less villainous over the course of Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, and even tried to save his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in his final appearance.

Unlike Gamora, however, it’s unclear whether this Loki will be a part of the main Marvel universe, with other parts of the film suggesting that a change to the timeline of this magnitude (ie Loki escaping at the end of the first Avengers film) would spin things off into a parallel universe.

If this is true, we might expect the Loki series to follow this earlier, darker version of the character as he cuts a swathe through an entirely new reality – assuming he doesn’t just magic way back into the main Marvel universe, of course. We wouldn’t put it past him.

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And then there’s Black Widow. Like Loki, Scarlett Johansson’s super-spy is set for her own spin-off (though in a movie, not a TV series), making her surprise death in the film (where she gives up her life to secure the all-important Soul stone) all the more shocking.

Presumably, now the mooted Black Widow movie starring Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour will have to be some sort of prequel showing off the younger years of Natasha Romanov (one moment in the film where Natasha learns the identity of her real father could nod to this), especially given that Endgame gives no hint to the character carrying on beyond this point.

But then again, the film also gave no sense that Paul Bettany’s Vision had any hope of resurrection, despite the fact that a Scarlet Witch and Vision streaming series for Disney+ (called WandaVision) is definitely still happening. If Vision can come back for that story (rumoured to involve time travel to the 1950s), why couldn’t Black Widow do the same?

All in all, the butcher’s bill for Avengers: Endgame makes for some big changes in the MCU – but it’s not the only way the films will have to alter in a post-Endgame world.


Will Endgame’s time jump change the MCU for good?

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Fairly early on in Endgame the narrative jumps ahead five years, allowing for some pretty big changes in the characters (Tony Stark has a daughter, Thor loses himself in drink and food). When the movie ends, even though everyone lost in Thanos’ snap returns, they’ve arrived in a world they’ve been absent from for a good long while.

Already we see some consequences to that five-year jump in Endgame, with Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) daughter Cassie ageing into a teenager, in a move that may affect that franchise going forward (in the comics, an older Cassie becomes a superhero in her own right).

But what about everyone who returns without getting any older?

Immediately, our minds will first travel to the friends and schoolmates of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man. If he vanished for five years and then reappeared the exact same age, wouldn’t they have moved on to college without him?

Or, considering the fact that we see roughly the same cast surrounding him in the trailers for Spider-Man: Far From Home, are we to assume they were all coincidentally disintegrated then brought back to life as well? Peter’s best pal Ned’s tears to see his friend again would suggest they hadn’t seen each other for a while, but he definitely didn’t look any older, so maybe this is what the film’s suggesting.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel, HF)
Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel)

Still, even if this particular problem is sidestepped, more present themselves. Officially, legally, how old is Peter now? Can he buy beer? Or does his age still count from his organic body rather than his date of birth, along with around half of the world’s population? And is that why we see him picking up a new passport in the Far From Home trailer?

Elsewhere, we also have to wonder how Wakanda managed without its royal family for five years (maybe they’d fancy a republic now?) and how the many other characters we’ve met over the years will have to deal with returning to a world that carried on without them..

Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if the MCU’s new setting – in 2023, presumably – has any real impact, or whether it’ll just be brushed over as the various franchises continue. Hopefully, it’s the former, because there’s all sorts of potential for storytelling there.


What about the other character endings in Avengers: Endgame?

Chris Evans as Captain America in Avengers: Endgame (Marvel)
Chris Evans as Captain America in Avengers: Endgame (Marvel)

This category, while less easy to define than the others, involves some pretty key moments from the end of Endgame, which while it doesn’t include any post-credits scenes does hint towards where the remaining heroes will go in future projects.

For months if not years it’s been speculated that fan-favourite Captain America (Chris Evans) would die in this film, and while that’s not the case – he instead travels back in time for a life with Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, before revealing himself in the present as an old man – Endgame does seem to count him out as an active participant in any future movies.

Instead, Steve apparently hands over his mantle as Captain America to sidekick Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), while longtime friend and partner Bucky (Sebastian Stan) looks on, in a move lifted straight from recent years of the comics (where Falcon was Captain America for a time).

A Falcon/Winter Soldier streaming series on Disney+ had already been announced, but does this new development mean that this show will be a stealth Captain America series instead? Or will Sam eventually turn down the honour and keep his identity as the Falcon even if he does hold onto Cap’s shield?

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Avengers: Endgame (Marvel)
Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Avengers: Endgame (Marvel)

Similarly, Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) ending also opens up a lot of new possibilities. Abdicating as New Asgard’s king in favour of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor instead decides to head into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy (he dubs them the ‘Asgardians of the Galaxy’), and already begins jockeying for power with Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord while their teammates goad them on.

Unlike his fellow original Avengers Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans, Hemsworth has previously expressed a willingness to keep playing the God of Thunder in future movies (especially any Thor sequels directed by Taika Waititi), so it could be that this scene is setting up his return in the far-off Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Alternatively, this scene could be the precursor to a fourth Thor movie (Thorth?) which could guest star just one or two of the Guardians, or none if they just drop Thor off for his next adventure.

As for the other Avengers, well, Hulk remains in his in-between Professor Hulk body with one withered arm, leaving the door open for Mark Ruffalo to return as Bruce Banner if he so chooses but not explicitly setting up any reason for him to do so if he doesn’t fancy it.

Similarly, with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) reunited with his family, he COULD be back – and apparently may be in another Disney+ series – but Endgame doesn’t specifically set it up. Same goes for the Black Panther cast, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange, all of whom return to their normal lives without the film specifically setting up a future storyline for them, even though we may assume that their stories could continue in one way or another.


Will there be more Avengers movies after Endgame?

Avengers Assemble (2012)

Well, here’s the multimillion-dollar question. While Marvel has plenty of sequels and new projects in development (which we’ve gone into in some detail here) it’s unclear whether the main Avengers team-up franchise will return for another instalment, especially now that some of its key cast appear to have left the MCU, and its driving storyline – the Infinity stones – has been resolved.

If there are more Avengers films, expect newer characters – maybe Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who doesn’t have much to do in Avengers: Endgame – to take over the key roles, perhaps alongside the likes of Black Panther and Doctor Strange, though old favourites (like the Hulk and Thor) may still return.

But perhaps the real issue for any Avengers movies going forward will be how to follow Infinity War and Endgame, both of which raised the stakes higher than any superhero movie before. At the very least, they’d want to top them, and that would require an awful lot of build-up.

In other words, we could be in for a long wait before we see the Avengers assemble again. Still, we’re sure we’ll be able to find 23 movies or so to watch in the meantime…

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Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas now