How 'Avengers: Endgame' Sets Up the Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
That was it, everyone, the completion of what Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige has called "The Infinity Saga." Not only does Avengers: Endgame wrap up a 22-movie cycle that began with 2008's Iron Man, it's also the penultimate movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 3, which dates back to Captain America: Civil War in 2016. You read that correctly: the next Marvel movie to be released in theaters, Spider-Man: Far From Home (out July 2), will actually finish out Phase 3. While Marvel Studios has been frustratingly stingy with specific details about its future plans for one of the most expansive cinematic universes the world has ever known, Avengers: Endgame does point toward a few possible paths the sprawling film franchise might take in the years to come.
It was surprising to learn that the post-credits scene in Captain Marvel, which showed Carol returning to Earth and asking what happened to Nick Fury, actually wasn't included in the events of Endgame, even though the scene was shot as part of the latter production. Instead, Captain Marvel makes her first appearance in Endgame when she saves Tony Stark and Nebula in space. She then joins them as they take out Thanos (the first time), and then returning after the five-year time jump during the scene where Natasha is checking in with her ragtag group of former Avengers in a world that's been snapped.
After Rocket makes a crack about her new haircut, Carol, presumably dialing in from a distant galaxy, says she's going to be gone for awhile, then sits out most of the movie until her cheer-inducing re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in the third act. What was Carol doing all that time?
Now that Marvel has opened up its universe to include more characters from outer space and other planets besides just those from the Guardians of the Galaxy series, the Avengers could expand their directive to being protectors of many worlds. As Carol says at the beginning of Endgame: not all worlds have Avengers. Now that the story of some of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" ends here and that tagline seems too small-time and even more factually incorrect, maybe the next time we get a movie with a new configuration of the Avengers, the crew will be fully intergalactic.
The New Asgardians
At the end of the film, Valkyrie is left in charge of "New Asgard," the small nordic town where the survivors of Thor: Ragnarok and Thanos' attack on their escape ship now live. In the comic books, Asgard has fallen before and a "New Asgard" has risen... sometimes literally in the case of its floating counterpart. Yeah, there was a time Thor bought a city with Asgardian gold, enchanted it to float, and named it "New Asgard."
More importantly, and kind of glossed over in Endgame, there's now a sleepy oceanside town on Earth that's populated with powerful people. Not all of the Asgardians appear to be super-powered, but they do have a rich tradition of creating strong, god-like heroes and technology so advanced it's viewed as magical. Baron Mordo, the friend-turned adversary from Doctor Strange, thought there was too much magic in the world already in the post-credits scene for that film. Surely there are consequences to gods living among us.
As Guardians of the Galaxy
One likely set-up for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 or another MCU movie is pretty clear: Thor joins the Guardians of the Galaxy to help Peter Quill find displaced-in-time Gamora. You wouldn't be blamed for wondering why Tony Stark's snap that dusted all of Thanos' forces didn't include Gamora (whose existence, I'm pretty sure, he did not know about), but judging from Star-Lord's screen aboard The Milano in the Guardians' last scene, Gamora is out there somewhere.
This would a version of Gamora ported over from 2014, before she was sent to the galactic prison where she met Quill, Rocket, Groot, and Drax. What her goals are now that she's free of her father, we don't really know. Will she and Nebula be less combative with each other? Will Quill pull a toxic bro and roll-up to their secret hideaway, blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" outside her window in the middle of the night?
What feels right is that Thor is with them. With Asgard gone and all pretense of living up to his father purged from his character, thanks to ten years of failing to protect his home and family in various movies, Thor can ride the comedic tone of Ragnarok right into James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The reality is, despite Gunn's firing from and re-hiring onto the project since Infinity War was released, that Gunn had the script for Volume 3 ready to go and, even if he wasn't the director, they were going to use his script. Is that because GotG-3 has Thor in it? That seems much more likely now.
A Captain America miniseries!
Near the very end of the movie, Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers' friend from the past who had been brainwashed by Hydra and survived into the modern era as the Winter Soldier, nods at Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, as he approaches an old man on a bench, who turns out to be a much older Steve Rogers. The audience discovers that Captain America stayed back in time so that he and Peggy Carter could have a life together, but a bigger reveal in that scene has huge ramifications for future Marvel productions: Sam Wilson is Captain America now. Or he at least has the shield and is the heir apparent.
In the comic books, both Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson have taken over the mantle of Captain America, so it's not surprising these two were paired for a new mini-series on the Disney streaming service Disney+. Titled Falcon and Winter Soldier when first announced, it now looks like that miniseries will actually be about the legacy of Captain America. What are the responsibilities of these two Earth-bound Avengers? Will they work for a new iteration of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Will they somehow become a "Captain America" twosome with wings and a bionic arm tossing a stars-and-stripes shield back and forth?
Hints at Disney+ Spin-Offs
Falconand Winter Soldier aren't the only announced (or rumored) Disney+ Marvel shows for a service that will be much more integrated into the movies than any previous Marvel TV shows. We know that Loki is getting his own solo series, and in Endgame we see how the killed-by-Thanos trickster God managed to spin-off: he teleports out of the lobby of Avengers Tower with the Tesseract after future-Ant-Man and future-Tony try to steal the Space Stone and fail (because there are too many stairs for Hulk's liking). Luckily, Avengers: Endgame frequently reminds us that changing the past doesn't change the "present" or the future, so even though we see Loki locked in his Asgard cell (from the Thor: The Dark World set sequences), there's another Loki on the loose in 2012.
There's going to be a show called WandaVision, which is about Elizabeth Olson's Wanda, aka The Scarlet Witch, and Paul Bettany's currently dead Vision. Without a mind stone to anchor Vision's consciousness, you'd think this show would be impossible, but in Endgame, Wanda muses to Hawkeye that the fallen know they've won somehow. This could be Wanda being comforting or it could be her hinting that there is some sort of soul-afterlife people can be plucked from. Alternatively, the Avengers movies haven't revealed the full extent of Scarlet Witch's powers. Once in the comics she re-created the entire world to benefit herself when she got very sad. Wanda could think Vision back into existence.
Which brings us to Hawkeye and his rumored Disney+ series where he will mentor a younger archer named Kate Bishop. It seems like Kate will be played by a new actress and won't be Hawkeye's Endgame daughter, and that his relationship with the new character will reference his history with Natasha. Why? Because we don't know anything about Hawkeye independent of Black Widow except he has a family that lives on a farm. Even when that family got snapped away, the thing that made him relatable was his past with and trust in Natasha. Hawkeye's going to be wracked with guilt and he's making an attempt to balance his new red ledger.
Lingering Endgame questions
After processing Endgame's finale, you will likely have one of three questions:
Question 1: How are Peter Parker and his classmates seemingly the same age in Spider-Man: Far From Home, when, in theory, half of them should be five years older?
Question 2: If the Ancient One was correct and the Infinity Stones create what we experience as "the flow of time," should we be worried that Thanos destroyed them all?
Question 3: Will all "present day" Marvel movies going forward be set in 2023 or later?
Presumably, the first question will be addressed in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but it's also possible that Marvel never answers these questions, and that it wouldn't matter to how effective Endgame is as an ending to the Infinity Saga anyway. Most likely, these questions will just go on bothering certain people forever.