Brow Beat

I May Have Missed Some of the Marvel Movies and Just Finished Watching Avengers: Endgame and I Have Questions!

We have answers.

A character from Avengers: Endgame with question marks around him.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Walt Disney Studios.

The following article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

OK. Brie Larson is Captain Marvel, right?

Yes. Also known as Carol Danvers.

She seems really powerful. Like, Superman powerful.

Yup. That’s why they had to keep her out of most of Endgame, I guess. Her Marvel movie came out in March. It was a huge hit. You didn’t see it?

I meant to! I saw all the previous Avengers movies and then some of the bigger Marvel movies. Like, I saw Black Panther, obviously. And the first Iron Man. And—which was the one with the—Aquaman?

That’s DC, not Marvel. Did you see Ant-Man and the Wasp?

Oh, with Paul Rudd? Love him. I saw it on a plane, I think?

Right. OK, so you probably have some questions. Ask away, and we can answer.

Was Thanos wearing a … a giant, soft T-shirt?

It looked really comfortable! We assume he wove it himself out of whatever cotton-esque plants are flourishing after he killed exactly one-half the boll weevils on his planet of refuge.

Who was that guy at group therapy with Captain America? A bunch of people in my audience laughed knowingly, and I had no idea why.

That was Joe Russo, one of the directors of Endgame. We think we also saw Jim Starlin, the original creator of Thanos, who has long had a stormy relationship with Marvel Comics.

Why was Ken Jeong in this movie, and what was he reading?

Jeong, who plays the security guard at the storage facility where Paul Rudd finally zaps out of the quantum realm, worked with the Russos on Community for many seasons. (Another Community star, Yvette Nicole Brown, plays the suspicious woman in the elevator during the scene set in the 1970s.) Jeong was reading The Terminal Beach, a short story collection by the great J.G. Ballard that includes a story called “End-Game.”

Does the story have a deeper significance?

Probably not. Both the title story and “End-Game” are about accepting death, so there’s at least some thematic resonance, but Marvel likely just took this movie’s title, somewhat inaccurately, from chess.

When they go back in time, what MCU movies are the characters popping into?

New York, 2012: The Avengers
Asgard, 2013: Thor: The Dark World
Morag, 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy

Was that Tilda Swinton?

Yes, Tilda Swinton reprises her role from Doctor Strange, playing the Ancient One, a mystic who trains Doctor Strange.

Was that Rene Russo?

Yes, Rene Russo played Thor’s mom in Thor and Thor: The Dark World.

Was that Natalie Portman?

Can you believe it! Academy Award–winning actress Natalie Portman was the girlfriend in two Marvel movies. Sheesh.

Was that Roger Sterling?

Basically. In the 1970 sequence, John Slattery, in full Mad Men–era regalia, plays Tony Stark’s dad, Howard Stark, as he did previously in Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, and Civil War.

How did Tony Stark know the exact right date to go back in time to get the Pym particles and the Tesseract?

No idea. Hopefully someone will explain in the comments.

What’s the significance of Howard Stark’s chauffeur being named Jarvis?

Well, in the Iron Man movies JARVIS is the name of Tony Stark’s A.I. assistant, voiced by Paul Bettany. (There’s a whole thing where he ends up as the operating system, basically, for Vision, the android guy played by Bettany who died at the end of Infinity War.) But also, Edwin Jarvis was a character in the Marvel TV series Agent Carter, played, as here, by James D’Arcy.

Is Captain America’s backside really America’s Ass?

Yes. Its only competition is this.

Why did that guy on Vormir with the hood look familiar? The one who explained to Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner that one of them had to die to get the … the soul stone?

Good job! All those words were correct. That was Red Skull, the main villain from Captain America, who, after he was defeated in that movie, was cursed to serve as a guide to the soul stone. (He did the same thing for Thanos in Infinity War, remember. He stood there creepily as Thanos threw Gamora off the cliff.) It’s funny to think that, according to the timeline explanations of the movie, right after Scarlett Johansson dies and a tearful Jeremy Renner leaves with the soul stone and Red Skull is presumably like, “Great, now I can go do something else,” a time-traveling Captain America pops up, gives him back the soul stone, and takes off. Back on the clock, Red Skull!

When Peter Parker goes back to his high school, why is his friend Ned so excited to see him?

No idea. If he was Snaptured like Peter, then he last saw Peter “yesterday,” on the school bus, when Peter told him to cause a distraction in Infinity War. If he wasn’t Snaptured, he should be, like, 20 years old and in college. Someone please explain this to us! In general, it seems to us that the instantaneous return of 4 billion people to Earth is gonna cause some real issues with school overcrowding.

Who was that surly teen standing alone by himself, amid all the Avengers, at Tony Stark’s funeral?

It’s Harley Keener (played by Ty Simpkins), who befriended Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. He was 10 in that movie; in this one he’s 17 or so.

There was an Iron Man 3?! I don’t remember if I saw that.

It’s fine. You don’t have to watch it. Maybe Harley ends up being the next Iron Man! Or maybe it was just a nice thing to do for people who really live and die by these movies.

How old is Captain America when he shows up by the lake at the end?

Let’s do some math! According to the MCU fan wiki, Steve Rogers was born July 4, 1918. He was then frozen in 1945, at the age of 27. Around 2011 he was defrosted, then lived through our present until 2024, five years after the Snapture. So he was around 40 when he went back in time. Then, after a presumably quick jaunt around time to return all the stones, he returned to his own time: 1945, the year the song he and Peggy dance to, “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” was released. He married Peggy, lived a long and happy life, and re-encountered his buddies in 2024. That’s another 79 years. So at the end of this movie, Captain America is about 119 years old. Wow! At least he still has his hair.

Wait, so this movie posits a history in which Steve Rogers—Captain America—was in fact unfrozen for the entire 20th century? Doesn’t that violate all those rules of time travel they argued about, the ones he was supposedly upholding by returning all the stones to the exact moments they were taken?

These things get confusing, but we think so.

He, like, sat on America’s Ass through the entire awful 20th century without saving JFK or the space shuttle or anything?

Uh—

So Peggy Carter—Peggy Rogers, I guess—spent her whole career at S.H.I.E.L.D. being like, “So sorry, my husband who looks exactly like an older version of my supersoldier boyfriend was once again unavailable to come to the Christmas party, maybe you’ll get to meet him someday”?!?

Look, maybe they’ll explain it later.

What was the meaning of all those special autographed signoffs in the end credits? Are all those actors saying goodbye because they’re never going to be in Avengers movies again?

Unclear! The events of this movie sure make it seem like Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and  Scarlett Johansson are definitively out. (Or is she????) Thor looks to be all set up to be a fun part of the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie, though, and Jeremy Renner is about to star in a Hawkeye TV show on Disney+. Seems like those special title cards at the end represent a thank-you to the OG Avengers, in addition to the millions and millions of dollars Disney has paid them.

I had a babysitter so I left during the credits. Did I miss a post-credits scene?

Nope! At the very end of the unbelievably long credits, you do hear the sound of clanging, which could be a tribute to Tony Stark forging his own Iron Man suit way back when. However, we’re pretty sure it’s actually a secret clue telling us who the star of the next big Marvel franchise is: Gendry.