Spoiler warning: "Avengers: Endgame"
"Avengers: Endgame" was worth the wait.
If you're like me, you couldn't wait to see the newest addition to the MCU. The twenty-second movie in Marvel's growing saga continues the Infinity War narrative that shocked viewers last spring: the Avengers fail to defeat Thanos, and half of the universe just...disappears. While it wasn't the ending viewers expected, it was the ending we needed.
(If you haven't seen the movie yet, please stop reading. I'm about to talk about some MAJOR spoilers and I don't want to ruin this for you—or go against the will of the Russo brothers, who asked us not to spoil the endgame.)
(Last warning: spoiler alert!!!)
Let's talk "Endgame"—but where do we begin?
The movie was full of emotion, both good and bad, that evoked many vocal reactions from the audience. There was tons of nostalgia since the heroes went back in time and revisited some scenes from the previous movies, like the Battle of New York from the first Avengers. Like the other films before it, "Endgame" produced laughs and caused tears.
The movie's ending is one of the most intense in the whole MCU. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) uses the Infinity Stones to kill Thanos and his army, but that comes at a cost—his life. The end of the movie pays tribute to the man who started it all; there is a touching funeral scene, and in lieu of a traditional end-credits scene, there is audio of Tony building his first suit in the cave where he was imprisoned in the very first movie.
As if losing one of the MCU's most prominent characters wasn't hard enough, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) returns to the 1940s to live a long and happy life with his true love, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). He appears in the final scene as an old man—the age he would've been all along if he hadn't been frozen in ice.
"Avengers: Endgame" changed the MCU as we know it. While it was nice to get all of our favorite superheroes back (hello, T'Challa), the end leaves us with several questions.
Why did Steve CHOOSE to mess with time?
Don't get me wrong—I love that Steve got to go back and live a life with Peggy. That final scene was a real tearjerker...but it doesn't make sense!
The Ancient One clarified that going back and changing the past wouldn't alter the future (a la Back to the Future), but instead create alternate timelines that wouldn't have Infinity Stones. All of the Stones had to be returned at exactly the moment they were taken. Steve completes the task but chooses to stay in the past and live out his life with Peggy, returning at the last moment as a (very) old man. He hands over his shield to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), passing on the mantle of Captain America, and retires. It's sweet but leaves us with more questions than answers.
It's out of character for Steve, who takes his job very seriously. Captain America wouldn't sit idly by knowing that his best friend was being brainwashed and tortured in Russia, or that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. He wouldn't sit out the battle of New York or let Ultron destroy Sokovia.
Plus, it has to screw up other stuff. Like what happens with that Steve that crashes into the ice? Do they ever find him? What happens to the children that Peggy had in our universe with someone else? Hopefully one of the upcoming movies answers some of these questions.
Speaking of time travel, what's going to happen with 2012 Loki (who stole the Tesseract)?
Steve returns the Tesseract to 1970, not 2012. Tony and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) fail their part of the Time Heist, as Loki (Tom Hiddleston) escapes with the Space Stone. So what does that mean?
Well, according to the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), this disruption would result in an alternate timeline in which Loki has the Tesseract and is free to continue his attempts at world domination. Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, will have a show about Loki. It's possible that the show will follow the events after Loki escapes with the Stone. Will we ever see Loki in the MCU again?
Is Thor going to be in Guardians of the Galaxy 3?
At the end of "Avengers: Endgame," Thor (Chris Hemsworth) leaves New Asgard in the capable hands of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and leaves with the Guardians of the Galaxy. This makes sense, since Thor got to know them—especially Rocket—during the events of Infinity War.
Does this mean Thor is a Guardian? It's unclear if he's going to be in the third movie, which doesn't have a release date yet, but there have been no plans announced for a fourth Thor movie, so it's totally possible (although, if Taika Waititi directed it, I'd be happy with Thor being the first Avenger to get more than three solo movies).
Only time will tell, but hopefully, we'll still be seeing the beer-guzzling God of Thunder in the MCU. But, maybe without the beer gut and gross hair.
Is Black Widow gone from the MCU forever?
Another big shock of the movie was the death of Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). She sacrificed herself on Vormir so Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) could get the Soul Stone and bring his family back.
While Marvel has announced a solo Black Widow movie, it's possible it will be a prequel, explaining how she became such a badass (and maybe what happened in Budapest). However, the Soul Stone can only be acquired through sacrifice—trading a soul for a soul. Steve had to return each stone to exactly when it was taken. Does that mean he gets a soul back? It wasn't answered in the movie, but maybe Nat will return.
But there's one big question remaining:
Who will lead the Avengers now?
For so long, Tony and Steve were the leaders of the Avengers—and the leaders of both sides after the rift over the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War. But now that they're gone, who will lead the team?
Steve has passed on his title to Sam, but Sam and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are set to have their own show on Disney+, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. That doesn't mean the duo won't be in future movies, but their roles might be smaller.
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is a contender for leader of the Avengers, but she's busy saving the universe where the Avengers can't. T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is busy being the leader of Wakanda AND saving the world as the Black Panther. Peter is too young, and Clint will probably spend most of his time with the family he lost.
Hulk/Banner (Mark Ruffalo) could take over, but he seems to fit better as the brains of the operation. Maybe Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) will lead. Or, maybe, the Avengers don't need a leader right now. Maybe they need to rebuild their lives in a world they've been absent from for five years, and spend their time reuniting with loved ones.
Whatever happens, I'm sure the MCU will continue to entertain us (and hopefully answer all of those time travel questions).