SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major details about Avengers: Endgame – beginning, middle, and end. If you have not yet seen the film, feel free to bookmark this page and come back after your screening!
There is no question that the greatest miracle Avengers: Endgame pulls off is the way in which it references the entire span of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. There isn’t one movie in the canon that doesn’t get at least one reference in the blockbuster, and while some are certainly more significant than others, it would be a challenge for any fan not to appreciate the level of detail.
This is an element of the movie that is particularly significant in the dialogue, as there are many lines throughout Avengers: Endgame that are direct callbacks to previous Marvel Studios titles. There are so many that you might not have caught them all, but in that particular arena we have you covered. We have noted all 15 lines that directly reference an earlier MCU script, and collected them all here. So without further ado…
"A suit of armor around the world."/"We'll lose." – Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Following the dramatic events of Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Endgame is the first Marvel movie to reunite Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) – but rather than referencing that particular trilogy capper, their conversation brings back notable lines from Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Specifically, there are references to two scenes: the first when Tony Stark is explaining to Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) his desire to build a “suit of armor around the world,” and then a later exchange between Tony and Steve. The former notes about the looming extraterrestrial threat, “We’ll lose,” and the latter retorts, “Then we’ll do that together too.” Sadly, Steve was wrong, and the reason they lost to Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War was because of their conflict.
"I went for the head." – Avengers: Infinity War
Part of the reason why the ending of Avengers: Infinity War is so crushing is because of just how close the titular team came to beating Thanos. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) successfully buried Stormbreaker in the Mad Titan’s chest shortly after the villain collected the final Infinity Stone, but it wasn’t enough. Thanos explained to the Asgardian that he should have gone for the quick kill via decapitation – “You should have gone for the head” – and not doing so allowed him to snap away half of life in existence. This is a mistake that Thor rectifies quickly in Avengers: Endgame, right after learning that all of the Infinity Stones have been destroyed.
"I do, Captain America." – Captain America: Civil War
One of the greatest bits about Scott Lang a.k.a. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the utter awe he projects whenever he’s around more established superheroes. This is especially true when he’s around Captain America, and perfectly exemplified when he returns the World War II hero’s shield at the start of the airport battle in Civil War – where he notably delivers the line, “I believe this is yours, Captain America.” It’s one of the movie’s most memorable moments, and wonderfully echoed when Scott is pitching his time travel idea in Avengers: Endgame and feels compelled to address the star spangled man by his full name.
"This is a long way from Budapest." – The Avengers
As Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) hop on a spaceship and plan to depart the planet Morag for Vormir, the former turns to the latter and notes that the experience is “a long way from Budapest.” This is a direct reference back to one of the more grounding moments in The Avengers, specifically when the same two characters are fighting Chitauri warriors during the Battle of New York. In the scene, Widow remarks, “It’s like Budapest all over again,” to which Hawkeye replies, “You and I remember Budapest very differently.” Unfortunately, we still have no idea exactly what happened to the heroes in the capital of Hungary – but perhaps that’s something that will be covered in the upcoming Black Widow solo film.
"If it's all the same to you, I'll take that drink now." – The Avengers
This bit is different than all the others in this list, in that it’s the only line of dialogue from a previous movie that we hear in the exact same context, albeit at a new angle. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) says this line at the very end of The Avengers when he is cornered by the heroes in Stark Tower, and while it was originally delivered in the medium shot you see above, Avengers: Endgame gives us a new look at it. While the aforementioned scene is playing out, Future Tony Stark and Future Ant-Man are sneaking behind them, and we wind up catching more of the exchange than was previously shown in the Joss Whedon film.
"Hail Hydra." – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is a fun one, in that it’s not only a great callback to one of the meme-able lines in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but also a nod to a recent controversy in the pages of Marvel Comics. When trying to acquire Loki’s staff from the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” agents who are taking it, Captain America whispers “Hail Hydra” to the group while in an elevator in Avengers: Endgame, and it makes an impact so significant that he gets the staff without having to throw a single punch. This will most definitely remind audiences of the moment featuring Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) and Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández), but it’s very likely included as a reference to 2017 Marvel Comics event Secret Empire, which featured a Captain America as a Hydra sleeper agent due to his past being manipulated by Red Skull.
"I can do this all day." – Captain America: The First Avenger/Civil War
Get ready for a callback to a callback! One of the most impactful moments in Captain America: Civil War is when the titular character and Iron Man are fighting at the end, and despite being beaten and bloody the soldier gets to his feet and remarks that he “can do this all day” – a reference back to the same exact line that the de-powered Steve Rogers delivered to a bully in the first act of Captain America: The First Avenger. This bit is brought back again in Avengers: Endgame, albeit with a funny twist. After getting Loki’s staff, Future Cap winds up in a fist fight with 2012 Cap (who thinks he is the God of Mischief in disguise), and the latter brings back the line as a kind of psych out move. It doesn’t really work, though, as the more experienced of the two retorts with a semi-exhausted, “I know.”
"I'm the strongest Avenger." – Thor: Ragnarok
In Avengers: Endgame, a fight over which of the heroes should wear the newly-made Infinity Gauntlet and repair the damage done by Thanos leads Thor to make the argument that he is the strongest Avenger and therefore should be the one to do the job. This is ultimately a thought that is shut down due to the fact that he isn’t really in a solid place emotionally – but it’s also a sly callback to Thor: Ragnarok. You may remember that the God of Thunder guessed that his access code to activate the Quinjet was “strongest Avenger,” but it didn’t work because his real access code was “Point Break” (itself a reference to The Avengers). What makes this bit even funnier is the fact that Hulk was able to access to the Quinjet in Ragnarok with the code “strongest Avenger,” and also winds up wearing the Gauntlet in Endgame.
"On your left." – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
It’s not surprising in the slightest that Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) become fast friends in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as their rapport and chemistry is established mere seconds into the movie. Both are fans of morning jogs around Washington D.C., and Cap makes a habit of poking fun at the fellow veteran by regularly speeding past him – calling out “On your left” while doing so. This big comes back at the end of the film when Steve wakes in a hospital bed to find his pal by his bedside, but the callback is even more significant in Avengers: Endgame. After all, these are the words that Sam uses to let the team leader know that he and the rest of the resurrected heroes are ready to unite and do battle with Thanos… with a few other friends in tow as well.
"Avengers: Assemble" – Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Avengers: Endgame is the fourth Avengers movie, but it’s the first to include arguably the most iconic and oft-repeated line from the Marvel Comics that inspired it. “Avengers Assemble” is the call to action regularly used by heroes to get the superhero team prepared for battle, and it’s perfectly delivered by Captain America right at the start of the massive third act battle in the 2019 blockbuster. Of course, we previously came extremely close to hearing it in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, as half of the line was delivered by Cap at the very end of the film right before it cut to the credits. Back in 2015 it was considered a bit of a controversial move by Joss Whedon, but in retrospect we’re happy he left the door to instead be opened by Joe and Anthony Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely in Endgame.
"We’re on it, Cap." – Ant-Man And The Wasp
Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) gives Scott Lang quite a lot of crap in Ant-Man And The Wasp for stealing her family’s tech to go fight in the superhero civil war, and this includes some razzing about his familiarity with Captain America – whom he refers to as “Cap” at one point. In the moment this is mocked by Hope a.k.a. The Wasp, but it comes back in a great way in Avengers: Endgame. During the big final battle, the Avengers leader assigns the two shrinking heroes to get the Quantum Tunnel in the X-Con van working again, and Wasp replies over the radio, “We’re on it, Cap.” It’s quick, but you may notice that Scott gives her a bit of a look – and it’s perfect.
"Activate 'Instant Kill.'" – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Like many heroes in the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) typically does everything he can not to kill his enemies… but the same can’t be said of Iron Man. It’s for that reason that it wasn’t hugely surprising to learn in Spider-Man: Homecoming that Tony Stark installed a special function in the Spidey suit called “Instant Kill” mode. This was presumed to be just a one-off joke that fans would never hear about again, but Avengers: Endgame brought it back in the best way. Peter Parker might not try to murder other human beings, but mindless aliens is another subject entirely, so it made every kind of sense to bring back “Instant Kill” mode during the blockbuster’s final battle.
"And I am Iron Man." – Iron Man
In the final moments of Avengers: Endgame’s big battle, Thanos proves to have an ego big enough to quote himself in dramatic fashion – borrowing a line from his alternate timeline self and letting Tony Stark know that he is “inevitable.” After it’s revealed that Tony stole the Infinity Stones from him, however, the genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist does the Mad Titan one better by also quoting himself… notably with the line that originally cemented the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2008. “I am Iron Man” was a perfect final declaration at the end of the first Iron Man, and its return in 2019 is absolutely epic, and ultimately a beautiful way to say goodbye to a version of a character who completely changed modern pop culture.
"Your dad loved cheeseburgers." - Iron Man
“I love you 3000” will likely go down in history as the most heartbreaking line in Avengers: Endgame, but not to be sold short is the quick exchange between Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Morgan Stark (Lexi Rabe) at Tony Stark’s funeral. Iron Man’s former driver/bodyguard/forehead of security asks the young girl how she is doing, and she not only remarks that she is hungry, but that she wants a cheeseburger – to which Happy replies, “Your dad loved cheeseburgers.” This doesn’t seem like anything special at first – after all, who doesn’t like cheeseburgers? – but it gains significance when you remember Tony Stark’s first request after his rescue in the desert in Iron Man. That’s right: an American cheeseburger.
"Don’t do anything stupid." – Captain America: The First Avenger
One third of the quotes on this list come from the Captain America trilogy, and that’s not super surprising when you consider that it was the collection of Marvel titles that Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote before tackling the last two Avengers movies. Endgame is particularly tapped into those films, and perhaps the best example is the exchange between Cap and Bucky Barnes a.k.a. Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) right before the former’s final time travel adventure. The lines are switched, but “Don’t do anything stupid” followed by the reply, “How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you” is exactly what the two men said to each other back in 1942 before Bucky was deployed in World War II to fight with the 107th Infantry Regiment. It’s a beautiful moment reflecting back on Captain America: The First Avenger, and even more excellent when considered in context with what happens next.
Do you have a favorite callback moment in Avengers: Endgame? Hit the comments section below with your pick, and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for a ton more Marvel feature coverage in the coming days.