It goes without saying, but there are MAJOR SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame ahead! You've been warned.
Although each Marvel Cinematic Universe story has helped the franchise move forward, some movies have obviously been more important than others. Avengers: Endgame can definitely count itself among this group, if not outright take the #1 spot, as the final installment of the Infinity Saga shifted the MCU status quo several times over by the time those three hours and two minutes were over.
Needless to say there was a lot to absorb in Avengers: Endgame, but as far as where the movie leaves thing off, here are all the ways it changed the MCU, some of which we can expect to be followed up on in the future.
Black Widow Is Dead
Natasha Romanoff, who’s been in the MCU since Iron Man 2 and was one of the founding Avengers, was the first notable casualty of Avengers: Endgame. She and Hawkeye traveled to Vormir to collect the Soul Stone, and when Red Skull, a.k.a. the Stonekeeper, informed them a soul needed to be exchanged for the orange rock, the longtime friends fought over who would give up their life.
In the end, Black Widow won out, willingly falling from that cliff so that the family she’d become a part of would finally be whole again (meaning that the reports of her upcoming standalone movie being a prequel were true). Her sacrifice wasn’t in vain, as by the end of Avengers: Endgame, all of her loved ones were back together again… well, with one big exception.
Iron Man Is Dead
Tony Stark kicked off the MCU in 2008, and 11 years later, he delivered the killing blow against past Thanos and his forces by sacrificing his life. Although it looked as though the Thanos from 2014 would get the six Infinity Stones and remake the universe from scratch, Tony managed to steal the Stones from Thanos’ gauntlet, insert them into the nanotech gauntlet Hulk used earlier and turn Thanos and his minions to dust.
Sadly, the power of the six Infinity Stones is too much for any normal human to control, and after bidding goodbye to War Machine, Spider-Man and Pepper Potts, Iron Man died. His time in the MCU is over, but his legacy won’t fade away. Tony is also survived by his young daughter Morgan, who could potentially become a more important player in this franchise years from now.
Captain America Is An Old Man
After Tony Stark’s funeral, Captain America volunteered to return the Infinity Stones back to their proper places in time. From the perspective of Hulk, Falcon and Winter Soldier, who supervised Cap’s latest journey through the Quantum Realm, he should only have been gone for several seconds, but he was nowhere to be seen. At least, not as they remembered him.
After fulfilling his task, Steve Rogers decided to use the Pym Particles one last time to travel back to the 1940s, reunite with Peggy Carter and live that happy life Tony had told him to get. Thanks to a combination of good genes and the Super Soldier Serum, the now 106-114-year old Steve was sitting on a bench near where his younger self had departed, and he had one last deed to accomplish.
Falcon Is The New Captain America
Ever since he was introduced in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, has been one of Steve Rogers’ closest allies, so needless to say it was great to see him return alongside everyone else who was un-dusted in Avengers: Endgame’s climax. And while Steve’s superhero journey is finished, Sam’s is turning to a new chapter.
Although Captain America’s shield was destroyed by Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, while he was living in the past, Steve Rogers somehow obtained an undamaged version of his trademark weapon. By giving the shield to Sam, the elderly Steve bestowed the Captain America mantle onto him, and while Sam was initially hesitant to fill his friend’s shoes, he graciously accepted and said he’d do his best. Count on the upcoming Falcon and Winter Soldier series on Disney+ to explore this new status quo further.
Thor Is With The Guardians Of The Galaxy
Avengers: Endgame may have closed the book on Tony Stark and Steve Rogers’ stories, but not Thor’s. The God of Thunder was hit especially hard by half the universe being dusted and spent the next five years in a funk. Fortunately, he was convinced to participate in the Time Heist, and when the climactic battle was over and the un-dusted were back, Thor finally seemed like his old self again. However, even a long-lived Asgardian needs to switch things up.
Rather than continue leading the people of New Asgard in Tønsberg, Norway, Thor appointed someone new to look after the community (more on them later) and he hitched a ride back into the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy. It remains to be seen if Thor will be sticking around with the team for a while or he’s only spending short amount of time with them; if it’s the former, then that bodes well for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
It’s 2023 In The Present Day MCU
As many had speculated, time travel did indeed play a big role in Avengers: Endgame. However, rather than overwrite the events of Avengers: Infinity War entirely, Endgame instead had its heroes bring the Infinity Stones back to the present to return the dusted back to life without rewriting the last five years.
So now as far as the MCU is concerned, the ‘present day’ is 2023, and those who survived the dusting back in 2018 still have all those experiences and memories of the past five years. In other words, they’re not exactly the same as they were as when they lost their loved ones to the Thanos snap. That’ll surely provide an interesting ‘separation’ of sorts between those who lived and those who were dusted. And speaking of the people who returned to life…
The Dusted Are Now Five Years Younger Than Everyone Else
Five years passed for those who survived Thanos’ genocide, but for the people who were resurrected when Hulk channeled the power of the Infinity Stones, no time had passed at all. This was made clear when Spider-Man told Iron Man how it’d just felt like he’d passed out after getting “dusty,” unaware that it’d been half a decade since Tony Stark last saw him.
Peter Parker and those who came back to life now have to life in a universe where half the population did its best to move on. One would think this will be touched upon later this summer in Spider-Man: Far From Home, because even though it’s now 2023, Peter is still in high school with Ned, Flash Thompson and Betty Brant.
An Even Younger Gamora Is Running Around
Gamora met her demise during Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos threw her off a cliff on Vormir to obtain the Soul Stone, and that version of her remains dead. But thanks the Avengers: Endgame’s time travel shenanigans, a younger version of Gamora from the Guardians of the Galaxy era is now in the present day MCU. In other words, she’s nine years younger than she would have been if she’d survived Infinity War and live on into Endgame.
Like her original iteration, the younger Gamora turned to the light and fought against her “father” when push came to shove. However, this Gamora also doesn’t have any connection to the Guardians of the Galaxy, so once the battle was over, she bailed on everyone else. It’s likely then that part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will see Star-Lord and the gang trying to find Gamora and convince her that she belongs with them.
Valkyrie Is Queen Of New Asgard
Valkyrie made her debut less than two years ago in Thor: Ragnarok and quickly became a fan favorite. She wasn’t anywhere to be seen in Avengers: Infinity War, but it was confirmed earlier this year that she did survive the snap. Sure enough, Valkyrie retuned for Avengers: Endgame alongside Korg and Miek, but unlike those two, she got a promotion at the end of the movie.
With Thor heading back into space following Thanos’ defeat, he appointed Valkyrie the Queen of New Asgard. She’s definitely qualified to lead the Asgardian survivors in the God of Thunder’s absence, but there’s no word yet on if/when we’ll see how she’s doing in this position, whether it’s in Thor 4, a Valkyrie series for Disney+ or elsewhere.
Professor Hulk Is Here To Stay
It’s been said for years that Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame would form a special trilogy for the Hulk, and Endgame finally delivered the resolution that many had expected. After years of Bruce Banner and Hulk fighting for control, the two merged together sometime in the five years after Infinity War. The brawn of the Hulk now lives simultaneous with the mind of Bruce. Welcome, Professor Hulk!
Avengers: Endgame also left the door open for Hulk to return to the MCU down the line, and Mark Ruffalo has at least one movie left on his six-picture deal. As of yet, it hasn’t been announced if/when Hulk will return, but it’d be nice to see more of Professor Hulk down the line in a less explosive story. Just don’t get your hopes up about another solo Hulk movie, as that appears to still be off the table.
Loki Is Still Alive In An Alternate Timeline
Loki was murdered by Thanos at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, and as far as the main MCU timeline is concerned, the Asgardian God of Mischief is still dead. In an alternate timeline, however, he’s not only still alive, but on the loose. Some complications arose while Tony Stark was trying to retrieve the Tesseract in 2012, and it led to the freshly-captured Loki seizing the cube-encased Space Stone again and escaping from his captors.
While there is a Loki series confirmed to be airing on Disney+, it’s not clear if this alternate timeline Loki will factor into it. It’s been reported the show will involve Loki influencing various events in human history, so it’d be easy enough to have that function as a straightforward prequel without bringing in the alternate Loki. Still, at least now there’s the option to pluck this other Loki into the main MCU timeline should those in charge want to throw the character properly back into the mix.
Be sure to let us know in the comments which of these Avengers: Endgame changes to the MCU was your favorite, and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on the future of this superhero franchise. You can learn what movies are already in development with our handy guide.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.