The old adage in war is that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. You can plan everything out before hand but when the action actually happens, things inevitably change. The same is largely true of making movies. You can have a script and you can work out how every scene is going to look in advance, but once you're actually trying to put the movie together, things will always change. Avengers: Endgame was no different.
The editors behind Avengers: Endgame have revealed that, among the changes that the movie saw in the editing bay, was the way that the heroes entered the battle of New York from the original Avengers film. In the version we saw on screen, we saw the iconic group shot of the Avengers from that film (the image above) which was our establishing shot to tell the audience where in the battle we're coming in. It seems that initially the time travelers joined the story a little bit later in the battle. According to editor Jeffrey Ford...
The script had us showing up right when Tony flies through the Leviathan and blows it up from the inside. But when we screened it for audiences in test screenings we realized it took a few minutes for them to acclimate themselves. It wasn't landing the way we wanted. So we tried other versions.
In the scene, Iron Man is fighting one of the massive Chitari creatures and he asks Jarvis if his AI companion is familiar with the story of Jonah and the Whale. Rather than trying to blast away at the creature's armor, which has proven largely ineffective, Tony Stark flies into the creature's open mouth and blasts his way out the back, which proves to be remarkably effective.
The moment is cool, but it's not necessarily the first thing fans remember when thinking about that battle, and as such, Jeffrey Ford tells Business Insider that test audiences took some time to get up to speed with what they were seeing.
Apparently, another entry point that was tried was the Hulk's complete dismantling of Loki by repeatedly smashing him into the ground. That likely would have worked quite well, but in the end, it was decided that another iconic moment worked better...
The version that won was where we come in on the Avengers first assembling, the round-a-round shot. It was the cleanest and most epic transition back into Avengers 1.
In the end, it really is hard to imagine, Avengers: Endgame doing anything else. That shot of the six team members together is quite possibly the single most iconic moment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even now.
Once you see that, even if you haven't seen the first Avengers film in years, you know exactly where you are in time, which then lets the time traveling versions of those heroes get to work without the narrative having to explain anything. Even with a three hour runtime, there's really no time for that.