9:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Avengers: Endgame' Final Path — How Marvel's Infinity Saga Ended
[This story contains major spoilers for Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame. Proceed with caution.]
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans). The first six heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe embarked on an epic quest to avenge their friends in Avengers: Endgame, following their defeat at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War.
In the lead-up to the Russo brothers' highly anticipated conclusion to Marvel's Infinity Saga, The Hollywood Reporter took a look at each of the six founding Avengers and saluted their pasts while trying to predict their futures. Who would live? Who would die? How would the most eagerly awaited blockbuster in modern history end?
Avengers: Endgame is now out in the universe. The answers have officially arrived. Some predictions panned out. Many others did not. In any case, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, Thor, Clint Barton and Steve Rogers' fates finally are revealed. Read on for the full rundown on each Avenger's final path.
Last warning: full Avengers: Endgame spoilers are ahead. Do not continue without having seen the film first.
Also Known As: Tony Stark
What We Predicted: That he would get rescued from the depths of space by Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and would go on to marry Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) with shawarma served at the wedding — and above all else, that he would survive.
How It Played Out: Does it count if we got two of those things right? Carol Danvers does indeed rescue Tony. He marries Pepper at some point in a five-year time jump following the snap; no word on the shawarma. He and Pepper have a daughter, Morgan, who loves her father 3,000 and has room in her heart for Pepper, popsicles and burgers as well. Tony gains the family he's sought for so long ("You have everything and nothing," Shaun Toub's Yinsen told Tony back in the first Iron Man, on learning Tony had no loved ones to speak of). So when he catches wind of a plot to reverse the snap via traveling back in time to steal the Infinity Stones, he's reluctant to help out. He doesn't want to give up everything he's found, even though everyone else has lost so much.
Before long, Tony comes around. He's the one who wraps his head around obstacles surrounding the time heist and helps the team set it into motion. Among the highlights of his trip through time: triggering his own heart attack, checking out Captain America's posterior and enjoying a touching moment with his father, Howard (John Slattery). In the present, once the stones are in place, Tony creates his own Infinity Gauntlet, which is used to snap the dusted back into existence. Thanos from the past comes roaring into the present with his full army in tow, leading to a huge battle between the Black Order and the fully assembled Avengers. At the climax of the fight, just as Thanos thinks he's about to snap all life out of existence, Tony hijacks the Infinity Stones and destroys Thanos and his allies once and for all — but it's at the expense of his own life. The Avengers and Tony's loved ones say goodbye to him in a touching funeral scene near the end of the film. Moments earlier, on the battlefield as life drains from Tony's eyes, Pepper delivers a goodbye that seems to stem from all of Marvel: "You can rest now."
Best Quote: "And I … am … Iron Man."
Runner-Up: "Love you 3,000."
Also Known As: Bruce Banner
What We Predicted: That Banner and Hulk's falling-out would result in a complete separation between the two personalities, paving the way for a new character to assume the Hulk mantle.
How It Played Out: Basically the exact opposite of that! At some point in the five-year span following the snap, Banner dedicates a year and a half to confronting his issues with the Other Guy. The result: Professor Hulk, a perfect merging of the two sides of himself. He's always the big green guy, albeit with Banner's intellect, swagger and fashion sense. It's Banner's biggest transformation in the film, happening mostly off-screen.
What Hulk lacks in a major character arc, he more than compensates with some tremendous moments of levity — including accidentally turning Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) into a baby, giving Ant-Man free tacos, housing a huge plate of breakfast, keeping a pint of his personal Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor and generally being a hard pass on his own Hulkish past when he travels back to 2012's Battle of New York. His more serious material comes toward the end of the film. First, there's his reaction to the time heist's biggest personal loss. (More on that in a moment.) Then there's Hulk fulfilling his gamma-irradiated destiny, stepping up as the person who wields the rudimentary Infinity Gauntlet to snap all the dusted back into existence. Hulk ruins his arm in the process, but it's a small price to pay for bringing Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and so many other heroes from the not-quite-dead.
Best Quote: "The radiation's almost gamma. It's like I was made for this."
Runner-Up: "So. Many. Stairs!!!"
Also Known As: Natasha Romanoff
What We Predicted: From our predictions published on March 29, 2019: "Calling it now: Even as we're heading into the last battle of the original Avengers lineup, Black Widow will be the one member of the first team carrying over into the next generation when it's all said and done." Ah, to be young.
How It Played Out: With much egg on the face, which subsequently mixed with so many tears, creating a snotty, yolky mess. Gross enough for you? The description is as vivid as Widow's fate was shocking. After the snap, Natasha becomes the veritable Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), running point as Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and Danvers do their avenging thing across the globe (and well beyond). She feels like she's lost her family thanks to Thanos and is especially devastated to have lost tabs on her best friend, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
Eventually she finds Clint, and the two are paired together during the time heist. Their destination: Vormir, site of the Soul Stone. As happened in Infinity War, a sacrifice is demanded. Clint and Natasha debate it back and forth, first conversationally and then in the form of one last best-friend fight. It's a race to the bottom. Natasha wins, sacrificing herself on her friend's behalf. Tony's death may be the biggest emotional bombshell of the film, but Natasha's sacrifice is the most shocking — and the most baffling, considering her solo movie is still in development. The MCU's apparent time travel rules lay out a path for Widow's eventual return, but for now, at the very least, she's gone.
Best Quote: "If you're about to tell me to look on the bright side, I'm about to hit you in the head with this peanut butter sandwich."
Runner-Up: "I get emails from a raccoon. Nothing sounds crazy anymore."
Also Known As: The Big Lebowski
What We Predicted: That Thor would deliver the killing blow against Thanos, resettle the Asgardian people and survive the Endgame experience for new adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — perhaps as a Guardian of the Galaxy.
How It Played Out: Well, about time we got one of these right! Thor does indeed chop off Thanos' head, albeit at the start of the film, when he joins the Avengers on the first mission to retake the Infinity Stones and undo the damage; Thanos had already destroyed the stones, making his decapitation a hollow victory at best. For the next five years, Thor buries his pain and depression in beer, video games and more beer, hiding out in New Asgard (which he helped settle) with fellow drinking buddy Korg (Taika Waititi).
The beer-bellied Thor, more Dude than Asgardian, joins the time heist but is an absolute disaster for most of it, unable to move past his previous failure. During the heist, he reunites with his mother, Frigga (Rene Russo), who helps him move on from the pressures of his legacy. Thor gets his groove back and gets Mjolnir back as well, setting up one of the single most satisfying moments of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, let alone Endgame. (More on that in a bit!) Even in rough shape, Thor is an instrumental force in the final fight against Thanos. When the dust settles, he decides he no longer has to live a life fueled by prophetic destiny. Asgard has a strong leader already in Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), after all. Instead, Thor decides to love himself as he is, rediscovering his zest for life and adventure — and teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy for an unexplored purpose, very likely the plot of director James Gunn's upcoming third entry.
Best Quote: "I knew it!"
Runner-Up: "I went for the head."
Also Known As: Clint Barton
What We Predicted: Death! Much death. His, specifically.
How It Played Out: Death! Much death — but not his, specifically. As shocking as it was to lose Natasha, it was equally surprising to walk out of Endgame with Clint still in the mix. The movie begins with Hawkeye losing his family to the snap, explaining his whereabouts during Infinity War. In the next five years, he wanders the planet like a masterless samurai — a Ronin, if you will — butchering bad guys who weren't impacted by Thanos. He also has a funky new haircut.
Natasha eventually tracks Clint down, bringing him into the time heist fold. Then they travel to Vormir, and despite his best efforts to die for the Soul Stone, Natasha beats him to the punch. Clint's devastation at losing his best friend is matched only by his elation when the plan to bring back the dusted works — meaning he's fully reunited with his family by the end of Endgame. What's next for Hawkeye? Passing the Hawkeye mantle, apparently, in the form of his upcoming Disney+ series. And he's not the only hero looking to pass the torch either…
Best Quote: "They got Thanos. You get me."
Runner-Up: "I'm starting to feel like we're talking about different people."
Also Known As: Steve Rogers
What We Predicted: More death! Specifically, that he would be the one who sacrifices himself for the Soul Stone in what would have been a final stand against the Red Skull.
How It Played Out: Not like that! Surprisingly, Steve survives Endgame, albeit fully retired from the superhero game by the time it's all over. In the aftermath of the snap, Captain America does his best to help others move on, leading support groups and offering sturdy friendship to those in pain. It doesn't help him much with his own pain, however, and he's right at the front of the pack when Scott Lang shows up with the time-heist pitch. Cap travels back to the Battle of New York, hails Hydra, battles himself, compliments his own rear end and travels deeper back in time only to realize how much he misses the love of his life: Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).
After the heist, Cap joins Thor and Stark in the final fight against Thanos. During the battle, he earns two of the biggest crowd-pleasing moments. First, he wields Mjolnir, an incredible payoff to the hammer party trick in Age of Ultron. Second, he stands at the front of the battlefield when the dusted heroes return and finally gets to utter his famous catchphrase from the comic books (see "best quote" below). After the fight, Steve volunteers to travel back in time to return the Infinity Stones to their rightful places in history. He does not return, as planned. Instead he stays behind in time, marries Peggy and enjoys a hard-earned happily-ever-after. In the present, an elderly Steve returns for one last purpose: passing the shield and his star-spangled mantle to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), ushering in a new Captain America era.
Best Quote: "Avengers, assemble."
Runner-Up: "It was beautiful."
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