Possibly the most anticipated movie of this generation, Avengers: Endgame, is upon us: the culmination of Marvel’s epic Cinematic Universe, bringing together storylines from over twenty films using literally dozens of characters.
But what’s going to happen?
And since every man and his dog has their opinions about the eventual outcomes (for both the story and its characters), I thought I’d throw my Unfunny Nerd hat into the ring and make some predictions of my own.
WHAT IS THE WORLD LIKE ‘POST-SNAP’?
From what little we’ve seen in the trailers, it appears as though Earth has become somewhat Apocalyptic in nature after the events of Infinity War. Weeds have overgrown, buildings have become rundown or condemned, and as we see in that one eerie shot, ships have seemingly sailed (or perhaps crashed) into Liberty Harbor… and stayed there.
Obviously since Thanos (Josh Brolin) managed to gather the six Infinity Stones and Snap his gauntleted fingers, literally fifty percent of all living creatures have simply vanished, blown away into nothingness as easily as Wolverine would flick away the ash from a cigar.
While this leaves the world (and possibly the universe) with more than enough natural resources to go around, it also leaves a massive maintenance problem for those left behind. With half the people gone, the upkeep all those (now superfluous) homes, schools, shopping malls, train stations, airports, sporting stadiums etc, will go untended. With a constant reminder of the world’s new reality there for all to see, it’s safe to say that those left behind would easily be swept under by grief and depression.
This is apparent in one of the more haunting shots from the trailers, where Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is seen sitting in what looks like a group therapy session, no-doubt joining his fellow citizens in discussing and dealing with the multiple losses they have all now encountered.
What does a Rapture-like event actually do to the world? How do those left behind deal with everything and everyone they’ve lost? And more importantly, what do heroes do in the aftermath of losing not only their greatest-ever battle, but also half of their friends and allies? It seems therapy isn’t enough, since Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will soon embark on a plan to return things to the way they were.
The theories are all out there. Time-travel, the Quantum Realm, alternate realities and even stealing back the Infinity Stones to re-alter the universe and undo all Thanos achieved.
But let’s not dwell on plot lines, because that is a sure-fire path to disappointment. Some of the most butt-hurt movie fans ever have only moaned about movies they ‘hated’, simply because it wasn’t the story they had in their own head.
No… instead, these predictions will focus on the characters of Endgame. Who lives? Who dies? Who sails off into the sunset and who meets an untimely demise?
So, let’s get started… with the strongest of them all…
BRUCE BANNER / HULK (Mark Ruffalo).
Bruce Banner has always been a tragic hero. The same power that enables him to ‘turn into an enormous, green rage monster’ is the same curse that prevents him from living a normal life. As we’ve seen from his time in the MCU, Banner is unable to find a place in the world, (whether on Earth or Sakaar) doomed to leave those he cares about behind in fear of hurting them, or worse.
But while Banner remains mostly the same character, lately we’ve seen a different side of the Hulk. His two-year run as the Grand Master’s champion in Thor: Ragnarok certainly allowed his personality to develop. No longer was Hulk a monosyllabic simpleton capable of only grunting and screaming. He spoke in sentences. He had conversations. He even had a ‘friend’ in Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
Hulk made his feelings known in that film, when he expressed to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) his desire to remain on Sakaar, a place where he could be himself without fear of retribution or prejudice. But, as Banner made his way back to the surface, we got an even more detailed look at the internal struggle within, when his fear of bringing out the Hulk was due to the fact it might eradicate the Banner persona forever. But when push-came-to-shove, Banner did the right thing and allowed Hulk to take control once more.
Unfortunately, this newfound Banner/Hulk balance didn’t last long. While it seemed as though both personalities were finally on the same page… Thanos happened. No one can forget how easily the Mad Titan defeated Hulk in the early moments of Infinity War, and for the rest of the movie, it seemed Hulk remembered too. His refusal to return (no matter how much Banner pleaded) made it seem as though for the first time, Hulk was afraid.
So what happens to Banner and/or Hulk in Endgame? If rumors are to be believed, we may actually see a third personality emerge, the often-nicknamed ‘Professor Hulk’, the ultimate blend of Banner and Hulk into one coherent being: the mind of Banner in the body of the Hulk. Both entities will finally become one. They’ll find their peace.
And that’s why Hulk will die.
Yep. Sorry. But remember how I said that Bruce Banner has always been a tragic hero? Well what better way to portray that tragic element, than have him sacrifice himself for the team just as he finally finds peace with the angry green monster inside him?
Tragic, yes. But that’s the story of Bruce Banner to a tee.
PREDICTION: Hulk dies.
Next up, let’s take a look at the smallest Avenger.
SCOTT LANG / ANT-MAN (Paul Rudd).
I’m obviously not alone in predicting that Ant-Man will be the key to this whole movie. After sitting out Infinity War thanks to house-arrest, the last we saw of him was when he became stranded in the Quantum Realm, unaware that his fellow heroes, The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), and Hank and Janet Pym (Michael Douglas / Michelle Pfeiffer) had just become dust.
We know he someone makes it out, since he appears in the trailers, both looking bewildered at the world around him (post-Snap) and turning up at the Avengers’ front door. The trailers also show us the now-classic The Right Stuff-inspired walk from the surviving Avengers, who all seemed decked out in what look like Quantum Realm Suits.
In the final moments of Ant-Man & the Wasp, Janet warns Scott, “Don’t get sucked into a time-vortex.” Is that the key to defeating Thanos? Use the Quantum Realm to time-travel and undo his machinations? I think it is, but I also think it’s only Step One for the Avengers, as things aren’t likely to go as planned, possibly creating an even bigger problem. As Doc and Marty proved, time-travel is never simple.
Either way, I’m pretty sure Scott Lang is safe. Paul Rudd is immensely talented and popular, and Ant-Man (with the Wasp) is a character who can help carry the MCU going forward.
PREDICTION: He lives.
Next, we’ll focus on the newest member of the MCU…
CAROL DANVERS / CAPTAIN MARVEL (Brie Larson).
This one is probably the easiest to predict. With a brand new film still in theatres and the constant reminders that she’s ‘the most powerful hero in the MCU’, Captain Marvel is here to stay.
Many believe that Carol will be the one to finally strike down and defeat Thanos, but personally, I don’t. While she is insanely powerful (and who knows just how much more powerful she is now after twenty-something years fighting in deep space), Captain Marvel is still a character, with strengths and flaws.
One of those flaws is working with a team. We saw in Captain Marvel that she struggled at times to gel with her fellow Kree squad members, often breaking ranks to do what she thought was best.
As her search for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) leads her to team up with the Avengers, I think we’re going to see how (much like Tony Stark before her), Carol will learn the benefits of playing well with others.
It’s entirely possible that an overconfident and almost cocky (pardon the pun) Carol will deem it her responsibility to take down Thanos alone, and fail. Only then will she understand that the Avengers work best as a team, and join their ranks (possibly as a new leader) to save the day once and for all.
PREDICTION: Lives (to lead the new-look team).
Speaking of cosmic heroes, it’s time to check in with everyone’s favourite Trash-Panda…
ROCKET (Bradley Cooper).
One of two surviving Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket has lost more people than any other so far. While he wasn’t there to witness Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) death, or see what happened to Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista), he did helplessly watch his surrogate son, Groot (Vin Diesel) fade away before his little raccoon eyes. (Relax, nerds. I know he’s not really a raccoon.)
This creates a rather interesting situation for Rocket. As a character, we’ve seen him push others away before they can hurt him. He creates tension and drama between his Guardians teammates in order to feel better about it if and when they decide to abandon him.
Well, now they have abandoned him, in a sense. Being left behind after the Snap had an instant effect on Rocket, tearfully refusing to accept what was happening to Groot until Thanos’ new reality all but slapped him in his furry face. It’s quite heartbreaking to see him in the final moments of Infinity War, head down and silent. The once-plucky and sarcastic smart-ass with an answer for everything was finally rendered speechless by his grief.
So what’s next? We know he’s still on Earth, thanks to the trailers, which also deliver a comic lover’s dream by showing him standing on War Machine’s (Don Cheadle) heavily-armoured shoulder. But what role will Rocket take in Endgame?
I really think we’re going to get more Rocket than ever before. I can see him working alongside fellow geniuses, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and the aforementioned Bruce Banner to help kick along the process of getting into the Quantum Realm. From what I could tell, Rocket isn’t shown walking with the others in their new Quantum Realm suits in the trailer. Is that because he’s staying behind to monitor things? I think it is. Rocket will probably serve as Ned Leeds’ favourite position of ‘man-in-the-chair’ to run things from the outside.
I’m not entirely confident in Rocket’s survival, since his death would be another ballsy move from the directors who killed Gamora and brought back Red Skull, but with James Gunn now retuning for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, I think Rocket is safe.
We’re going to get that reunion between he and Groot, and we’re going to cry.
And now we re-visit a founding member…
NATASHA ROMANOFF / BLACK WIDOW (Scarlett Johansson)
This one is tricky. With all of the ‘red in her ledger’, Black Widow seems like a prime candidate to even the karmic score with a sacrifice, right? Certainly, after watching Natasha Romanoff grow from a lone-wolf to a crucial part of the Avengers’ roster, laying down her life for the greater good is something that fits her ever-evolving character.
But, I don’t know. I just can’t see it.
I do, however, believe that Black Widow will have a very strong presence in Endgame, and not just because she didn’t have a lot to do in Infinity War. With the bulk of our heroes gone, the ones left behind need leadership, and alongside Steve Rogers, Romanoff fits that bill perfectly. In the trailers, she seems to be gearing up for what looks like a do-or-die mission, and perhaps even she thinks this one will be her last.
I think Black Widow survives, not only due to the sheer bank-ability of Johansson at the box office, but we know she has a solo movie in the works. Exactly when that story takes place is anyone’s guess, but I have a hard time seeing the MCU post-Endgame devolving into Star Wars-esque prequel territory. We’ve had that now with Captain Marvel. A Black Widow film deserves more than just the retread treatment, and I can’t see Kevin Feige and his team resting on their laurels like that.
Instead, I have a strong suspicion that any Black Widow movie we get will indeed take place after Endgame, perhaps following Romanoff as she deals with the repercussions of that story. I can honestly see Black Widow surviving, only to leave the Avengers and go on a journey of self-discovery.
If we do indeed lose Banner (and perhaps a certain other prominent Avenger that I’ll save for later), that might be the last straw. There’s a very good chance that these incidents could be the catalyst for Black Widow to ‘retire’ and seek a more peaceful existence, only to be brought back into the superhero lifestyle by both her turbulent past and her own morality IN HER OWN MOVIE.
She does her duty but enough is enough. I think she’ll leave the team a broken person, but her upcoming solo film will then detail the story of why she (eventually) returns to the team.
PREDICTION: Lives, but no longer an active Avenger (for now).
And for now, one final prediction about the man who started it all…
TONY STARK / IRON MAN (Robert Downey, Jr.)
This one is tough. Very tough. Vibranium tough.
Although, unlike the majority of fans, I’m extremely confident that the ‘genius billionaire play philanthropist’ will be AOK by the end of Endgame.
Why you say? Surely you know Robert Downy, Jr. Is done with the role? You don’t really think he wants to be Iron Man forever, do you?
Nope. But hear me out…
Infinity War already did a wonderful job of teasing Tony’s death. I’ll admit it, when Thanos stabbed him, I honestly thought that was it.
Until he was fine only minutes later.
I really don’t think the Russos would do that to us twice. I don’t think they ‘pull a Trinity’ and have him survive such a major threat to his life in one movie, only to kill him off in the next.
No, what I think is more likely, is that Tony will indeed be prepared to sacrifice himself for everyone else and the universe, only to be saved from himself at the last minute (by that certain other prominent Avenger I spoke about earlier). Thus Tony survives.
Now, while I think Tony lives, I do believe this is it for the character. How? It’s simple if you think about it. In a movie that wasted zero time with back-story and/or personal arcs, why did Infinity War have those Tony-Pepper moments early in the film?
Because the Russos were planting the seeds for Tony’s future. That’s what (I think) will happen to Tony in the end. After having his surrogate son, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) die in his arms, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to assume that that is the final push Tony needed to realise he wants to retire with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), finally start a family of his own and leave the armour behind for good, perhaps even passing the mantle of Iron Man onto someone else in the process.
***COUGH Shuri COUGH***
PREDICTION: Lives (and finally retires).
NEXT UP IN PART TWO: We take a look at the fates of the fallen…
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