We dive into FULL SPOILERS on all the reveals and hidden goodies in the Marvel movie.
By Jim Vejvoda
Full SPOILERS ahead for Avengers: Endgame!
Avengers: Endgame, the closing chapter in the Infinity Saga, is finally here and it includes a ton of Easter eggs, cameos, and callbacks to the 21 previous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So we’ve narrowed our finds down to just the biggest ones.
For more on Avengers: Endgame, here’s how time travel works in the MCU, plus we have breakdowns on how Captain America lifted Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir; the status of Gamora after Endgame; and what Black Widow’s death means for her standalone movie.
Endgame recreates a slew of memorable moments from the first Avengers movie, Thor: The Dark World, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, while also touching upon elements from Infinity War, Age of Ultron, Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Many of these scenes take place during the Avengers’’ “time heist” to get the Infinity Stones and undo the effects of Thanos’ snap. The most notable facet of these callback scenes are the many cameos from past players.
That includes Tom Hiddleston, who reprises his role as Loki for scenes set during the events of both Avengers and Thor: The Dark World. Loki even makes off with the Tesseract at one point, and we have a theory that might allow Loki to return to the main MCU timeline.
The time heist sequences also see the return of Red Skull; Natalie Portman as Jane Foster; Rene Russo as Thor’s mom Frigga; Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One; John Slattery as Iron Man’s dad Howard Stark; Robert Redford as the Hydra-linked Alexander Pierce; The Winter Soldier’s Brock Rumlow, Jasper Sitwell, and Jack Rollins; and Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy as Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis, respectively.
We also see a shaggy-haired Michael Douglas as a digitally de-aged Hank Pym back when he worked for SHIELD in 1970. The classic Ant-Man helmet from the Silver Age Marvel Comics can be seen on Pym’s desk.
The 1970 time heist sequence also includes the final MCU cameo from the late Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee. Stan the Man plays a long-haired hippie whose car has a 420-friendly license plate and a “‘Nuff Said” bumper sticker. Stan yells at some soldiers to make love not war.
The time heists aren’t the only parts of Endgame that see familiar faces make cameos. Peter Parker reunites with his school pal Ned in the end (and we got the scoop on why they’re still the same age). Endgame directors the Russo brothers used to direct Community so look for two of that show’s cast, Ken Jeong and Yvette Nicole Brown, in minor roles here. Endgame director Joe Russo and Thanos creator Jim Starlin play members of the support group Cap leads. Joe Russo’s not the only Russo playing a role in Endgame. His daughter Ava Russo plays Hawkeye’s daughter Lila Barton.
Tony Stark’s funeral includes appearances by Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet Van Dyne, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May, William Hurt’s Thunderbolt Ross, and one particularly noticeable teenager there all by himself. A Marvel Studios source confirmed to IGN that this teen is Harley Keener, who was the little boy from Iron Man 3 (and once again played by Ty Simpkins).
The funeral sequence also includes a poignant callback to the first Iron Man movie. In Endgame, Tony and Pepper’s daughter Morgan tells Happy Hogan she wants a cheeseburger. In Iron Man, after Tony has escaped from the Ten Rings and made it home, he makes Happy stop for hamburgers and proceeds to eat Burger King takeout during his press conference. Of course, that’s not the only reference to the first Iron Man movie in Endgame. Tony’s last words before he snaps Thanos to death are a direct nod to his final line in Iron Man 1: “I am Iron Man.”
As for Pepper Potts, she gets to suit up again for the first time since Iron Man 3, donning armor for the final battle against Thanos and his army. In the Marvel Comics, Pepper has donned armor as the superhero Rescue, although in the comics the armor is made to rescue people, hence the name, and doesn’t pack all the firepower we see in the movie.
Endgame’s 1970 time heist takes place at Camp Lehigh, the secretive New Jersey military base which, in The First Avenger, served as the “birthplace” of Captain America. Then in The Winter Soldier, Cap and Black Widow visit Camp Lehigh where they find that Hydra bad guy Arnim Zola uploaded his mind into a super-computer. Zola is mentioned by Howard Stark during Endgame. And Falcon’s “on your left” when the Vanished Avengers reappear is also a callback to Winter Soldier, when Steve met Sam after lapping him several times during an early morning jog.
There’s a bittersweet callback to Captain America: The First Avenger when Cap, as he’s about to travel back in time to return the Infinity Stones, tells Bucky, “Don’t do anything stupid until I get back.” To which Bucky replies, “How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you.” This is basically the same exchange a pre-super soldier serum Steve Rogers had with Bucky at the Stark Expo in 1943 except their lines were reversed.
When Steve Rogers comes to visit Natasha Romanova at the beginning of Endgame, when she’s making her peanut butter sandwich, her ballet slippers are laying on a chair near her, a callback to her origin story. Later, when she and the gang go to visit Tony Stark’s home in the woods, she is wearing an arrow necklace, which can be considered a reference to her close relationship with Hawkeye.
Elsewhere, the Asgardians who survived both Ragnarok and Infinity War have found a new home on Earth — and it’s a location seen before in the MCU. Their community of New Asgard was originally the Norwegian village of Tønsberg, which was the site of a battle between Odin’s army and the Frost Giants in the first Thor movie. It also appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger when Red Skull rolled into town to steal the Tesseract. Norway is also where Odin died in Thor: Ragnarok. “New Asgard” does have a Marvel Comics precedent. In the comics, Asgard relocated to Earth as a floating city above Broxton, Oklahoma, while the name “New Asgard” came from an alternate universe Asgard that merged with New York City.
Endgame has a particularly fun callback to Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Cap gets into the elevator with all the Hydra agents. The audience is poised to believe they may see a replay of that film’s awesome elevator brawl but instead Cap says “Hail Hydra” and makes off with Loki’s scepter without having to throw a single punch. Cap’s “Hail Hydra” moment is also a coy reference to the controversial Secret Empire comics storyline where an evil version of Cap is a Hydra sleeper agent.
There’s a more emotional callback to The Winter Soldier at the very end of Endgame. The song Steve and Peggy are dancing to is Harry James’ rendition of “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” which was also featured in The Winter Soldier.
There are also several callbacks to Age of Ultron throughout Endgame, the most notable ones being Tony saying he wanted to build a suit of armor around the world and Cap being able to lift Thor’s hammer. But you might also have noticed during the final battle that Cap’s shield has been smashed apart in the same way it was in Tony’s apocalyptic vision from Ultron.
Akihiko — the Yakuza boss (played by The Wolverine’s Hiroyuki Sanada) that Clint Barton, in his guise as Ronin, hunts down and kills in Japan — is based on a Marvel Comics character of the same name. In the comics, Akihiko was a member of the Shogun Reapers, the Yakuza’s science clan who clashed with S.H.I.E.L.D. and built a cannon on the moon.
And how about Captain Marvel’s new hairdo? When the movie jumps ahead five years, Carol Danvers is sporting the shorter hairdo that’s the signature look of the modern Captain Marvel.
Finally, Avengers: Endgame doesn’t have a mid-credits or post-credits scene per se but it does have … something. As with all MCU movies, the last image seen after the end credits roll in Endgame is the Marvel Studios logo. But this time, rather than a score or simply silence, the sound of clanging metal can be heard. This is most likely an aural callback to when Tony Stark was forging his first Iron Man armor in the 2008 film that kicked off the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Those are the biggest Easter eggs and callbacks we caught in Avengers: Endgame. Let us know in the comments what your favorite ones were or if you caught any that we missed!
For more on Avengers: Endgame, check out our review, our breakdown of the movie’s ending, find out what Kevin Feige had to say about Marvel’s future plans and Disney’s decision to rehire James Gunn for Guardians Vol. 3, and watch our chat with the Endgame directors.
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