Avengers: Endgame comes out tomorrow. That’s right–tomorrow. One day remains until the culmination of 11 years of the most-watched movie series in history. (And if you’re reading this on Thursday or later, it either comes out today or is already out.) The big question for everyone, of course, is what will happen in the movie. Not in a spoiler way–spoilers are always bad. But what fans love to do–without spoiling things, of course–is discuss, debate, and guess what will happen in the upcoming movie.
That is what I am here to do. With no sources other than the previous films, the trailers, and the original comics source material, I’m going to try and predict what will happen in this movie. I did the same for Infinity War, and was pretty happy with what I got right. I also (elsewhere) and correctly pointed out the Red Skull’s return.
So, what should we look out for in Endgame? There are so many possibilities, so let’s highlight the main ones.
Avengers: Endgame Spoiler-Free Predictions
The Endgame Problem
The most important thing to note about what will happen in Endgame is how we got here. Doctor Strange saw 14,000,605 possible futures, and identify precisely one in which the heroes win. What happened? What did he see? And, most importantly, what is so unique about the one scenario that causes Thanos to lose?
Assuming that that singular victorious scenario is still possible, the events of Infinity War have to lead us to this point. This means that Thanos needed to end the last movie with the Gauntlet. It means that Tony Stark had to survive–because why else would Doctor Strange trade his own life (essentially) for Stark’s?
Most importantly, though, it means there can’t be a simple victory. We already saw two cases that seemingly would have defeated Thanos. The heroes were inches from removing the four-Stone gauntlet from Thanos. Thor “going for the head” would have seemingly killed Thanos on the spot. And yet, somehow those weren’t the one thing that will beat Thanos. Defeating Thanos has to be something more than simply killing him or removing the Gauntlet. Why exactly that is, is open for debate among fans. But we have to assume that’s true–or else we are forced to say that Strange’s iconic statement of “one” was imprecise.
This is probably the most likely scenario. Ant-Man and the Wasp hinted that there were “time vortices” in the quantum realm, and the idea of using time travel has been floated among Marvel fans since before Infinity War came out. The third trailer certainly hinted at it, with lines like “sometimes you have to start over” and clearly showing some scenes from earlier movies in the franchise. And, of course, the now-ubiquitous scenes of the heroes marching towards something in those white suites strongly hints to some type of team journey seems most likely to be headed towards quantum real time travel.
The real question, though, is what will happen when our heroes go back in time? What will they do to solve the issue? The way I see it, there are two major possibilities–though there are definitely a ton of variations on these possibilities.
1. Collect the Gauntlet
It’s not hinted in any of the trailer scenes, but the easiest way to prevent Thanos from collecting the Gauntlet is to collect it first. Thor or Captain Marvel are probably strong enough to wield the Gauntlet and fend off Thanos. This also solves any potential problems with Thanos somehow being unable to lose once he controls enough Stones. If he never had the Stones in the first place, they can’t help him.
Knowing where the Stones are gives the heroes a huge advantage. Two of them are in Odin’s vault, and easily accessible. The Guardians held the Power Stone at one point, Vision had the Mind Stone, and Doctor Strange the Time Stone. That’s five already. They don’t know where the Soul Stone is, though–and there’s no way to find out. No one but Peter Quill knows that Gamora knew where the Soul Stone was, and no one who survived knows to ask. Maybe they’ll get lucky that it comes up in conversation, but that would be a far too unsatisfying plot point.
Of course, how the heroes will claim the Soul Stone is anyone’s guess. Sacrifice and the willingness to die for the greater necessity was a major theme in Infinity War. It would be somewhat fitting–though potentially morally queasy for fans–to see one of the heroes sacrificing someone they love just to earn the Soul Stone’s allegiance.
2. Prepare for Thanos
Maybe the heroes can’t unite the Gauntlet. Even with knowing where every Stone is, actually collecting them might be too difficult. And, after all, once they grab a few, major powers are bound to notice.
Instead, what the heroes can do is prepare to stop Thanos from collecting them. Maybe Thor goes for the head before Thanos has any Stones. Maybe Captain Marvel is strong enough to fight the Mad Titan off. If the heroes can’t unite and control the Gauntlet, they can at least go back and make sure that Thanos can’t, either.
I’m going to cheat with these predictions a little. The following are all definitely potential choices, though they are mutually exclusive. Basically, if the time-travel route is a huge bait-and-switch, how can the heroes possibly win? We know the dusted heroes all have to come back. Spider-Man has another movie coming out in a few months, after all. So how can they undo what Thanos has done?
1. Win the Gauntlet
This is simple in theory, but not quite in reality. The Gauntlet makes whoever wields it close to all-powerful. What Thanos has done, the next owner of the Gauntlet can undo. How do you win the Gauntlet from Thanos? That requires some help, and a bit of luck.
In the comics, Thanos left his mortal body behind when he became fully omnipotent, allowing Nebula to just pick up the Gauntlet. It’s a foolish mistake for a god to make, but perhaps we can see something along those lines occur.
Or–and I’m actually partial towards this idea–the Red Skull manages to sneak the Gauntlet away from Thanos. He is connected to the Soul Stone, so perhaps that means that the Soul Stone cannot sense him. It would certainly be fitting for this decade of Marvel to end with Captain America squaring off against his original nemesis–and perhaps sacrificing himself and the Red Skull in order to save everybody else.
2. Sacrifice to neutralize the Gauntlet
There are six original heroes left–Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, and War Machine. There are six Infinity Stones. The alignment is too poetic. Each hero could have to in some way negate one Stone. Perhaps there is a secret of the universe that allows the Gauntlet to be negated. It would obviously have to come at a price, though. Could our heroes find a way to wrest the Gauntlet’s loyalties from Thanos? It’s a definite possibility.
3. Find a Deus Ex Machina
It’s possible that this is Captain Marvel’s role. She is, after all, strong enough to bare-handedly destroy a space fleet. Is she stronger than a Stormbreaker-wielding Thor? Can she defeat Thanos on her own? Such a reveal would also be unsatisfying. On the other hand, it would be cool to see someone come out of nowhere to just crush Thanos in terms of raw strength.
For another potential deus ex machina, let’s go back to a Doctor Strange easter egg. While training Strange, Mordo uses a weapon called “the staff of the living tribunal.” In the comics, the Living Tribunal is a nearly all-powerful entity whose job is to balance the universe. Most notably, he is able to do this because he can negate the Infinity Gauntlet. Maybe our heroes will need to find a way to reach out to him. If anyone can undo Thanos’ actions, it’s the Living Tribunal. The heroes just have to convince him to do it. But are Mordo or Wong even still alive to tell them this?
4. Maybe they Don’t Win–and Maybe No One is Actually Dead
This would be a fascinating end to this stage of the MCU. Maybe Thanos’ snap didn’t really kill anyone. Thanos’ goal always was just to provide extra resources by halving the population. What if he didn’t halve the population by killing them? What if he just created an identical separate dimension, and all of the “dusted” characters were just moved to that one instead of their original one? Now, instead of the population being halved, the resources are doubled.
This gives the quantum realm entirely new meaning. Our heroes could find a way to use the quantum realm to contact their “fallen” comrades on the other side. Maybe the way back isn’t beating Thanos–because there is no way to beat Thanos. Instead, maybe all the heroes can do is find a far subtler way to undo his work.
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images