Answering Eight Major Questions About Avengers: Endgame

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 23: (L-R) President of Marvel Studios/Producer Kevin Feige, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and Mark Ruffalo attend Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Endgame" Cast Handprint Ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on April 23, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

**WARNING** This article contains major spoilers about a newly-released film! Proceed with caution!

Avengers: Endgame came out this past weekend, delighting fans and shattering box office records. As with all Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, some details are left for the fans to research and discover. Not everything is explained to us in detail (thankfully, the MCU’s version of time travel was, though). Some of those details left for us fans to find, I’m here to try to answer. Let’s take a look at the biggest questions that the film raises and see how we can answer them.

Eight Mysteries of Avengers: Endgame Uncovered

1. How did Captain America wield Mjolnir?

This was, almost certainly, the greatest moment in Endgame–possibly in the entire franchise–for fans. Captain America finally proves his worthiness and wields Mjolnir against the Mad Titan. This does raise a question, though: How can he lift it now, and couldn’t back in Age of Ultron? If you remember (and if you don’t, see video below), the Avengers were celebrating defeating a HYDRA outpost, and were discussing how Mjolnir works and trying to see if anyone else could lift it. No one could. So how was Cap worthy in Endgame, but not in Age of Ultron?

Notable in the scene was that the hammer wiggled a bit when Steve Rogers grabbed it. Thor noticed this, though seemingly no one else did. At the time, the implication was that Captain America was almost worthy. He could get the hammer to move, but could not lift it.

Now, though, we see that this wasn’t the case. Steve Rogers was able to lift Mjolnir, and he knew it. Thor noticed and knew it as well (if you watch the above video really carefully, it does look a little like he was faking his attempt to lift). Rogers just had no reason to show it off to the rest of the team or the world–indeed, it is possible that this humility is part of what makes him worthy.

To answer the question succinctly: Nothing changed about Steve Rogers’ worthiness between Age of Ultron and Endgame. He didn’t become worthy in the lead-up to or during Endgame. Captain America was always worthy to wield Mjolnir. This was just the first time he needed to.

2. How did Thanos wield Stormbreaker?

The answer to this one is simple. Mjolnir was famously enchanted by Odin. “Whosoever wields this hammer, should he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” For some reason, people assume that the same quality is true of Stormbreaker. Quite simply, that assumption is wrong.

The Guardians ask Thor in Infinity War why they can’t get weapons capable of killing Thanos as well. Thor’s answer to them basically was that none of them are strong enough to wield such a weapon. Wielding Stormbreaker doesn’t require worthiness. The only special requirement for wielding Stormbreaker is being fundamentally incredibly strong. Thanos, being one of the strongest beings in the entire universe, was strong enough to wield Stormbreaker.

It is also worth noting that Captain America wielded Stormbreaker for a second (in a humorous moment in the large battle). Without reading too much into what was obviously a joke, we can explain this too. By being worthy and lifting Mjolnir, Captain America possessed the power of Thor (I was actually just a little bit disappointed that he didn’t get the armor like Thor did in The Avengers–doing that could have made that amazing scene even stronger). Since he had this Thor-power, he could hold Stormbreaker as well. Additionally, this explains why Captain America survived Thanos’ blow to his leg. That slash should have killed any human–even a Super Soldier Serum-enhanced human. Since he possessed the power of Thor at that moment, it wasn’t fatal.

3. How exactly does time travel work?

The movie actually did a great job of explaining this. First of all, Bruce Banner explained that you can’t change your own past. What happened, happened. So going back and doing something to yourself won’t matter, because you’ve already passed that point. What happens, then, when you do change the past?

The Ancient One answered that in her conversation with Banner. Time travel basically creates a new parallel universe. Your past already happened; what you have now done by changing the timeline is send off a new branch and reality, that will exist parallel to your own. Banner noted that the new timeline can be stopped–as long as the change is undone, there will be no branch off of the main timeline.

Basically, to create a new timeline, whatever changed has to be something major. If the only change is something tiny, the stream of history will remain constant. There is no butterfly effect and no new timeline ends up being created. This will explain our next question as well (however, the Time Stone seemingly does allow one to change the past/future; that is what makes it stronger as an Infinity Stone than any other form of time travel).

4. What happened when Steve Rogers went back at the end of the movie?

There actually is no ironclad answer to this, but any answer goes along the same line.

Captain America presumably successfully returned all six stones to right after they were taken. If so, then all of the timeline loops were closed, and no future realities branched off of it (well, except for one–we’ll discuss below).

How, then, does old Steve Rogers get back to his bench in the main MCU timeline? What did he do in the interim? There are two basic answers to this:

Maybe he lived a calm and quiet life in this timeline. He knew that doing anything major would affect the timeline and change his new life to a different branch of reality. So he lived quietly and happily. It was his own final sacrifice–he gave up being a hero just to live a quiet life.

The other option is that he was, indeed, in a different parallel timeline. He took the time to live his life. It took him over 70 years. Then, when all was said and done and he felt he had lived properly, he chose to finally return to his own original timeline (the flaw with this is how he ended up on the bench and not back in the quantum time machine, but that’s resolvable). Or, perhaps since his timeline was close enough to the original one, he automatically snapped back into the original one once they converged.

5. Are Gamora and Black Widow really gone forever?

There are two simple, yet contradictory answers to this question. The first one is that of course they’re gone forever. After all, the movie told us that those sacrificed for the Soul Stone can’t be brought back with the Gauntlet. The second answer is that it’s a comic book universe, so no one is ever really gone forever.

To really understand what the possibility of coming back is, let’s highlight an ambiguous line from Scarlet Witch at the end of the movie. Hawkeye wonders if Black Widow even knows that they won, to which Scarlet Witch replies, “They both do.”

Now, who are the “both” in her statement? The simple explanation is that her second person is Vision, who also died in the fight against Thanos. The more complicated answer is that “both” referred to Black Widow and Gamora.

Maybe Scarlet Witch wasn’t just one friend consoling another. Maybe she actually knows. She–more than any other Avenger–has abilities that let her sense the Stones in some way. Maybe she was able to get a read on and be attuned to the Soul Stone. If that’s true, then it’s possible that she could actually sense that Black Widow and Gamora are somehow contained within Soul World. If that is actually the case, then the next Guardians of the Galaxy film–which, based on the Guardians vol. 2 post-credit scene, will feature Adam Warlock–could see the Guardians surprisingly meeting some old friends. Of course, even if they are in Soul World, that doesn’t mean there will ever be any way to get them out.

6. What happened to 2014 Gamora?

This question has no answer, because it was intentionally left vague by the movie. She disappears after the final battle, leaving the Guardians to search for her. Has she disappeared because she had nowhere to go? Or was she snapped out of existence by Iron Man?

In the comics, control of the Gauntlet gives the wearer a near-omniscience, which would allow Stark to, in theory, know exactly who his enemies are and not get rid of anyone not fighting against him. Of course, learning how to use the Gauntlet that precisely takes time. Also, it doesn’t seem that this is one of the Gauntlet’s abilities in the MCU anyway.

Really, it all depends on what Iron Man had in mind when he snapped. Was he thinking “Thanos and all of his allies?” Was he thinking “everyone who came with Thanos?” Or was he just thinking “Those fighting us?” We’ll never know, of course, because Tony Stark died before he told anyone. If Gamora was indeed snapped out of existence, though, it would set up very well for the Guardians discovering this fact, only to find their Gamora in Soul World right after.

7. Is there a new Loki running around now?

Short answer, sort of. Assuming that Captain America didn’t retrieve Loki when he went back to return the Stones (a possibility, but unlikely), then there is a muzzled Loki in control of the Tesseract in an alternate 2014. Remember, you can’t change the past–all you can do is create spin-off timelines. By allowing Loki to escape, an alternate timeline was created in which Loki is free and in possession of the Tesseract, but likely unaware that it is an Infinity Stone.

However, Loki is also the God of Mischief. Like his adopted mother, Frigga, he is almost certainly aware that he is now in a different timeline. This Loki is also unmoved by Frigga’s death (which hasn’t happened yet, and which he won’t be in Asgard for), and hasn’t (and likely won’t) join his brother Thor in seeing his father die and his sister lead to Asgard’s doom.

Basically, we now have an unrepentant Loki running around, fresh off his defeat at the hands of the Avengers. Will he somehow eventually learn the lessons he learned in the original timeline? Will he remain his old self, doing mischief? And, most importantly, will he try to cross back into the original timeline to gain revenge against Thor and the Avengers?

Of course, having Loki running around in an alternate timeline will make things much easier for the planned Disney+ show about him. If it’s occurring in an alternate timeline, there is no need to worry about keeping things consistent with the MCU movies. That gives the writers freedom that no other Marvel show has had. (For example, Endgame‘s explanation of time travel seems to be entirely contradictory to what we saw in Season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

8. Will anyone ever find every Easter egg in this movie?

Not a chance. This was not only an amazing movie; it was a three-hour fanservice tribute to all sorts of things. There are comic book references, other movie references, Russo Brothers references, and so many more. You can try to find every single reference and will still fail, but will be fun to watch over and over again to try.

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