The Big Picture

Avengers: Endgame concluded the MCU saga in a deferential and satisfying manner, passing the torch to new heroes to continue the story in The Multiverse Saga. Captain America’s retirement in Endgame was earned after a lifetime of selfless service, and his decision to settle down with Peggy allows Sam Wilson to become the new Captain America. Tony Stark’s sacrifice in Endgame solidified his legacy as a hero, and exploring the effects of his sacrifice is more interesting than bringing him back from the dead.

Buzz has swarmed around the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future following the recent rumor that Marvel Studios is hoping to bring back the original six Avengers (well, the movie versions anyway) sometime down the line for another movie. When the MCU originally started, Phase One re-introduced heroes like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain America (Chris Evans) to modern-day audiences, and did so in a fresh and exciting way, all leading up to 2012’s The Avengers. So by the time we got to Avengers: Endgame in 2019, this epic 10+ year saga had maxed out and come to its climactic and final end. Or, so we thought.

It wasn’t surprising when Kevin Feige and the minds behind the MCU continued the story beyond Endgame. In fact, most of us welcomed it. Shifting from The Infinity Saga into The Multiverse Saga has no doubt been overwhelming for some, but it’s also explored new stories in MCU’s Phase Four that the brand couldn’t have before. WandaVision highlighted the Scarlet Witch’s (Elizabeth Olsen) battle with grief, Loki has sought to give Tom Hiddleston‘s character a more thought-out redemption arc, and new characters like Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and the Eternals clan have been brought from the page to the screen. Additionally, Spider-Man: No Way Home brought back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield‘s Spider-Men in a respectful and exciting way that has opened the door for older Marvel heroes to return. So, do we really need the original Avengers to come back so soon?

‘Avengers: Endgame’s Purpose Would Be Completely Lost

One of the things fans loved about Avengers: Endgame was that it effectively concluded the MCU saga (at the time) in a deferential, shocking, and hopeful manner. Though half of the original Avengers either died or moved on from their superheroics, it felt both earned and understandable. Aside from the Black Widowsolo film (which takes place between Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame anyway) and possibly the Hawkeye series, we didn’t need any more from these characters. Their arcs have concluded. The Infinity Saga had closed, the universe had been saved, and while the price for salvation was high, as Thor says, “That’s what heroes do.”

But Endgame did something more profound than most superhero finales by passing the torch to new heroes to pick up the Avengers’ mantle. Heroes like Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and the Guardians of the Galaxy, who had all been instrumental in stopping Thanos (Josh Brolin), were meant to protect the world now, with the promise of more coming down the pipeline. Though they didn’t appear in Endgame, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness even introduces the possibility of the MCU’s own versions of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Inhumans as well.

Perhaps one of the most important elements of Avengers: Endgame as a whole is that, in style and substance, it acts as the closing chapter to The Infinity Saga. Our heroes have saved the day, they finished what they started in The Avengers, and the world, the universe, and the sacred timeline are better off for it. But their story is done, and though Phases Four and Five have continued to include members of the original team, The Multiverse Saga is going in an entirely different direction, one the original Avengers can’t follow.

Captain America’s Retirement Was Earned in ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Image via Marvel Entertainment 

From his first appearance in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, it was clear that Steve Rogers wanted to save lives. That’s why he joined the U.S. Army during World War II, and why he agreed to become the first successful super soldier. As Captain America, Steve inspires others to fight back against the Nazis and Hydra, always doing the right thing even when it costs him everything. And it does. He ends up frozen for over 70 years until the events of The Avengers, and it’s then in this “brave new world” that he still chooses to put his own happiness on the back burner for the sake of the world.

Avengers: Endgame manages to bring Cap full circle. It’s here that he realizes that he missed out entirely on his life and, after years of longing for those missing moments with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), he finally gets his chance. By settling down in the past with Peggy and living a full life, Cap can pass on his shield (and what it represents) to Sam Wilson, who officially takes up the mantle in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. After almost a century of living his life for others, Steve deserves this long-awaited happiness, and to pull him out of it again would only cheapen his decision to retire. Not only that, but the arc that Sam goes through to become Captain America would effectively be for nothing. For all intents and purposes, Captain America lives on through Sam Wilson now.

Tony Stark Died a Hero in ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Image via Marvel Entertainment 

Likewise, from his first appearance in 2008’s Iron Man, Tony Stark’s name has been associated with death. He couldn’t escape the harm his name had caused, especially in the Middle East. Even after becoming a hero and saving lives, people often die as a result of their own actions and brand, with Ultron (James Spader) being the final nail in that coffin. This set Tony on a path to becoming better, and though his actions in Captain America: Civil War are questionable, they’re understandable. Knowing that the Infinity Stones will likely kill him, Tony’s final sacrifice in Endgame to defeat Thanos is the impossible choice he has to make, and it changes everything.

In an inverse of Captain America’s arc, Tony gives up his happy life with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their daughter for the sake of saving the world. It’s a split-second decision, but one he knows he must make in order to preserve their future, even if that means he’s not a part of it. With his final sacrifice, the Stark name becomes synonymous with saving the world, a truth that Peter Parker struggles to live up to in a post-Endgame reality. Nevertheless, exploring the effects of Iron Man’s legacy, as seen in Spider-Man: Far From Home, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and even Secret Invasion, is a much more interesting idea than bringing the hero back from the dead. It means that his sacrifice actually meant something and that even in death, he inspires others to live selflessly.

Image via Marvel Entertainment 

But not every death in Endgame was as expected. There’s no denying that Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow was often poorly used in the original Avengers movies, but as time went on, she became a more well-rounded character worthy of her own solo feature. By Avengers: Infinity War, Natasha was a leader in her own right, so when she sacrificed herself so that her best friend didn’t have to lose his family all over again, giving our heroes the final push they needed to win, let’s just say we were all shocked, and equally heartbroken.

Natasha’s sacrifice wasn’t for nothing, but bringing the character back again would be. Sure, there are interesting workarounds like what the MCU did with Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), who died the same impossible death, but part of what makes Black Widow’s demise so impactful is that the character went from caring genuinely about nobody to caring infinitely about her friends and family. This is especially true of Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), who carries on in her sister’s stead and will likely take her place within the MCU going forward. That’s not an arc worth wrecking, even if we’d love to see more Natasha-led Black Widow sequels in the future. However, because the 2021 solo film takes place prior to her demise in Endgame, it leaves the door open to more solo adventures set in the MCU’s past.

Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye’s Storylines Feel Complete

It’s also worth noting that, aside from the three Avengers we said goodbye to in Endgame, three others are still roaming around the MCU. Mark Ruffalo‘s Hulk has appeared now in plenty of cameo roles across The Multiverse Saga, most notably in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, where it’s revealed that he has a son. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) on the other hand finally got a Disney+ limited series of his own. Though, in true original Avenger fashion, he essentially passes the Hawkeye torch to a younger archer in Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). Though neither of these heroes are entirely out of the Avengers game, they’ve effectively passed on their roles in the MCU to new heroes with very similar skill sets. Sure, they’ll probably still come back, but they don’t have to.

And then there’s Thor, who is sort of the odd one out in all of this. Although his character arc was completed in Endgame, Thor’s entire MCU story was all but ignored in Thor: Love and Thunder, which largely turned the former Avenger into a comedic device instead of a compelling character. Sure, the story ends with Thor as an adoptive dad (which is interesting in itself), but the franchise has already proven that it really doesn’t know what it wants to do with the God of Thunder as is. Maybe leaving him alone to raise his new “niece” is the best end for this hero, whose place could easily be filled by Hercules (Brett Goldstein) or even the Loki variant of Loki in future Avengers stories.

‘What If?…’ Opens the Door for Variants of the Original Avengers

But no matter what we point out here, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will do what it always does: its own thing. It’s entirely possible that another Avengers movie surrounding the original Earth’s Mightiest Heroes might actually be amazing, and many of us would be lying if we said we didn’t want to see that down the road. But maybe the best way to bring back the old Avengers isn’t by negating what happened in Endgame at all, but instead by doing what the animated Disney+ series What If…? did not too long ago: introduce new versions of our favorite heroes.

What makes The Multiverse Saga so interesting is that multiverse versions of the same characters can exist at the same time. That’s why we can have three Spider-Men in the same movie, introduce multiple variants of Loki, and throw Doctor Strange through the multiverse all without being confused. Whether or not the original Avengers actors return to reprise their roles (and let’s face it, not all of them will), that doesn’t mean that other versions of Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and Thor couldn’t exist elsewhere, and come in to save the day.

Just as the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) in What If…? brought together his own team of heroes to save the multiverse, so too could he band together variants of the original six Avengers to do the same. That way, their story as seen in Avengers: Endgame wouldn’t be nullified, the MCU’s sacred timeline could continue to exist with the new heroes taking up the torch, and fans of the original heroes could still see them assembled once more. After all, bringing old Spider-Men and X-Men back seems like only the tip of the iceberg.

Avengers: Endgame is available to stream on Disney+ in the U.S.

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