Avengers: Endgame is undoubtedly the movie of 2019. In fact, it may just be the movie of a generation, taking the box office by storm and wowing audiences with its ambition and scale. The blockbuster by the Russo brothers exceeded expectations that were high to begin with, developing characters that fans had grown accustomed to throughout the franchise so far.
Whether it be changing their appearance, giving them added powers, or showing a side to the heroes we had never seen before, the movie has served to change everything we thought we knew about our heroes. So we look at 10 characters who the MCU opted to give a shake-up to in the biggest piece of its superhero puzzle to date.
Prior to Avengers: Endgame, Thor's character had already been transformed. He had had his head sheared by Stan Lee in Thor: Ragnarok, while his personality has shifted to make the God of Thunder an amusing, far more charismatic figure than he previously had been forced to be. But the Russo brothers opted to give him another change in this year's blockbuster — and one that divided the fans.
So, the Thor of 2023 is carrying a lot more timber than the version who beheaded Thanos five years previously. When Hulk and Rocket go to New Asgard to try and talk him into joining the team for the time heist, they're as surprised as us at his appearance. Chris Hemsworth's chiseled figure is no more, with Thor instead being a lot rounder on the stomach — and wider on the hips. We also see an emotional depth to the character that had been missing previously.
Of course Hulk had to make this list. Before the release of the movie, Bruce Banner had had his issues with his alter ego. From being stuck as the big green monster for two years in Ragnarok to Hulk then refusing to come out after being on the receiving end of a Thanos battering in Avengers: Infinity War. So Endgame came up with the perfect version of the character: smart Hulk.
As Banner explains, he found a way to combine both aspects of his character after BOTH had lost to Thanos in Infinity War. It is a groundbreaking use of CGI, with Hulk looking exactly like Mark Ruffalo despite being green and big. It also means the monster is no longer a liability, retaining all the intelligence of Banner following the decision to blend both versions. And it means he's a far more valuable asset to the team than he previously was.
Nebula has always been spiky, to put it mildly. Her loyalty to Thanos has made way by the time Endgame comes along, however, with the 'daughter' of the Mad Titan choosing to side with the Avengers instead. And that means she's a softer, more-rounded person than she was before.
The 2019 blockbuster opens with Nebula playing a game of paper soccer with Tony Stark. Now if you'd told us she'd be playing trivial games when she first appeared in 2014s Guardians of the Galaxy, we would never have believed you. She uses her changed personality to talk Gamora into switching allegiances during the second half of the movie and fans can now look forward to seeing her feisty self fighting on the heroes' side going forward with no Thanos to hold her back.
7 Tony Stark
For the most part, Tony Stark is his usual self in Endgame. He's cocky, confident, and charismatic and fans love it. However, we get to see another side of his character when the time jump happens, showing Iron Man becoming a father and striking up a close relationship with his daughter, Morgan.
What with his eagerness to get involved in just about every single fight the universe has to offer, it never looked likely we'd see Robert Downey Jr.'s character adopt a role of parent. Sure, he'd mentored Peter Parker, but that was it. However, the scenes starring Tony and Morgan are enough to melt the heart and audiences leave the theatre gutted there won't be more of them going forward following Stark's sacrifice to bring everybody back. We may yet see more of Morgan down the line though...
6 Cassandra Lang
Speaking of time jumps and poor Scott Lang... Ant-Man comes out of the Quantum Realm and the world, as he knows it, has changed. It's sunk, basically, into a pit of despair following Thanos' murdering of billions of people. And when he figures out what's happened he immediately sets home, desperate to know whether his daughter is still home and, more importantly, still alive.
She is, except she's five years older. Scott is left reeling when his daughter Cassandra opens the door and is a teenager, rather than the cute and loveable youngster she was previously. MCU fans think Cassie is now set to take on a starring role within the franchise at some point and, given how close she is to her father, that cannot be ruled out.
In 2018s Avengers: Infinity War, we see Thanos is machine mode. Having acquired the power stone, it's a formality that he will get the rest, with the Mad Titan boasting the upper hand from the very beginning. He batters Thor and the Hulk to pieces early on and never looks back, going through the whole team on Wakanda at the end and succeeding in his mission to murder half of the entire universe.
But, in Endgame, we see Thanos without his stones. And that means he's more savage, more desperate than ever to succeed in his mission. We get to see how much of a fighter he is without cosmic powers, with the Titan very nearly killing Thor and countless others within the final act of the showpiece. His bloodthirsty nature shines through and it takes only Tony Stark to stop him from succeeding in performing a second snap, four years before his first.
4 Black Widow
Black Widow's involvement in the MCU is over. At least until her probable solo movie drops. We see Scarlett Johansson's character go through an emotional journey in Endgame, starting with her eager to exact revenge on Thanos and ending with her willingness to kill herself so that the snapped, including Hawkeye's family, are able to come back to life.
In between, though, we get a glimpse of a version of Natasha Romanoff that we've never seen before: leader. With Tony Stark unwilling to involve himself in protecting the planet, it is left to her to carry the mantle and ensure things around the world are all okay. She spearheads a conference involving the likes of Rocket Racoon, War Machine, Okoye, and Captain Marvel with the others all reporting back to her. She may be gone, but she'll be remembered as the leader of the pack during the five years the fallen were gone.
3 Howard Stark
While Dominic Cooper's version of Howard Stark comes across as a likable character, albeit just as cocky as his son, John Slattery's has always seemed a bit of a d-bag. Due to flashbacks, we've seen Howard treat Tony with a strictness and sternness that clearly damaged the relationship between the duo. There's a redeeming scene or two but that's pretty much it.
However, Endgame shows us just how decent a person Howard actually is. During a conversation with his son (not that he knows it), he talks about how nervous and excited he is to usher the newborn into the world. It gives Iron Man closure and sees his view of his father change before he dies close to the movie's final scene.
Tony Stark isn't the only person to get closure, with Thor having one, final heartfelt moment with his mother Frigga before she dies. She had always been soft on the God of Thunder and his adopted brother Loki, willing to forgive the duo for the mistakes they make time and time again while trying to rein in husband Odin, who was always prepared to dish out strict and brutal punishments.
Thor is down in the dumps and spying on his mother on Asgard when she uses her knowledge of magic to sense his presence — and the fact he's from the future. We see just how kind she was to Thor—something that had mostly been implied up until this point—and fans are left knowing why the God thought so highly of his mother.
1 Captain America
Captain America has always been considered one of the strongest Avengers. One of... But not now. Now, the debate is rumbling on: Just how strong was he?
Chris Evans' time in the MCU is over (for the foreseeable future). But he bowed out on a high with Cap showing something that fans have long wanted — that he's powerful enough to wield Thor's hammer, Thor's Stormbreaker and Mjolnir in general. He uses his new-found ability to help defeat Thanos and stop the Mad Titan from killing Thor. It's quite a way to go and his character will be remembered as having the biggest, most epic moment of the MCU so far. He's more than just a shield.