Avengers: Endgame's final battle featured a lot a lot of moving pieces all woven together, but it also went through several changes during reshoots. Here are all the alterations made to the film's epic action sequence.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, with the story written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Endgame served as the direct sequel to 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, which ended with the titular heroes suffering their first defeat at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin). The back-to-back production was extensive and complex for both Avengers sequels with a lot of moving pieces. Endgame's principal photography began August 2017 while Infinity War was on post. Filming wrapped up after five months, on January 2018. Meanwhile, scheduled reshoots took place September to October that same year, followed by additional work on January 2019.
While the majority of Endgame only featured the original six Avengers alongside a handful of other remaining heroes, its third act action set piece included almost all MCU heroes partaking in the last stand against Thanos. This resulted in an elaborate schedule - segmenting the whole sequence to shorter moments in accordance to the availability of the actors. Fortunately, Marvel Studios had enough time to spare for reshoots and additional work particularly for the movie's biggest battle scene.
Slower Portal Sequence
The final battle scene in Avengers: Endgame has a lot of memorable moments, including the portals opening scene that marked the arrival of the cavalry with the return of the heroes who died in Infinity War. The scene's impact was bolstered by Alan Silvestri's brilliant score and the dramatic lead-up to the moment where Captain America (Chris Evans) stood alone against the Mad Titans and his minions. However, the bit was supposed to play out slightly differently - with a little less fanfare.
According to McFeely, the whole scene was supposed to happen much quicker, with portals opening at a rapid pace. Avengers: Endgame editor Jeff Ford also revealed that because of this, Captain America didn't originally have that exchange with Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) who subtly nodded at him - as if saying that help's coming. While the initial version still felt special, the co-writer said that it was for the best that the Russos decided to rework that particular bit in a way that it was more dramatic. Several other heroes did not get their respective hero shots upon coming back, as opposed to every single one of them getting their solo landing from the respective portals they emerge from in the film's final version. Because of this, Silvestri also had to come up with a slowly progressing score instead of an immediate crescendo to help build up the whole sequence.
Iron Man and Spider-Man's Emotional Reunion
With all MCU heroes gathered at the Avengers HQ compound for an all-out battle against Thanos and his minions, the action was intercut with several character moments like reunions between heroes. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man's (Tom Holland) was arguably Avengers: Endgame's most emotional among those with the former going in for a hug while the latter blabbed out his out-of-world experience. The bit emphasized how their relationship developed over the years, especially for Tony whose primary motivation for suiting back up for the Time Heist was to bring back his mentee.
Things were very different, however, when they first shot the Iron Man/Spider-Man reunion scene. Ford revealed that the scene was initially going to be quippier and with the involvement of Pepper. The editor described it as a "meet-cute in the middle of a fight" which we've seen a couple of during Infinity War's Wakanda battle (Captain America and Groot; and Bucky and Rocket). The sequence was filmed prior to the release of Infinity War, meaning they didn't know yet how impactful Peter's death was going to be. Leaning into that, they decided to forego the humor altogether which ultimately was for the best.
Trench Sequence Was Removed
With such a long complicated battle happening, the Russos originally had a breather scene the production crew dubbed "the trench." Markus revealed that in the bit, most of the heroes come together to hatch a plan on how to get the gauntlet away from Thanos via Scott Lang's van which had the miniature Quantum Tunnel. The characters hide in a trench supposedly dug by Giant Man and for several seconds. Other than devising the plan, it also included Iron Man and Spider-Man's reunion, as well as other cut interactions among characters like Star-Lord telling Mantis that Gamora is alive, as well as a bizarre argument between Stark and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Avengers: Endgame's creatives knew that the scene was more likely not going to work as it cuts through the intense battle scene at such an odd place. However, considering that almost every one was on-set that day, they still went through and filmed it just because the actors were already there.
Aerial Battle Was Cut
With a plethora of heroes coming in to the Avengers' aide in Endgame's final battle, fans saw a myriad of smaller segments of the overall action set piece. However, one aspect of the sequence was ultimately scrapped from the theatrical version - a full aerial battle. Sean Gunn, who plays Kraglin in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, talked about the "Battle of the Sky." He explained that it was removed simply because it was going to be too distracting from the main story which was primarily taking place on the ground.
There were still fragments of the battle that took place in the air like Iron Man and Rescue (Gwyneth Paltrow) teaming up, as well as Spider-Man hitching a ride with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and her majestic unicorn. However, Gunn reveals that in the cut scene that he was talking about, fans would've seen Kraglin using Yondu's (Michael Rooker) arrow for the first time.
Thanos Using the Power Stone on Captain Marvel
The introduction of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) into the MCU directly leads to her involvement in the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. However, with film wanting to focus on the original six Avengers, coupled with the risk of the character being a deus ex machina considering her power skills, the Russos found a way to use Captain Marvel minimally. Having said that, the filmmakers wanted to flaunt just how strong she's supposed to be when they got the chance to fully use her in the movie's final battle.
While a Captain Marvel vs. Thanos was always in the cards for Avengers: Endgame, one specific moment from the battle was added only during reshoots. Ford revealed that they expanded on their one-on-one including Thanos' last minute idea to use the Power Stone to beat Captain Marvel. At that point, she was holding up really well against the villain that she could've ended the whole battle then and there. Using the Power Stone on her, which was co-director Anthony Russo's idea, was a believable way to neutralize her.
"I am Iron Man"
The whole of Avengers: Endgame's finale battle culminated to Tony Stark's last stand against Thanos, snatching the Infinity Stones from Thanos and without any hesitation, he clicked his finger, dusting off the Mad Titan and all of his minions, but before that, he said: "I am Iron Man" - a response to Thanos previously declaring: "I am inevitable." It was the perfect final line for the MCU's inaugural hero as it's in reference to the last scene in Iron Man where he came clean about his superhero identity. But the Iron Man line was actually added much later in a last-minute reshoot in Los Angeles.
During post-production for Avengers: Endgame, Ford suggested to add the now iconic "I am Iron Man" line. This was very late in the process already, so Marvel Studios quickly set it up in a studio in Los Angeles, which is incidentall adjacent to the stage that he test screened for Iron Man more than a decade ago. Downey apparently didn't want to do it at first, and it took them a bit of convincing so he'd suit back up just to record a single line. In hindsight, all the additional work was worth it since it just made the scene much more emotionally impactful.
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- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021