Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
Avengers: Endgame is the end of Marvel's Infinity Saga - and it's jam-packed with Marvel Cinematic Universe callbacks and references. Most Marvel movies draw inspiration from the comics, but Avengers: Endgame is different. It's designed to celebrate the last 11 years' worth of MCU movies, and it does so by introducing the concept of time travel. The Avengers revisit several key moments from their own past, allowing viewers to relive blockbusters like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
But the time travel plot only scratches the surface. Avengers: Endgame contains Easter eggs and callbacks to almost every other Marvel movie, as well as a couple of key scenes that feature every major MCU character to date - and quite a few minor ones as well. There are countless riffs on key lines of dialogue, scenes that add context to previously unseen moments in the MCU, and several narrative arcs that are successfully concluded.
The result is a film that really can't be appreciated if you haven't watched previous Marvel movies, but that doesn't make it any less of an achievement. It does, however, mean that it's very easy to miss some of the details, including the exact time periods, locations, and movies visited.
Time Periods Visited In Avengers: Endgame
- Several of the Avengers - Captain America, Iron Man, and Ant-Man - travel back to 2012 and revisit the Battle of New York from The Avengers.
- Another team - Nebula and War Machine - revisits the opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. They watch Star-Lord dance on Morag, and aren't impressed. The second team - Hawkeye and Black Widow - that travels to 2014 goes elsewhere.
- Thor revisits the Asgard of Thor: The Dark World, in 2013, and interacts with his mother, Frigga, on the day of her death.
- Hawkeye and Black Widow travel to Vormir, where the Soul Stone is kept. Nebula has learned more about Vormir in the five years since Avengers: Infinity War, and now calls it "the center of Celestial existence." This is probably a nod to the aliens known as the Celestials, who have been referenced in both Guardians of the Galaxy films and will likely play a prominent role in The Eternals.
- Hawkeye's homestead was seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, as were his wife and children.
- Camp Leigh was where Steve Rogers trained in Captain America: The First Avenger. He revisited it in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is why he knows where the entrance to the S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker is.
Iron Man References In Avengers: Endgame
- Tony Stark's recorded message for Pepper contains a couple of verbal nods. "Don't post this on social media" calls back to Iron Man, while "It's always you" references Iron Man 2.
- In the scene where Tony and Nebula are working on the Benatar, Tony is wearing the same shirt he wore in the cave in Iron Man.
- "Hey, Miss Potts" - it's amusing to see Tony revert to this name for Pepper, which he hasn't used since Iron Man.
- Tony's long diatribe against Steve Rogers contains a number of callbacks to Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony reflected on his hopes for the future. "Maybe I should take a page out of Barton's book and build Pepper a farm," he suggested, "hope nobody blows it up." It turns out he got that farm life after all.
- In Avengers: Infinity War, Tony dreamed that he and Pepper had a kid, and that they named him Morgan after Pepper's eccentric uncle. They have a little girl, but still name her Morgan.
- Morgan is introduced wearing an Iron Man helmet and glove, like the kid Tony rescued from Hammer Drones in Iron Man 2 (retconned to be a young Peter Parker).
- While in 2012, Tony Stark dives out of Avengers Tower and suits up as he falls - just as he did in The Avengers.
- Tony gives the resurrected Peter Parker a hug, a callback to Spider-Man: Homecoming.
- "I am Iron Man," Tony declares to Thanos before he snaps his fingers - a deliberate callback to Iron Man and the moment that defined the MCU.
- Tony's death scene inverts Spider-Man's death in Avengers: Infinity War.
- Tony leaves a holographic message for Morgan, reminiscent of his dad's recording for him in Iron Man 2.
- The first Arc Reactor is on Tony Stark's funeral bouquet, complete with the inscription: "Proof that Tony Stark has a heart."
- Morgan Stark wants cheeseburgers. Her dad loved cheeseburgers too, and in Iron Man the first thing Tony wanted when he returned to the United States was a cheeseburger.
- An Iron Man audio cue plays after the credits.
Captain America References In Avengers: Endgame
- Captain America becomes a grief counselor, reminiscent of Falcon's post-military job in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- It may be a stretch, but the long-haired guy in Cap's support group looks very similar to Marvel Netflix's Foggy Nelson from Daredevil.
- The theme from Captain America: The First Avenger plays at the moment Tony Stark gives Steve his shield back.
- Loki imitates Steve Rogers immediately after the Battle of New York. He'd do the same thing in Thor: The Dark World, but here it actually becomes a plot point rather than just a joke.
- Future Captain America enters an elevator packed with Hydra goons, with aspects of the scene deliberately evoking memories of the elevator fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- "I can do this all day," 2012 Cap insists - a line of dialogue from Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: Civil War. His future self isn't impressed.
- Howard Stark is shown looking for Arnim Zola, the Hydra scientist from Captain America: The First Avenger who became part of S.H.I.E.L.D. due to Operation Paperclip.
- Captain America picks up Mjolnir, something he was hinted at being able to do in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- Captain America's shield is smashed, just as in Tony Stark's vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- "On your left," Falcon says to Cap, a callback to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- Captain America calls Spider-Man "Queens," a nod to dialogue between the two in Captain America: Civil War.
- When Steve Rogers goes back in time, it's obvious that Bucky has figured out he's not coming back. Their farewell inverts dialogue from Captain America: The First Avenger; "Don't do anything stupid until I get back," Cap says. "How can I? You're taking all the stupid with you," Bucky replies.
- The elderly Steve Rogers is wearing the same tan jacket he wore pre-super-soldier-serum in Captain America: The First Avenger.
- Captain America finally gets his dance with Peggy Carter, complete with the music from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The song is "It's Been a Long, Long Time," and it was written to represent the longings of the American soldiers who were returning to their wives after the Second World War.
Thor References In Avengers: Endgame
- Thor kills Thanos by going for the head, a shout-out to Avengers: Infinity War.
- Thor establishes New Asgard at the Norwegian town of Tønsberg. In Thor, this was a place Asgardians previously visited; it was site of a Norse cult who guarded the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger. And it was still on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s activity map in Iron Man 2 in 2011.
- On Asgard, Thor claims that his eye was injured in the Battle of Harokin. Sif mentioned that in Thor: The Dark World as well, claiming Thor celebrated so much he nearly started a rematch.
Black Widow & Hawkeye References In Avengers: Endgame
- Black Widow keeps a pair of worn ballet shoes next to her desk, reminding herself of her origins (as shown in visions in Avengers: Age of Ultron).
- "We're a long way from Budapest," Hawkeye quips, a callback to The Avengers.
- Black Widow's death mirrors Gamora's in Avengers: Infinity War, and even has the same music playing.
Avengers References In Avengers: Endgame
- The Hulk is introduced eating a Ben & Jerry's ice cream, "Hunka Hulka Burnin' Fudge," which was Wong's favorite in Avengers: Infinity War.
- Avengers: Endgame contains several shots straight from 2012's The Avengers, notably the famous one where the Chitauri roar down at the team.
- Loki is captured as in The Avengers, with meta-commentary added by Tony Stark telling the team to stop posing.
- Avengers: Endgame explains how the team lost Loki's Scepter to Hydra ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron (it renders an official tie-in comic non-canon to do so).
- The Avengers want to head for lunch after the Battle of New York - the shawarma scene.
- Secretary Pierce says S.H.I.E.L.D. had the Tesseract for nearly 70 years, loosely fixing in continuity the scene from Captain America: The First Avenger where Howard Stark found it at the bottom of the ocean. He clearly doesn't know about the events of Captain Marvel.
- 2014 Thanos quotes The Other from The Avengers when he describes the heroes as "unruly."
- The Hulk says he's the perfect one to use the Infinity Gauntlet because most of its energy seems to be released in Gamma radiation. In The Avengers, the whole reason Nick Fury called Bruce Banner in was because he's the foremost expert on Gamma radiation, and the Tesseract mostly released Gamma rays.
Guardians of the Galaxy References In Avengers: Endgame
- Nebula gets to win in a game against Tony. She's spent most of her life never winning anything when she went up against her sister.
- "My father is many things," Nebula says, "but a liar isn't one of them." This completes a subtle theme running through previous films. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Peter Quill complained that an evil supervillain like Nebula should know how to lie, and in Avengers: Infinity War Thanos claimed his daughters are so bad at lying because he never taught them how to do it.
- The Asgardians chasing Rocket call him a rabbit - just like Thor in Avengers: Infinity War.
- Nebula persuades Gamora to change sides and embrace being sisters, an inversion of their character arc in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
- Drax fights Cull Obsidian the same way he fought the monster in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, by flinging himself on to his back and stabbing relentlessly.
- 2014 Gamora kicks Star-Lord in the groin on first meeting him - just as she did in Guardians of the Galaxy. But twice this time, and more forcefully.
References to Other Marvel Movies In Avengers: Endgame
- The Five Years Later title card is reminiscent of the "very incorrect" Eight Years Later in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
- When Ant-Man tries to be buzzed in to Avengers Compound, he reminds the Avengers who he is by referencing Captain America: Civil War.
- The Ancient One has been peering through time to see Strange, but not beyond him - she can't see past the moment of her death.
- Hulk being five years too early for Strange feels like a meta joke, given Captain America: The Winter Soldier also contained a Doctor Strange Easter egg that turned out to be several years too early.
- The Ancient One soul-punches Banner's spirit out of his body - just as she did with Stephen Strange.
- Hank Pym is shown to be working for S.H.I.E.L.D. as early as 1970, with a prototype Ant-Man helmet. This fixes Pym's chronology a little more (it's also a brilliant comic book Easter egg).
- When Captain America breaks into Pym's office, the heist music from Ant-Man plays.
- Participants in the final battle includes the Wakandan army from Black Panther, the Ravagers from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, and the Masters of the Mystic Arts from Doctor Strange.
- Look closely during the scene where the heroes emerge from the portals, and you'll spot Howard the Duck emerging right behind Wasp. Howard the Duck made his MCU debut in the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy, and also appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
- Valkyrie is riding her winged horse. As shown in Thor: Ragnarok, these were the legendary steeds of Asgard's Valkyrie warriors. Valkyrie's own horse was slain millennia ago by Hela, so it's unclear where she got this new one from.
- Ant-Man's van is, of course, the same one he uses in the Ant-Man films - complete with a Quantum Tunnel in the back.
- "We're on it, Cap," Wasp says - an amusing callback to her ribbing Scott for calling him Cap in Ant-Man & the Wasp. Scott and Hope trade a knowing smile.
- Spider-Man activates Instant Kill mode, a reference to Spider-Man: Homecoming that does feel a little out of character.
- Captain Marvel's short hair is from the comics, but is also notably similar to Mar-Vell's hair-style in Captain Marvel. That's appropriate, given Mar-Vell was her inspiration.
- Black Panther calls Hawkeye "Clint," an amusing nod to their introduction in Captain America: Civil War.
References to Marvel TV Shows In Avengers: Endgame
- James D'Arcy reprises the role of Jarvis, Howard Stark's butler, which he played in the Agent Carter TV series. This makes him the first ever character to transition from Marvel Television to a Marvel movie.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019