San Diego Comic-Con 2019 had two Hall H panels dedicated to the writers and directors of Avengers: Endgame - and here are the biggest reveals from those panels. Avengers: Endgame was positioned as the biggest event movie in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It proved to be an unprecedented success, grossing over $2.7 billion in the global box office.
Comic-Con 2019 saw Marvel book two Hall H panels in honor of Avengers: Endgame. The first featured writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and the second had directors Joe and Anthony Russo. It's a little unusual to see the screenwriters and the directors host back-to-back panels; it may be that Marvel wanted to avoid any potential debates, given the writers and directors have disagreed over Endgame's time travel. Whatever the reason, Marvel fans weren't worried; it meant they had double the amount of time to get insight into Avengers: Endgame.
The two SDCC 2019 panels had a very different style; Markus and McFeely focused tightly on the writing process, while the Russo brothers had a more informal approach, complete with joke Q&A videos from Marvel stars. Over the course of the two hours, though, both groups shone a fascinating light upon Avengers: Endgame. Here are all the key takeaways.
Gamora Survived Tony Stark's Snap In Avengers: Endgame
There's been intense speculation over whether or not 2014 Gamora survived Tony Stark's snap, or instead crumbled to dust along with her father, Thanos. Markus and McFeely apparently settled the issue. They told the audience at Comic-Con 2019 that she's still alive. In their view, Gamora survived and sneaked off, which makes sense; she lacks any emotional connection to the Avengers. Avengers: Endgame's writers expect Gamora to return in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Captain America Almost Had A Team-Up With Red Skull
At one point, Markus and McFeely imagined forcing Captain America to team up with the Red Skull. Early on in the script writing process, Marvel compiled what they called a "Manifesto" of ideas for the Avengers: Endgame writers, drawn from the history of the MCU. "In the manifesto document, there was one theory that [it was] Cap who goes to space," Markus remembered, "and he has to collaborate with Red Skull to get the Stone." This sounds to have been a very early draft, before the Russos had even decided to make the Red Skull the Guardian of the Soul Stone, but it gives an idea of just how dark Avengers: Endgame could have been.
The Living Tribunal's Almost Made An Appearance
Speaking at their Comic-Con 2019 panel, Markus and McFeely noted that they almost embraced Marvel Comics' mythology to a degree never seen before in the MCU. Leafing through the pages of old Jim Starlin comics, they came upon the character of the Living Tribunal. In the comics, the Living Tribunal is a powerful entity who embodies the cosmic balance of the universe. Doctor Strange strongly implied that the Living Tribunal exists in the MCU as well, given one of the relics in Kamar-Taj is "the staff of the Living Tribunal."
Markus and McFeely considered a scene where Doctor Strange sent Thanos' mind reeling through the Multiverse, akin to the Magical Mystery Tour in Doctor Strange. "In the end, he would have been dumped in front of the Living Tribunal," McFeely recalled. Thanos would have been shown all the crimes he committed in the name of balance, and would have been judged guilty by the Living Tribunal.
This sounds to have been part of Doctor Strange's battle with Thanos on Titan - indeed, hints of this are seen in some official concept art for Avengers: Infinity War - but it just didn't quite work. "We were in the middle of a really fast-paced fight," Markus noted, "so to stop it for an LSD trip kind of sucked the air out of it." They probably made the right decision cutting this; even Thanos would have been deflected from his insane mission by the judgment of the Living Tribunal.
In One Draft Of Avengers: Endgame, Thanos Killed The Avengers
The time travel in Avengers: Endgame got pretty confusing, but it could have been a lot worse. An earlier draft of the script had Thanos travel back to 2014 and kill the OG Avengers, then head to 2023 and parade his victory before that time's horrified heroes.
In truth, it's a good thing Markus and McFeely cut this from the script. Time paradoxes are always difficult for audiences to get their heads around, and Avengers: Endgame already had its problematic moments. Avengers: Endgame's writers focused in on the scene where present Nebula killed her past self, admitting that test audiences were bewildered by that. They added a lot of exposition from the Hulk to hopefully explain it.
Professor Hulk's Original Role In Avengers: Infinity War
Markus and McFeely confirmed that Professor Hulk was cut from Avengers: Infinity War. "These movies are worked on up until release," Markus explained. "We wrote it, we shot it and then went on to shoot most of Endgame. [Banner] achieved union with the Hulk while inside the Hulkbuster... burst out and kicked Cull Obsidian's ass. And it didn't work! It was completely the wrong tone for that moment in the movie. It was this moment of victory while we were headed toward defeat... but we had already shot Endgame, where he was already Smart Hulk..." They eventually hit upon the idea of having Banner merge with the Hulk during the five-year time jump, and introduced viewers to the concept through a bewildered Scott Lang.
Why Marvel Cut The Midgard Serpent From Avengers: Infinity War
Markus and McFeely were asked about concept art that showed Thor and Rocket battling the Midgard Serpent, and they confirmed that this was part of an early draft of Avengers: Infinity War. As far as McFeely was concerned, though, this idea "sucked rocks." Both screenwriters admitted they'd struggled to work out Thor's arc. Their initial ideas were too dark, "much too adventure-related, and insufficiently character-based."
How Ant-Man Survived The Snap
There's been some speculation that Ant-Man survived the snap because he was in the Quantum Realm when Thanos snapped his fingers. As far as Markus and McFeely are concerned, though, that isn't the case. Markus told the audience at SDCC 2019 that it was just dumb luck. "I think he was coin-flip lucky, because the Stones do not differentiate between realms," he said.
Does The Multiverse Exist In The MCU?
The writers and directors of Avengers: Endgame may disagree over the rules of time travel, but they all insist that the MCU's Multiverse exists. "It clearly exists, because Doctor Strange has talked all about it," McFeely pointed out. "I have no idea where Kevin Feige is going... but I'm a big believer in stakes." For this reason, he doesn't believe Marvel will just use an alternate universe to explain away recasting characters like Iron Man or Black Widow.
The Russo brothers have long said they'd love to return to Marvel and direct a Secret Wars movie, inspired by the idea of different realities colliding. But they, too, insisted that they didn't believe Marvel would use the Multiverse to introduce new versions of established and iconic heroes.