Avengers: Endgame is a juggernaut of a movie, leaving fans reeling with one big decision after another. Whether it be killing Thanos early on, having Captain America fight himself, Black Widow dying, or Iron Man performing the ultimate sacrifice, people were left on the edge of their seats for the entirety of the blockbuster.
In the build-up to the movie’s release in April, everybody had played their cards close to their chest. The Russo Brothers were coy and the cast was basically quaking in fear of giving something away. As a result, the end product caused fans to experience every emotion possible. We now look at 10 moments that had even die-hard MCU followers stunned.
10 Thanos Dying Early
Avengers: Infinity War had seen the whole gang try and defeat Thanos—but to no avail. The Mad Titan was too strong from the very beginning, battering Thor and the Hulk and killing Loki soon after acquiring the power stone. He then breezed past the team on Wakanda, clicking his fingers and ensuring half of the universe turned to dust in an emotional end to the blockbuster. Mission accomplished.
So fans were reeling in Avengers: Endgame when the villain from the last movie had his arm—and then head—chopped off with no more than 30 minutes on the clock. Thor gets his revenge, slaying his nemesis after learning that Thanos had used the Infinity Stones to destroy the Infinity Stones. Obviously, he would still be the antagonist of the movie thanks to time travel, but seeing him die so early certainly had fans shocked.
9 Fat Thor
Prior to Avengers: Endgame, Thor’s character had undergone quite the physical - and emotional - transformation. Fans had seen him lose his iconic golden locks in Thor: Ragnarok, have his eye cut out of its socket in the same blockbuster, and then, in Avengers: Infinity War, acquire a new eye courtesy of Rocket. However, the MCU threw us all by choosing to fatten up Chris Hemsworth’s character to reflect his spiral towards darkness after killing Thanos early on.
When Hulk and Rocket visit the God of Thunder at New Asgard, there were audible gasps in cinema screens across the world. The Russo Brothers decided to beef up the Avenger to reflect how he had let himself go out of remorse for failing to stop the snap from happening. They also did it, though, to show that he was still worthy on the inside and looks should not mean everything.
8 Captain America Vs Captain America
When the Avengers decide to go back to New York City in 2012 in order to get the cosmic cube, trouble was always going to arise from their time-traveling trip. There’s a near miss when Hulk nearly runs into his former, brutish self and then again when Tony Stark is only just able to get out of the way when a whole load of Shield agents comes to take the Tesseract. But Captain America draws the short straw when he finds himself fighting…his younger self.
Audiences didn’t know whether to laugh or cheer when the duo locked shields. It makes for a truly breathtaking fighting sequence, and Cap is only able to escape by telling Steve Rogers that ‘Bucky is alive.’ It was a shocking moment, but one that will live long in our memories.
7 Ancient One Appearing
Everybody thought they had seen the last of the Ancient One in 2016’s Doctor Strange. However, Tilda Swinton surprisingly reprised the role for Avengers: Endgame and played a key part, too. Bruce Banner needs her to give up the time stone—the same time stone Strange had given away in Avengers: Infinity War—but she’s reluctant to part ways with it. Understandably given, well, it’s an Infinity Stone.
But Banner is able to convince her, in what is another surprising moment. The Ancient One allows the stone to go because she realizes that Strange knows something she does not. A shocking cameo—but one that benefits the narrative of the blockbuster and allows fans to bask in more nostalgia.
6 Hawkeye’s Sacrificial Offer
As the Avengers continue their quest to get the Infinity Stones, Hawkeye and Black Widow venture to Vormir to collect the soul stone. It quickly dawns on them that, in order to acquire it, one of the two must sacrifice themselves. The two friends bicker for some time, and it’s eventually Natasha Romanoff who gets her way.
However, what’s surprising about the whole sequence is the fact that Hawkeye volunteers himself in the first place. In fact, he does more than volunteer—he actually takes the leap himself. Given how his whole quest is to see his family alive again, audiences were left taken aback by his willingness to pay the ultimate price. But we’re glad he did, as the sight of him breaking down in tears when the snap is reversed is a spellbinding moment.
5 Captain America Wielding Thor’s Hammer
Sure, it had been hinted that Captain America would one day be worthy to wield Mjolnir during 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. During that movie, the team take turns trying to lift the hammer and only Steve Rogers is able to come anywhere close. But, fast-forward four years and he proves himself worthy.
What makes it extra surprising is its timing. Thanos (the 2014 version) comes extremely close to killing Thor, pushing Stormbreaker deeper into the God of Thunder’s chest. But Cap had audiences jumping, screaming, and near bringing cinema screens down when he managed to lift Thor’s hammer and stop Thanos. As epic scenes go, this ranks up there with the very best.
4 Pepper Potts Suiting Up
When every superhero of the MCU starts coming out of the portals conjured by Doctor Strange, it made everybody sit back in awe. We see Black Panther, Okoye, and Shuri lead the way before seeing the likes of Peter Parker, Doctor Strange himself, and much more joining the final stand.
What left people shocked, however, was Pepper Potts suiting up—a whole six years after she had last donned any form of armor. Not only is she sporting a sleek silver number, but she actually fights side by side with Tony Stark, blasting enemy forces out of the sky and on the ground. Think just because she’s a mom to Morgan now she’s going to take it easy? Not a chance.
3 Tony Stark Snapping
Fans of the comics knew that somebody would snap, but who? Avengers: Endgame allowed Hulk the chance to bring everybody back, which he did, but as the final fight rages on, it becomes increasingly clear that somebody else would need to take the gauntlet for a second time in order to prevent Thanos from killing half of the universe all over again.
At numerous points in the fracas, it’s hinted a certain character will do it. There’s Hawkeye, whose story had been fleshed out even more throughout the movie’s first two hours. Then there’s Captain Marvel, who it seems has the power to survive such an act. But, in the end, the honor goes to Tony Stark—in the most shocking of circumstances. Just as it looks as if Thanos will get a second crack at genocide, Iron Man’s nano-technology sees the stones float onto his wrist instead. Snap. Boom.
2 Thor Passing The Mantle
Would it be too harsh to label Thor the worst ruler in Asgard’s history? Odin was not exactly perfect, but it is his son who seems to have the worst stint ever at the top of the royal chain. In Ragnarok, he sees some of his people slaughtered by evil sister Hela. In Infinity War, the majority are killed when Thanos and the Dark Order take over their ship. And, in Endgame, the God of Thunder allows his people to suffer while drinks loads of beer and plays PS4 with Korg.
But, all that said, it’s still surprising when Thor passes the mantle of leader to Valkyrie. She’s awesome, but it feels like the Avenger should have stayed around to prove to his people he’s fit enough to lead them. Thor is arguably ducking out from a challenge, but given all he’s been through, maybe they’ll spare him some slack.
1 Old Captain America
Everybody associated with the MCU knew they were going to give Chris Evans a big send-off as Captain America. But many expected the super soldier to die valiantly in battle, with the whole movie giving him more screen time than any other character. Instead, the Russo Brothers left people reeling when Steve Rogers goes to place the Infinity Stones back in time—and chooses to hang around there himself.
While surprising, the ending made perfect sense. Cap always wanted one last dance with the love of his life, Peggy Carter, and this way he gets it. He’s also still alive, meaning that, if Evans so chooses, he would be able to return at any given time—albeit as an older version of himself. Who can say fairer than that?