Avengers: Endgame marked the end of an era. No other movie has paid tribute to the 11-year-long Marvel Studios franchise in the way Endgame did. With that said, there were probably going to be scenes dedicated to revisiting previous MCU movies, what with all the Quantum Realm/Time-Travel/BARF theories floating around since the end of Infinity War, and the constant tidbits regarding the return of past characters.
But even with a lack of "time-heisting", being the final installment of the Infinity Saga meant it definitely had to wrap up previous stories and include references to past movies. The question was what moments from the past would they revisit, and what specific references would be made in regard to the past 21 movies. So without further ado, here are the 10 best MCU callbacks from Avengers: Endgame.
10 Hydra-filled elevator
Tony, Steve, Scott, and Bruce's visit to the Battle of New York was bound to be a trip down Avengers memory lane. What we actually got was much better. In yet another move towards further interconnectivity between movies, we witness the previously unseen events that take place as the Avengers make their way through the Stark/Avengers Tower after capturing Loki. Alexander Pierce, Brock Rumlow, and Jasper Sitwell all make cameos as the disguised Hydra agents we know from Winter Soldier.
But the best callback arrives when Steve Rogers steps into an elevator filled with the same people he encountered in Winter Soldier's epic elevator fight. We even glimpse an agent discreetly reaching for his gun. The Captain turns it around though. Instead of initiating yet another epic fight (as many moviegoers were expecting), he simply leans into Rumlow's ear and whispers "Hail Hydra", as he calmly leaves with Loki's scepter.
9 Remembering Age of Ultron
It might seem biased towards the most recent and most anticipated MCU movie of all time, but Robert Downey Jr gave one of his best performances as he embodied an utterly physically weakened and emotionally damaged Tony Stark after his near-death experience in space. As he comes face to face with the Avengers, Iron Man starts blurting out everything that's on his mind. He starts by referencing the vision he had at the beginning of Age of Ultron, and how it became a reality.
He then lashes out at Captain America, telling him how much he needed him. He continues to reference more lines from the second Avengers movie stating how he warned them that a "suit of armor around the world" was needed. He ends up further confronting Steve Rogers when he quotes the Captain's promise that ultimately proved false. That if they lost they would "do that together too".
8 The one that started it all
I find it hard to believe that there is anyone who does not know what movie this is referring to. If you do by any chance exist, it's 2008's MCU debut, Iron Man. This 11-year-old movie has never really been forgotten, but there have rarely been any direct callbacks to it in the MCU. Until now, that is. Avengers: Endgame has two very distinct Iron Man easter eggs in the closing post-Tony Stark scenes.
As his funeral begins, the camera focuses on the hero's first-ever arc reactor. After the ceremony, Happy Hogan asks Morgan Stark what she wants to eat and she replies with "cheeseburgers" This leaves Happy flustered for a few seconds as he explains that that was exactly what her father had asked for in 2008 after he returned from Afghanistan.
7 Shield and hammer
Age of Ultron had maybe the simplest scene we have ever had in an Avengers movie. Just a small group of friends chatting and laughing together. In this specific case, Clint Barton argues that there's a trick to lifting Mjolnir, as opposed to the need to be worthy. Thor then playfully challenges him to lift himself. This leads to a hilarious scene where each Avenger tries (and fails) to pick up the hammer.
But Steve Rogers attempt got Thor worried for a second as the weapon did in fact wobble. What was once a throwaway joke has now become one of the most awesome scenes in the MCU as Captain America summons Mjolnir in Endgame's final battle against Thanos. Thor explicitly references the Age of Ultron moment as, instead of being shocked, he remembers Steve's failed attempt and yells "I knew it!"
6 Peter "Walkman" Quill
The Power Stone has been in a few locations of the past few years. After Peter Quill found it on the desolate planet of Morag, it ended up close to the Reality Stone in the Collector's...collection (even if only for a few hours). It then ended up safe on Xandar, before Thanos invaded the planet and stole the Stone. The heroes decided to retrieve it from probably the easiest, most straightforward place. Morag.
However, they didn't know exactly where it was kept, so Rhodes and Nebula had to travel back to 2014' Guardians of the Galaxy to get Star-Lord to guide them to the artifact. What we got was a hilarious interpretation of the movie's opening scene, when Quill makes his way towards the Power Stone while singing and dancing to his walkman. It looks cool...from his point of view. If seen from, say an onlooker from the future, it just looks comically ridiculous.
5 The final dance
In both Infinity War and Endgame, death was the main cause of tearful faces and sniffling theatres. However, the final movie in the Infinity Saga ended with a very different kind of tear-jerking scene. A happy one. We spent close to a decade with Captain America, as we witnessed him struggling with the tragedy of being a man out of time. Steve Rogers' simple, happy life disappeared when he himself disappeared under the ice.
He came back 70 years later, but his previous life was gone forever. Knowing he finally managed to live a wholesome life with Peggy Carter, and seeing him return to the present as an elderly man, no longer struck by tragedy, is satisfying enough. But the ultimate callback arrived with a dance between lovers that had been promised 70 years before, just before the screen cut to black.
4 Clint and Queens
One of the most memorable scenes in the MCU is the large-scale airport battle in Civil War. Apart from giving the fans an awesome comic-book-like fight, it also introduced Black Panther and Spider-Man to the Avengers. In Endgame's epic Tolkien-esque battle, we learn that the heroes were paying extremely close attention to what was being said to them in that past fight. When T'Challa comes face to face with Hawkeye in Civil War, the archer introduces himself as Clint to which the Wakandan responds with a simple "I don't care".
In the same battle, Captain America comes across Spider-Man and ends up learning that Peter comes from Queens. As seven years go by, their memory remains intact. While they're fighting Thanos, T'Challa turns to Hawkeye and asks him for the Infinity Gauntlet, referring to Clint by name. Later, Steve sees Peter Parker swing by and gets his attention by yelling out "Hey Queens".
3 I can do this all day/On your left
Let's start off with the one everyone predicted would be heard, although maybe not in the way it was presented. Cap has uttered his signature catchphrase three times during his career. Against a random bully, Red Skull, and Tony Stark respectively. These were all used in serious moments, but Endgame completely turned that on its head when Steve comes face to face with his 2012 self. That is the one who says "I can do this all day", to which our Captain America instantly replies that he knows that already.
On your left was a Winter Soldier-exclusive quote, but was used four times, all by Steve Rogers, and all towards Sam Wilson. The MCU gave us the greatest character entrances ever in the Thanos vs Everyone battle. But what signaled the heroes was the Falcon's witty humor as he inverted roles and told Cap "on your left" as portals appeared and heroes stepped out.
2 Thor: The Dark Movie
The MCU is known for its consistently high-quality content. However, while most of their movies are somewhere between "good" and "mind-blowingly awesome" there are just a few "ok's". Most agree that Thor: The Dark World falls into this category, with a mostly forgettable plot and characters. How unexpected was it then to see not only the Avengers visit the setting of the 2013 movie, but also interact with long-forgotten people of Thor's past, like his ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster or his mother, Frigga?
Surprisingly, it turned out to be a genius move by the Russo brothers, as it gave fat, drunk, depressed Thor a conversation with his dead mother he desperately needed to regain his wits and the reappearance of Mjolnir. A touching, and crucial moment for the God of Thunder in an unexpected environment, that also gave greater depth to this "ok" Marvel movie and its characters.
1 I am Iron Man
After so many movies and so much dialogue between such a vast multitude of characters, it should be very hard to find one defining quote. And it is, but if there had to be one phrase responsible for setting Tony Stark on his decade-long avenging journey, and beginning his superhero life, it's his iconic "I am Iron Man". This is what defines him.
No matter how much he's changed, how much he's lost, what suit he's wearing, or what team he's fighting for, he is and always will be Iron Man. If the death of Tony Stark was to finally happen, then nothing would fit him better than these final four words. The ones that both started and ended his journey. As the man himself said "part of the journey is the end", and although he's gone, one thing will always remain true. Tony Stark is Iron Man.