Avengers: Infinity War promised to be the culmination of every MCU movie that preceded it, and in many ways, it was. It brought all the characters together in the same movie at last – the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Black Panther etc. – but we wouldn’t get the true culmination until a year later in Avengers: Endgame.
That was the movie that truly ended the story and led to some (probably) permanent character deaths: one celebrated death, one controversial death, and one really, really sad death. This means we may never get to see rematches of some of these climactic MCU showdowns (as you've probably guessed, there'll be spoilers throughout, so avert your eyes if you're still not up to speed with Endgame).
10 Hulk vs. Thanos
At the beginning of Infinity War, we see Thanos on board the ship that Thor and the Hulk left Asgard with at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. He’s wiped out most of the surviving Asgardians and also kills Loki (as it turned out, he did fully kill him and it was permanent, but then he escaped from the past into an alternate timeline in Endgame). The Hulk tries to fight him and Thanos kills him, leaving him to be resurrected and sent to Earth by Heimdall.
In the comics, there’s an ongoing discussion about whether or not the Hulk is stronger than Thanos. A rematch could’ve settled this if the Hulk didn’t outgrow smashing things and Thanos didn’t turn to dust.
9 Captain America vs. Red Skull
Captain America has appeared in major roles in three of his own solo movies and all four Avengers team-ups. He only fought his most iconic foe from the comics, Red Skull, in one of them.
Red Skull’s surprise reappearance in Infinity War, as well as the promise that he could leave Vormir as soon as the Soul Stone was taken, seemed to set up a grand rematch that was 80 years in the making for Endgame. However, it never happened, and now that Cap is super old, it’s fair to say we’ll never get to see that rematch after all.
8 Thor vs. Thanos
One of the most shocking plot developments in Endgame is that Thor takes Thanos’ head off in one fell swoop in an early scene. We expected him to be the big bad – which he is, but only when his past self shows up – and instead, the God of Thunder lopped his head off in the opening act.
They had a pre-existing feud from Infinity War, where Thor came incredibly close to killing Thanos with Stormbreaker, except he didn’t aim for the head. We never got to see the two have a real physical rematch in Endgame, what with all the other heroes involved, and now, we never will. It could’ve gotten Thor out of the Lebowski funk he’s fallen into.
7 Black Widow vs. Proxima Midnight
In Infinity War, we saw Black Widow fight Proxima Midnight twice. However, in Endgame, she controversially died on Vormir in order to get the Soul Stone for the Avengers’ homemade Infinity Gauntlet. So, she wasn’t around for the big final battle at the end – which is being called “the Battle of Earth” in MCU canon – to have a rematch with the 2014 version Proxima Midnight.
In fact, we might never get to see Natasha Romanoff fight anyone ever again, since her death seems pretty permanent. Black Widow might still get a solo movie, but we’ll likely never see a rematch between these two characters.
6 Doctor Strange vs. Thanos
The Ancient One, the wise Celtic illusionist who taught Stephen Strange in the way of the mystic arts, would’ve killed Thanos in seconds. Strange doesn’t have as strong of a grasp on his magical powers as she does, but he’s getting there. We saw that he was a formidable foe for Thanos during their fight on Titan in Infinity War.
However, in the final battle of Endgame, the Sorcerer Supreme was too busy bringing back the dead, summoning entire armies with Sling Rings, holding off a tidal wave and ensuring that everything happened according to his one-in-14-million plan to actually have a rematch with Thanos, which is a shame.
5 Iron Man vs. Ultron
Of all the villains that Iron Man has faced, the greatest has to be the one he created himself, Ultron. The shame of it is that Ultron is also the villain whose portrayal on the screen was the most disappointing. He proved to be incredibly easy to beat, as one Tony Stark creation destroyed another in seconds.
It seemed as though Marvel would fix this when the Ultron head was shown in a warehouse in Spider-Man: Homecoming and the fourth Avengers movie was named after a quote in Age of Ultron, suggesting it would pay off by having Iron Man take down his own monstrous creation once and for all. However, this Easter egg has gone nowhere, and now, Tony Stark is dead.
4 Gamora vs. Nebula
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Gamora and Nebula have an incredible fight sequence that ends up bringing them together as sisters. It was a spectacularly choreographed, violent representation of the kind of fights sisters have. Instead of bullets and spaceship crashes, it’s words.
However, the death of Gamora in Infinity War made their bond short-lived and her past self’s reappearance in Endgame made it seem as though Nebula would have to start from scratch with their sisterly relationship. At the end of the movie, Gamora was nowhere to be seen and might have been turned to dust. Nebula is seen with the other Guardians, but either way, it doesn’t seem like these characters will be having a rematch any time soon.
3 Hulk vs. Surtur
By the end of Thor: Ragnarok, the demonic Surtur’s skull is floating through the vacuum of space. He’s not an immediate threat, but if he somehow manages to merge with the Eternal Flame, he’ll be back in fighting form.
MCU fans might have hoped that if this did happen, he would have a rematch with the Hulk following their epic showdown in Ragnarok. However, now that the Hulk has all but given up conflict and made peace with Banner in the “Professor Hulk” persona, even if Surtur does return in the MCU, he likely won’t be fighting the Hulk again.
2 Captain Marvel vs. Thanos
Going into Endgame, a lot of fans expected Captain Marvel to be the one to take down Thanos. She’s the most powerful Avenger and everyone else failed to take him down a year earlier when she wasn’t there, so it made sense that she would be the one to do it.
But then Thor beheaded him before she had a chance. In the later battle scene when past Thanos shows up and she has another chance, despite her best efforts, he beats her in hand-to-hand combat. A few years down the line (as Captain Marvel discovers more of the powers she acquired from the Space Stone energy that got imbued in her DNA), she might have been able to take him. But we’ll never know.
1 Iron Man vs. Captain America
In 2016, we saw two superhero face-offs that we’d been waiting for years to see: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was a bitter disappointment, and Captain America: Civil War, which might as well have been called Iron Man v Captain America: Dawn of Justice. The conflict was never really resolved.
Iron Man stole Cap’s shield, which his father made for him in the 1940s, and they didn’t spend time together until Endgame. Iron Man gave the shield back and they fought together, without deciding who was really right in the Civil War debate. Now that Iron Man is dead and Cap is elderly, we’ll never see this conflict resolved with a rematch.