By Jim Frye
After 11 years, 22 films, and more battles, triumphs, and defeats than any mere mortal could have ever imagined, Marvel Studios’ Super Heroes are heading into their biggest—THE biggest—super-powered showdown ever when Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 26. But before you cower at the prospect of catching up on all the stories and far-flung adventures that have led to this moment, don’t worry. The plot all comes down to this: Stop Thanos; save the universe. Easy as that.
And lest viewers feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the story, we have your simple guide to everything you need to know before seeing Avengers: Endgame, as told by the key players in the fray. For a deeper look, read on…
“It’s all been leading to this.”—Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Avengers: Infinity War
It’s the culmination of all that’s come before—all the Iron Man suit upgrades, all the interdimensional travels, all the outer-space escapades—arriving at a time when the entire universe needs saving. In an unprecedented accomplishment in Hollywood, Kevin Feige, president, Marvel Studios, together with his creative team and some of the most talented film-makers working today, has woven together a vast tapestry of movies and characters into a single cohesive story that spans the entire Marvel universe. In other words, this is a pretty big deal.
“The universe is finite; its resources, finite. If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist. It needs correcting.”—Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War
On a very high level, the stakes our heroes face are very clear: The ultimate villain, Thanos, has collected all six Infinity Stones, giving him ultimate power. Having achieved this power in Avengers: Infinity War, he snaps his fingers, turning half of all life in the universe into dust, including many of our favorite Super Heroes.
“He did it.”—Nebula (Karen Gillan) in Avengers: Infinity War
Standing on the devastated planet of Titan, Nebula realizes that Thanos accomplished what he set out to do—destroy half of all life—and she utters the words that send dread down Tony’s (and our) spines. “He did it.” Here’s a list of the heroes we saw turn to dust: Black Panther, Winter Soldier, Falcon, Doctor Strange, Groot, Drax, Mantis, Star-Lord, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and—in a gut-wrenching moment—Spider-Man. “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go, Mr. Stark,” said a dissolving Peter Parker. Then, during an end-credit scene in Ant-Man 2, we also saw the Wasp, Hank Pym, and Janet van Dyne dust away. Additionally, the trailer for Avengers: Endgame revealed that Shuri is also among the vanished. Add to that list Gamora, Loki, and Heimdall (from the Thor films), who seemingly met their ends at the hands of Thanos. In other words, we have precious few heroes left.
“Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to everyone not in this room to try.”— Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in the trailer for Avengers: Endgame
But, there are some heroes left—and as Natasha says, they “owe this to everyone” to try and stop Thanos. They are Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, War Machine, Bruce Banner, Rocket Raccoon, Nebula, and Okoye, from Wakanda. As the trailers for Avengers: Endgame reveal, Ant-Man and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) also return to help. Audiences last saw Ant-Man, aka Scott Lang, trapped inside the subatomic Quantum Realm.
And hot off the success of her own solo movie, Captain Marvel, one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows up, asking, “Where’s Fury?” We first got wind of this new hero in the end credits of Avengers: Infinity War, where a swiftly dissolving Nick Fury activated a distress call for Captain Marvel, a powerful hero from an alien planet whom he had met in the 1990s. The end credits of Captain Marvel revealed that this powerful new hero did show up in response to Fury’s distress call, ready to join the fight against Thanos. “I like this one,” says Thor. We agree.
Beating Thanos and saving the universe is the task the remaining heroes face—it couldn’t be more daunting. But now, armed with these simple facts and plot points, understanding where we are in the story is not daunting at all. Remember: Thanos destroyed half the universe. The remaining Super Heroes want to get it back.
Simple story. Epic journey. We can’t wait to see it.