Towards the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) tells a perplexed Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) why he would sacrifice the Time Stone as a bargain to save his life. “We’re now in the endgame,” Strange says. The words not only are the subtitle for Marvel Studios’ capper of the first three phases of this expanded cinematic universe, but fans have been chomping at the bit to see footage of what the world these characters inhabit, post Thanos (Josh Brolin) retrieving all six Infinity Stones and reducing half of all sentient life across the galaxy to dust.
As fans would expect: it’s bits and pieces the first trailer to Avengers: Endgame chooses to reveal, but never the whole meal. The remaining members of the Avengers, those who didn’t fade from existence, are coming to terms with their failure to stop Thanos: Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans, beardless once again) sheds some tears. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) scrolls through missing members/allies that are unaccounted for. And Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) sports a new haircut, as well as a Katana blade, instead of his traditional bow and arrow (this may hint that he is now under the alias “Ronin”); himself looking as though he’s been through his own personal hell. “We lost. All of us,” Rodgers muses. “We lost friends, family. We lost a part of ourselves.” This perfectly sums up the mood of this new installment: despair. Even Stark himself, while not on earth – he and Nebula (Karen Gillian) were on Titan at the conclusion of Infinity War, as well as the only two surviving members – is preparing for what he believes to be the end of the road.
“When I drift off, I’ll be dreaming of you,” Stark says to his Iron Man helmet, acting as a recorder in the hopes it can transmit a final message to his fiancee, Pepper Potts. He’s adrift in space with almost no chance of being rescued; exhausted by everything that’s transpired. “Part of the journey is the end.” The statement feels like an extension of the whole endeavor of bringing this shared universe to its conclusion: despite there being more installments of the MCU, this feels like the end of one stage of these movies, and whatever comes next, the world producer Kevin Feige has shaped and guided thought 10 years and 22 films will be radically different than what has come before it. Some of the original roster of Avengers are taking their final bows as they make their exits, such as Evans, Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and Renner, and maybe a few more after this movie.
Despite the dour tone, Endgame is taking on, it’s still a film by Marvel Studios, meaning there will be some humor: enter Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man, as he asks for entry into the Avengers’ compound at the end of the trailer. This bit raises questions: last we saw Lang, he was trapped inside the Quantum Realm at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, his friends victims of the Thanos snap and unable to be pulled out. So just how does he manage his escape? And why is Thanos’ armor now in the form of a makeshift scarecrow? And just how are the remaining Avengers going to undo what has been done in the wake of Thanos’s wreckage? Again, these questions don’t have answers, and that’s probably what the folks at Marvel Studios want until its release in April of next year.