The Avengers: Endgame trailer's biggest unanswered questions

The wait for the trailer and title release of Avengers: Endgame nearly drove the whole internet completely out of its mind. But now that the trailer is out in the wild, tugging on heartstrings and setting viewership records, it's raising way more questions than it answers. Figures, right?

The trailer is a remarkable piece of editing, getting viewers excited at the same time that it reveals more or less nothing about the actual plot of the movie it's advertising. Now that we've all seen the footage, there's not much we can do but twiddle our thumbs and think about all the things the film may have in store for us. 

We're hoping for a happy ending. Thanos doesn't get to win, right? Are the Avengers going to time travel to beat back this galactic threat, or are they going to make a call to another universe and get the X-Men on this thing? Who knows? We've finally seen some footage, but we feel like we know less than ever. Here are the biggest questions we're left grappling with by the trailer for Avengers: Endgame.

Thanos' next steps

For all its many characters from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's indisputable that Avengers: Infinity War was a movie about Thanos. He was the protagonist, setting out on a mad quest to decimate half of all life in the universe — and at the end, he won. What's next?

We all know that Avengers: Endgame was originally advertised under the title of Infinity War Part II, before Disney and Marvel Studios decided to change their strategy to something less obvious. But even though the name has changed, Endgame is still a direct continuation of Infinity War's story — and the Avengers have some serious unfinished business when it comes to the Mad Titan.

The big question is, what are Thanos' plans in all of this? The trailer only reveals the warlord for the briefest of moments, walking through a field of crops at the farm he appears to have retired to — just like he did in the comics. But what the comics don't tell us is what's going to happen next. Is Thanos simply done? Or is there a second phase to his master plan? Does he know the surviving Avengers are coming for him, or does he not see them as a threat? Does he have future plans for his Infinity Gauntlet? Also — why a farmer? Could he really be such a big fan of Stardew Valley? The mind boggles.

When are we?

One of the big rumors swirling around Avengers: Endgame involves the question of when the story will be picking up. One longstanding theory that's been cobbled together is that the movie will begin after a time skip, picking up somewhere in the vicinity of five years after the events of Infinity War. But despite the breathless analysis of some online commentators, the trailer neither confirms nor denies this theory. Everything here is still ambiguous.

Some parts of the trailer, such as Tony Stark's doomed jaunt through outer space, feel as though they could be taking place within days of the end of Infinity War. Other parts, such as the reveal of the samurai Clint Barton, feel like they could be situated years down the line. 

It's to the trailer's credit that we're so incapable of deciphering just when the events it's showing take place. Our pet theory is that both options are true — we like the idea of a time jump, but it doesn't need to happen immediately. But until we get some further info, there's no way of being sure when this movie is taking place.

What is the plan?

The Avengers' initial plan of attack against Thanos was a colossal failure, with the combined powers of the Earth's mightiest heroes barely able to draw a drop of blood from the Mad Titan. After the beatdown their best shot earned them, it doesn't seem likely that the team would be able to do better with a roster that's been cut by half. So if brute force isn't going to be the thing that wins the day, what will?

The Endgame trailer ramps up to a short exchange between Captain America and Black Widow, suited up for action in some nondescript dark hallway. As Cap regards a picture of his onetime paramour Peggy Carter, the two superheroes discuss their upcoming last-ditch plan in vague terms. Too vague, honestly. Just what are these two preparing to go do?

The hot rumor that's been running around for months now, based on leaks from the movie's production, is that the Avengers will use the power of time travel to turn back the clock on their catastrophic defeat, revisiting set pieces of past movies to somehow change the outcome of Infinity War. Whatever they're doing, we hope it corresponds with Dr. Strange's mysterious plan. After all, out of thousands and thousands of possible strategies he witnessed, he only saw one way to victory. Let's hope the survivors see it too.

Ant-Man's amazing escape

We wouldn't necessarily blame you if you sat out on seeing Ant-Man and the Wasp in theaters. It's fun, but after the exhausting Infinity War, a lot of filmgoers kind of needed a break. But those who skipped the Ant-Man sequel also missed out on a major cliffhanger — one that the Endgame trailer does away with in surprisingly casual fashion.

In the after-credits scene for Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scott Lang's Ant-Man uses some high-tech Hank Pym technology in the back of his van to transport himself to the Quantum Realm, the under-explored microverse dimension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From what we've heard of the place (mostly from the Ant-Man movies), it's a uniquely dangerous domain, one that the original Wasp was trapped in for decades before finally being rescued by Scott, Hank, and Hope van Dyne. 

As it turned out, Scott's jaunt into the Quantum Realm took place at the exact same time as Thanos' snap, leaving his partners on the outside dusted and him stuck inside, seemingly with no way out. So it was something of a surprise to see Scott turn up in the Endgame trailer acting as though nothing had happened. We figured he would get out eventually, but how did he do it? Did he use one of those "time vortexes" that Janet warned him about? If so, what year did he end up in when he left? Right now, it's a mystery. In the trailer, Scott seems to know what he's doing — but we sure don't.

Is Rocket okay?

If we can be sincere for a second, we're really just wondering if Rocket is doing okay.

The ending of Avengers: Infinity War had some tragic turns for everybody. Poor Scarlet Witch had to watch her beloved Vision die before her eyes not once, but twice — and the first time, she was the one who had to kill him. When Cap lost Bucky, he lost both his greatest link to his long-gone past, and his best friend, whom he'd sacrificed so much for. But Rocket… Rocket lost everything.

As audience members, it was utterly jaw-dropping to see the Guardians of the Galaxy all fade away, with Gamora meeting her end before them at the hands of Thanos. With them gone, we have to wonder if there's some reason why Rocket was the only member of the team to make it out alive. 

Not only is Rocket still kicking, but last we saw him, he was also stuck on Earth — which is not the most fulfilling place to be when you look like a filthy raccoon. Has he taken up a permanent place at some barstool south of Wakanda? Or has he spent all this time building bombs? Either way, his story is one we're incredibly interested to see continue — and the trailer gives us no hints whatsoever as to what he might be up to since Thanos killed all his friends.

What is Clint up to?

The man formerly known as Hawkeye has been missing in action for what feels like an eternity — but now he's back with a new name and an apparent thirst for blood. 

The trailer for Endgame seems to confirm all the rumors that Clint Barton would be taking up the mantle of Ronin for the fourth Avengers adventure, trading in his bow and arrow for the sword of a roaming samurai. But one thing it didn't confirm is what exactly he's actually doing out there in Japan with that new costume of his. 

We can surmise with some confidence that Thanos' decimation likely killed off Clint's whole family. Why else would he have gone so nuts? But while that tragic aspect of Clint's story has been heavily hinted at, we've yet to be informed of what exactly he's up to. 

It's rumored that Clint is in the land of the rising sun fighting Yakuza — which is cool if true, albeit somewhat out of nowhere. Other rumors further indicate that the Yakuza he's fighting aren't human people, but instead alien Skrulls — a tantalizing, if totally unproven possibility. If he is killing Skrulls, how did he know they were here on Earth? Also, who is he working for, if anyone? What is the goal of this lonely warrior? We don't know, but we've missed you, Hawkeye. It'd be great to sit down and catch up.

Speaking of Skrulls...

We know that the Skrulls will be introduced in 2019's Captain Marvel, but is it possible they'll also have a presence in Endgame

Considering all the talk we're hearing about Endgame not ending the way we think it will, we have to consider some storytelling turns that could be downright shocking. If the Avengers are forced to move away from Thanos to instead face a greater threat, as some marketing materials have suggested, is it possible that the Skrulls, and not Thanos, will be the major enemies of the movie? Is it possible — stay with us here — that the surviving Avengers could even be forced to team up with Thanos to stop them? It's insanity, we know — but not unprecedented.

Before you slam your laptop lid, please note that the idea of a Thanos face turn is something that's actually happened in the comics. In the comic book series The Infinity War, Thanos actually does side with Earth's mightiest heroes to take on an otherworldly, all-powerful threat. It's a marriage of convenience, but it's still a team-up — and it'd certainly be a shock for audiences to see. 

Our only question there is if the Skrulls would be a big enough threat to make that happen — if they're in this movie at all. Honestly, given the option, we wouldn't opt for this team-up idea. We'd much rather just see Thor get another crack at taking off Thanos' head.

How does Peggy fit into the plan?

When you gather all of the info together, it looks really likely that Endgame's plot will at least partly center around time travel. But even if the rumors are 100% right about that, and time travel is the name of the game, we still don't know the why or the how of the whole thing. What exactly will traveling through time accomplish? What's the play?

One possibility is that the Avengers will be hopping through time to steal Infinity Stones out of the timeline before Thanos can get his grubby Grimace hands on them. Since many of the MCU's movies have revolved around the Infinity Stones in one way or another, it would make for a handy framework through which to revisit those old films — but that's pure guesswork on our part. 

When Steve is looking at the photograph of Peggy that he carries with him, it doesn't feel like he's just reminiscing. There's weight to the moment. It feels like, somehow, Peggy might be important to the plot in some small way — a notion made extra significant by the fact that her photo is nestled inside a compass, of all things. Will people's loved ones play a part in determining how the time travel mechanic works? Or is Steve just thinking of a killer pickup line to deliver when he makes his way back to Camp Lehigh? As of this first trailer, at least, there's really no way of knowing. 

Tony's next move

Tony Stark, the man who built an Iron Man suit out of scrap parts in a cave, is probably not going to die of dehydration on the Guardians of the Galaxy's abandoned spaceship. After all, this is a Disney movie, not a nihilistic nightmare. But with that said, things don't look great for Mr. Stark in the first Endgame trailer. Nebula may be there with him, but knowing her, well… that's no great comfort.

In the days after the release of the Endgame trailer, theories were abundant about what's going to get Tony out of his own personal space jam. Some people think he'll be scooped up by Captain Marvel, en route to Earth to answer Nick Fury's distress call. Others believe he might get saved by Rocket, with the rascally raccoon returning to his ship via some sort of homing beacon. Still more think that he might get saved by the other Guardians of the Galaxy — you know, Stallone's team, from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The possibilities are as vast and endless as the void of space itself. In any case, mark our words — Stark's getting off that dang ship.

Will they build another gauntlet?

One of the more fun theories about how the Avengers will ultimately defeat Thanos revolves around the idea of them building their own Infinity Gauntlet to rival Thanos'. It's a silly idea, but not the craziest one — after all, if they're going to dart through time collecting Infinity Stones, they'll need something to put them in, yeah? And it's not like the Gauntlet itself is magic. 

As we learned in Infinity War, this golden glove was crafted by hand in the forge of Nidavellir. As long as the giant dwarf Eitri is still alive, it stands to reason that someone in the universe could make a second gauntlet. Or, considering his well-established genius, maybe Tony Stark could do it. What better way to cap off his decade-long rivalry with Thanos?

Of course, if this is where the story of Avengers: Endgame is going, the trailer tells us absolutely nothing about it. Rumors of the "Stark gauntlet" plot have existed in the wild since well before the trailer's release, and since the trailer itself hasn't disproven it, the theory is still technically in play. And it still feels semi-plausible; thanks to the record-breaking success of the MCU, all kinds of crazy comic book stuff is now in the realm of narrative possibility. Who says they can't win the fight against Thanos by just building a badder, better glove? All bets are off at this point — we're in the endgame now.

How's everyone doing?

As exciting as the first Endgame trailer is, it does evoke some feelings of claustrophobia. For the most part, the footage only focuses on two things: Tony's isolated trek across the stars, and Steve and Natasha kicking it in the all-but-abandoned Avengers HQ. (We suppose the movie's special effects shots are still works in progress.) As a result of the trailer's limited focus, we're left with very little knowledge as to how Thanos' devastating victory is affecting life on Earth. 

The ending of Infinity War, with our heroes standing around in stark, helpless horror as people disappeared around them, was haunting. After that, we've only seen a couple of glimpses of what comes next — the end credits scene of Infinity War, and the second end credits scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp. In both scenes, taking place just moments after the snap, it's clear that the world is in a state of emergency, seemingly descending into chaos. But does that chaos last? What's going on in the world of the MCU after a week has passed, or a year? Are people beginning to move on? It's dreadful stuff to consider, and so far, Endgame's marketing hasn't really clued us in on what's happening to the world beyond the battlefield.

Distress signal

Compared to the other Marvel movies, the ending of Infinity War left very little room for optimism. The one ray of hope was the movie's post-credits sequence, heralding the imminent arrival of Carol Danvers to both the MCU and the fight against Thanos. But what makes Carol, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, so capable of taking on a task that every one of Earth's mightiest heroes has so far failed at? We still don't know.

The default expectation would seem to be that the uniquely powerful Air Force pilot will be coming around to basically beat Thanos up, but considering the MCU's track record so far, we sort of expect her involvement in the fight to come to be a little bit more complex than that. (What do you think this is — Justice League?) 

So far, the Endgame marketing has offered no indication at all of what sort of role Carol will play in the movie, to the point where if you were going off the trailer alone, you wouldn't even know she's in it at all.

The situation in Wakanda

While the state of the world post-snap is still a mystery, there's one part of the planet that fans of the MCU have become uniquely invested in: the nation of Wakanda. As Black Panther made clear, Wakanda has historically been a safe, well-defended land of plenty, a place that maintained its high quality of life through good luck, isolation, and secrecy. With that secrecy eroded, the king dead, and roughly half the population now gone, we have to assume the nation is facing its worst crisis since Killmonger's coup.

Now that T'Challa is out of the picture, who has ascended to the throne in his place, if anyone? Is Queen Ramonda holding the country together, despite the devastating news that her daughter Shuri appears to have died? Or did the Infinity War result in Ramonda's death as well? Are any enemies of the nation taking advantage of the chaos to try and invade the place for its valuable resources? Has another civil war broken out?

The more we dwell on it, the more we feel that an entire movie could be made around the situation of Wakanda in crisis, defending itself and trying to stave off collapse after half of its people disappeared. There's a lot we'd like to know here, and aside from suggesting Shuri's death, the trailer tells us nothing. 

The alleged Soul World

One of the weirdest moments in Infinity War — aside from the giant dwarf, the star forge, and "hey, is that Red Skull?" — was the brief sequence, right after the snap, in which Thanos disappeared into an ethereal orange mystery world. There he was met with the presence of Gamora, the adopted daughter he'd recently killed, facing him down in the guise of a child. It was strange!

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo later confirmed that this orange world was not a mere vision, but an actual space manifested by the strange powers of the Soul Stone. (A similar space, called the Soul World, existed in the comics that inspired the movie.) With this knowledge in mind, many theorized that those killed by Thanos' snap weren't dead in the conventional sense, but rather trapped inside the Soul World, leaving open the possibility of them being able to escape in some backdoor fashion without the use of the Infinity Gauntlet. 

Maybe, some thought, the Avengers would just use some Ant-Man-style quantum techno-magic to bore a way into the stone, and free everyone that way. Who knows! It's a weird theory. And with the first Endgame trailer being all we've yet to see from the movie so far, we still don't have much to go on as to where this particular part of the story is taking us.

Reporting for duty?

With the Avengers: Endgame trailer being edited to preserve maximum secrecy with regards to the movie's plot, it's pretty tough to tell what the surviving Avengers are actually doing in the movie. There's some moping, there's some crying, and then there are some shellshocked stares out into the middle distance — but what are they doing for, y'know, work?

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Steve and Natasha went on the run with their small band of secret Avengers, trotting the globe and righting wrongs as fugitives without governmental oversight. It's a testament to their heroism that they kept up the work of classic crimefighting in those circumstances, when it would've seemed much easier to just go hide somewhere. But that was then, in a world before the decimation. Now, the stakes are much higher.

While Steve, Natasha, and even Bruce seem to clearly be spending some time inside Avengers HQ during the Endgame trailer, it's hard to tell what they're actually up to there. The footage emphasizes the emptiness of the facility, and when Ant-Man arrives, he's greeted by gates that are chained shut. Are Cap and Black Widow still getting up to occasional Avenging? Or are they solely devoted to figuring out how to win the day against Thanos, with all other duties suspended? It could go either way.

Tony's fateful vision

In retrospect, Age of Ultron was not a very good movie. At the time, it was thrilling to see the gang all together again on the big screen, quipping toward each other and punching out robots. But now that we've seen the majesty of Infinity War, Ultron feels like more of a tangled knot in the MCU's larger story. The creation of Vision was so rushed that some people still don't know what his deal is, and Thor's brief sojourn to an underground pool full of magic never made sense. But there was one piece of the movie that still feels consequential, as though it's building to something: Tony Stark's dark vision of the future.

Under the influence of the Scarlet Witch, Tony saw nightmarish images of the Avengers laying dead and dying at his feet, with Cap's shield broken. In the distance, we could see that he was on the other side of the Chitauri invasion from the first Avengers, watching as the alien space snakes slithered their way through a portal to invade Earth at Loki's behest. This felt like a big deal — but was it really a whole lot of nothing?

If Endgame really is taking us back to the Battle of New York, then it's possible that aspects of this vision could finally be revisited. But so far, there's been no indication that we're catching up with this moment. Maybe it's all just metaphor after all. Either way, we'll all find out in April.