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Surprising Avengers: Endgame characters that have already been confirmed

Eleven years into a historically prolific run, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been hotter — which means anticipation for Avengers: Endgame couldn't be any higher. Captain Marvel, the last MCU film released before Endgame, shattered even the highest projections for its opening weekend, bringing in $455 million worldwide, including $153 million in North America. According to Researcher Exhibitor Relations, Endgame is tracking to surge past Infinity War's opening domestic weekend box office record of $258 million with a projected $282 million.

The film will bring many storylines from the first decade of MCU movies to a close, and end Marvel Studios' Phase 3 slate. With the Infinity Gauntlet finally assembled, and half of the life in the universe snapped to dust, the fates of many of Marvel's most popular characters hang in the balance. Marvel famously plays their cards extremely close to the vest when it comes to story details to avoid spoilers and keep fans guessing, so we're pretty much guaranteed a few surprises in the film, but the studio has revealed some character appearances. Here's a look at some of the most surprising characters confirmed for Avengers: Endgame.

The Ancient One

Portrayed by Tilda Swinton in 2016's Doctor Strange, the Ancient One was Stephen Strange's mentor who taught the eventual Sorcerer Supreme everything he knows about magic and the mystic arts. In the film, it's revealed that she'd been using dark magic to lengthen her life. Soon after, in a savage battle with villain Kaecilius, the Ancient One is mortally wounded and dies, but not before a final heart-to-heart with Strange via astral projection.

While death isn't always the end of the road in superhero movies, the images of the Ancient One's vanishing astral projection as her mortal coil flatlined on an operating table in the ER seemed as final an outcome as one can receive in the MCU. That's exactly why many fans were surprised to see Swinton's name on Endgame's IMDb page. Following her death, Doctor Strange wielded the artifact known as the Eye of Agamotto, otherwise known as the Time Stone. Following such a deliberately portrayed demise in Doctor Strange, the Ancient One's reappearance has fueled fan theories that time travel will play a major role in Endgame.

Wong

In the first act of Infinity War, Wong joins the fight against the invading Black Order. Once Doctor Strange is kidnapped, however, Wong abruptly exits the remainder of the film's action to protect the Sanctum Sanctorum. While Wong's fate post-snap is never fully revealed, the actor has confirmed his participation in Endgame. Assuming this means that Wong is alive and well, this character could wind up being surprisingly crucial to the plot.

Doctor Strange is conspicuously left out of the confirmed cast for Endgame. When last we saw him in Infinity War, he was disintegrating to dust while also hinting at a larger plan, telling Tony Stark that giving up the Time Stone to Thanos was "the only way." In Doctor Strange, Wong was the keeper of the mystical library in Kamar-Taj and was responsible for schooling Strange on the nature of the Time Stone encased within the Eye of Agamotto. As perhaps the last hero standing with in-depth knowledge of the Infinity Stones, and significant experience wielding the Time Stone, Wong may be the one to bring Benedict Cumberbatch back to the Endgame call sheet after all.

Harley Keener

Remember back in Iron Man 3 when Tony Stark was on the lam from his enemies, trying to get a charge for his Mark 42 armor? This situation brought Tony to the garage of the MCU's favorite latchkey kid, Harley Keener, played by Ty Simpkins. The tech-savvy, potato gun-toting young man formed a bond with Stark and their comedic back and forth added several memorable moments — and heart — to the film.

While the character served the narrative of Iron Man 3 and comedic sensibilities of director Shane Black, what place could this kid — now a teenager — possibly have in Endgame? With rampant speculation that Endgame could be Robert Downey Jr.'s final MCU appearance, certain theories posit that Keener will make an appearance for Tony Stark's funeral. Other theories suggest that Stark could be looking to pass the torch, and perhaps Keener could be in line for the Iron Man mantle. 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Nearly every one of the Guardians of the Galaxy perished in Infinity War — only Rocket remains. Star-Lord, Groot, Drax, and Mantis were all taken in the culling. It seems the Infinity Gauntlet affected an unfair percentage of Guardians — until you remember that Star-Lord totally freaking blew it on Titan. Maybe that's why he's the only one of these characters not listed on Endgame's IMDb page. Mantis, Groot, and Drax are all confirmed to be appearing according to that cast list. Dave Bautista has even publicly acknowledged that Drax will be in Endgame as well as the currently on hold Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Kraglin of the Ravagers from the first two GotG films is also confirmed to be appearing in Endgame. When we last saw Kraglin, it was in a mid-credits stinger from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In this scene, he was experimenting with the deceased Yondu's whistle-controlled arrow. While Kraglin's fate isn't discussed in Infinity War, this character's involvement is a surprise for reasons completely unrelated to the Mad Titan's deadly power play. Kraglin is played by Sean Gunn, brother of the former director/writer of the Guardians series, James Gunn. Things with James ended on poor terms — to put it lightly — but apparently Disney has no axe to grind with Sean (or vice versa), because he's pulling double duty in Endgame as Kraglin and the mo-cap created "On-Set Rocket."

Gamora

Gamora was also killed by Thanos in Infinity War, though not by the snap — instead, she was offered as a sacrifice on planet Vormir by Thanos in order to acquire the Soul Stone. Guided to the edge of a tall cliff by the cursed Red Skull, Thanos is told that in order to get the Soul Stone, he'll need to trade the soul of a loved one. Gamora initially finds humor in the proposition, supposing the nihilistic Mad Titan isn't capable of love, and therefore cannot possess the Stone. Unfortunately for Gamora, she's the one lucky gal Thanos had a soft spot for. And to prove it, he tosses her over the cliff and into oblivion.

We do see Gamora one more time in Infinity War, however. Once Thanos has completed his goal of wiping out half the life in the universe with the Infinity Gauntlet, he appears in a dreamlike dimension confronted by a young Gamora. The scene is bathed in an eerie orange light, the same color as the Soul Stone. Speaking to children at Iowa City's City High, co-director Joe Russo confirmed that this scene actually takes place within the Stone — or perhaps a pocket dimension created by it. If Gamora is in this purgatory-like place within the Soul Stone, is it possible that the other dusted characters are also within the orange realm?

Crossbones

Actor Frank Grillo has confirmed that Crossbones makes an appearance in Endgame. Crossbones hasn't appeared in the MCU since the opening sequence of 2016's Captain America: Civil War, when he detonated a bomb in a suicide mission. Speaking during a podcast interview with UFC Unfiltered (via CBR.com), Grillo said, "He makes an appearance in the next Avengers movie, but it's a flashback." Crossbones is also listed on the official IMDb page.

What's interesting here is Grillo's use of the term "flashback." Crossbones' appearance may very well be a standard narrative flashback, but it could also be a lot more, given all the time travel rumors surrounding not only the Time Stone, but Ant-Man and The Wasp's mid-credits sequence that leaves Ant-Man stuck in the Quantum Realm at the moment the Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, and Hank Pym turn to ash. In fact, in the official trailer for Endgame, we see a bunch of Avengers and friends — including Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Ant-Man and Nebula — marching purposefully while wearing some new duds theorized to be Quantum Realm suits.

The Wasp & Janet Van Dyne

Despite their apparent deaths in Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Wasp and Janet Van Dyne are both listed on Endgame's IMDb, though notably, Hank Pym isn't on the list. A mostly standalone movie that follows Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym over the course of about 48 hours, it was the first MCU film released following Infinity War, so fans were curious to see how lighter-toned Ant-Man and The Wasp would address such a universe-shattering event. According to the film's director, Peyton Reed, the film's timeline was left intentionally ambiguous. "We liked the idea of the structure where, in true Ant-Man style, everybody has closure and everything's tied together and almost in too neat of a bow at the end," Reed said. "Then to BANG — give the audience a gut punch right after the main credits. That felt like our movie's tone and the way of dealing with that."

In that credits sequence, just before Hope, Janet, and Frank disintegrate, Janet warns Ant-Man not to get caught in a "time vortex." Could Scott Lang — stuck in the Quantum Realm — possibly find a way to access different points in time using a vortex? Set pictures released during the production of Endgame show our heroes in what appears to be the Battle of New York from The Avengers. In the photos, Captain America is wearing his original uniform, Thor has long hair, Loki is not dead — and Ant-Man is present, unlike the original battle.

Spider-Man

We all know Spidey is due back for his second solo MCU film with Spider-Man: Far From Home set to be released on July 5, 2019. However, considering that the last time we saw Peter Parker he wasn't feeling so good, it's still kind of surprising to see his name listed with the confirmed cast. Based on the trailer for Far from Home, it appears Marvel is deliberately following Endgame with a decidedly less heavy, less cosmic movie. According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, Far from Home will take place after the events of Endgame. Speaking with IGN, Feige said of Far from Home's plot, ""What is it like to try to go back to a normal life after what happens in this movie [Infinity War]? Not to mention what happens in [Endgame]."

Evidently, something gets Peter Parker back from the great beyond in time for his field trip in Far from Home. But fans believe that the trailer for Far from Home hints at the death of another character in Endgame: Tony Stark. Not only is Stark completely absent from the trailer, but some say Spider-Man's refusal to bring his Spidey Suit with him on his trip is further evidence of Iron Man's demise. It's possible that if something terrible befell the man who gave him that suit, he might find it a little difficult to wear.

Scarlet Witch

Of all of the terrible downfalls that occured in Infinity War, perhaps nobody had a harsher demise than Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch. Wanda uses her powers to pull the Mind Stone from the Vision's head and destroy it — a last-ditch effort to stop Thanos from assembling the full Infinity Gauntlet by killing the love of her life as she gazes into his quickly fading eyes. However, Thanos spoils her sacrifice by using the Time Stone to rewind time, kill Vision himself, and acquire the final Infinity Stone anyway. Yeesh! On top of that, the snap turns Scarlet Witch to dust just a few moments later.

Despite all that, Elizabeth Olsen is slated to reprise her role in Endgame. According to Olsen, her situation won't improve. Speaking on a panel at ACE Comic Con in Chicago, Olsen cryptically warned, "It's only going to get worse."

Winter Soldier

Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier and his friendship with Chris Evans' Captain America has been an emotional fulcrum for the MCU narrative in recent years. In Captain America: Civil War, Team Cap was fighting Team Stark over philosophy — in the form of the Sokovia Accords and superhero registration. But the fight between Cap and Tony was much deeper and much more personal. It took the macro debate of the Sokovia Accords and boiled it down to fighting for the soul of Bucky Barnes. Steve Rogers believed that inside the broken psyche of the Winter Soldier, Bucky was still redeemable. For Tony Stark, his beef was more direct. "I don't care," said Stark during the climactic battle at the end of Civil War. "He killed my mom."

With Bucky reduced to ash in Infinity War, how does Sebastian Stan find himself back for Endgame as Winter Soldier? Appearing on The Late Late Show with James Corden, the host asked Stan directly, "Can you explain how you'll come back for Avengers: Endgame?" Stan coyly replied, ""Bucky's dead."