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You'll Recognize These MCU Villains Returning To Endgame

Contains potential spoilers for Avengers: Endgame

The minds at Marvel Studios must have brushed up on the laws of physics when mapping out Avengers: Endgame

For as many heroes who disintegrated into cosmic ash after Thanos' (Josh Brolin) Decimation at the end of Infinity War, a bevy of characters both alive and presumed dead will return for the epic ensemble film — the equal and opposite reaction to the heart-shattering mass destruction of the third Avengers flick. But the good guys and gals of Infinity War aren't the only ones coming back in Endgame. A pack of baddies from the film are apparently returning as well. 

When a 3D version of the latest Avengers: Endgame trailer hit the internet, eagle-eyed fans on social media did what they do best and quickly picked the footage apart, analyzing each frame with care to uncover any secret Easter eggs or extract any hidden meanings. What they found was pretty jaw-dropping: there's a discrepancy between the 3D Endgame trailer and the standard 2D version that reveals villains from Infinity War might play a part in Endgame

Reddit user andresgarcia102 discovered that during the scene in which Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) runs down a tunnel with bright flames bursting behind him, which happens at the 1:35 mark in the video, two figures can be seen chasing him. As far as we can tell, these appear to be none other than the Outriders — the mindless henchman in Thanos and the Black Order's employ who aided in the assault on Wakanda during Avengers: Infinity War

Jeremy Conrad of MCU Cosmic had the screenshots, which are displayed below. 

For comparison, here are two screen-grabs of the same exact frames from the tunnel-explosion sequence as shown in the 2D Endgame trailer.

In Infinity War, a seemingly unending storm of Outriders thundered down over the Wakandan plains, attacking Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), plus the Dora Milaje, the Wakandan Royal Guard, and the Jabari and Border Tribes. The Avengers and co. were attempting to guard the Mind Stone, which Shuri (Letitia Wright) was trying to safely extract from Vision's (Paul Bettany) forehead before Thanos could forcefully rip it out himself. Thanos' savage subservients threatened to make that effort futile.

The members of Thanos' Black Order – Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon), Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary), and Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw) – ended up being killed in the Battle of Wakanda during Infinity War, and though the Outriders put up an intense fight against their heroic opponents, they were ultimately defeated and destroyed. Once Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) touched down to add some extra fire power to the fight, it was game over for the Outriders. We're talkin' every last one of the multi-armed suckers.

What's interesting here isn't just the notion that the Outriders look to be rearing their ugly, xenomorph-esque heads in Endgame — it's also that they aren't seen in the 2D Endgame trailer, only in the 3D footage. This is pretty damning evidence that Marvel may have purposefully altered the footage in order to prevent any spoilers from leaking. Very little slips past Marvelites, though, and they nosed out and exposed the apparent truth for the world to see. 

This far from the first time Marvel filmmakers — namely Infinity War, Endgame, and Captain America: Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo — have plucked out aspects of trailers or added elements into footage as a means to keep genuine plot details protected. The sibling directors previously held off on featuring Spider-Man in Civil War promo footage until after they had already released a full-length trailer, a Super Bowl spot, and two teaser clips for the movie — all of which didn't show a single second of Spidey. They also tricked everyone into thinking that Hulk would be a part of the Battle of Wakanda in Infinity War with that infamous moment in one of the film's trailers. (In reality, Bruce Banner fought in the Hulkbuster suit, since he couldn't assume the form of his angry alter-ego.)  

Because the 2D version of the Endgame trailer doesn't feature what appears to be a pair of Outriders, it's more likely that the film does actually include them. If they were spotted in the 2D footage and not the 3D trailer, we would be more included to believe that the Russo brothers were pulling another Infinity War-style fast one on all of us. 

If this moment of the 3D Endgame trailer is representative of what goes down in the theatrical cut of the film, we're left to wonder how exactly the Outriders fit into the action. Maybe a few of them actually survived the events of Infinity War and are returning to get their revenge on the Avengers. Perhaps Hawkeye escaping a barrel of fire and the believed-to-be-Outriders bounding after him is a moment that takes place in a different timeline or in an alternate version of the present day. After all, a major Avengers: Endgame theory speculates that the film's plot will heavily feature time travel and follow Earth's Mightiest Heroes as they slip into suits that resemble the Quantum Realm ones most recently seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp, journey to the past to capture the Infinity Stones, and potentially reverse Thanos' universe-splitting snap. If this is the case, it's understandable that the big purple dude would sic his sycophants on the surviving heroes to stop that from happening.

Whatever the truth ends up being, it's clear that the Avengers: Endgame team is dedicated to maintaining a certain level of mystery that blankets the film and are keeping the trailers as vague as possible. Joe Russo admitted as much in an interview with Box Office Pro, sharing, "There's a culture that monetizes secrets around these films — an online culture, a media culture. That's fair, but it's also fair for the filmmaker to protect the story. When I was 11 years old, I went to see The Empire Strikes Back, having seen Star Wars a bunch of times with my uncle. I was at the theater from 11 [in the morning] until 10 at night watching Empire over and over again because I knew nothing about what was going to happen in the film beyond what I'd seen in a trailer in front of a movie once or twice. Information was so much more limited. It was so shocking to me what happened that I was emotional watching it. That's the feeling that my brother and I are trying to replicate for other kids who want to be surprised. It's why we limit the amount of information in trailers. That's why we obfuscate it. Audiences are so predictive. Everyone has a PhD in content now, and it's constant. The smallest clue in a trailer can ruin a movie."

Here's to hoping that this Outriders clue doesn't completely wreck the Avengers: Endgame viewing experience. If it does, well, accept our apologies in advance. 

Avengers: Endgame will open in theaters on April 26.