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Characters In Avengers: Endgame With More Meaning Than You Realized

Avengers: Endgame is a big, big movie and a love letter of a blockbuster, paying tribute to the decade-plus of films that came before it in inventive and exciting ways. 

While it's not quite as jam-packed with characters throughout its lengthy runtime as Avengers: Infinity War was, on account of half of the cast being dead for most of the movie, Endgame's big finale is still a three-ring circus of Marvel mania. The movie is showing characters long thought dead, or simply long-forgotten, coming back from the furthest reaches of the MCU, from the early movies of Phase One to even the universe's television side, to take a bow at the concluding chapter of the company's remarkable first mega-arc: the saga of the Infinity Stones.

Maybe you missed a movie or two on the 22-film journey it took to get here, or you're wondering about the comic book backstory of some of the figures who got some time to shine in this chapter. Either way, here's a breakdown of characters in Avengers: Endgame with more meaning than you may have realized. Naturally, major spoilers follow.

Brock Rumlow/Crossbones

Endgame sees the surprising return of the charismatic Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones, in a new scene meant to take place just moments after the conclusion of The Avengers' Battle of New York. (This is supposedly before they all break to go and get shawarma.) 

At the point that he shows up, Grillo is still a couple years away from doing a full heel turn and exposing himself as a HYDRA lackey, still sporting his pretty face before the events of The Winter Soldier left him as a burned-up, vengeful supervillain. While he was talked up as a main antagonist of the third Captain America movie, his fate there was mostly to be used as a misplaced hand grenade for Scarlet Witch.

Amusingly, Frank Grillo was among the first of Endgame's actors to all but confirm — whether he meant to or not — that the Avengers would be travelling through time to revisit older movies in Endgame, something that had been heavily implied but never spoken of by an actor who was actually there. He referred to his scenes as a flashback, but coupled with the set photos that had been circulating of the heroes revisiting the Battle of New York, fans put two-and-two together pretty quickly. 

As he said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, "I'm allowed to say whatever I want because I'm never doing another Marvel movie." After presumably being yelled at, Grillo then walked back his comments a few days later.

Morgan Stark

Endgame gives Tony Stark a happy ending — for a little while, at least. After Thanos dies with the results of his snap still in effect, Tony settles down with Pepper and has a beautiful daughter, Morgan. He could've lived and died happy, but he's just too much of a big damn hero for that.

Morgan's presence in Endgame was set up in Infinity War by a dream of Tony's, which he relates to Pepper just minutes before Doctor Strange arrives to blow up his spot. He says to Pepper, "Last night, I dreamt we had a kid. It was so real. We named him after an eccentric uncle. What was his name? Morgan." Obviously, things ended up working out a little differently.

Tony isn't known for having a kid in the comics, but he does have a relative by the name of Morgan — a cousin and sometimes rival who's about as much of a type-A jerk as he is, or at least used to be. As a child, the MCU Morgan has little in common with her namesake. (And speaking of namesake, it's hard to see the H. initial in her name as anything but a reference to Tony's father Howard — but more about him later.)

Now that Tony is finally at rest, will Morgan be suiting up to become an Avenger herself one day, in the vein of her father? Time will tell — she doesn't exist in the comics, and the comics already have one of those.

Cassie Lang

While Iron Man's daughter may be an invention of the movies, Scott Lang's daughter is anything but. Scott meets up with Cassie after a five-year time jump that, at the end of Endgame, appears to be permanent. In the meantime, his precocious daughter has grown up almost more than he can believe — but if the comics are any indication of where her story's going, she still has a lot of development to go.

In Marvel Comics, Cassie follows in her father's footsteps in messing with the world of Pym particles to give herself radical size-changing powers, teaming up with her dad under the names of Stature and Stinger. At times, she's as much of a partner to him as the movies' second Wasp is — and that's a relationship we may get to see develop on screen as the movies continue.

While Endgame does in many ways feel like a rare conclusive chapter in the MCU, producer Kevin Feige has said that groundwork is being laid for characters like Cassie to eventually suit up as superheroes themselves. Speaking to Heroic Hollywood around the time of Ant-Man and the Wasp's release in 2018, Feige said, "Taking our cue from the comics as we always do — that's why we wanted Cassie, a very young Cassie in this movie, to be inspired by her father. Just planting seeds."

Harley Keener

It is possible that you were too distracted by the sounds of weeping to really notice who all was attending the funeral of Tony Stark. The bittersweet affair reunited a number of members of the MCU's deep bench, including this kid right here — Tony's potato-gun-shooting pseudo-sidekick Harley, who hung out with him during Tony's lowest moments of Iron Man 3

As the events of that movie detailed, Harley is another kid with daddy issues whose family life leaves something to be desired, much like Tony Stark himself, or his other surrogate son, Peter Parker. But Harley doesn't have the salve of a billion-dollar fortune (or some seriously over-powered superhero skills) to take the edge off his shoddy home life. All he's got going for him is some witty Shane Black dialogue and a stunning resilience to Tony's savage put-downs. 

At the time of release, some thought Harley might himself grow up to assume some sort of Iron Man-adjacent mantle, a la War Machine or Rescue. While what calls there ever were for that have pretty much faded among the fanbase, it's still nice to see an older version of the character pop up to pay respects to the hero who was Iron Man. We wonder if he's getting anything from Tony's will.


With not one, but two opposed versions of herself running around, one angling toward heroism with another staying full-tilt evil, Thanos' daughter Nebula gets a lot to do in Endgame — which is only fitting, considering the character's comic book history. 

In the Infinity Gauntlet comic story on which both Infinity War and Endgame are based — quite loosely based, in the case of Endgame — Nebula plays a pivotal role in how the conflict against Thanos plays out. In those comics, she actually helps to defeat Thanos by wielding the Infinity Gauntlet herself, getting some well-deserved revenge against her sadistic father after years of physical and emotional torture. And the story doesn't end there — after getting hold of the Gauntlet, Nebula promptly loses control, unexpectedly becoming the story arc's final boss.

That doesn't really play out in Endgame, and with Thanos sitting sadly dusted and the Infinity Stones being left destroyed in the MCU's prime timeline by the movie's conclusion, it doesn't look like a moment we'll ever get to see on screen. But it's nice to see the movies acknowledge how important Nebula was to the Infinity Gauntlet story with her expanded role in this second part of the adaptation. At least she got to show up, unlike some of the comic arc's more important characters — like, say, Adam Warlock

Howard Stark

Tony Stark has gotten more than enough opportunities to gawk at the visage of his father during his time in the MCU, but that doesn't mean you necessarily remember all the details of the sarcastic old Stark patriarch.

For Endgame, Tony's dad is once again played by John Slattery, who previously portrayed the character in three movies: Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, and Captain America: Civil War. But when it comes to Howard's inclusions in the MCU, that's barely the half of it. The character has also been portrayed on-screen by Dominic Cooper, who appeared as a younger version of the incorrigible inventor in two movies: Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as well as the Peggy Carter-centric Marvel One-Shot. Cooper also portrayed Howard Stark in several episodes of the Agent Carter TV show, which ran for two seasons between 2015 and 2016. And Howard isn't the only character from Agent Carter to get some love in Marvel's big Infinity Saga capstone — far from it, actually.

Edwin Jarvis

Due to a number of complicated, business-related reasons, the TV series of Marvel Television and the movies of Marvel Studios have never really been that closely-knit, despite technically existing under the same umbrella of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With a few exceptions, the two worlds have been kept very separate, with the only crossovers involving the movies affecting the TV shows, and never the other way around. (If you have any doubts about this, ask someone who's only watched the movies if they have any idea what an Inhuman is supposed to be.)

As the movie details, Edwin Jarvis is the butler of Howard Stark and the sidekick to Peggy Carter. While this is his first appearance in an MCU movie, he was an integral part of her series, Agent Carter. Edwin is also obviously the namesake of Tony's first A.I., J.A.R.V.I.S. — a.k.a., amusingly, Just a Rather Very Intelligent System — whose voice was subsumed into the Vision during the events of Age of Ultron

While Agent Carter may not have set the world on fire over the course of its two seasons, it did develop a devoted following, and it's not surprising that it's become the first TV show to cross over into the movies, years after its demise. Not only did Kevin Feige have more involvement with its development, it was created by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the credited co-writers of Endgame and Infinity War.

Alexander Pierce

The A-Number-One slay king of standing in an office and saying menacing stuff, Alexander Pierce makes his return to the MCU in Endgame. Originally introduced, shot, and blown up by Nick Fury in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Pierce is a head honcho of HYDRA who infiltrated the highest authority of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a deep, deep cover agent.

Played with slickly-evil bureaucratic fashion by the inimitable Robert Redford, Pierce makes a surprise appearance a few movies early, appearing with Brock Rumlow and other agents of HYDRA to try and take control of the Infinity Stone gizmos that the Avengers requisitioned during the Battle of New York. This includes the Tesseract, that enduring magical cube that contains the Space Stone, as well as Loki's scepter, which contains the Mind Stone. 

As is pointed out by Ant-Man during the New York segment of the Avengers' time heist, it's hard to imagine these hard-nosed, uncompromising spy types being anything but bad guys, in retrospect. Everyone else in the MCU is always cracking jokes about their crazy circumstances, but these HYDRA guys? For such a corny group of Hitler-adjacent cryptofascists, these folks are pretty humorless.

Jane Foster

Marvel's Phase One wasn't that great at giving all of its characters important places in the story. Sure, Pepper Potts and Peggy Carter have ended up becoming integral figures to the larger MCU narrative, but Betty Ross, Jane Foster, and all of Jane's friends from the first two Thor movies? Not so much. 

As a result, Jane Foster's return to the MCU fold came as a surprise in Endgame, with the prevailing assumption among the fanbase being that Natalie Portman was kind of done with this Phantom Menace-level fantasy crap. Not so! She returns being intercepted by the future Avengers while on her reluctant vacation to Asgard during the events of Thor: The Dark World, presumably getting stabbed in the hindquarters by a dedicated Rocket Raccoon. She gets what seems like less than a minute of screentime, but hey, it was a cute moment. Shame she had to sit out on the only good Thor movie though.

In the comics, Jane Foster is far from shortchanged in Thor's story. Matter of fact, she actually becomes Thor for a lengthy period of time, which is a fun alternate universe to imagine for the MCU. Could it still happen in the movies? Well... maybe if people start asking for it. Based on the reaction to Thor: Ragnarok's new-and-improved fun Thor (as well as Endgame's further-improved fat Thor), it seems like we still need to have a couple more adventures with the OG Odinson before we start talking about who will wield the hammer next.


Say what you will about the first two Thor movies — lord knows it's all been said before — but the one-two punch of Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins did a remarkable job of classing up the joint while the MCU was still a young entity, with its prospective success surrounded by big question marks. They added an air of legitimacy to a genre that still carried the stench of its bad years, before it had been established that audiences could get on board with the certified insanity of comic book storytelling. For that, we are forever thankful — even though some of us certainly kind of forgot this character existed in the years since she was last around.

The return of Thor's mother to the MCU fold from beyond the grave provided an unexpected shot of sentimentality to Thor's journey through Endgame, helping him to keep a focus on what's really important in his life. To many members of the fanbase, Thor's character arc of stops and starts has been one of the most interesting things to watch as the MCU has unfolded. Despite being around 1,500 years old in the movies, this young Asgardian still has a lot of growing up to do, and a little parental encouragement from your literally godly mother never hurts.

The Ancient One

Now here's someone who could've come in handy in the fight against Thanos. In case you haven't seen Doctor Strange (or just plain forgot about it) the Ancient One is a character of minor significance but major power, preceding Stephen Strange as the Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. She shows up as the keeper of the Time Stone in Greenwich Village's Sanctum Sanctorum during the events of the Battle of New York, tracked down by Professor Hulk in the hopes of getting her to hand over her nice necklace.

In addition to revealing that Marvel's Sorcerers were indeed around to help out during the Chitauri invasion (at least in their neighborhood of New York City), Hulk's encounter with the Ancient One reveals that she has always known she would meet and be replaced by Stephen Strange, who at the time of the Battle of New York is still a practicing surgeon. Why she later claims in private conversation not to want to train him during the events of Doctor Strange is just one of many little nitpicky inconsistencies that Endgame's time travel story gives rise to, but considering how nice it was to see this character again, we can deal with a spare plot hole or two.

Jasper Sitwell

Jasper Sitwell is, perhaps, nobody's favorite character in the MCU, but he's been around since nearly the beginning.

In the MCU, Sitwell eventually reveals himself to be just as much on the HYDRA take as anyone else — an allegiance which was reflected in Endgame after the Battle of New York. It just further hammers home the fact that those HYDRA infiltrators were in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s business for the serious long haul.

In the comics that he comes from, Jasper gets to remain a good guy, only being manipulated onto HYDRA's team for a brief while. Instead of being a bargain bin bad guy that any of the Avengers could deal with in a single backhand, he's one of the most accomplished agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. there is, serving as an interrogator for the organization, a right hand man to Nick Fury, and even taking over as director of the entire organization for a time. 

Pepper Potts/Rescue

In true Super Smash Bros. fashion, everyone is here for the final battle of Avengers: Endgame minus a Black Widow and a cool pink robot, give or take. But these absences are partially made up for by the surprise appearance of Pepper Potts suited up in her very own Iron Man-style armor, the blue raspberry design of which is foreshadowed by Endgame's first act. 

While she's certainly been in the thick of the action before in the MCU, the CEO of Stark Industries has never been as much of a player on the battlefield as she gets to be in Endgame. Pepper's arrival into the fray this time isn't some desperation move like the finale of Iron Man 3, which saw her vaporize foes with the help of laser gloves. Instead, she shows up in a full suit of armor, designed especially for her by Tony Stark.

In Endgame, Pepper shows up to the fight somewhat apropos of nothing. But she does have a history as a heroine in the comics, where she's known under the alias of Rescue. Since she shows up to Endgame's last fight with around 50,000 other fighters in tow, it's hard to see how that name makes sense in the movies. But it was still worth it to have her for that instantly-iconic back-to-back shot of husband and wife blasting away at Thanos' minions together, working as a team one last time before the end.