Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason These Avengers Survived Endgame

Avengers: Endgame's relatively light body count surprised a lot of fans. Shocked by its predecessor's carnage, audiences braced themselves for loss and the promotional lead up to the film seemed to confirm their fears. In October 2018, Elizabeth Olsen — who plays Scarlet Witch in the MCU — warned fans "it's only going to get worse." Which isn't to say the losses of either Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) or Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) were fun, but considering the warnings and all the heroes who fell in Avengers: Infinity War, it's tough to not feel we got off light. 

So why didn't we lose more? Thor (Chris Hemsworth) doesn't have a home anymore, War Machine's (Don Cheadle) not getting a three-movie deal, and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) doesn't have a strong skill set outside of murdering people. With contracts ending and some heroes not really seeming to have a lot of solo franchise potential, why didn't the directors really let 'er rip and mow down as many good guys as they could get away with?

It doesn't really seem like there's one right answer. Endgame gave us a ton of heroes, and in most likelihood the filmmakers had different reasons for keeping each survivor off the chopping block. Here's why we think the following Avengers survived Endgame

Rocket has more to tell us

It would've been interesting to see what might have happened if Rocket ever found himself one-on-one with Thanos (Josh Brolin). Considering the Mad Titan murdered everyone in Rocket's found family, his rage might have gotten the better of him and — just like his poorly considered assault on Ronan (Lee Pace) after the death of Groot (Vin Diesel) in Guardians of the Galaxy — Rocket might have written a check he couldn't cash. As it happens, everyone's favorite trash panda came out of Avengers: Endgame relatively unscathed. 

The easiest and most likely answer to the question of Rocket's survival is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In 2017 at the Hasbro HASCON, Guardians writer/director James Gunn told fans he had an origin story for Rocket that he planned to tell. He also warned Rocket's life story would likely be more "horrible" than it was in the source material. 

Gunn's plans for that origin story were jeopardized when he was fired by Disney in July 2018 for offensive decade-old tweets... but it might have ended up back on the table that September, when it was reported Marvel would use Gunn's script. By March 2019, Gunn was rehired to direct, so all things considered, it looks like we might be learning more about Rocket's past in Vol. 3, and it would be a pretty big bummer if we only got to see that story after Thanos turned him into a small rug.

Avengers: Endgame is no place for Okoye to die

Unfortunately we didn't see a lot of Okoye (Danai Gurira) in Avengers: Endgame. She's in the final battle and she briefly speaks to Black Widow in the beginning. Beyond that, she's absent. Admittedly, that's good news because it made it less likely she would die, but at the same time she just plain kicks butt. She kicks so much butt in 2018's Black Panther, you might find yourself wondering why anyone bothered giving the king super powers. 

In Infinity War, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) tells Okoye — just before being claimed by the purge — to "get up" because "this is no place to die." In a way, that's also the answer to her survival in Endgame. Okoye is part of the MCU as a whole, but she's particularly important to the Black Panther franchise. If she were to ever make the ultimate sacrifice, it should be in a Black Panther film.

Not to mention that the aftermath of Infinity War and Endgame leaves us with a lot of questions about Wakanda and we're probably going to need Okoye to get some of those answers. After all, while the purged were brought back to life, it still happened — which means T'Challa was dead for five years. The king of Wakanda died without an heir and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) was dead as well. What happened in Wakanda during those five years? Who is T'Challa going to find on the throne?

Valkyrie needs to lead New Asgard

Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) was one of the most asked-about absences from Avengers: Infinity War. Along with Korg (Taika Waititi) and Miek, we never see her during Thanos' attack on the Asgardian refugee ship and initially we didn't know if she'd survived the purge. Avengers: Endgame finally gives us our answers: Along with the rest of the surviving Asgardians, Valkyrie settles in New Asgard. With Thor wallowing in depression, alcohol, and Fortnite, someone has to take charge. So the warrior who's so apathetic when we meet her in Thor: Ragnarok that she cares about nothing but kidnapping refugees and drinking her cares away becomes the de facto Queen of New Asgard. Her contributions don't stop at the administrative; she also flies in on a winged horse in the final battle against Thanos.

Valkyrie may very well have been considered an "easy kill" by speculators. She doesn't have a solo franchise of her own and has only appeared in one other film so far. But clearly the Russo brothers didn't feel the same, because Valkyrie ends Endgame alive, well, and the official leader of New Asgard. 

Valkyrie's star is rising. Considering Marvel's statements about increasing diversity in its films, and the fact that Valkyrie is a bisexual woman of color — not to mention that regardless of her sexuality or ethnicity she was a hugely popular part of Ragnarok — the character has massive potential in the post-Endgame MCU. Killing her off so early would be a huge waste.

Captain Marvel has barely begun

Captain Marvel's ticket sales broke so many records... we're trying to come up with some funny analogy about a record store, but it's just not working. Point is, it broke records and it continues to break more. Unless something crazy happens like old Brie Larsen tweets surface with her saying something like she enjoys punching baby dolphins, there's going to be a sequel to Captain Marvel. So the idea of killing her off in Avengers: Endgame is pretty nuts. If Captain Marvel had bombed? Maybe Thanos taking her out wouldn't seem so far-fetched. But that isn't what happened. 

Not to mention that beyond Captain Marvel's own franchise, Avengers: Endgame opens an opportunity for the hero to perform another role. Endgame left a huge void in the Avengers' leadership. Captain America (Chris Evans) is eligible to join AARP now and Iron Man is dead. If the Avengers are going to move forward they'll need a new leader, and those are shoes the Carol Danvers of the comics have filled. We're pretty certain the big screen version could do the same.

Thor has more galaxy to see

Thor was another hero a lot of fans guessed wasn't long for the executioner's block. His entire family is dead, his home exploded, his hammer got squished by Heavy Metal Galadriel, and his people are practically extinct. Why wouldn't the thunder god make a suicide run at Thanos? What does he have left to live for?

Well, for one thing, better movies. Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok revived the franchise — before that, Chris Hemsworth had apparently grown bored with the character. Before Waititi got involved, it's likely Hemsworth wouldn't have objected to the Odinson getting taken out. Hel, he might've asked for it. 

But now the sky's the limit, which is exactly where Thor is headed. He hops aboard the Benatar toward the end of Endgame to join the Guardians of the Galaxy. Does this mean we should expect Thor to be a part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Are the Guardians just, as Thor says to Valkyrie before he leaves, giving him "a ride," maybe to another Waititi-directed Thor film? Or is this the last time we should expect to see the Odinson outside the comics? We don't know, and Hemsworth says he doesn't either. Regardless, the potential is there, and that's enough to keep him alive.

Killing Rhodey would be too predictable

Anyone with an Avengers: Endgame deadpool probably had Rhodey right at the top of the list. He's a sidekick. He had a shot at a solo film that never materialized. His superhero name is one of the least family-friendly titles you could think of, right up there with Punisher. And to top it all off, Thanos did kill him in the comics, and not that long ago. During an ill-fated assault on the Mad Titan, Thanos put his fist through War Machine's chest in 2016's Civil War II #0. If you're not a comics reader but you saw Endgame with friends who are Marvel Comics fans, you can bet they were worried when Thanos headed for Morag when Rhodey and Nebula (Karen Gillian) were there trying to get the Power Stone.

All of that, in most likelihood, is precisely why Rhodey survives Endgame. During the span of the four films they've directed for Marvel Studios, Joe and Anthony Russo have proven their mastery at going against expectation. They're not going to kill Rhodey when everyone is thinking they're going to kill Rhodey. Considering what we've seen from them, they probably put Rhodey on the Morag team because they knew fans would be seeing skulls as soon as Thanos set course for the rock. 

Nebula is just beginning to shine

Nebula's survival was one of the most surprising of Endgame. She has a "Hack first, think later" attitude that never serves her well against her powerful father. She's impulsive, damaged, and suffers a well of endless rage. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 she flies a spaceship into a cavern while trying to kill Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and she keeps going even after the wings break off. If there's one thing the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) teaches us in the opening scene of Avengers: Infinity War, it's that your head better pack as much of a punch as your fists if you're going after Thanos. All in all, Nebula seemed doomed from the start. 

But she survives Endgame. At least the Nebula of the present survives — her past self gets a hole in her chest. 

One of the reasons Nebula survives is likely the same as Rhodey — the expectation of death was high, so the Russo brothers went in the opposite direction. But probably the biggest reason is her potential in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. On one hand, if Nebula were to die in Endgame, then Mantis (Pom Klementieff) would be the only woman left on the team. On the other, Endgame changes Nebula dramatically. She's spent years with the Avengers and with Rocket. She plays paper football with Tony Stark, for Pete's sake. The Nebula we meet in Vol. 3 will be a very different cyborg than the one we're used to. 

Pepper has a daughter to raise

While she didn't wind up saving Tony from space, as predicted Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) makes her premiere as the armored hero Rescue in Endgame's final climactic battle. We get to see Pepper kick butt like we never have before. She threw down a little bit at the end of Iron Man 3, but nothing like what we see toward the end of Endgame

Considering Paltrow's insistence that she has no plans to appear again in the MCU, some might have taken that as a sign she would be a victim of Endgame. But no. Pepper doesn't die, and she doesn't die because Tony Stark does. In a different situation, if Pepper and Tony had never married or had a child together, for both of them to die fighting Thanos could work. It could be seen as tragic, yet romantic. But with Morgan Stark (Alexandra Rachael Rabe) waiting at home, there's nothing that would feel good about both halves of the Tony/Pepper union not making it home. 

Hulk may need to help his family

Marvel's Green Goliath was expected to be headed to the gladiator arena in the sky after the story broke that Mark Ruffalo filmed not one, not two, not even three, but five different endings to Avengers: Endgame. Once the much more articulate version of the Hulk slid on the new Infinity Gauntlet, it's likely fans were worried this was going to be the end for the hero Ben Grimm likes to call "Ol' Lettuce Lips," but it wasn't meant to be. He gets a nasty burn on his arm and the last time we see him he's still wearing a sling, but Bruce Banner gets to see the side of Endgame that neither his almost-lover nor his best friend survived to see. 

One possible reason for the Hulk's continued existence might be found in the most recent rumor about Disney+'s MCU original series. While nothing's been confirmed, shortly before Endgame's release a report circulated that a Hulk/She-Hulk series was in development for the upcoming streaming service. In the comics, it's Bruce Banner's cousin who becomes She-Hulk after he's forced to save her life with a blood transfusion. Whether those details will remain the same, or if the series is actually in development, remains a mystery. But it could prove to be the reason the MCU Hulk survived saving half the people in the universe.

Cap deserves his happy ending

Things look really bad for Cap in Endgame. Once Thanos starts shredding his shield with that huge double-sword thing, it seems like the old guy is finally going to get to visit Peggy (Hayley Atwell) and the Howling Commandos in the U.S.O. show in the sky. We all know Chris Evans' contract is up and if there is an unwritten code of comic book laws somewhere in the ether, one of those rules is, "When Cap's shield breaks, all bets are off."

Thankfully for Cap, Peggy, and all of us, Steve is still with us — though he's a bit older. The purged heroes arrive just in time to save the First Avenger. Choosing to be a little selfish for once, Cap uses his assignment to return the Infinity Stones to their rightful places in the timeline — and then to return to the love of his life, and finally live that life with her. An aged Steve Rogers hands off his shield to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and so ends the saga of the MCU's Captain America.

It's almost unthinkable to end Cap's journey any other way. To simply kill him — even in some glorious, heroic manner — isn't enough. Just as Tony Stark deserves his rest, Steve Rogers deserves the chance to live a full life and finally get that dance with Peggy. Not to mention that with two other founding MCU Avengers dying in Endgame, we needed at least one to get a happier ending. 

Hawkeye remains the best fake-out

The only thing Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) does better than shoot arrows is fooling audiences about who's going to die. While promoting Nocturnal Animals in 2016 Aaron Taylor-Johnson — who played Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron — said that one of the reasons his character dies saving Hawkeye is that director Joss Whedon was playing with the widespread belief that Hawkeye would die in the sequel. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo seemed to use a similar strategy for Avengers: Endgame. Hawkeye and Black Widow are tasked with getting the Soul Stone, meaning one of them must sacrifice themselves for it. Hawkeye seems the perfect choice — with his despair and the horrific things he's done since the purge, he barely seems like a candidate for a happy ending. Instead it's Black Widow who dies for the Stone. 

Along with using Hawkeye as distraction for offing Black Widow, Hawkeye survives because he has more work to do. In early April 2019, Variety reported that a series featuring Hawkeye was in development for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. That's likely not the biggest reason, though. After all, Black Widow has an upcoming film, and neither Vision (Paul Bettany) nor Loki (Tom Hiddleston) receive Endgame resurrections despite similar upcoming Disney+ series

Perhaps the chief reason Hawkeye survives is his family. For his wife and children to be resurrected at the end, but without Clint to welcome them, would be too tragic a note for a story already rife with grief.

Spidey didn't want to go

Spider-Man's (Tom Holland) death scene in Avengers: Infinity War was one of the most gut-wrenching in a sequence filled with death scenes, but surprising no one, he returns after the Hulk uses the Infinity Stones to reverse Thanos' purge. He's a major player in the final battle against Thanos and his forces, being one of the Avengers to secure the Infinity Gauntlet from the Mad Titan until he inevitably gets it back, but loses all the same.

Of course, the fact that we all saw the Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer months before the release of Endgame was a big hint that Peter would survive the film. Of course, as popular as the hero is, and as much success as Holland has found in the role, there's no guarantee we couldn't see a more permanent Spidey death somewhere down the road. In both the comics and the successful Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it's an alternate reality version of Peter Parker who dies and makes way for Miles Morales to take up the mantle. Should the MCU ever decide they want a Miles Spidey, there's no reason they couldn't use the same method. 

Star-Lord has a team to lead

Shortly after the release of Avengers: Infinity War, there were plenty of fans who seemed like they would've been perfectly happy if Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) stayed dead in Endgame because they blamed the Guardians leader for lashing out at Thanos on Titan when Iron Man and Spidey were close to separating him from the Gauntlet. In spite of the directors schooling fans on how much sense the hero's unfortunate actions make considering his history — as well as pointing out Thor similarly could have killed Thanos before the snap but wanted the satisfaction of torturing him — fans piled on the blame. If nothing else, the misdirected anger lead to some hilarious Star-Lord-hate memes.

Regardless of fan angst, Peter Quill's survival has little mystery to it. With James Gunn back on writing and directing duties for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and shooting reportedly pushed up to begin as early as 2020, space's most dysfunctional found family is going to need their patriarch at the helm. Whether or not it picks up some of the story threads Endgame's conclusion hinted at — like Quill hunting for the 2014 version of Gamora, or the God of Thunder becoming a full-fledged Guardian — Star-Lord needs to be there.

Fury is connected to the MCU's future

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) dies for a second time (if you count his faked death in Captain America: The Winter Soldier) in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War, but seconds before he's dusted, the spymaster manages to signal his old friend Captain Marvel whose help in saving Tony Stark and fighting Thanos proves crucial to the events of Avengers: Endgame. Fury is absent for most of Endgame, silently sneaking in at the end to pay his respects at Tony Stark's memorial service. 

Fury is one of the oldest MCU characters, premiering in the post-credits scene of 2008's Iron Man. But in spite of his relative absence in Endgame, Marvel's 2019 film schedule is likely a big hint about why he survived the fourth Avengers film. 

Fury saw more time on the screen than in any previous MCU entry in 2019's Captain Marvel, and we'll be seeing more of him as he acts as something like — in Far from Home director Jon Watt's words — the "mean new stepdad" in July's Spider-Man: Far from Home. While members of the old guard like Cap, Iron Man, and Black Widow — all for obvious reasons — won't be around very much in the post-Endgame MCU, with Captain Marvel and Far from Home, Marvel is showing us that Fury will be important in guiding (and, more than likely, in manipulating) the newer batch of heroes.

T'Challa has a nation to rule

In Infinity War, Black Panther tells Okoye "This is no place to die," and ironically those are his last words. Reaching out for his general's hand to help her up, he blows away in the wind like the other victims of Thanos' purge. 

To anyone who wasn't sure the purged heroes of Infinity War would return, Black Panther's death was one that should have convinced them. With Black Panther proving to be one of Marvel Studios' most successful films, the first superhero film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and writer/director Ryan Coogler already working on a sequel, it was obvious the King of Wakanda couldn't stay dead forever.

Which isn't to say his death in Infinity War is meaningless or without stakes. In spite of his resurrection, by the time Black Panther 2 hits the screen, Wakanda will have gone at least five years without its king. Not only that, but T'Challa is lost at a crucial time in the nation's history when, at T'Challa's direction, it moves away from isolationism and reveals its technological superiority to the world. We don't know who, if anyone, was on the throne in T'Challa's absence. The nation Black Panther returns to in Black Panther 2 will likely be very different from the one he died fighting for in Infinity War.

Groot's too adorable to kill

As much death as we saw after Thanos' snap in Infinity War, as far as the purged heroes in Wakanda were concerned, no death was quite as heartbreaking as Groot's. Though he spent most of his time in Infinity War playing a video game, when it really mattered Teen Groot showed up. He gave up a limb to finish Stormbreaker and save the dying Thor, joined the battle against the Outriders, and even stood against the Mad Titan himself. If watching Rocket suffer a second Groot's death didn't hurt enough, soon after Infinity War's release James Gunn told a fan on Twitter who had asked what Groot's final "I am Groot" meant, divulging that it was the twiggy alien calling Rocket "Dad."

Groot is easily one of the most well-loved heroes in the Guardians films. Fans already lost the original Groot in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, but this time he didn't have the chance to set aside a just-in-case sprout. Not to mention since he was resurrected from the purge, the only time to kill Teen Groot would be the final battle — and you can't kill, resurrect, and then almost immediately re-kill Marvel's cutest superhero. As the ridiculous Taserface (Chris Sullivan) of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tells his underling, Groot is just "too adorable to kill." Christmas trees everywhere seethe with jealousy.

Strange has more threats to face

People were not happy with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) after Avengers: Infinity War. In spite of Strange telling Tony that surrendering the Time Stone to Thanos was "the only way," once he gets back to Earth, Stark says Strange "gave away the store." Bruce Banner doesn't seem very happy with Strange either when he tells the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) about what he did. Of course, in the end it turns out that the one timeline in which Thanos loses needs Tony Stark alive. 

The fact remains that Strange did give up the Eye of Agomotto, which means the forces of Kamar-taj have lost their greatest weapon. The Thanos of Infinity War destroys all the Stones before Thor kills him, and Captain America returns all the Stones from the past to their respective times. The relic that allowed Strange to outwit Dormammu is gone, and Kamar-taj needs Doctor Strange more than ever. 

Of course, none of that matters if there aren't any more Doctor Strange films, but on that score we don't need to worry. In December 2018, THR reported Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson was poised to return for the sequel, and Cumberbatch seems just as eager to return to his Sanctum.

Falcon needs to carry Cap's legacy

As you know if you saw Endgame (and if you didn't, how have you read this far, this thing is full of spoilers), the end of the film proves to be a new beginning for Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). While the Avengers expect Captain America to return from his time jaunt to return the stones as planned, instead an aged Steve Rogers appears, wearing a wedding ring and waiting for Falcon so he can pass on a heavy burden to the much younger hero.

As he was for a time in the comics, Sam Wilson is poised to be the new Captain America. He seems reluctant to accept the shield at first. When Steve asks how the shield feels, Sam says "Like it's someone else's." Once Steve responds "It isn't," Sam takes a long, deep breath and thanks his old partner.

On one hand, Falcon's death would be problematic considering he and Bucky are about to share a miniseries on Disney+. More importantly, Falcon can't die because the legacy of Captain America needs to live on in younger hands, and for many reasons it couldn't be Bucky. The only other guy there was Hulk, and the shield's way too small for him. It would look like a really patriotic friendship ring or something.

Bucky needs to help the new Captain

Before seeing the film, you could've hardly blamed anyone for putting Bucky on their Avengers: Endgame death pool. He isn't exactly the most popular superhero — and considering the blood-soaked past he wrestles with, it's easy to imagine the former Hydra assassin would see death as a welcome respite. The Winter Soldier's most predictable role post-Endgame would be as the new Captain America considering Chris Evans' MCU exit and the fact that Bucky took up the mantle of Captain America for a time in the comics, but we now know that honor went to Sam Wilson.  

The Falcon's going to need some guidance in his new role, and as much as he and Bucky haven't gotten along in the past, Bucky's probably the best choice for Sam's partner. Speaking with EW, the Russo brothers confirmed that Bucky knew about Cap's plan to go back in time to get back the life he lost when he plunged into the ice. Considering Bucky seems unsurprised by Cap handing the shield over to Sam, It seems likely the two also discussed what would happen with the shield and possibly how Bucky could help Sam. We're probably going to see what that help looks like in the upcoming Disney+ Falcon/Winter Soldier series. 

Drax has a new life to explore

Considering Dave Bautista — the actor who plays Drax — was one of the most vocal critics of Disney and Marvel Studios after James Gunn's firing, including saying that working for Disney after the firing was "nauseating," you might be surprised there weren't "Drax-gets-beheaded" reshoots for Avengers: Endgame. But while the vengeful hero doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with the final defeat of Thanos, he survives long enough to suggest Star-Lord and Thor fight to the death for leadership of the team. 

Along with being one of the most entertaining members of the Guardians, it would be a particular shame for Drax to have died in Endgame, considering the events of the film add so much potential to the character. Until now, Drax has been driven by revenge; first he was obsessed with killing Ronan (Lee Pace), and as soon as the Accuser was dead, Drax decided his true target should have been Thanos all along. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may very well give us a Drax struggling to find something to live for. His wife and daughter are dead, and now so are the targets of his wrath. His journey to find new purpose will be one we want to see, and one we'd have been robbed of if Endgame took him from us. 

Gamora isn't 'Diane' anymore

While Gamora died so Thanos could win the Soul Stone in Avengers: Infinity War, she has a resurrection — of a sort — in Endgame. She's there with Thanos' forces when the Titan of 2014 attacks the Avengers compound. The last time we see her, she's doing her best to make sure Star-Lord doesn't have any kids. When we see the Guardians on the Benatar, Quill is searching for this time-lost Gamora, but he swipes her image away as Thor boards the ship.

Among the many pop culture references of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Star-Lord compares himself and Gamora to Sam of Diane from the '80s TV series Cheers. Quill mentions how the audience always wanted Sam and Diane to finally kiss and be a couple, but that the networks would either completely disallow it or stall it for years so the ratings wouldn't drop. 

Fittingly, the death of Gamora in Infinity War and the reintroduction of the 2014 Gamora in Endgame is precisely the kind of thing Marvel Studios needed to make Peter and Gamora more like Sam and Diane again. They seemed a more or less happy couple in Infinity War, but now Quill will be dealing with a version of the character as insular as the one who was willing to murder him in the first Guardians. Not only is the sexual tension back, but with Thor possibly in Vol. 3, Star-Lord may have a competitor.