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The surprise Endgame final battle cameo you probably missed

Contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame

Everyone who's anyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe showed up for the final fight in Avengers: Endgame — including one character you most likely didn't spot the first time around. 

Several eagle-eyed fans, including Reddit user richwhaat, discovered that none other than Howard the Duck made a cameo appearance during Endgame's climax.

The anthropomorphic duck popped up after Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wong (Benedict Wong), and dozens of other Mystic Sorcerers opened up portals for the heroes who were dusted in Avengers: Endgame to step through and join the battle against Thanos (Josh Brolin), his sinister Black Order minions, his army of Chitauri, and his massive ship. Howard isn't easily located in Endgame's final fight if one doesn't know where to look for him. Right as Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) steps into frame, viewers should shift their eyes to the right-hand side of the screen. There, they can find Howard passing through the portal in a group with several members of the Ravagers, like Kraglin (Sean Gunn), and a few other hired guns coming to Earth from outer-space. 

Howard's cameo in Avengers: Endgame raises a big question: Was he among the people decimated when Thanos snapped his fingers at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, and was brought back to life when Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) utilized the Infinity Stones after the Avengers completed their time heist? Or did he manage to survive the Mad Titan's mass-murder, getting summoned by the sorcerers from a different location to fight the good fight opposite Thanos and his underlings five years post-Infinity War

Though it seemed most everyone who walked through the portals opened by the Sorcerers were heroes who crumbled away in the original Snap, Howard the Duck was one of the lucky people who were spared. Infinity War and Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo confirmed to The Huffington Post that "he survived."

Past Howard's entrance, we don't know how he contributed to the big battle of Avengers: Endgame. Created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, Howard the Duck is a self-styled master of Quack-Fu who has an undefined grasp on magic, but he doesn't possess any standard superhero powers on his own. When he suits up as Iron Duck, he does obtain those kind of abilities; superhuman durability and strength, plus a flamethrower on each arm, helps him take down baddies. However, Howard is just Howard in Endgame – no armored suit equipped with powerful bells and whistles to be seen. He may have racked up a small kill count during the battle, but without actually seeing Howard fight, we can't say for certain how helpful he was. What Howard undoubtedly brought to the table was his signature swagger that was on display the second he showed up, which might have come in handy when disarming enemies. 

As it happens, Howard the Duck was meant to appear in the Avengers saga before Avengers: Endgame. Fans first saw Howard in the MCU in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, in which he appeared as a living part of the Collector's (Benicio del Toro) museum and later in a post-credits scene alongside the Collector and Cosmo the Spacedog. Seth Green provided the voice for the CGI character, then again lent his pipes to Howard for 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In that film, Howard was seen having yet another drink — this time on the icy planet Contraxia while flirting with a woman. 

These appearances in the Guardians franchise were intended to lead to a part for Howard the Duck in Avengers: Infinity War. But sadly, the cameo never happened.

"Howard the Duck was in one draft of the script. Howard the Duck actually had a really good scene... we were going to cameo with [The Hangover and Community star] Ken Jeong, with Howard the Duck. That was a much-beloved scene by us but it just didn't end up fitting at all," Anthony Russo previously explained to Fandom. According to Joe Russo, the scene involved Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) "trying to track down some information from Howard the Duck on some outlier planet and interrupting him during a poker game."

Added Anthony, "So there were lots of ideas and iterations that were on the floor for this one but I think we would end up in the correct place. It's all a process. Sometimes you are actually just writing a bible to the universe of what that movie is and have to pare it down to what the actual narrative is."

Though neither Howard the Duck nor Ken Jeong made it to Avengers: Infinity War, they both had some screen time in Avengers: Endgame. Howard showed up at the tail end of the movie, while Jeong made a cameo early on, playing the security guard who helped Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) get out of the storage facility in San Francisco. 

For a while now, there have been whisperings of the possibility of a new Howard the Duck movie, which would mark the second film based on the wise-cracking duck, following after the Lionsgate and Universal Pictures-developed pic from 1986. Back in 2017, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased a future for Howard in the MCU: "You know, the fun thing about Howard is he shows up where you least expect him, so like who knows where he's going to appear next?" Prior to that, in 2014, Guardians franchise director James Gunn argued that a film centered on Howard the Duck was "probably not going to happen in the next four years." 

It's now five years later, so might a Howard the Duck movie be on the horizon? Marvel does have an affinity for teasing characters in one franchise entry and then giving them their own solo film later — like the studio did with Captain Marvel, teasing her introduction at the end of Infinity War almost a year before her standalone launched in theaters. Could the same happen with Howard?

It's a guessing game for now as to whether Howard the Duck's cameo in Avengers: Endgame, plus his appearances in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, will turn into something bigger. At any rate, one person rallying to make a Howard the Duck film a reality is Lea Thompson, who played Howard's companion Beverly Switzler in the 1986 movie. She announced in June 2018 plans to pitch Marvel a Howard the Duck remake, and is apparently 100-percent serious about getting the project off the ground: "To tell you the actual truth, I am going to Marvel to pitch Howard the Duck, a new movie ... I want to direct the Howard the Duck remake. Why not dream big, right?"