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The Ending Of The A-Team Explained

20th Century Studios' 2010 action film "The A-Team" follows an elite Special Forces team as they explosively break the law to prove that they didn't explosively break the law. The movie, which is a reboot of the 1980s NBC series of the same name, was intended to launch a new franchise of blockbusters but underperformed at the box office, so it became a standalone flick, with future entries existing only in the minds of diehard fans.

You can see hints sprinkled toward the end of "The A-Team" as to where the potential film series might have gone, too, and where it leaves ideas open to interpretation, the original televised series provides the same kind of context that so many comics fans take into the theater for Marvel. If the combination of story beats and future promises felt confusing, here's a rundown of the ending of "The A-Team," and what it was supposed to build up to.

A quick recap of the Team and their troubles

To ensure that everyone's working with the same information, here's a quick recap of the first two acts. The Team's leader and tactician is John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson). He loves it when a plan comes together. The accountant and conman –- yes, it's a horrible combo –- is Templeton "Face" Peck (Bradley Cooper). If there's flirting to be done, he's the man for the job. Bosco "B.A." Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson), the mechanic, also provides the muscle. He's got a thing for cars and guns and creative insults involving the word "fool." The Team's pilot and resident psychopath -– i.e. severe trauma played for laughs –- is H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Sharlto Copley). No, his first name is never given.

The Team finds each other mostly by lucky accident, with little coaxing nudges from Hannibal. For eight years, they work as an unstoppable, chaotic unit of justice, until General Russell Morrison (Gerald McRaney) frames them as the culprits behind a black ops counterfeit mission he personally sent them on. CIA operative Lynch (Patrick Wilson) breaks them out of prison for revenge on Morrison (they were working together) under the tantalizing guise of the Team's redemption with the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, Face's ex-girlfriend, DCIS Lieutenant Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel) hunts them because she was demoted when the black ops mission went up in literal flames. Through their adventures, Hannibal and the company discover that General Morrison isn't the law-abiding leader they believed in ... at the exact same time that Lynch tries to have them all killed. Morrison dies in the subsequent explosion, but the rest make it out.

Face learns to strategize

Hannibal is the brains of the operation, and yet the third act of "The A-Team" follows a plan devised by Face. Because Face's face is hotter than catching criminals feels, Sosa agrees to work alongside the Team to unveil the conspiracy. As Lynch wasn't present to personally witness the effects of his airstrike, the Team pretends that Morrison's still alive, and since he's allegedly still alive, he can rat on Lynch, thereby clearing the Team's good name. Under the pretense of trading Morrison to Sosa for freedom, the Team lures Lynch to a shipyard, where they have Murdock disguised as Morrison.

Hannibal and Sosa pretend to have their deal go sour, and the Team puts on some frankly ridiculous pyrotechnics as a cover to distract Lynch's men, but Brock Pike (Brian Bloom), a fickle member of the criminal conspiracy, decides that theatrics have no place in his mission. Pike murders Lynch and Sosa's men, steals an RPG, and fires a single missile into the boat the Team is using for their plan. The boat, and all of its containers, spill into the yard like a deadly Jenga tower. Through the power of plot armor, every main character survives the tumbling onslaught. 

Pike and Lynch lose ... but so does the Team

The shipyard morphs into a fiery battlefield, coated in smoke and twisted metal. B.A., who eschewed violence after his wrongful imprisonment at the start of the film, disavows his life of Buddhism (and saves Face from a bullet to the face) by transforming Pike's spinal cord into an accordion. Meanwhile, Lynch chases Hannibal in a desperate attempt to steal the U.S. treasury plates that Morrison stole during the black ops mission. He finds Murdock, who he believes is Morrison, and shoots him.

Murdock, who was wearing a bulletproof helmet wrapped in ketchup packets underneath a burlap sack, is safe, but appears to be very dead, with "blood" dripping from the bullet hole. With a false sense of victory pumping through his veins, Lynch falls for Hannibal's prompts and verbally admits to his crimes. Unfortunately for Lynch, Sosa and the DCIS overhear his confession and arrest him.

The Team's victory, though, is no less short-lived than Lynch's. Despite their innocence having been proved, the military still arrests them for breaking out of prison. Sosa's boss openly says that doing so means less paperwork for him and an easier cover-up for the entire blunder. Once again, the Team is tread upon for ease of their legal superiors. At this point, both the Team and Sosa realize that there's no true justice to be found when dealing with the government or the military. 

A corrupt system creates the A-Team

Before the Team can be carted away, Sosa pulls Face aside, and they share an intense kiss. The kiss was a means to an end, though, and not the end that normally follows. Sosa snuck a key to the Team's locked handcuffs into her mouth and passed it to Face between their lips. Face realizes what's happening as the military load him into the back of their van. As Hannibal consoles the Team, Face reveals the key and steals his leader's famous line: "I love it when a plan comes together."

Though the credits immediately roll after that, we know what happens next, or at least what would have happened if the films were permitted to continue. They don the moniker "The A-Team" and become soldiers of fortune, just as they were shown to be in the original televised series. Sosa, who was reinstated as captain, thanks to her part in "capturing" them, becomes their accomplice on the inside of the system and, together, the A-Team make a living serving justice outside of the law. The possibilities were wide open for any sort of wild adventure, especially when you factor in the fact that the Team literally flew a tank in the second act. Yes, that actually happened. Yes, it was amazing.