Not many movies have carried as much expectation on their shoulders as Avengers: Endgame. The superhero epic represented an end of sorts for the first decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it proved to be one of the comic label-turned-studio’s best films. Here are some facts about the 2019 mega-blockbuster which you might not have known – and if you’re among the few who hasn’t seen it yet, beware of spoilers!
25. The film was shot back-to-back with Infinity War
Avengers: Endgame arrived in cinemas almost exactly a year after the previous instalment in the series, the equally epic Avengers: Infinity War.
Considering how huge both films are, you’d expect everyone involved to take a well-deserved little break after filming was completed.
Alas, this wasn’t to be the case: after Infinity War wrapped, the core Marvel actors were required to start filming all over again.
Rather than film their two Avengers movies separately, it was decided that Infinity War and Endgame would shoot back-to-back.
Filming on Infinity War began on January 23, 2017 and ended on July 14, while Endgame began filming just weeks later on August 10, and ended January 11, 2018.
In total, this epic shoot took a little under a year, not counting the reshoots that took place in June 2018, September to October 2018, and January 2019.
24. The film marked Brie Larson’s first time playing Captain Marvel
The end credits scene for Infinity War sees Nick Fury use his intergalactic pager before turning to dust, nicely setting up Captain Marvel’s entrance into the MCU.
Barely six weeks before Endgame landed in cinemas in April 2019, the Captain Marvel solo movie opened, introducing audiences to Brie Larson’s superhero.
Still, though Captain Marvel came before Endgame in the cinema release schedule, the Infinity War sequel was actually shot first.
This means that, although the film takes place chronologically after Captain Marvel, Endgame actually represents Brie Larson’s first time playing Carol Danvers.
Watch closely, and it’s noticeable that Larson’s Carol Danvers feels just a little different from how she is portrayed in the solo film.
Both the actress and the studio overall were still in the process of figuring out how best to present the character on film.
23. Captain Marvel’s directors were present on the set of Endgame to help shape the character
The inter-connected nature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe means that communication between filmmakers is vital.
This was particularly important in the case of Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, as she shot her role in the epic team-up film prior to her solo movie.
With this in mind, everyone involved was keen to make sure that nothing done with the character in the two movies would be contradictory.
With this in mind, Captain Marvel directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were present on the set of Avengers: Endgame.
Boden and Fleck were there to advise both Larson and Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo on Captain Marvel’s scenes.
Endgame screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus also consulted Boden and Fleck regarding the character of Carol Danvers.
22. Howard the Duck appears in the big battle scene
The final battle sequence in Endgame is such an epic, it’s difficult to spot all the appearances even from some of Marvel’s biggest names.
You’d be forgiven, then, for likely not noticing the fact that Howard the Duck shows up as one of the many faces in the crowd.
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, Howard can be seen briefly behind Evangeline Lilly’s The Wasp, wearing a suit and toting what appears to be a giant gun.
It’s not the first time Howard has cameoed in a Marvel film: he first appeared in the post-credits scene for Guardians of the Galaxy, sipping on a space cocktail in the wreckage of the Collector’s museum.
Howard also showed up as a background character in the Guardians sequel, sharing a drink with a woman in a bar on Contraxia.
33 years before Avengers: Endgame, Howard the Duck was the basis of the first major movie based on a Marvel character – but a lot of people would prefer not to remember it.
21. The film features Marvel’s first openly gay character
While the first films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were commercial and critical hits, some have blasted the films for a lack of representation.
The studio faced complaints of emphasising white, straight male characters – and they have made efforts to change their ways.
Black Panther and the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings put ethnically diverse heroes centre stage, whilst Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel and Black Widow focus on women.
The studio has also pledged to present more visible gay characters – and Avengers: Endgame gives us their first step in this direction.
The character appears only fleetingly, but it’s still a breakthrough: a bereaved man talking about his potential new male partner, in a survivors’ group headed up by Steve Rogers.
Going forward, the Russos say Marvel plan to have an existing superhero in the Marvel-verse come out as gay – though the identity of said character has yet to be revealed.
20. The gay character is played by the film’s director
Check the end credits, and you’ll see it was an actor named ‘Gozie Agbo’ who plays the man grieving for his dead partner.
In fact, that’s just a pseudonym for Joe Russo, one half of the directing duo behind Endgame.
Speaking to Deadline, Joe Russo explained: “It was important to us as we did four of these films, we wanted a gay character somewhere in them.
- Credit: Gage Skidmore
“We felt it was important that one of us play him, to ensure the integrity and show it is so important to the filmmakers that one of us is representing that.”
Nor was this the first time ‘Gozie’ made a cameo appearance in a Marvel movie which he and his brother directed.
Joe Russo can also be seen in small roles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.
19. Natalie Portman’s ‘cameo’ is just leftover footage from The Dark World
Avengers: Endgame marked the first appearance of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster in almost six years.
Portman had last appeared in the role in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, which for a time appeared to have ended her tenure in the franchise.
The second Thor movie was one of the more troubled Marvel productions, and Portman was widely reported to have been very unhappy with how it turned out.
It was a surprise, then, to see Portman make a very brief appearance in Avengers: Endgame, when Thor and Rocket travel through time to extract the Reality Stone.
However, Portman shot no new footage for the movie; her cameo was made up entirely of unused footage shot for Thor: The Dark World.
Happily, Portman has since decided to make a full-fledged return to the MCU: she will appear in Thor: Love and Thunder, which will see Jane Foster become the new God of Thunder.
18. Robert Downey Jr made an obscene amount of money for his work in the film
A big part of the emotional weight of Avengers: Endgame was the heroic exit of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Having been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very beginning, Downey secured himself a tremendous pay package.
For each of his Marvel films, Downey was paid a base rate of $10 million plus a 2.5% cut of the profits. (This varied from film to film.)
This means that Downey has been taking home increasingly large amounts ever since he signed up to play Tony Stark.
Naturally, massive actor paydays like this tend to be shrouded in secrecy, but it’s no mystery that Downey made a bundle.
It has been reported that, on Endgame alone, Downey made $20 million up front, which combined with 8% of the profits left him roughly $75 million better off.
17. Robert Downey Jr was the only cast member allowed to read the full script
While the cast of Avengers: Endgame may be among the best actors around, they’re not all that great at keeping secrets.
Think back to Tom Holland spoiling Infinity War at the LA premiere, or Mark Ruffalo live-streaming the first showing of Thor: Ragnarok not realising his phone was still on.
Some MCU actors (OK, mainly Ruffalo and Holland) have become so notoriously bad at accidentally revealing spoilers, nobody was allowed to read the Endgame script in advance.
Nobody, that is, except for Robert Downey Jr, apparently the only one trustworthy enough not to give the game away.
According to the Russos, everyone else was only given portions of the screenplay, in most cases just their own scenes.
In the case of infamous blabbermouth Tom Holland, they went even further: he was allegedly given just his lines with no additional context.
16. Paul Rudd shot Endgame and Ant-Man and the Wasp at the same time
Marvel didn’t just shoot two Avengers films back-to-back: they also shot another Marvel film simultaneously with Endgame.
Ant-Man and the Wasp, released three months after Infinity War, was actually shot from August to November 2017.
In other words, the Ant-Man sequel was shot slap bang in the middle of production on Endgame.
Unfortunately for actors Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, this meant shooting two Marvel films at once.
Though Lilly only appears briefly at the end of Endgame, Rudd’s Scott Lang is an integral part of the fourth Avengers film.
The Ant-Man and the Wasp and Endgame sets in Atlanta were so near to one another that Anthony Mackie would occasionally go “down the street” to prank Rudd and steal from his film’s craft table.
15. The film features Stan Lee’s final ever Marvel cameo
In a lot of ways, Avengers: Endgame represents the end of an era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Not only do some of the franchise’s biggest characters bow out in the film, but Endgame features what will be the final appearance of a Marvel legend.
Stan Lee, the most iconic of all the Marvel Comics creators, died in November 2018 at the age of 95.
Famously, the writer and former Marvel boss made cameo appearances in all the Marvel movies (including those not made by Marvel Studios themselves).
Happily, Lee had already shot his final cameos for Captain Marvel and Endgame before he passed away.
Endgame features Lee’s last ever Marvel appearance. He appears, de-aged, shouting anti-war slogans in the film’s 1970s sequence.
14. There’s a deleted scene starring 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford as Tony’s daughter
When Endgame started production, it was reported that actress Katherine Langford (Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why) was cast in the film in an unspecified role.
Unsurprisingly, this resulted in widespread speculation about the role Langford might have landed.
As such, you can imagine the confusion of many fans when Endgame hit cinemas and Langford was nowhere to be seen.
It turns out that Langford was hired to play Tony Stark’s daughter, Morgan, as an adult, but the scene was cut.
Says Joe Russo: “Tony was going to go into the metaphysical way station that Thanos goes in when he snapped his fingers… and there was going to be a future version of his daughter in that way station.”
Although the Russos shot this, it proved to be a case of “too many ideas in an overly complicated movie.” The scene – along with Langford’s performance – was excised entirely.
13. The writers thought about putting The Defenders in the film
For a time, there was a new and exciting corner of the MCU on Netflix, in the form of the Defenders TV shows.
The characters of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist all enjoyed solo shows before teaming up as The Defenders.
However, this mini-franchise ended not long after Endgame’s release, as Marvel pulled the plug on all their Netflix shows (also including The Punisher).
Many fans had expressed hopes to see these characters in Endgame – and writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus have admitted they did consider this.
Ultimately, McFeely and Markus decided it would be too confusing in a film which already demanded a lot of prior knowledge from its viewers.
Still, it has since been rumoured that Charlie Cox will reprise the role of Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home.
12. Hawkeye was originally the one who sacrificed himself for the Soul Stone
One of Endgame’s hardest-hitting moments comes halfway through the film, when Natasha and Clint realise one of them has to sacrifice themselves in exchange for the Soul Stone.
In the film, it’s Natasha who takes the leap to her doom, leaving Clint to survive another day.
Originally, this scene played out very differently: in McFeely and Markus’ original draft, it was Clint who died, not Natasha.
The scene only changed because Jen Underdahl, Marvel’s visual effects producer, ordered the two writers to swap Clint and Natasha’s roles.
“[Underdahl] read an outline or draft where Hawkeye goes over”, McFeely remembered to the New York Times. “And she goes, ‘Don’t you take this away from her.'”
It was then that the pair realised Black Widow’s journey “had come to an end.”
11. The two films were cut from 900 hours of footage
The two-volume epic of Infinity War and Endgame spent over a year in production, plus months of additional reshoots.
This being the case, those tasked with editing the film were faced with a task of truly Herculean proportions.
Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt, who edited both Infinity War and Endgame, got even more than they bargained for: a total of 900 hours of film.
In order to make something out of those 900 hours, Ford and Schmidt were forced to edit in real-time, with Schmidt assembling the first Endgame cut while it was filming.
According to Ford, “It was a constant state of preproduction, production, and post-production all at the same time for almost a year straight.”
Ford has described the editing of the two films as “hellish” and “almost impossible”.
10. The battle sequence was originally much longer
Avengers: Endgame clocks in at a chunky 181 minutes in running time, a good portion of which goes to its final battle.
The truly gargantuan final showdown against Thanos and his army features almost every single hero from the MCU.
And yet, if you can believe it, this scene was actually conceived as something even bigger than the one we got.
According to McFeely and Markus, Endgame’s final act originally sported a “much longer battle, with its own three-act structure.”
There was even an ill-advised WWI-style scene “in a trench where, for reasons, the battle got paused for about three minutes and now there’s 18 people all going, ‘What are we going to do?'”
While all this did indeed get shot, the bulk of it didn’t survive the aforementioned nightmare that was the editing process.
9. An awkward ‘makeout’ scene between Thor and Valkyrie was cut
Of everything that was shot then removed from the film, it would seem as though Endgame’s big battle came in for the biggest cuts at the editing stage.
However, many smaller moments were trimmed here and there from the assembly cut of the film that now sound like tantalising deleted scenes.
One of the most intriguing is surely Thor and Valkyrie’s original awkward goodbye, which saw the former King of Asgard try to land one on the new King of New Asgard before he went off to join the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Anthony Russo told Entertainment Weekly what happened in the original version: “[Thor] had this beat where Valkyrie… she puts her arm on his shoulder. And [Thor] sort of starts to lean in for a kiss, and she goes, ‘What are you doing?'”
“And he goes, ‘Oh, I thought that the touch-‘, and she’s like, ‘It’s a goodbye tap I’m giving you’. It was a really funny beat, but we cut it.”
Thor may have been barking up the wrong tree: Valkyrie actress Tessa Thompson has long insisted the character is gay, and has already declared that Thor: Love and Thunder will see the new King of Asgard “find her Queen.”
8. Endgame wasn’t the original title for the film
When the film was first announced, the original plan was for the third and fourth Avengers movies to be entitled Infinity War: Parts I and II.
However, there was a change of heart behind the scenes, and until quite late in the day the title Endgame was kept secret.
The film was actually shot under the working title of Mary Lou 2, as the Russos deliberated over what to call their latest Marvel movie.
Allegedly they had considered going with Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet, until Gamora actress Zoe Saldana accidentally let this slip in an interview.
However, they eventually chose to go with Avengers: Endgame, which was revealed as the title when the film’s trailer was released in December 2018.
The title harkens back to one of Doctor Strange’s last lines in Infinity War: he tells Iron Man, “we’re in the endgame now, Tony.”
7. Taika Waititi and James Gunn helped write the script
After their work on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Joe and Anthony Russo had earned the trust of Marvel fans before Endgame.
Even so, arguably no two Marvel directors carry quite the same kudos with fans than Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and James Gunn (the Guardians of the Galaxy movies).
Recognising their contribution to the MCU, Marvel kingpin Kevin Feige decided to bring Waititi and Gunn on-board for Infinity War and Endgame at the script stage.
While Gunn advised McFeely and Markus on the direction of the Guardians characters in their script, bigger changes were made regarding Thor, who was originally written by McFeely and Markus as the “straight man”.
As well as Waititi, Ragnarok screenwriter Eric Pearson helped McFeely and Markus with the screenplay, guiding the pair on Thor’s comedic evolution post-Ragnarok.
Dr Strange filmmaker Scott Derrickson was also “kept in the loop” by the screenwriters, advising on “why this is great, this is so the way to do this… [and] no, this is why that’ll never work…”
6. Hugo Weaving declined to return to play Red Skull
The cast list for Endgame sure is impressive, with one apparently retired actor (Robert Redford) and a long-absent actress (Natalie Portman) both making appearances.
There’s one actor who the Russos couldn’t coax out of their MCU retirement, however: Hugo Weaving.
Last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger, the villainous Red Skull does indeed make cameos in both Infinity War and Endgame.
- Credit: Thore Siebrands
But the actor who originally played the character, Australian thespian Hugo Weaving, chose not to reprise the role.
Weaving told Collider in 2012 “it’s not something I would want to do again”, and it seems he stuck to his word.
Infinity War and Endgame’s Red Skull was instead created entirely with CGI, with actor Ross Marquand providing his voice in both films.
5. Tickets for the film sold for as much as $2,500 on eBay
Not surprisingly, advance ticket sales for Endgame were huge, with the film outselling Infinity War by a whopping 5 times.
The film actually set a record in terms of advance tickets sales, selling more tickets in the first 24 hours of sale than any movie in history.
Demand for Endgame tickets prior to release was so high that screenings sold out – and some of those in possession of advance tickets started to get ideas.
Before Endgame hit cinemas, sellers took to eBay to flog advance tickets for hundreds of dollars, while some went higher.
For one early screening of the film in New York City, two tickets were on sale for $4,999, or nearly $2,500 apiece.
We certainly hope no one was foolish enough to pay that, considering that screenings of the movie were hardly scarce in the months that followed.
4. The production got shut down by Hurricane Irma
In 2017, when both Infinity and Endgame shot in the state of Georgia, Hurricane Irma tore up the Caribbean and the American South.
A category 5 storm, Irma was to be the most intense hurricane to hit the continental United States since 2005.
Making landfall in the Caribbean in August, by September the storm had reached the US, at which time a state of emergency had been declared in Georgia.
- Credit: Thomas Cizauskas via Flickr
As a result, filming was halted on multiple film and TV productions – including the two Avengers movies.
In the long run, this was only a minor inconvenience to the filmmakers, and negligible compared to the real damage done by Hurricane Irma.
The natural disaster resulted in the deaths of 134 people, and around $50 billion in property damage.
3. Robert Downey Jr came up with “I love you 3,000”
Tony Stark’s final line in Endgame – a repeat of his daughter Morgan’s line “I love you 3,000” – really captured the imagination of fans.
The line really caught on, with fans and the stars of Endgame hashtagging their social media posts #LoveYou3000.
It’s a touching, memorable line that only feels sweeter on learning the true story behind it.
It turns out the line was contributed by Robert Downey Jr. himself, inspired by a moment in his own life.
Originally, the line as written was “I love you tons”, but Downey remembered something one of his own children once said to him.
Says director Anthony Russo: “[Downey] said that one of his children once told him, ‘I love you 3,000.’ We told the story to the screenwriters, and eventually it became a line in the script.”
2. There was originally a montage of the Avengers taking a knee in Iron Man’s honour
The death of Tony Stark packs a major emotional punch at the climax of Avengers: Endgame.
This, however, is another scene which was originally scripted and shot as something longer.
When Stark dies, Hawkeye respectfully drops to one knee in honour of his comrade’s sacrifice.
One by one, the other assembled heroes follow suit until they are all kneeling in humble reverence to Iron Man.
While this scene (which can be seen on Youtube) is poignant, the filmmakers ultimately decided it was extraneous.
It was agreed that the climactic funeral of Tony Stark (which also includes MCU characters who didn’t fight) served much the same purpose.
1. It was the biggest box office hit ever – until Avatar was re-released in China
On release in 2018, Avengers: Infinity War wound up the fourth biggest box office hit of all time, with takings of $2.048 billion.
Considering what a popular juggernaut the MCU had become, it seemed only fitting that Endgame should be an even bigger hit.
This turned out to be the case: by the end of its run, Endgame had taken $2.797 billion, making it the single biggest hit ever.
However, Endgame’s earnings were only just higher than those of the previous number one movie, Avatar – which was then re-released in China in 2020.
Thanks to this re-release, Avatar’s overall box office takings were pushed up to $2.847 billion, bumping Endgame back into second place at the all-time box office.