Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of eleven years of work and twenty-one movies, and manages to make that clear throughout. The movie is filled to the brim with regular pop culture references, returning characters, lots of cameos, and countless nods to almost every past MCU movie. In our Avengers: Endgame Easter Eggs, References, and Cameos we’re taking a look at the best nods, hints, and secrets in the Avengers epic.
Hawkeye’s Ankle Monitor
The opening of the movie sees Hawkeye with his family, immediately before ‘the Snap’. A brief shot shows Clint’s ankle monitor, which shows that he is on a similar house arrest scenario to the one we see Scott Lang in during Ant-Man and the Wasp – although where Scott was going crazy being stuck inside one (very nice) house, Clint appears to have the full run of not just his house but the massive surrounding farm as well.
Age of Ultron
With Avengers: Endgame being the first time we see the core Avengers team tougher since Avengers: Age of Ultron, there are a number of references to the second Avengers movie. Tony talks about his (Scarlet Witch induced) vision, in which he saw the end of the world (notably with Captain America next his broken shield), as well as his idea for a ‘suit of armor around the world’ which was why he created Ultron.
After first being referenced in Avengers: Infinity War, with Tony Stark saying to Pepper Potts that they could name their child after Pepper’s ‘eccentric uncle’, ‘Morgan’. Endgame’s five-year time jump sees that the two did just that, with the Stark-Potts family now having a young daughter named Morgan. In the comics, Morgan Stark is actually Tony’s jealous cousin, who believes that Tony’s father Howard cheated his own father, Edward, out of the family fortune and fame.
Hulk Ice Cream
In Avengers: Infinity War we find out that there are Avengers-themed flavours of Ben & Jerrys ice cream. This is news to Hulk who had never heard of ‘Hulk-A-Hulk-A-Burning Fudge’ (or Tony’s ‘Stark Raving Hazelnuts’). This moment gets a small nod in Endgame where, during one of the planning meetings for the Time Heist, Hulk is eating from a rather large tub of green Ben & Jerrys.
Back to the Future
The seminal eighties time travel movie gets a number of references throughout Avengers: Endgame, primarily as the basis of Scott Lang’s understanding of time travel. But even deeper than that, despite Professor Hulk arguing against the reality of Back to the Future’s version of time travel, much of the movies ‘Time Heist’ sees the Avengers act out a very Back to the Future 2-esque scenario of sneaking around after their past selves.
Tønsberg, Norway, is a recurring location in the MCU, first appearing in 2011’s Thor as the site for the Frost Giant attack on Earth, and subsequent battle between the Frost Giants and Asgardians, before the Asgardians pushed them back to Jotunheim. Tønsberg shows up again in Captain America: The First Avenger, as the secret location of the Tesseract, with Odin having seemingly hidden it there at some point, and more recently as the place of Odin’s death in Thor: Ragnarok. By the time of Avengers: Endgame’s 2023 it seems that what is left of the Asgardians, following the events of Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and then the Snap, have settled in Tønsberg, which has been renamed ‘New Asgard’.
Hail Hydra, Sitwell, Crossbones, Strike Team and the Elevator Scene
After Hulk, Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America head to 2012 New York in search of the Space, Mind, and Time Stones, Captain America ends up taking Loki’s sceptre (which houses the Mind Stone) from Strike Team and S.H.I.E.L.D (and also secretly Hydra) agent Sitwell. After being initially hesitant to give Captain America the sceptre he manages to convince them by whispering “Hail Hydra”. This is a clever reference to the Captain America from the comics secretly turning out to be a HYDRA agent in 2017’s Secret Empire, as well as a nod to Steve using his knowledge of the future. The scene also takes place in an elevator and mirrors the Strike Team attack on Captain America from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Starting out as a supporting S.H.I.E.L.D character in the comics, Alexander Pierce made his MCU debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, played by Robert Redford. In the MCU Pierce is the Secretary of Defense, and appointed Nick Fury as the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D, in secret however he is the leader of HYDRA and is not only overseeing their operations across the globe but using Bucky Barnes, now known as the Winter Soldier, as his personal assassin. Pierce debuted and died during Winter Solider, but he makes a very brief reappearance during the 2012 scene in Endgame, where we see that he arrived shortly after Loki was apprehended to take the Tesseract from Thor and Tony Stark.
In Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme is known as the Ancient One, a very old and powerful sorcerer who shows a particular interest in Stephen Strange. And although she is revealed to be using a little bit of dark magic to ensure her long life, she is ultimately the main force stopping hugely dangerous threats like Dormammu. Endgame gives us a glimpse at the Ancient One in 2012, showing not only her interaction with Bruce Banner from 2023, and that she knows all about Stephen Strange even then, but that she was secretly protecting New York from the attacking Chitauri, alongside the Avengers.
Jane Foster is a big character from the comics and eventually goes on to become Thor herself, but in the MCU she has been absent ever since 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, which looks to be linked to some behind the scenes fallings out between Marvel and Natalie Portman. Like many others however Jane Foster reappears in Endgame, even if you can only see her face for one of the scenes.
Tony Stark’s father Howard has played a crucial role throughout the MCU, and Endgame gives us the John Slattery version once again, showing his youngest version of Howard. His scenes deliver a number of touching moments where Tony gives his own father some advice oh what it’s like begin a parent for the first time.
The shadow of Peggy Carter has loomed large in the MCU ever since her debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. Peggy has since appeared in a number of MCU movies, at various ages, founded and directed S.H.I.E.L.D, and led her own tv show; Agent Carter. Avengers: Endgame makes sure you haven’t forgotten about Peggy, with a number of references to both her and Cap’s compass (another callback to his first movie), eventually leading to him seeing her in 1970, and ultimately deciding to go back in time and spend his life with her.
In the MCU J.A.R.V.I.S was, of course, the name of Tony Stark’s original Artificial Intelligence until it grew up and became Vision, but we later find out that J.A.R.V.I.S’ name comes from Howard Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, played by James D’Arcy. D’Arcy makes his movie debut in the 1970 scene, after appearing in the Agent Carter tv show.
Confirmed as Stan Lee’s final cameo in the MCU, the creator of almost everything Marvel made his customary cameo during the jump back to 1970, as a peace-toting hippy who shouts ‘make love, not war’ at the Camp Lehigh Military base.
The Joe Russo Cameo
Despite being primarily known as a director, Joe Russo has a number of acting credits to his name, including an appearance as a ‘Dr. Broussard’ in Captain America: Civil War. He appears again in Avengers: Endgame as a ‘Grieving Man’, who talks about his recent date at the support group meeting at the beginning of the film.
In that same support group meeting, one of the three people to actually talk is comic book creator Jim Starlin. Starlin was the artist and co-creator of Drax, Gamora, Darkseid over at DC, and of course Thanos himself. Starlin was also the artist on the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War miniseries back in the nineties which much of Infinity War and Endgame is based around.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame directors, the Russo brothers, have a strong pedigree with a number of other famous franchises, including Arrested Development and Community. There have been a number of references to both throughout their past films, and Endgame is no exception. Ken Jeong, who plays Chow in the Hangover films, was Chang in Community and makes a silent cameo as the security officer at the storage facility where Scott Lang’s X-Con van was stored – Chang was also a (very bad) security guard in Community, which led to his creation of the ‘Changlorious Basterds’. In addition to Ken Jeong, Yvette Nicole Brown, who played Shirley in Community, appears as a suspicious S.H.I.E.L.D agent during Tony Stark and Captain America’s mission in 1970.
After losing the Tesseract in 2012 Captain America and Tony Stark head back to 1970 to a location where Tony is sure there are more Pym Particles (which will allow them to get home after using up the last of theirs), and the Tesseract. This leads them to return to Camp Lehigh, ‘the birthplace of Captain America’, where the young pre-super soldier serum Steve Rogers trained. The base returned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the location of the computerised version of Arnim Zola (who also gets a shout out in 1970).
The Classic Ant-Man Helmet
Even in the flashbacks to Hank Pym’s time as Ant-Man in both of Ant-Man’s solo movies, Hank’s Ant-Man suit was basically the same suit that Scott inherits. With a more modern take on the helmet specifically. Endgame gives us a brief glimpse of the classic looking rounded metal helmet that the original Ant-Man wore in the comics.
“On Your Left”
One of the more obvious (but very, very good) dialogue callbacks sees Flacon echo a famous line from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, during his arrival for the final fight against Thanos. As it looks as though Captain America will have to take on Thanos, the Black Order and the Chitauri almost entirely alone, someone contacts him in his earpiece, it’s hard to make out at first, but after he realises it’s Sam, all Sam says is “On your left”, after which Falcon and every other MCU hero arrives to take on Thanos.
Captain America shouting Avengers Assemble is a moment MCU audiences have been waiting for since the first Avengers movie, and with teases here and there, like Age of Ultron ending right before the ‘Assemble’ part, the moment finally gets its pay off in Avengers: Endgame. Captain America shouts it right before the good guys charge against the bad guys, whilst practically every living hero in the MCU assembles around him, in one of the most epic moments of the entire franchise (or any movie).
Wasp saying ‘Cap’
Ant-Man and the Wasp is the first time seeing Scott Lang interact with the likes of Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym, following the events of Captain America: Civil War. Hope’s annoyance with Ant-Man leaving with the Ant-Man suit (and getting arrested) leads her to mock him for calling Captain America ‘Cap’, but that moment gets a reference in Endgame, where Wasp, now a fully fledged, teaming up with other heroes, superhero calls Captain America ‘Cap’, with a knowing glance at Scott.
Captain America is Worthy
Ever since the slight hint in Avengers: Age of Ultron that Captain America could move Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, fans have been waiting to see if he ever actually wields it, as he has done in the comics. Endgame proves that Steve is worthy (like anyone had any doubt) and he actually ends up saving Thor’s life by using the hammer, wielding it to great effect against Thanos and the Black Order. In fact, the exact shot where he puts the hammer into the air and summons some lightning is taken straight from the comics.
I Am Iron Man
Thanos utters the phrase ‘I Am Inevitable’ a number of times throughout Avengers: Endgame, and although it just seems like an ominous bad guy line at first, it manages to lead into one of the movies most emotional moments. As the 2014 Thanos (who is now in 2023) gets the Iron Man Infinity Gauntlet he goes to make another snap, saying ‘I Am Inevitable’ one last time. Unbeknownst to him, Iron Man has actually taken the stones from Thanos’ gauntlet and the camera switches to Iron Man, with the nanotech forming his own Infinity Gauntlet, and putting the stones in place. Before performing his own snap, and saving the day, Tony Stark says the perfect response; “I Am Iron Man”.
The Kid from Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 explores Tony Stark’s PTSD following the Chitauri’s attack on New York, and a big part of the movie sees Tony meet a young boy named Harley Keener, who helps him through his stress and proves to be a pretty capable inventor and tinkerer himself. The relationship between Tony and Harley is the vehicle for some real character growth for Tony and is also an early look at how he deals with children, something we see much more of later on with Peter Parker. Ty Simpkin’s Harley Keener makes a fitting cameo during Tony’s funeral at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
Asgardians of the Galaxy
The end of the movie sees Thor join up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, with Thor calling them the ‘Asgardians of the Galaxy’. This is actually a smart reference to the comic of the same name, which sees characters like Skurge the Executioner and Valkarye lead a team known as the Asgardians of the Galaxy.
Following Tony Stark’s funeral towards the end of Avengers: Endgame we see a brief scene between Happy Hogan (played by Iron Man 1 and 2 directors Jon Favreau) and Morgan Stark. Happy asks if Morgan wants anything and she replies ‘Cheeseburgers’. This is a clever reference to the first Iron Man movie, where after his return from being captured by the Ten Rings, the first thing Tony wants is Cheeseburgers.
“You’re Taking All the Stupid With You”
Avengers: Endgame is filled to the brim with lines of dialogue from previous MCU movies, one of the more subtle and yet impactful lines comes when Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes part ways at the end of the movie. Bucky seems to know that Captain America isn’t coming back, and before they part ways Steve says to Bucky “Don’t do anything stupid until I get back”, to which Bucky replies “You’re taking all the stupid with you”. This line echoes a conversation in Captain America: The First Avenger, with the roles reversed, just before Bucky is deployed to WWII.
Falcon is the new Captain America
In the comics, both Falcon’s Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes have gone on to inherit the mantle of Captain America, and so it was a little unclear as to who would eventually take on the role, following Steve Roger’s inevitable exit. Avengers: Endgame finally answers this with a touching scene between the now old Steve Rogers giving Sam the shield, and making him the next Captain America. At that point Sam looks back at Bucky who gives him a nod of approval.
The Post Credits Sound
Ever since it’s the first movie in 2008’s Iron Man, the MCU’s movies have featured a post-credits teaser scene at future movies (some even have up to three of them). Avengers: Endgame breaks that trend, by presumably wanting to keep the focus on the movie itself rather than tease what is next, and so as the credits fade an audio clip of clanging metal, referencing Tony Stark’s original creation of the Iron Man suit can be heard.
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