Avengers: Endgame was quite a finale for the MCU. More Marvel movies are certainly in the works (Spider-Man: Far From Home is set to hit theaters this summer), but some of the franchise’s most famous superheroes bid farewell in this epic installment. While we all wait for further word on the upcoming Disney+ streaming shows like Falcon and Winter Soldier, fans in need of more Avengers stories could check out some of the comics
Avengers: Infinity War was influenced mainly by Jim Starlin’s 1992 comic The Infinity Gauntlet (as well as his previous Thanos stories), but Endgame took several plot points from Marvel comics that were published just in the last few years. Below, we outline some of those references and direct you to related reading material.
Warning: This post contains spoilers from Avengers: Endgame, which opened last Friday. Read at your own risk! Seriously!
One of the most controversial Marvel comic events of the last decade was Secret Empire, which turned Captain America into a secret agent for HYDRA. This did not go over super well with a new generation of fans who had been introduced to Cap through Chris Evans’ big-hearted performance in the MCU. That disconnect — between the lovable Captain America of The First Avenger and the fascist Captain America overseeing a military takeover of the U.S. — made it hard to believe that the MCU would ever adapt Secret Empire…and yet, Endgame found a sneaky way to do it!
During the scene where Cap goes back in time to retrieve the Mind Stone from 2012 New York, he finds himself in a very familiar-looking elevator, filled with people like Crossbones (Frank Grillo) whom he knows are secret HYDRA agents after living through The Winter Soldier. In order to assuage their concerns and get away with Loki’s scepter, Cap pretends that he too is a secret HYDRA agent…down to saying “Hail HYDRA,” just as his comic book counterpart did in the dramatic cliffhanger that kicked off the road to Secret Empire. The fact that it was played as a winking joke pretty much sums up many fans’ feelings about Secret Empire at this point.
Funnily enough, though, the rest of Endgame paralleled two other story beats from Secret Empire. HYDRA Cap’s big moment of evil was killing Black Widow, who also dies tragically in Endgame. The comic version eventually got better, kind of, but fans are still waiting for word on whether the promised Black Widow solo movie will be a prequel or some kind of resurrection sequel. On top of that, Secret Empire also provided the most recent comic book example of Cap wielding Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. Luckily, in Endgame he didn’t use it for evil.
Read Secret Empire here.
Sam Wilson: Captain America
Marvel comic readers surely knew what was in the offing as soon as Old Cap beckoned Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) over to talk to him…because a similar thing happened recently in the comics. Around 2015, Marvel was embarking on a publishing initiative called “All-New, All-Different Marvel,” the main focus of which was having a younger, more diverse group of characters take over their universe’s most famous mantles. Jane Foster took up the hammer of Thor, Laura Kinney became All-New Wolverine, Amadeus Cho turned into the Totally Awesome Hulk…and Sam Wilson became Captain America.
After a villain neutralized Steve Rogers’ super-soldier serum, the hero physically reached his actual geriatric age and passed on his shield to his longtime crime-fighting partner. Whether or not we’ll see Mackie in Sam Wilson’s really cool Captain America costume from the comics is a question to be answered by Disney+’s upcoming series Falcon and Winter Soldier.
Read Sam Wilson: Captain America here.
Captain Marvel’s haircut
As soon as she appeared in an Endgame trailer, fans were talking about Captain Marvel’s look. Some took issue with the fact that Brie Larson was visibly wearing more makeup than she had in her solo outing, but little did they know there was more to Carol Danvers’ Endgame appearance than that. After the five-year time-skip following Thanos’ snap, Carol reappears with a much shorter haircut approximating the one she bore in the 2016 Captain Marvel comic by Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, and Kris Anka. That series found Carol taking up leadership of Alpha Flight, a superhero force dedicated to protecting Earth from interstellar attack. That actually matches up with her outer-space role in Endgame, checking in on the planets across the galaxy reeling from the snap. Carol’s short haircut just seems to go hand in hand with outer space adventures!
The final battle against Thanos was chock-full of amazing moments: Cap wielding Mjolnir! Black Panther handling the Infinity Gauntlet! Peter Parker meeting Valkyrie! But the most awe-inspiring moment involved the sudden team-up of female heroes.
The sight of Valkyrie, Mantis, Wasp, Shuri, Okoye, Nebula, Gamora, Pepper, and Scarlet Witch banding together to help Captain Marvel transport the Infinity Gauntlet was a spectacle, not least because it seemed like the big-screen fulfillment of recent Marvel comics like A-Force that featured an all-female Avengers team. It took until 2019 for the MCU to release its first solo female film in the form of Captain Marvel, but the franchise has nevertheless racked up a ton of fascinating female characters over the course of its run. And look, they work so well together! Maybe they deserve their own movie…
Until then, read A-Force here.
Asgardians of the Galaxy
Tony Stark and Steve Rogers both got the endings they deserved in Endgame, but Thor’s story isn’t quite over yet. At the same time, he is done with Asgard, having helped destroy his celestial homeland in Thor: Ragnarok and then turned over the reigns of Earth-bound New Asgard to Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). So where left to go but…space? Thor bonded with the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War, and now he’s just hitching a ride with them, wherever it may lead. He even goes so far as to christen their new group “Asgardians of the Galaxy,” which is also the title of a recent Marvel comic series! That book featured a lineup of Asgardian characters (Valkyrie, Skurge, and Throg the frog Thor, among others) taking to the stars to fight off Nebula, but the current Guardians of the Galaxy comic also features Asgard’s imprint in the form of Beta Ray Bill, the horse-looking alien who wielded Mjolnir back in the days of Walt Simonson’s legendary Thor run.
That’s right, frog Thor and alien Thor have both been associated with the Guardians of the Galaxy in recent years. And here you thought Ragnarok was weird.
Read Asgardians of the Galaxy here.
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