Not content with shattering box office records across the world, Avengers: Endgame has also left us with a lot of pressing questions.
It was originally set to conclude phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), although that responsibility has now fallen to Spider-Man: Far From Home, released on 2nd July. Nevertheless, Endgame is the culmination of 11 years worth of franchise building, and may well allude to what's coming in phase four of the MCU.
Here's our spoiler-filled deep dive into the questions we're left with...
1. What's going on with Black Widow?
Forget Iron Man. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow's (Scarlett Johansson) sacrifice was arguably the most noble in the entire movie. She stuck to her word and sacrificed her soul on Vormir to release the Soul Stone to Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), aiding her fellow Avengers in saving the universe. It fulfils the promise heard in an earlier conversation with Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) when Natasha vowed to do whatever it takes, not to mention it reinforces her deep-seated love of Hawkeye.
Given that her future is non-existent, there is only one way to go as far as Black Widow's character is concerned, and that's back in time. Her solo movie is set to begin shooting this June, Johansson joined by the likes of Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. The film is set to delve into her shadowy Soviet past, previously alluded to in the likes of Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
While that makes logical sense, it's touching to think that Endgame is the last time we'll see Black Widow interacting with the wider Avengers team.
2. Will Sam take up Captain America's mantle?
Some of Endgame's most powerful moments come in the final few minutes, when Captain America emerges back into the present day as a wizened yet happy old man. This is because he entered the Quantum Realm as a younger man with the Infinity Stones, utilising the opportunity to travel back in time and live the life with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) that he was denied when he froze himself at the end of The First Avenger.
By our measure, Steve's absence only stretches five seconds. But within the Quantum Realm, time doesn't operate by those rules, and he has in fact lived a good few decades with Peggy. He then hands the fabled Captain America shield to Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), suggesting that the mantle is a flexible one and open to new incumbents.
Will Sam therefore be leading his own movie as the new Captain America? Or will this be relegated to the new Disney+ streaming service, arriving later this year? Elizabeth Olsen is already set to reprise her role as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch in TV show WandaVision, so it may not be out of the question for some of the 'secondary' Avengers characters to hog the limelight on a smaller screen.
3. Is that Tony's anvil we hear over the end credits?
OK, this is obviously a yes, but is there a deeper meaning? Is it an implicit suggestion that we'll get an Iron Man reboot in the future? Probably not – in all likelihood it's just an evocative throwback to the origins of Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) alter-ego in the 2008 blockbuster. It's a lovely, subtle way of bringing everything full circle, dispensing with the usual post-credits stinger and allowing us to savour Endgame as the concluding chapter of the Infinity Saga.
4. Who will become the new de facto Avengers leader?
We can't have been the only ones expecting a formal handing of the Avengers baton to the likes of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) or T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). After all, she could keep watch for further threats from space while T'Challa remains grounded in Wakanda, using his vibranium-rich kingdom as the possible new base of operations for the Avengers.
Refreshingly, however, Endgame directors the Russo brothers place greater emphasis on bringing this particular story to a close, rather than making explicit allusions as to what's coming in the future. It is interesting to note, however, that the powerful tracking shot between the various Avengers attending Tony's funeral ends on Captain Marvel and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Is this implying that the newest and most powerful Avengers member will become the leader?
5. Will we return to Tony's daughter in future?
There was barely a dry eye in the house when it came to Tony Stark's funeral at the end of the movie. (That insert shot of his original arc reactor on the wreath is what sent us.) And just while we compose ourselves, we get another lovely little moment shared between Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Tony's daughter Morgan (Rachael Rabe).
Not only is it a moment of catharsis between the characters, there's also a poignant subtext – Favreau is of course the film-maker who kick-started the MCU with the first Iron Man movie in 2008. Aside from that, we're wondering now if Morgan will take on her father's role, maybe eventually rising to become a great inventor and DIY superhero in her own right? It would be an emotive and fun way of extending Iron Man's legacy, and may also allow for Downey Jr. to return for a cameo appearance.
6. Will Captain America's past with Peggy be explored?
As mentioned, Captain America achieves his own measure of peace and redemption by living out his life with Peggy via the magic of the Quantum Realm. This of course plays out in a post-World War II timeline, way before the events seen in the bulk of the MCU. Is there scope to create more adventures between these two characters?
It seems unlikely as Chris Evans officially signed off from the role of Captain America on Twitter prior to Endgame's release. His Marvel contract is also officially up, meaning a return is unlikely without boatloads of dosh being involved. Even so, it's sweet to imagine a whole Steve/Peggy dynamic playing out somewhere else, just out of sight.
7. Will Thor be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?
Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) "melted ice cream" appearance (to quote Bradley Cooper's Rocket Raccoon) is one of Endgame's highlights. It's clear that Hemsworth is more comfortable playing Thor as a jokey foil to the other Avengers, rather than portraying him in a po-faced manner. And the end of the film hints at more of this when he joins the Guardians of the Galaxy on their ship – in fact, he throws away a quip: "Asgardians of the Galaxy".
With Guardians Vol. 3 now officially back on with director James Gunn, could Thor's presence revitalise the franchise? Certainly the closing moments of Endgame, where he enters a quasi-serious battle for leadership with Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), promise all manner of comic fireworks in a future movie.
8. What will Hulk's role be going forward?
Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely hit upon a brilliant idea to rejuvenate the character of Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Instead of divvying up the two halves of the character – introverted scientist and rampaging green rage monster – why not combine them in one body?
The end result is a surreal and amusing sight throughout, eliciting excellent motion capture work from Ruffalo as Banner's signature facial expressions and vocal mannerisms (plus, occasionally, glasses) are framed within the context of a massive green body.
Of course, this leaves us wondering what Hulk's role will be in future MCU movies. The last we see of him in Endgame, he transports Captain America into the Quantum Realm, so maybe his emerging time travel expertise will play a significant role in later movies a la Professor Hulk? Or perhaps they'll capitalise on the banter between him and Thor, as seen in the utterly delightful Thor: Ragnarok?
9. Will Hawkeye's daughter play a role?
As if you needed reminding, Endgame begins with a cold open as Hawkeye's family disappears. This is a direct result of Thanos's (Josh Brolin) universe-obliterating snap, and sets Hawkeye on a vengeful path to become Ronin, slaughtering petty criminals throughout the world.
It's interesting to note the film begins with Hawkeye teaching his teenage daughter Lila (portrayed by director Joe Russo's daughter Ava) archery skills. Is this a suggestion that she will become a future arrow-firing hero?
10. How will Spider-Man cope with Tony's death?
One of the most delightful aspects of recent MCU movies has been the emerging father/son relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland). It first came to the fore in Tom Holland's MCU debut Captain America: Civil War, before flourishing in Spider-Man: Homecoming where Tony dispenses the sage advice: "If you're nothing without this suit, then you shouldn't have it."
Of course, following Tony's death in Endgame, we sadly won't be seeing more of this duo in future. Nevertheless, this might be an important character-building moment for Peter as he ascends to the role of mature, responsible Avenger in Tony's absence.
11. Where is Gamora?
Gamora (Zoe Saldana) was sacrificed by Thanos in pursuit of the Soul Stone in Infinity War. Via some complicated "time heist" shenanigans, the 'original' Gamora from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie ends up present and correct during the climactic battle with Thanos. This allows the film-makers, cleverly, to un-write her existing relationship with Peter Quill – he knows their history but she doesn't, meaning he potentially has to win her over with his "pelvic sorcery" all over again.
However, she swiftly disappears at the end of the movie – we don't see her on the Guardians' ship at the end of the movie, and Peter is looking for her on a heads-up display. Will the plot of the third Guardians movie revolve around the search for Gamora, and Peter's attempt to win her back?
12. How did Jarvis become the voice of Tony's A:I?
This might be an incidental moment, but did you notice the reference to Jarvis during the scene when Tony meets his dad in the 1970s? As Tony bids farewell to poppa Howard (John Slattery), the latter gets into a car chauffeured by a man named... Jarvis.
He's portrayed in this blink and you'll miss him appearance by British actor James D'Arcy, so are we due an explanation as to how his name was applied to Tony's hi-tech A:I system?
13. Will Pepper Potts continue the Iron Man legacy?
It was thrilling seeing Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) reprise her fighting abilities from Iron Man 3 during Endgame's final battle. She teams up with Tony in her own Iron Man suit to help defeat Thanos, and is there during his final moments, allowing him to pass away in peace. It's a powerful scene, hearking back to an earlier conversation and emphasising the rich history between the two characters.
Is Paltrow set to reprise her role in a future MCU movie? We doubt it – Pepper has taken a backseat in many of the recent movies, and her appearance here is necessitated by the culmination of Tony's character arc. Nevertheless, a cameo appearance, either in or out of the suit, would be a neat thing to see.
14. Where's Loki?
Tom Hiddleston's cackling villain-turned-anti-hero Loki has been one of the highlights through the MCU. So imagine our surprise when, during Endgame's reprise of the battle of New York as seen in Avengers Assemble, he uses the Tesseract to zap himself... somewhere else.
Where did he go? It's surprising because the incident seems significant, yet is not referenced throughout the remainder of Endgame's running time. Of course, none of our characters witness him doing it, so we imagine this might be a set-up for the Disney+ Loki series that's coming soon. Will the show see him in possession of the Tesseract, leaping back and forth through time at will?
No doubt this has prompted many questions of your own. If you need to see the film again, click here to book your tickets for Avengers: Endgame and tweet us your theories @Cineworld.