April 10, 2019 – Patrick Tejada
The fate of Earth's Mightiest Heroes shall in less than 2 weeks be known, in Earth-199999 at least. It is in these final days between Captain Marvel and Endgame that the MCU fandom has flipped the fan theory switch to overdrive and is once again proffering various takes on how The Avengers will overcome their setbacks, who survives, who resurrects, one probable way to defeat Thanos, and how the aftermath of their battle will affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe landscape.
There's not much to go on but the trailers and events that have led to this endgame. These are enough though to drop those 2 cents' worth of guesswork. Since none of these theories may turn out as written, these are obviously spoiler-free.
Endgame Takes Place Years After Infinity War
The Avengers left both the battlefields of Wakanda and Titan beaten physically. Seeing friends die without the chance to save them doubles down on the trauma. They're all soldiers and have witnessed the death of comrades, but as war veterans can attest the memories linger. For The Avengers, the shock and awe at the magnitude of the deaths effectively take away their will to fight, for a little while at least.
Earth will have lost 3 billion people. The world that they wake up to the day after is practically a post apocalyptic one, but as the dust literally settles (not intended, but it works) across countless worlds, life continues. Those left behind have had to cope and live as best they could all while dealing with their grief. The second trailer shows Steve Rogers having flashbacks to his early days. He also sheds tears likely for absent friends. The process takes time thus giving credence to this theory.
The Avengers remain intact after the battle, but they do not hunt for Thanos immediately. It will be foolhardy of them to confront him head on right after their biggest defeat. They will be rage filled and emotionally raw, not a good mindset to have going to war, and they would lose more soldiers needlessly but still gain nothing. They go back and regroup. They'll still be called upon to "fight the battles we never could" more so now that Earth's population will have also become grittier, the soft edges now sharp, and the anger so long tamed may lash out and turn into rage.
Their roster now will include Captain America, Ronin, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, War Machine, Rocket, and, based on Infinity War's end-credit scene, Captain Marvel.
This Theory: Is Likely.
Clint Barton will carry the name Ronin when he rejoins the Avengers
First, a theory within this theory is that he too has become an exile after their prison break from the Raft and that it was Tony Stark who assisted them in their escape from the United States. This will have been beneficial for him and his family. He could remain incognito in his adopted country and retire, except Infinity War happened.
Most theories have suggested Clint Barton's family was among those who perished. This could be true but so could someone in his family surviving.
As the reality of the post apocalypse sinks in so too will former ways of life relapse. Crime will still exist in the world, and Clint Barton becomes the crime fighter his adopted city needs, but he does this mostly because of his over protectiveness.
Since Hawkeye is a part of his past, which he is trying to move on from, Clint decides to rechristen himself Ronin, appropriate as he honors his adopted country and what he considers himself to be. In addition to his bow and arrows, he will also wield the weapon his mentor, presumably The Swordsman, taught him to master.
With his eventual return to The Avengers, he will retain the Ronin moniker. Also, a sword is quite practical in close-quarter fighting.
This Theory: Is Unlikely. Clint Barton will always be Hawkeye.
Starhawk saves Tony Stark
In the trailers, a ship is shown adrift in space; its outline resembles The Guardians' ship Benatar. All the other ships used to arrive on Titan were presumably destroyed when Thanos pulled down a nearby moon on to Titan's surface. Still, circumstances are not much better. The Benatar was barely spared. Sustaining enough damage, it lost power mid flight to Earth.
With only four days left of food and water, one can hazard a guess how much time has passed since the ship's engines died; a few days maybe, a couple of weeks. Either way, the wait and anticipation and daily frustration convinces Tony Stark he will die without seeing Pepper Potts and so records a farewell speech.
Only Tony Stark is too iconic to die, someone will save him.
Tony Stark or Nebula will have sent out constant distress calls up until the ship loses power. Not sending one could be misconstrued as a death pact, which neither one is wont to make.
Unless it's Captain Marvel who first spots their ship as she travels to or from Hala (should this occur, it will rank high in a list of top MCU deux ex machina moments), only another starship could pick up their distress signal. Starhawk's Ravagers will receive the signal and assume it could be another Ravager ship whose crew was decimated after the snap.
Then again, the Endgame trailers are misdirecting the audience again much like The Infinity War trailers.
Tony Stark may have really died in space, Nebula offering as much comfort as she is capable of giving to someone she has only fought alongside once.
This Theory: Should Be Taken With A Grain Of Salt.
Rocket remains an Avenger
Of course, Rocket will fight alongside The Avengers (the posters have confirmed as much). He likes the experience and decides to stay on Earth. He'd be a fan favorite especially among the children of Earth-199999 despite his language and sullen disposition
This Theory: Is Unlikely To Happen. His loyalty is to The Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ant-Man and the Quantum Realm play a part
By the first trailer's end, as Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff plan their moves, Scott Lang arrives at the gates of The Avengers' HQ or a safe house (presumably Tony Stark's) asking to be buzzed in. This may be nothing more than Ant-Man getting anyone's attention inside and a foreshadowing of his introduction to The Avengers' roster. His body language and a hint of urgency maybe in his voice suggest otherwise. Talk surrounding the scene would have died down had it not been for the second trailer re-emphasizing its urgency and the Ant-Man and The Wasp's end-credit scene.
His experience as the world's smallest man, disconcerting as that may be, provided him with secrets aplenty regarding The Quantum Realm's workings.
Having found out what has transpired in his absence and the who and how, he thinks one of those secrets is the key to defeat Thanos and undo his population decimation.
This Theory: Is Possible, Not All Of It Though.
The Avengers' white suits are infused with nanotech
The Avengers' white suits they were shown wearing toward the end of the second trailer stood out not only because it is the first time they have worn similar suits but it's also an indication they are a team again.
Making the rounds is a theory that this is an Easter Egg and foreshadows the arrival of a super team of four, their leader another one of the brilliant minds in the Marvel universe.
This could happen except not one of the characters have ever mentioned him, not even in passing, in any movie yet. The wish is there. The fulfilment will come years from now. Then again, it's the new MCU.
With Dr. Henry Pym dead (for now?), only Scott Lang and most probably Bruce Banner know the theory and the practice to arrive at the quantum level. Dr. Banner who constructs them these suits based on Dr. Pym's design but also adding nanotech from Stark Industries. These will self repair should they use it during their battle against Thanos and will provide more physical protection.
This Theory: Is Unlikely. It's Made Of Something Else.
Thor and Hulk Will Be The Only Holdovers
Captain America stepping away from The Avengers' roster is not yet official although overt hints in Infinity War already point to his exit after Endgame. Iron Man also looks to cash in and take a long sabbatical, also hinted in Infinity War. With two leaders leaving, most of the members will opt to leave as well but not Thor and Hulk. Not only will they be the team's veterans, the team will need these two "giants."
Looking through The Avengers' roster, the next possible iteration may include Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Falcon, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Black Panther; mighty, yes, but without an immovable object and unstoppable force. While their teammates are the air force, Hulk and Thor are the grunts who best serve the team bulldozing through their adversaries.
This too pays homage to both Avengers, having been two of the very first Avengers who pre-date Captain America's inclusion (Captain America joined The Avengers in issue No. 4).
This Theory: Is Likely.
Goodbyes and intros will punctuate the denouement of Endgame where an OG or two may step aside and another Big 3 shall rise. Of course, there is a chance the core heroes decide protecting their Earth and serving the greater good, all while tempting death to take them, is more worthwhile than taking an eight-figure yearly pension (an approximate value). All signs portend otherwise though.
As with every exit, a void must be filled. This Earth-1 foreshadowing and the wish fulfillment of Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox, the MCU fandom has, in moments of geekiness, been hand wringing and their pupils dilating in anticipation of films yet to be produced now that the universe has all its characters, and one still on loan, residing in The House of Mouse. The stories to tell will be plentiful.
These stories will unfold in opportune time. For now, this Avengers team will do whatever it takes and fight for their lives and their absent friends before they hang up their shield and store their armored suit.
Back here on Earth-1, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans have already hinted on their respective exits after Endgame (Sherlock Holmes 3 is slated for release late 2020). For Marvel true believers, heartstrings will be tugged should this unfold, but they have an inkling that these departures are, like most comic book deaths, not final. They'll be back.