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For 11 years fans have revelled in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These films have become a part of our daily lexicon and it’s a formidable achievement by all involved. With Avengers: Endgame, the MCU closes the opening chapter of its franchise.
Endgame is a tribute-filled romp that falls short of perfection with some very poor writing decisions. It wasn’t, however, without some pleasant surprises. As the Avengers finally assembled, it was a joy to see the many cameos littered throughout the three-hour run time. It’s hard to boil the cameos down to a handful, but that’s what we’ve done.
This is your last chance to turn away. The spoilers are coming.
Are we ready then?
Here are five of our favourite surprise appearances in Avengers: Endgame.
5. Captain Marvel’s Hair/Mar-Vell (Kind of)
Following her on-screen debut this March, we were all excited to see what Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel could bring to the fight against Thanos in Endgame. For some reason, Marvel decided to leave her out of the movie almost completely. Even Carol’s moment in the sun was overshadowed by the need to make Tony Stark the one true hero.
Having said that, Carol saves Tony from dying in outer space in the beginning of the film. After she’s co-opted as one of the Avengers, Carol takes it upon herself to protect as many worlds as possible following the snap. When we see Carol five years later, she’s sporting her iconic comic book-style short hair-cut. Not only does the new hairdo suit Larson, but my head-canon is that Carol reconnecting with Earth made her want to emulate the look of her former mentor Mar-Vell (and maybe even that of her friend Maria Rambeau). In the words of another Marvel lady, "It’s a good look."
Marvel’s television properties are often treated as pariahs by the cinematic arm of the company. Which is why none of the Netflix Marvel show characters nor the Agents of SHIELD appear in Endgame. Phil Coulson was the only character who resurfaced in the MCU after his move to television.
So, imagine one’s surprise when 1970s Howard Stark (a de-aged John Slattery) is greeted by Edwin Jarvis, played by James D’Arcy. D’Arcy’s Jarvis was only on ABC’s Agent Carter, but given the timeline, it would have been egregious to omit him from the scene. It was a great nod to the short-lived Agent Carter, while also paying homage to the other Jarvis from the Iron Man films (who had been voiced by Paul Bettany). How D’Arcy was able to re-capture Jarvis’ quintessential mannerisms is still beyond me, but he was a refreshing change of pace for the film. Jarvis’ appearance should have also given fans an idea of how integral a role Peggy Carter was going to play in this story.
The fridging of Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War rightly irked many critics. The fact that it was repeated with Black Widow in Endgame is pretty unforgivable. But I’m glad Gamora was part of this film all the same. When the Avengers (War Machine, Nebula, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) go back in time to acquire the Power and Soul Stones, 2014 Gamora gets involved and ends up saving the team. It takes a lot for her to change her allegiances, but Gamora is so much more than the daughter of Thanos.
Her rather hilarious interaction with Peter Quill goes to prove that Gamora was always way out of Quill’s league, even though it’s still really sad because Gamora was very fond of him. Will 2014 Gamora return in the third Guardians of the Galaxy film? Who knows. I don’t really care for the Guardians all that much, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Gamora and her fighting spirit back in the game in this film.
Technically, she doesn’t call herself that, but Pepper Potts does come to the rescue in Endgame. Early on in the film, we got a glimpse of a helmet that Tony made for Pepper, but who knew it would actually play a part in the final battle! In quintessential Iron Man style, Pepper landed in the midst of the fight in her blue and gold armour to the joy of many in the audience. Thank goodness I forgot about Gwyneth Paltrow posting photos of herself in the Rescue suit—what a spoiler.
Pepper has had precious little screen time in the franchise, but she ended up with a great arc. She’s one of the prominent heroes in the climatic fight, and is extraordinarily stoic when Tony dies in front of her. I love that she isn’t shown as completely falling apart without Tony. She’s independent, and though Pepper maybe grieving for Tony, she holds her own. We may never see Rescue back in action again, but she shone brightly in this film.
Talk of Avengers: Endgame involving time travel has been around for a while, but the way it was handled was breath-taking. When Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Ant-Man travel back to 2012 New York to retrieve the Infinity Stones, Cap meets some unlikely foes from his past.
In a scene reminiscent of the famous elevator fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap ends up surrounded by Jasper Sitwell, Brock Rumlow, and Jack Rollins. To escape a possible fight (and contamination of the timeline), Cap commandeers Loki’s sceptre from them by saying the impossible—"Hail Hydra." That one statement undercut the tension built up by the scene, while also adapting one of the most contentious arcs in Cap’s recent comic book history. That little smirk Chris Evans gives when Cap successfully has the sceptre in hand was priceless.
The fact that Marvel were able to bring Robert Redford back as Alexander Pierce cemented the deal. The Russo Brothers entered the MCU with The Winter Soldier, and they obviously wanted to pay as much homage to that film in their swan-song as possible.
Honourable Mentions: The Ancient One and Loki
Seeing Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One return for Endgame was a delight. Aside from the problematic casting, she was still an arresting character in Doctor Strange and it was good to see her get some screen time in this finale. I just hope she made the right decision by handing over that Time Stone to Bruce Banner.
One can almost forget that Tom Hiddleston re-shot scenes for Endgame because his scenes are so seamless. I’m not sure how the make-up and special effects teams recreated The Avengers scenes so accurately, but the best part of it was certainly Loki and his trickster ways. It was a wonderful throwback to simpler times and a great way to send off the fan-favourite Marvel villain.
I wish Avengers: Endgame had been a perfect farewell to the characters, but it wasn’t. As much as I enjoyed these cameos, one can’t help but wonder if the creative team lost sight of the forest for the trees along the way.
There is plenty to love about the film still, so let us know which cameos you loved most and which you missed.