WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.
Avengers: Endgame is the epic conclusion to one of the most ambitious and satisfying cinematic events of all time. The filmmakers behind this massive undertaking have done the impossible in maintaining a 22-film narrative that satisfied the die-hard fans of the comics as well as introduce a whole new group of fans to this world and its characters.
The MCU has done an excellent job of telling their own stories while not being tied down by the source material. Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame especially take a lot from the storyline Infinity Gauntlet, in which Thanos wipes out half of life in the universe and the heroes attempt to undo the damage. And while there are some moments lifted right from those pages, Endgame changes a lot from the original story.
In the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, Thanos' entire motivation for his mass genocide is based on his obsession with Mistress Death. In the comics, Mistress Death is the embodiment of death and Thanos has a big crush on her. He is so smitten, in fact, that he's willing to wipe out half the universe just to impress her. Her continued scorn of him keeps pushing Thanos further into madness after The Snap is done.
While this backstory was hinted at with Thanos' first appearance in the MCU in The Avengers, they ended up going for a much more complex and, arguably, sympathetic motivation with Thanos seeing himself as the universe's savior. It's a change that helps make him a more interesting villain.
The Snap, as it is known, was one of the most devastating moments in recent cinematic memory. Watching Thanos fulfill his goal and seeing some of our favorite heroes fade into nothing was heartbreaking.
In the comics, The Snap occurs pretty early in the story, not even giving our heroes the opportunity to try to prevent it in the first place. Once the dust clears, the remaining roster of heroes differs quite a bit from the film version. Like the movies, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America survive to take on Thanos. But some of the notable survivors who weren’t as lucky in the film include Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, and Spider-Man.
As one of Thanos’ daughters, and the only one to survive Infinity War, Nebula was always going to play an important role in Endgame. We get to see two compelling sides of the character. One side is the brainwashed captive trying to please her abuser, the other is the strong fighter who breaks free.
In the comics, Nebula is still very much a victim of Thanos, being tortured for his own amusement. However, when she fights back, she fights for herself rather than making the heroic turn as in the movies. In fact, Nebula manages to take the Gauntlet for herself and proves to potentially be more dangerous than her father.
7 Cosmic Entities
Despite a few memorable trips into space, Endgame’s story is surprisingly Earth-centric. The remaining heroes gather themselves and form a plan back on Earth, with Rocket and Nebula joining in, and even the epic final battle is on Earth as well.
Not only is the Infinity Gauntlet story almost entirely a cosmic story, but some very substantial cosmic beings get involved. Given the damage Thanos has caused, the heroes enlist the help of some of the universe’s most powerful beings including The Living Tribunal, Eternity, and Galactus. While it would be cool to see such epic characters in the MCU, this movie is pretty backed as it is.
6 Soul World
Many fans theorized that following the events of Infinity War, those characters who were "dusted" were not really dead, but actually just trapped in the Soul World. This theory comes from the Soul World's inclusion in the comics as Thanos traps several heroes in this place to prevent them from meddling in his affairs.
While we did see the Soul World in Infinity War, with young Gamora seemingly confined there, it was not a part of Endgame. While it is possible Natasha is trapped there in some form, the movie does not confirm address it at all.
5 Time Travel
From the moment Infinity War ended, fans have been speculating about how the heroes will try to undo The Snap. The general consensus was that time travel would be used in some way, with theories that the Time Stone or Captain Marvel would be the key. In the end, the heroes used the Quantum Realm to go back and retrieve the stones from the past.
As key as time travel is in the film, it does not enter into the comic book story at all. Once The Snap is done, the heroes go right at Thanos, much like the beginning of Endgame. However, in the comics, Thanos is not the self-imposed martyr he is in the movies, and not willing to destroy the Stones.
4 Adam Warlock
There are several big characters from the Infinity Gauntlet comics that are not involved in this story for one reason or another. However, the most significant absence is Adam Warlock. In the comics, Warlock is very much the hero of the story and the character who sets in motion the plan to undo Thanos’ massacre.
Warlock has been rumored to be joining the MCU for years and with the tease at the end of Guardians if the Galaxy Vol. 2, it seems like it might finally be happening. However, Endgame wisely refrains from attempting to introduce this complex character so late in the game, instead choosing to focus on its original Avengers line-up.
3 Final Battle
The final act of Avengers: Endgame is truly amazing, not least of all the epic sequence where all the Avengers finally assemble against Thanos and his army. It is an amazing sequence that will go down as one of the greatest moments in comic book movie history.
As epic as the comic book story is, nothing reaches the levels of this sequence. We do get the heroes mounting an attack on Thanos but on a much smaller scale. The heroes who were not killed by The Snap are quickly overpowered by Thanos and killed. It’s a thrilling sequence, but obviously not as satisfying as what we get in Endgame.
2 Thanos' Change Of Heart
Thanos' motivations in the comics may be more selfish than they are in the movies, but he does show to have at least a bit of a conscience. After Nebula takes the Gauntlet from him, Thanos understands what is at stake and agrees to team up with the remaining heroes to help undo what he has previously done.
Thanos has a change of heart in Endgame as well, but it is much less helpful. After seeing the fight that the Avengers put up to stop him, instead of seeing it their way, Thanos decides he must wipe out the entire universe and start from scratch.
1 Fallen Avengers
One criticism with Avengers: Infinity War was that the deaths of certain characters felt temporary. Few people actually believed that new, massively popular heroes like Black Panther and Spider-Man would stay dead for long, especially since they had movies coming out.
Sure enough, these heroes are brought back from The Snap, just as they are in the comics. However, unlike the comics, there are consequences to this victory. The Avengers lose two of their founding members, Iron Man and Black Widow. While anything is possible, these deaths feel permanent in a way they never do in the comics.