WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.
Following Thanos' snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, many speculated about the plot of Avengers: Endgame, especially as the title of the film was withheld until earlier this year. With the Mad Titan snapping half the universe out of existence, heroes included, theory after theory arose as to what the story would entail and how Earth's Mightiest Heroes would rebound.
Now that the movie is finally in theaters, let's look at what turned out to be true.
THE TIME JUMP
Avengers: Infinity War hadn't even arrived in theaters before speculation arose that its then-unnamed sequel would involve a time jump. That started with reports in mid April 2018 that 17-year-old Emma Fuhrmann had been cast as Cassie Lang (11-year-old Abby Ryder Fortson previously played the role).
That turned out to be accurate, because when Scott Lang returns from the Quantum Realm, five years have elapsed since the final act of Infinity War and the mid-credits scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Following the events of Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War, fans theorized the logical next step in the Hulk's evolution was Professor Hulk, from the comics. When early Endgame promotional images of the Green Goliath in a new purple suit emerged, the rumor mill went into overdrive.
Those theories turned out to be correct, with Bruce Banner embracing the Hulk as the cure to his problems sometime during the five-year jump. The brawn of Hulk and the brain Banner are merged into one entity.
THE TIME HEIST
Set photos leaked in June 2018 hinted at a return to the Battle of New York from 2012's The Avengers, raising suspicion that time travel was integral to Endgame's plot. Once Ant-Man and the Wasp referenced time vortexes in the Quantum Realm, fans began to piece together the clues. Then there was the matter of those wrist devices, first hinted at in January 2018 set photos.
Pym Particles and the wrist devices, which served as GPS locators, were used in the time travel scenes, but rather than going back and stopping Thanos' snap from happening, the surviving heroes collect Infinity Stones from the past to bring back those who went missing.
RONIN'S ORIGIN STORY
With Hawkeye absent from Infinity War, fans were left to wonder what would lead him to adopt the new identity of Ronin. It clearly wasn't going to echo the events of Marvel Comics' Civil War event, in which he donned the new costume to distance himself from his time as an Avenger.
Some fans theorized instead that Clint Barton's family were victims of the snap and that the loss would lead him down a bloody path. The first scene of Endgame confirms that, showing Clint's wife and children turned to dust during a picnic. Five years later, he's adopts the Ronin guise to cope with their loss by inflicting violence on criminals globally.
LOKI LIVES (SORT OF)
When Disney+ announced a Loki television series, some thought it was set in the past, before the trickster met his end at the hands of Thanos in Infinity War. However, a portion of the fanbase believed that, rather than detailing the God of Mischief in the past, Marvel would find a way to have Loki benefit from the Avengers' time traveling, especially after set photos showed they came to New York for the Mind and Space Stones.
While no one could specifically detail how he'd survive, they ended up being right because past-Loki gets ahold of the Tesseract in a botched mission, creating a portal and teleporting out of the scene. We don't know where or when he ended up, but, while the prime MCU Loki's dead, a Loki is still alive somewhere, presumably up to no good.
PEPPER POTTS BECOMES RESCUE
Leaked set photos displayed Gwyneth Paltrow in the Rescue costume found in the Iron Man comics, but even before that, wishful fans thought she'd be suiting up to join the battle at some point, like how she did with Stark armor in Iron Man 3. Early on in the film, we see their daughter, Morgan, playing with a Rescue helmet, but it simply felt like a cool Easter egg.
Fast forward to the finale, however, and Pepper shows up in purple armor, blasting away Thanos' armies. While she's never called by the "Rescue" codename, it's unmistakably the Iron Woman helping to save her husband and his allies.
TONY STARK'S SACRIFICE
Even before Infinity War hit theaters, the idea of Tony dying at Thanos' hands spread like wildfire. In the wake of the snap, though, and with the end of an era for these original Avengers looming, theories evolved to him sacrificing himself using a Stark-created tech gauntlet to undo the snap.
While Tony didn't end up stopping the moment from occurring in the past, he does wield his gauntlet and, using the stolen Infinity Stones, snaps Thanos' legion away, dying in the process. Ultimately, the concept of him sacrificing his life to save the universe comes true in heartbreaking fashion.
STEVE ROGERS' RETIREMENT
Fans posited Steve would be the one to die, but other theories suggested that, once the time heist was over, he'd go back in time and live the happy life he never got with Peggy Carter. And so he does, because once he returns the Infinity Stones to their timelines, Steve doesn't bother to return to the present.
Instead, we find Old Man Steve in the Endgame finale revealing he stayed behind and got married, with the final shot depicting him and Peggy getting that dance they spoke of in Captain America: The First Avenger. To seal the retirement, another theory comes true when he hands the shield off, not to Bucky Barnes, but Sam Wilson (the Falcon)
THOR JOINS THE GUARDIANS
This theory caught fire when fans saw the Odinson's interactions with the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War. The banter and overall chemistry, especially between Thor and Star Lord, was brilliant, not to mention the relationship he built with Rocket Raccoon as they coped with loss.
It's made official when Thor hands the throne off to Valkyrie in Endgame and decides he wants to roam the cosmos with them, dubbing Peter Quill's team the "Asgardians of the Galaxy" in a cheeky nod to the comics. It's clear he thinks his time with the Avengers is done, and fans get their wish to see him police the other realms like Odin did eons before.
With Marvel Studios touting Endgame as the cap on the Infinity Saga, theories suggesting there'd be no post-credits scenes came true. After all, it's a very emotional ending, where, while the heroes win the day, there are a lot of sacrifices, particularly by Iron Man and Black Widow on Vormir.
However, while there's no post-credits sequence, the very end of the movie has the clanging of metal against a black screen, a throwback to Tony forging his armor in the first Iron Man movie, which kickstarted the MCU in 2008. Fans did posit there'd be a tribute to Iron Man in some form or fashion when the film ended, and this sound bite is the awesomely subtle direction the studio took.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.