Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
Avengers: Endgame skipped the traditional Marvel Studios’ post-credit scene, but it has a surprise stinger which may be a bit confusing for some. Here’s what it means.
The culmination of everything that transpired in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the last decade, Endgame caps off the 22-film arc the franchise has been treading since 2008’s Iron Man, known collectively as The Infinity Saga. Picking up after the tragic events of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, where Thanos (Josh Brolin) wiped out half of life in the universe using the completed Infinity Gauntlet, the film is the brainchild of directors Joe and Anthony Russo, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. If Infinity War was told from the Mad Titan’s perspective, its sequel shifts the focus back on the surviving heroes – particularly the six founding MCU heroes. Endgame is the swan song to some of the beloved heroes, reinforcing the notion that the movie marks the end of an era in the universe.
Taking that into consideration, Marvel Studios opted to forego their mandatory post-credit scene teasing on what lies in the future. Instead, once all the credits have rolled, fans are greeted with the massive Marvel logo with the sound of a hammer clanking onto another surface. With no visual representation, this posed a lot of questions from the fans. But here’s what it actually means.
Avengers: Endgame Has A Hammer Sound From Iron Man 1 After The Credits
While Marvel Studios didn’t invent post-credit scenes, they brought it to mainstream popularity. All 21 films on their catalog have at least one stinger. Some make more sense than others, while some are just there for pure fun. Overall, fans have enjoyed them for what they are. So, with a tradition like this, many were expecting a similar format come Endgame. But they took their traditional button scene and put a different spin to it – instead of a hint as to what lies ahead in the universe, it’s a look at the past.
Fans who have watched Endgame and heard the stinger may find it familiar, particularly those who have been following the MCU since 2008. It’s actually a soundbite from the first Iron Man film as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was building his first Iron Man suit, the Mark I, while in captivity in Afghanistan with the help of Ho Yinsen (Shaun Toub). In the Jon Favreau-directed flick, the universe’s inaugural hero was hammering down the mask for his escape armor. Composer Ramin Djawadi’s aptly titled “Mark I” track from the official Iron Man soundtrack plays in the background, but in the Endgame stinger, the Russos stripped it down to just the sound of the hammer hitting the metal face piece.
Avengers: Endgame Is NOT Teasing An Iron Man Return
Given the callback from Iron Man, is Endgame’s stinger hinting at the return of Tony Stark? Sadly, no. Instead of an in-universe tease, it’s more of an in-retrospect of Tony Stark’s journey in the franchise, which perfectly wraps up in Endgame. Considering that he’s the inaugural hero of the MCU, it’s only fitting that The Infinity Saga closes with the end of his arc. The Mark I montage is arguably one of the best sequences in the franchise. Fans have always loved Stark getting all mechanical with his suits, even as it became more high tech in every movie. But there’s something special about how gritty the process was for his first armor. It perfectly highlighted Tony Stark’s genius and resiliency that – despite being an egomaniac, selfish womanizer – we were all rooting for him to get out of the cave. It’s the quintessential MCU scene, and has been the gold standard when it comes to hero-making moments, especially in the franchise’s origin movies.
In the bigger scheme of things, it echoes to how Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and his team started the franchise. Like Stark, Feige didn’t have the best Marvel characters at his disposal with the X-Men still with 20th Century Fox and Spider-Man with Sony Pictures. As Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) said in reference to Mark I: “Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!” And while we won’t go as far as saying that Iron Man and several of his succeeding heroes are scraps, they weren’t exactly gold either. They’re lower-tiered characters who have a following in the comic book reading community, but the general public wasn’t well-versed with them the way they are with Marvel’s mutants and web-slinging hero or DC’s Superman and Batman. And now, they’re all household names.
Just as the specific scene birthed Iron Man, the stinger is also reminder that, although Endgame marks the end of an era, there will inevitably be a new beginning with the MCU moving forward. Marvel Studios did a great job wrapping up over a decade’s worth of storytelling in a satisfying way, but they also made sure to plant plot seeds that make fans of the franchise elated about what lies ahead in the universe.
Will Tony Stark Return To The MCU?
Endgame closes MCU’s current chapter, and with that comes Iron Man’s true ending. During Endgame‘s final battle, Thanos threatens to snap his fingers again using the Stark-made Infinity Gauntlet with all Infinity Stones that the Avengers acquired by going back in time. This is only shortly after the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) successfully undid the Decimation. But just before the Mad Titan was able to do so, Tony was able to take the Infinity Stones for himself and snap away Thanos and his army using his secondary gauntlet. Stark’s act of heroism resulted in his death with the film dedicating a scene to his emotional funeral with every major hero in the universe joining Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his daughter, Morgan, in grieving his demise.
Despite the Endgame stinger not really teasing Iron Man’s potential return to the MCU, what are the odds of Tony Stark appearing in future films? He’s dead, and considering how he dies, it would be a great disservice to the character and Endgame‘s narrative to pull another fake death ploy that the MCU is notoriously known for. But resurrecting him isn’t the only way Stark can be involved again in the MCU. The holographic message he left his family opens up a possibility as he may have filmed a couple more addressed to different people that have yet to be discovered. The B.A.R.F. technology could pave the way for his return as well, knowing how it works in Captain America: Civil War. Finally, he can provide the A.I. voice of for any of his self-made armor like JARVIS, Friday and Karen. This way, fans are still able to get the snarky personality that Stark is known for without the need to have him physically be there.
It’s difficult to imagine the MCU without Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. The actor effectively played the role a total of 10 times (including his cameo in The Incredible Hulk) in more than a decade, with a brilliant final outing in Avengers: Endgame. But there’s arguably no better way to end the genius billionaire’s arc the way it did. While there will never be another Tony Stark, the universe has no shortage of characters that fans can be fully invested in the way they were with franchise’s founding hero. And just like Pepper told her husband on his final moments, he can rest now because they’re going to be okay.
Next: Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie, Ranked Worst To Best (Including Endgame)