How much are these people in The Avengers?

Does Avengers: Endgame have heaps of your favourite superhero, or not much?

There are more characters in Avengers: Endgame than there are minutes in an hour, but how much is your favourite actually in it? Tom Augustine has the answers.

Avengers: Endgame spoilers follow. If you clicked on this article expecting no spoilers, turn back now. Click out of the tab and go see the movie. 

I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As messy and sometimes cringeworthy as it can be, it is also a generally good-natured, fun and quite remarkably ambitious attempt to truly make the feeling of reading serialized comic books come to life. The films often get a bit of flack for their broadness and supposed lack of artfulness, often ignoring the pure stylistic bravura of trying to pull off a consistent, multi-threaded story over the course of 22 films.

Avengers: Endgame represents an endpoint for this current era of the MCU. What comes after will surely be significantly guided by (and likely directly linked to) this series of films, but for a number of the most significant roles in the Universe, the ones that came to define it as the cultural phenomenon of our times, this is the end of the line. Endgame is a sprawling, immense undertaking, drawing from and paying off virtually every film that has come before in a surprisingly meta exploration of what the series has meant on a grander scale. Primarily, Endgame is a vital celebration of the OGs of this team – the original team assembled in Joss Whedon’s Avengers, way back in those innocent days of 2012. Several of the actors have indicated that Endgame will be their last ride – but how do those stories play out, and who gets the best send-off? And what of all the other fan favourites – those eviscerated by Thanos’ fateful snap, and those still pottering around on Planet Earth (or otherwise)?

Naturally, some mild spoilers follow, though I’ve tried to be as vague as possible.

(It must also be noted that this piece references the central plot device of the film, which I will outline in this article, with a SPOILER WARNING if you want to go in completely untainted:

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So, as was heavily hinted by the trailers and promotional material that has come before – this film is a time travel heist thing, baby! Our surviving Avengers embark on a desperate mission through time that leads to the current team wandering through past stories – and often encountering past versions of themselves. That means that, though they are dearly departed, many of your faves stop by for hellos in often surprising ways!)

The Survivors, from most time to least time:

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr)

How Much Are They In It? Heaps!

Details, Please! This is frankly, Iron Man: Endgame. He’s the star, and his performance here reminds you how good an actor Downey Jr can be when he really turns it on. He’s heroic, tragic, infuriating, sweet and vulnerable here, and the story does well to bring his arc full circle. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might wish he was your dad due to unresolved father issues!

Captain America (Chris Evans)

How Much Are They In It? Heaps!

Details, Please! Chris Evans’ Captain America has become a fixture of moral righteousness in the discourse, and here he is utilised a lot more than his almost wordless, mournful turn in Infinity War. Many have noted that Cap is the rare character whose internal philosophies and outlook doesn’t change, but bends others’ around him. Here he finally gets to make a little personal growth, with just about the most perfect ending you could ask for this wholesome hero. Arguably the most well-served character in the film.
 

Thor (Chris Hemsworth)

How Much Are They In It? Heaps – but with a twist.

Details, Please! Directors have always struggled with how to fit Thor – the most outlandish, strange character in the Avengers lineup – into the wider Universe, with mixed results. After Taika Waititi’s brazenly funny, highly enjoyable redux of the character in Thor: Ragnarok turned Chris Hemsworth into the series’ consistent MVP, Infinity War weaponised that new loveability into something tragic and powerful (his was arguably the best storyline in that film). In Endgame, Thor gets a little less to do than his other Avengers, and what he does get is…questionable, at best (spoilers to follow). Essentially, Thor gains weight due to an inability to cope with PTSD, morphing the role into a The Dude-esque comic foil, the butt of many fat jokes from his other cast members in a twist on the character that is already courting controversy. It’s…not great, and really makes me hope that this isn’t the end of the line for a personal favourite.

Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson)

How Much Are They In It? Heaps – but not really in a good way.

Details, Please! Black Widow has always been the glue holding the Avengers together, a character vitally fleshed out from the eye-candy role she had in her first appearance in Iron Man 2, most notably in Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and also in Age of Ultron, but in ways that were kind of gross). Here, she is the one best coping with Thanos’ snap, transforming her grief into trying to hold everything together as best as possible, with mixed results. When the story really gets running though, Natasha is once again largely pushed to the back. A Black Widow standalone film has been announced, so thankfully this won’t be the last time we see ScarJo’s wily assassin, but that doesn’t make her narrative in this film any less disappointing.

Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo)

How Much Are They In It? Heaps!

Details, Please! Hulk has always been one of the most enjoyable side-players in the MCU, a character better utilised in others’ stories than leading his own. At the beginning of Endgame Hulk is still hidden away inside Bruce Banner after a major trouncing from Thanos (mild spoilers to follow). However: both Bruce and Hulk make return appearances here in ways that are some of the most satisfying and enjoyable surprises Endgame has to offer, as Bruce becomes one of the most optimistic and hopeful presences in the MCU.

Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)

How Much Are They In It? Heaps!

Details, Please! If you, like me, thought last year’s Ant Man and the Wasp was a breezy and wonderful adventure, you’re in luck with Endgame, because Paul Rudd’s goofy and good-natured Ant-Man is in this one a lot! As the primary comic player in this series, Rudd’s utilised well here, the actor’s natural comic timing coming in handy at several heavy moments. It is also curiously satisfying that the most seemingly ineffectual member of the Avengers turns out to be one of the most important.

Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)

How Much Are They In It? Heaps!

Details, Please! Over the course of several films, the MCU has been trying to make Hawkeye into a whole thing, never entirely successfully, though I’ve enjoyed Jeremy Renner’s portrayal more than many. After sitting Infinity War out entirely, Hawkeye is predictably fairly front and centre here – though his story is one of the more poorly managed. Few other characters seem to be as victimised by the squeeze of trying to pack in so much into one narrative as no-one’s favourite archer, though he does get a number of cheer-worthy moments in the latter half of the film.

Nebula (Karen Gillan)

How Much Are They In It? Surprisingly heaps!

Details, Please! Of all the various small side-characters in the MCU, it’s surprising that Karen Gillan’s blue-faced robot assassin would be one of the most well-fleshed out in Endgame, but then I guess most of the others were dusted, so there you go. She has arguably as big an arc in this film as the original six, and your mileage will probably vary as to how much you enjoy that arc depending on how attached you are to the Guardians franchise and this particular Guardian.

Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper)

How Much Are They In It? A fair amount!

Details, Please! Bradley Cooper’s true finest performance is not A Star Is Born, but his strangely New York accented, fluffy, garbage-eating space rodent who blessedly survived Thanos’ snap in Infinity War. Rocket, a really tragic, sad character often sidelined as just a funny talking raccoon is…mostly just a funny talking raccoon in this one, though he continues to prove himself useful throughout.

 

Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)

How Much Are They In It? A fair amount!

Details, Please! Tony Stark’s perennially undervalued and underutilised special lady friend gets some good mileage here, doing the classic ‘Tony’s conscience’ thing she usually does, but also getting to have some fun in other ways throughout the film that I won’t spoil. She also talks about composting at one point, and it made me wonder if that was in Gwyneth’s contract.

Thanos (Josh Brolin)

How Much Are They In It? A lot, but probably not as much as you were expecting!

Details, Please! As the big bad, and arguably the main character in Infinity War, it is perhaps surprising that Thanos isn’t actually all that present for large swathes of Endgame. His shadow definitely looms large, but there are also a number of twists in this tale regarding his character I won’t divulge. His presence here is a lot less nuanced that the semi-tragic figure he cast in Infinity War, perhaps because of the renewed focus on the OG Avengers.
 

War Machine (Don Cheadle)

How Much Are They In It? Not as much as you’d think!

Details, Please! Though he’s not one of the big six, Don Cheadle’s Rhodey is about as close to an OG as you can get without having your name on the banner. He’s here in full sidekick mode, though he does get some emotional heavy-lifting to do as well!

Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson)

How Much Are They In It? A fair amount!

Details, Please! Everyone’s favourite bisexual, pegasus-riding warrior princess gets an enjoyable amount to do here after sitting out Infinity War entirely. There’s a lot of torch-passing in Endgame, but Valkyrie’s part to play in this regard is one of the most deeply satisfying.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

How Much Are They In It? Hardly at all!

Details, Please! The newly minted superstar of the next phase of the MCU, Carol Danvers perhaps predictably takes a backseat in this one, as she’s pretty much the most powerful character in the universe and this story is not really about her. She’s pivotal for a few scenes, particularly at the beginning, but Captain Marvel fans will have to wait until whatever happens in the next phase for the real fireworks.

Okoye (Danai Gurira)

How Much Are They In It? Hardly at all!

Details, Please! There was some controversy earlier when Okoye, Black Panther’s second-in-command (now first in command considering T’Challa’s fate in Infinity War) wasn’t featured on Endgame’s poster. While it was vital that she was placed there, it appears the original choice not to include her may have been made because she really isn’t in this at all – in fact, pretty much all of Wakanda has taken a backseat in this installment, purely by necessity it seems. She appears briefly in an early scene, but has maybe three lines. Justice for Okoye!

Wong (Benedict Wong)

How Much Are They In It? Virtually not at all.

Details, Please! The best meme to come out of Infinity War was undoubtedly the ‘Wong doesn’t get involved in the conflict’ meme, due to the Dr Strange sidekick’s legendary peace out moment at the very beginning of the Thanos conflict. Fans of that meme won’t be disappointed here – he is almost entirely absent from this film also, even though a teleporting wizard would’ve been super helpful!
 

Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau)

How Much Are They In It? He shows up at one point!

Details, Please! I’ve roped my girlfriend into seeing the later MCU films (from about Ragnarok onward), so suffice to say she was very confused when the guy from Chef showed up for a featured scene near the end of the film. It’s nice how they’ve incorporated the director of the very first MCU film for a little cameo here, filled with nods to his films that Iron Man fans will appreciate.

Korg (Taika Waititi)

How Much Are They In It? He makes an appearance!

Details, Please! Kiwis everywhere have waited with bated breath to discover whether the truest emissary of Aotearoa, Taika Waititi’s rock-being Korg, would finally show up in Endgame. Well, folks, he does! It is truly lovely to see Korg once again, and his presence here is really quite funny, in a reliably Taika way.

M’Baku (Winston Duke)

How Much Are They In It? There is one shot of M’Baku in this film!

Details, Please!: Anything more would be a spoiler, but M’Baku is definitely not a big presence here. He is in one shot.

Goose (a cat)

How Much Are They In It? Not at all!

Details, Please! Fans of cat monsters will be disappointed, as this is one outlier of the MCU that does not feature in Endgame, tragically, at all. What even is Captain Marvel without her feline-ish companion from another realm? Whither hast thou wandered, furry companion of the cosmos? 

The Fallen

Gamora (Zoe Saldana)

How Much Are They In It? A fair bit!

Details, Please! One of the most exciting aspects of Thanos’s presence in these films is that the spotlight would also, presumably, turn to his put-upon daughters Nebula and Gamora. This tragically culminated in the death of Gamora in Infinity War, but that’s not to say her course is run. Her turn in this is pivotal and quite profound, and it’s nice to see Saldana ride again.

Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)

How Much Are They In It? A fair bit!

Details, Please! Generally, the discourse has been fairly meh on Scarlet Witch and her relationship with the ill-fated Vision, but I’ve found their storyline to be quite affecting, particularly in their climactic scenes in Infinity War. Wanda’s story isn’t entirely played out just yet – as the maybe most powerful earth-bound character, she has some key moments in the later acts of this film that have appreciable payoff.

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)

How Much Are They In It? A fair bit!

Details, Please! Cumberbatch’s Strange is the only character who saw every potential way this whole thing could shake out, which means that his part in this story is definitely not over. How that happens here, I’ll leave you to find out. 

Spider-Man (Tom Holland)

How Much Are They In It? A little bit – but in major ways.

Details, Please! Much like Captain Marvel, Spidey’s turn in the spotlight is really still to come. However, he gets a few scenes here that are some of the most profoundly moving of the series thus far – appropriate considering his turning to dust in Infinity War is sure to have traumatised a whole generation of young Spidey fans.

Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt)

How Much Are They In It? A little bit!

Details, Please! Ugh. Star Lord. The Official Worst Chris is in this one, and features in a couple of scenes where everyone around him wonders why he’s so special, fittingly. A scene alongside Thor is maybe the funniest in the entire film, however, which is nice.

The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly)

How Much Are They In It? Not much!

Details, Please! Another underrated member of the MCU, the Wasp’s role here is pretty minor, but nice for its meaningful connection to Ant-Man, one of the most purely sweet and enjoyable relationships between any of these characters.

Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)

How Much Are They In It? Not much!

Details, Please! Marvel definitely didn’t realise how beloved Wakanda and T’Challa and co. were going to become pre-Black Panther, which is why their whole gang have played a relatively minor part in the Infinity War saga. There’s a couple of cool scenes involving the Wakanda clan, but mostly they don’t really get much time in the spotlight.

Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) 

How Much Are They In It? Not in it much – but the parts they are in are major.

Details, Please! I’ve put these two together because both are starring in their own Disney+ show together and both have an unrequited thing with Cap that should really have culminated in a saucy threesome, but whatever. Anyway. They both have minor parts in this one, but hoo boy, those scenes are something. Falcon’s presence in a particular, all-is-lost moment had me nearly bawling.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) & Heimdall (Idris Elba)

How Much Are They In It? Not much!

Details, Please! Poor Loki. Ever since he was the big bad in the very first Avengers, directors have struggled to know what to do with Asgard’s wayward son – with Taika’s Ragnarok coming closest to giving him a solid supporting turn. After Infinity War unceremoniously cast him off in a way that was clearly pretty traumatic for old mate Thor, his role here is extremely minor. At least there’s going to be a Loki Disney+ series soon, I suppose! Elba’s also-ran Heimdall, meanwhile, doesn’t show up at all. A sad day for fans of sexy people everywhere.

Mantis (Pom Klementieff) & Drax (Dave Bautista)

How Much Are They In It? Not much at all!

Details, Please! Two of the most underrated Guardians (the two most overrated are Star Lord and Groot – do not @ me), these two get kind of lost in the mix in Endgame, to everyone’s detriment. I need more Bautista, all the time!

Shuri (Letitia Wright)

How Much Are They In It? Barely at all!

Details, Please! Honestly, more Shuri content, please. She doesn’t even get a line in this one, despite being better than everyone.

Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne (Michael Douglas & Michelle Pfeiffer)

How Much Are They In It? They show up a couple times!

Details, Please! Michael Douglas has long been at the whim of Marvel’s scarily good de-aging animation, which again rears its head here. His Pym (and Pfeiffer’s Van Dyne) show up briefly in pivotal, non-action scenes.

Groot (Vin Diesel)

How Much Are They In It? Hardly at all!

Details, Please! It was hard to watch Groot fade away (again!) in Infinity War, mainly for the impact it had on the fatherly Rocket. His role here is virtually non-existent – hardly a single ‘I Am Groot’ to be found.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) & Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)

How Much Are They In It? Hardly at all!

Details, Please! As always, Nick Fury doesn’t get nearly enough attention, especially because he helped to save everyone’s asses as he was getting dusted at the end of Infinity War. Neither he nor his lamentably overlooked second-in-command Maria Hill get a single line in this one, even though the situation clearly calls for someone to call Thanos a motherfucker at least once.

Vision (Paul Bettany)

How Much Are They In It? He’s not in it!

Details, Please! Considering how important Bettany’s suave robot-man Vision was to Infinity War, you’d figure he’d at least get a nod in this one. But you’d be wrong! He’s not in it at all!

Other people who are also in this movie a bit!

Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)

How Much Are They In It? Hardly at all, but still very important!

Details, Please! (SPOILERS) Real fans know that for Steve Rogers, long-lost romance Peggy Carter is the Endgame. You won’t be disappointed.

Howard Stark (John Slattery)

How Much Are They In It? A small but lovely role!

Details, Please! Slattery is the perfect choice for Howard Stark, Tony’s father, playing essentially Roger Sterling again and capturing all the absent dad vibes that character exuded here with great skill. His scenes in Endgame are highly enjoyable and provide some much-needed catharsis for a series long centered on daddy issues.

Frigga (Rene Russo) & The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) & Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) & Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) & Ramonda (Angela Bassett)

How Much Are They In It? A little bit!

Details, Please! All of these incredibly, broadly acclaimed actresses are in Avengers: Endgame for hardly any time at all! They should be their own Avengers! I’d watch that!

This includes Natalie Portman (!) as Jane Foster, in a role she famously dropped after Thor: The Dark World. She’s in this one for like, two shots! It’s crazy!

Also, there’s a wonderful, moving scene with Rene Russo’s Frigga (Thor’s Mum), who a lot of people probably forgot existed! Justice for Frigga has been achieved.

Also TILDA SWINTON is in this one as the Ancient One, reprising her role from Doctor Strange! ‘How the hell did they swing that?!’, I loudly exclaimed as I watched. Her role is very significant in the couple of scenes she shows up in Endgame, and it’s fantastic.

Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford)

How Much Are They In It? He shows up!

Details, Please! That’s right, now-retired Robert-ass-Redford shows up for a couple of lines in Endgame in a cameo that does virtually nothing for the film. But it’s Robert Redford, and his presence here is bonkers enough in the first place.

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Brock Lumlow (Frank Grillo) & Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini) & Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) & Red Skull (Ross Marquand) & Jarvis (James D’Arcy)

How Much Are They In It? A little bit!

Details, Please! Are any of these characters your favourite? Are there Thaddeus Ross fans out there? Are they called the Thad Band? Well, you’re in luck! All these characters are there in brief, supporting turns, including a lovely appearance from James D’Arcy as the original Jarvis, marking the first time a character from a Marvel TV series (Agent Carter) has transitioned over to the films, and not vice versa. Go Jarvis! 


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