In the opening minutes of Avengers: Endgame, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes set off on a mission to track down Thanos, and once they find him, their encounter doesn’t end well for either camp.
On the one hand, the Mad Titan gets his head chopped off by Thor, in an obvious callback to the last time they met. But in defeating the purple tyrant, the team essentially accomplishes absolutely nothing. After all, by this point, the villain had settled into a life of quiet retirement, and had ceased to be a threat. And more to the point, the Infinity Stones had already been destroyed, robbing the Avengers of any hope of reversing the snap.
Needless to say, most moviegoers weren’t expecting for the film’s main villain to be killed off in the first few minutes, and in the wake of Thanos’ demise, many were left asking, “What now?” Sure enough, in a recent Q&A, co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo explained that it was very much their intention that the scene rendered audiences unsure of how the story could continue:
“It’s early in the writing process. In our writing room, we usually sit down with the writers and ask them some logical questions: what’s the logical next step? Storywise we like to put yourself in a corner, nowhere to get out. The audience will feel there is no road forward. And then we find a way.”
Like they said, our heroes eventually find a way, albeit five years later, when Scott Lang is finally freed from the Quantum Realm by a helpful rodent. It’s only here that the main narrative of Avengers: Endgame truly begins, sending the team on a journey through time that leads them right back to Thanos. “I am inevitable” indeed.
That being said, it’s implied that the conqueror’s second death of the film is a lot more permanent than his first one, especially when Josh Brolin isn’t contracted for any further outings. Regardless, you can expect the surviving heroes to be dealing with the consequences of their latest adventure well into the next phase of the MCU.