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Saddled with sky-high hype and expectations, Avengers: Endgame certainly delivered on all counts. The film serves as a thank you to every fan who invested themselves in all 22 movies within the MCU over the past 11 years, with callbacks and references a plenty. And a billion-dollar-plus opening worldwide weekend doesn't hurt, either.
The three-plus hour epic also less than subtly gives various winks to any fan of the Marvel Comics source material with enough of an eagle eye to catch images or moments ripped right off the page.
SYFY WIRE has put together a Top 11 list for you to take back to any second or third screening you might indulge in over the coming days.
**SPOILER WARNING: This story contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.**
01. Introducing Professor Hulk
Very early on, Endgame drops the bombshell that in the ensuing five years, Banner and the Hulk came to an accord and are now one and the same. That harkens back to writer Peter David's prolific and game-changing run on the character in which comic readers were initially introduced to the idea of Banner's brain and the Hulk's brawn working in tandem. First seen in Incredible Hulk #379 (1991).
02. Hydra Cap redux
One of the most polarizing and derisive moments in Captain America's comic book history (garnering mainstream media attention as well as within the comic reading fan base) was deftly subverted during Endgame for one of the most clever and hilarious moments of the film. The first time it happened in the comics was in Steve Rogers: Captain America #1, published in 2016.
03. Hulk mountain
It's not a gajillion-ton mountain range as it was in the comics, but the sight of Professor Hulk holding up most of the wreckage of the Avengers compound as he tries to protect War Machine and Rocket instantly took most comic book fans back to this iconic image from the original Secret Wars series, in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #4.
04. Cap stands alone
One of the MCU's defining moments occurred during the climactic moments of Avengers: Endgame, as a defiant and bloody Steve Rogers stood alone against Thanos, broken shield and all. That moment owes a lot to this scene from the original Gauntlet mini-series, specifically Infinity Gauntlet #4.
05. If Steve Rogers be worthy
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."
MCU fans have been clamoring for this moment ever since Steve Rogers (slightly) moved Thor's hammer Mjolnir in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. This also serves as some payoff to longtime comic readers who know of these two instances in which Steve wielded the magic hammer. The first time came in 1988's The Mighty Thor #390, the second in 2010's Fear Itself #7.
06. Rallying the troops
Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo often mentioned in interviews that images from the original Infinity Gauntlet mini-series from back in '91 essentially served as a storyboard for this movie as well as last year's Avengers: Infinity War. Dr. Strange warping in the troops to confront Thanos near the end of Endgame has its thematic roots in a two-page spread in Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet #3.
07. Hey, Queens!
A quick blink and you’ll miss it moment during the final battle featured Captain America using Thor’s hammer to assist an Infinity Gauntlet-carrying Spidey across the battlefield. The alley-oop play instantly calls to mind this cover to the webslinger's old team-up title, appropriately titled Marvel Team-Up, in which he once joined forces with Thor.
08. The A-Force assembles
We hope some seeds were being planted during Avengers: Endgame with that chill-inducing moment during the final battle of every female hero forming up on Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel to clear a path for her and the Infinity Gauntlet to the time machine. Could we have been introduced to the MCU edition of A-Force?
09. Thor joins the Guardians
The "Asgardians of the Galaxy," as Thor so eloquently referred to himself and his new 'crew' in Endgame, is a relatively new team from Marvel comics, mixing former Guardian member Angela with a crew featuring the comics incarnations of Valkyrie, Skurge, the Executioner, and The Destroyer battle Armor. Would love to see a sequel become an adaptation of 2018's Asgardians of the Galaxy #1.
10. Passing the shield
The 2012 storyline that featured an aged-up Steve Rogers sapped of the Super Soldier serum and looking for a successor instantly came to mind during that scene on the lake between octogenarian Chris Evans Cap and Anthony Mackie's Falcon as the MCU christened its new Captain America. It was a direct reference to Captain America #25.
11. He is Iron Man
And finally, the character that started it all with a simple yet bold declaration from Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in 2008.
"I am Iron Man" closes out this chapter of the MCU's history in a similar fashion, offering up a heroic but tragic conclusion to his story. That indelible moment featuring Stark bringing the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet to bear has its roots in a 2010 Avengers story (Avengers #12) written by Brian Michael Bendis and incredibly rendered by industry legends John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson.