We’re in the ... eh ... past the endgame now.
After 22 movies, the arcs for the original Avengers were all seemingly brought to a close in “Avengers: Endgame.” And other more recent additions to the team have taken on new roles: In “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” Tom Holland’s Peter Parker ventures out into an Iron-Man-less world, which doesn’t really work out so well, and upcoming Marvel projects will likely explore Anthony Mackie’s Falcon as he navigates the MCU as the new Captain America.
Even with many loose ends being tied up and the subsequent flood of articles and analyses breaking down what happened, a number of MCU conundrums remain.
What’s really going on with Captain America (Chris Evans) when he goes back in time? Why didn’t Nebula (Karen Gillan) warn the other Avengers that they would have to sacrifice someone for the Soul Stone? And, most importantly, how could someone who’s been snapped (aka dead for five years) come back and have their cellphone charged?
Like Thanos, these questions are inevitable. Thankfully, “Endgame” writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were available to hop on the phone with HuffPost a couple weeks after the movie’s release to put some of the mysteries to rest.
Q. Is Captain America going into a new timeline when he travels to the past?
A. There is no real answer ... yet.
It’s a big deal when Captain America takes himself out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, going back in time to return the Infinity Stones and choosing to stay there and live his life with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).
But did he go back to another timeline or did he stay in the current timeline and just live in secret as Peggy’s husband? The directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, and writers Markus and McFeely can’t even agree.
The Russos have gone on record saying Captain America actually went into a branch timeline when he went into the past. Markus and McFeely have stated multiple times that they believe he stayed in the current timeline.
“I will say that Chris and I always thought that the kids in the picture in ‘Winter Soldier’ — you know, you go to the old folks home and Peggy has Alzheimer’s and there are children in the picture with her — that those were always Steve’s kids, that he always went back and he hasn’t supplanted some other guy. He was always her husband,” said McFeely.
When explaining the contradictory statements, the writer said that “quantum physics is difficult to pin down,” and there are “certainly several interpretations” that could work.
“I know what Joe and Anthony think, and I totally get it, and that’s certainly one way we can think about it,” he said.
However, McFeely added that Captain America going back in time is a “movie in itself” and concedes that, really, there is no true answer to this question yet.
“I don’t know if Marvel wants to tell any more stories about that ... I think the real answer hasn’t been written yet.”
As for another question — what Cap said to Red Skull when he returned the Soul Stone — that, too, remains a mystery, though Markus joked, “He probably goes, ‘I told you I could do this all day.’”
Q. Why did a rat end up saving the universe?
A. It was the only way to defeat Thanos, as seen by Doctor Strange.
None of the events in “Endgame” that lead to Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) defeat could’ve really happened if not for a rat inadvertently hitting controls and releasing Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) from the Quantum Realm.
Explaining why a rodent was chosen to be the savior of the universe, McFeely said, “It seemed fitting with the ‘Ant-Man’ franchise, A, and then, B, we’re OK with a coincidence in Act One. I think all screenplays are. These two people meet and therefore they have a romance, and that’s only through coincidence, etc. So the idea that a rat saved the universe was kind of delightful to us.”
Markus said, “It’s not really a coincidence. It’s an incident.”
“And it took five years to happen,” said McFeely, “and undoubtedly, Doctor Strange [Benedict Cumberbatch] saw it.”
Q. Why didn’t Nebula warn the Avengers about the sacrifice needed to get the Soul Stone?
A. She didn’t know.
In “Infinity War,” Thanos receives the Soul Stone by sacrificing Gamora (Zoe Saldana) at Vormir. Nebula seems to know Thanos killed Gamora, saying as much to Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) in “Infinity War.” So, following “Endgame,” some fans wondered why she didn’t warn the Avengers that they would also have to make a sacrifice to retrieve the stone.
“That’s super easy. Why would she [know]?” said McFeely.
“She was not on Vormir when Thanos killed Gamora,” said Markus, explaining that she knew Gamora was dead but didn’t know why or how Thanos had done the deed. “Only people who had been to Vormir and talked to the Red Skull would know that answer.”
On why Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) was ultimately the character the Avengers sacrificed for the stone, Markus said, “We had to take two people up there who love each other and we know that Clint [Jeremy Renner] and Natasha [Johansson] have had a very long relationship that they would qualify, and then once we brought them up there it became a question of who is at the end of their story, because we wanted — when we were ‘killing people’ or ending their run — we wanted to make sure that they had closure that there was an appropriateness to the death when it happened so that it would feel heroic and not tragic.”
Q. Where was Gamora at the end of the movie when all the other characters were at Tony’s funeral?
“That’s a good question,” said McFeely when contemplating what happened to Gamora. “It’s certainly a dangling thread that will hopefully inform ‘Guardians 3,’ but it was not one we were prepared to answer and commit to, so I don’t know what [James Gunn] is going to do with that.”
Markus added that she could’ve possibly vanished along with other characters after Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) snapped his fingers while wearing the Infinity Stones, but also, this new version of Gamora (who’s come from another timeline) didn’t know anyone on Earth.
“It would be weird for her to show up at that funeral,” McFeely said.
Q. Is one of the current Avengers an LGBTQ character?
A. In the opinion of the writers, things probably won’t be retconned.
Though director Joe Russo’s cameo as a gay man in the movie is technically the first openly gay character in the MCU, comments from Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige that future LGBTQ characters would be “both ones you’ve seen and ones you haven’t seen,” and similar comments from the Russos, have some speculating that one of the current Avengers is part of the LGBTQ community.
“I assume what will happen when Marvel goes this way, and they will undoubtedly go this way, I don’t think it’ll be retconning a character’s sexuality that you already know. It’ll more likely be part of the roll-out of the character and it’ll just be an accepted part of that character’s backstory,” McFeely said.
Q. Is Goop canon in the MCU?
A. It doesn’t sound like it.
Sorry, Goopheads, Goopsidaisies, Goops! I Did It Againers, it doesn’t look like Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand is a staple in the MCU.
While Tony Stark is attempting to solve the problem of time travel in “Endgame,” Paltrow’s character, Pepper Potts, reads about composting, leaving open the possibility that the character is consuming content from Paltrow’s own brand, Goop. However, the writers put that idea in the compost heap.
Markus said her choice in reading material made sense for the character.
“I mean, she’s living out in the country, and resources are not what they used to be,” he said.
The writers are taking responsibility if anyone starts confusing Paltrow for Potts.
“Sometimes it’s on us whether or not Pepper Potts has bled over into the public perception of Gwyneth Paltrow,” added McFeely.
Q. How is someone’s phone still charged after five years?
When Hawkeye/Clint Barton receives a phone call from his formerly dead wife, Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini), in “Endgame,” it confirms that Thanos’ snap from “Infinity War” had been reversed.
But wait, it’s been five years since the Snap. So ... how is her phone still charged?
“Well, she’s a responsible lady, and really it’s a question of the cell service. Why hasn’t anybody canceled that?” McFeely said.
Markus suggested Hawkeye was keeping the service running and cellphone charged in “the same way you can’t always throw out your dead spouse’s clothes.”
McFeely agreed, joking that the phone was ready to go “even while he was off murdering bad guys.”
Q. Why would anyone eat mayo on hotdogs?
A. Not even the writers know.
One of the more stomach-turning moments of “Endgame” comes in a flashback to when Clint Barton’s family is snapped away. Before they disappear, the family is having a cookout, and Laura Barton asks who would like mayonnaise on their hotdogs.
Please feel free to click out of this article and grab a barf bag.
So where did that condiment combination come from? Was one of the writers just remembering a favorite meal from childhood?
“No, that’s for crazy people. That’s awful,” McFeely said.
Markus said it just evolved from writing about a midwestern family that perhaps isn’t always concerned with having the healthiest menu.
Clarification: This article was updated to clarify when the interview took place.