As the final film of an 11-year epic, Avengers: Endgame pays tribute to some of the most important moments in the MCU timeline. Thanks to the convenient discovery of a form of time travel, Earth's Mightiest Heroes go back to a few of their best movies - even catching a glimpse of some of their biggest moments from an outside perspective. In some cases, they change the course of history; in others, they're simply voyeurs in their own lives.
There are plenty of Easter eggs for MCU fans sprinkled throughout Endgame's time-travel sequences - but more importantly, the moments revisited from the MCU's previous decade often give new meaning to existing scenes. In some cases, we even get a look at what took place when our attention was diverted elsewhere - the moments in between the series' famous scenes. For example, what happens after Loki's detainment, and just what was Thanos up to during his hunt for the Infinity Stones.
It's worth noting that there are major Endgame spoilers below, so keep that in mind as we take a fresh look at the MCU's suddenly revitalized past.
What Originally Happened: The culmination of Phase 1, Joss Whedon's The Avengers, finally saw the team joining forces as they took on the Chitauri in Midtown Manhattan. In the film, the Avengers fight off an entire alien army while Tony Stark flies a rocket into a wormhole and takes out an alien ship.
How Does It Play Into Endgame: The first stop en route to snagging New York's trio of Infinity Stones is this fateful moment from 2012. The Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, and Ant-Man watch this now-familiar fight play out from a nearby alley - and while it isn't narratively important, it does show how far the team has come in a decade's time. That, and the audience gets to remember just how feral Hulk was in his younger, less self-actualized days.
Nü-Hulk, on the other hand, finds another way to make himself useful. He hoofs it to Greenwich Village to visit the Sanctum Santorum, where he finds the Ancient One watching over the fighting. The two spar over possession of the Time Stone - which she is loath to give up, lest its absence throws off the space-time continuum - but he's finally able to convince her otherwise after casually mentioning that Doctor Strange quite deliberately handed it over before the Snap.
What Originally Happened: After Jane Foster absorbs the Aether, Thor takes her to Asgard, where it has to be extracted before it claims her life and wipes out everything around her. Malekith is tricked into drawing the Aether out of Foster, where he bonds with it and goes on a rampage, slaying Thor's mother in the process.
How Does It Play Into Endgame: Thor and Rocket Raccoon are tasked with getting the Reality Stone, AKA the Aether, out of Jane. Thor, however, is nowhere near ready to carry out even this kind of lax, straightforward mission. What he is ready for is... well, drinking, of course. Off he goes to Odin's wine cellar.
But before he can get his hands on a cask of wine, Thor runs into his mother on her last day. Frigga can see right through her son's temporal ruse and implicitly understands he's on a mission from the future and needs a pep talk from his mother to get back in the saddle. While he's at it, Thor discovers he's still worthy of Mjolnir, despite his new fondness for online gaming. Meanwhile, Rocket is able to more or less complete the mission by himself, and he and Thor escape with the Reality Stone in hand (or paw).
What Originally Happened: Vormir is the barren planet where the Soul Stone is guarded by Red Skull. In Avengers 3, Thanos throws his daughter Gamora off a cliff, trading her soul for the planet's Infinity Stone.
How Does It Play Into Endgame: Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) beat Thanos to the planet, but they're faced with the same requirement: one of them has to give their life for the Soul Stone. An elaborate back-and-forth ensues, with both heroes attempting (repeatedly) to off themselves in order to save the other. In the end, it's Natasha who "wins," giving her life so Hawkeye can retrieve the Soul Stone and save his family.
What Originally Happened: While on Morag in 2014, Peter Quill makes his way into the Power Stone's hiding place - though he's unaware of it at the time. Guardians of the Galaxy's opening moments introduced us to Quill as he goofs off and dances to his trusty mixtape, a charming intro for a charming scoundrel.
How Did It Play Out In Endgame: Rhodey and Nebula arrive on Morag moments after Quill. They watch him sing and dance his way into the temple that contains the precious gem they're after. Amongst themselves, they make fun of him for a minute - their early impressions of the guy are not strong, to say the least - before Rhodey knocks him out cold and Nebula grabs the Power Stone. They both make it safely back to the present... sort of. By the time she's back at the lab circa 2023, Nebula has, unbeknownst to the rest of the group, been swapped out for her still-villainous 2014 self.