Thanos" 2024 MCU Return Proves Why The Franchise Still Can’t Escape Endgame 5 Years Later

  • Thanos continues to appear despite the MCU's focus on newer narratives within the Multiverse Saga.
  • Marvel's emphasis on Infinity Stones and Thanos in a "What If...?"spinoff showcases their reluctance to shift focus.
  • The MCU is struggling to move on from Thanos and Endgame, impacting the development of new villains like Kang the Conqueror.
Thanos is once again returning in 2024, proving that the MCU can't move on from Avengers: Endgame even five years after it was released. The MCU's obsession with Avengers: Endgame isn't entirely surprising, given that it is the MCU's highest-grossing movie, and the second highest-grossing movie of all time (beaten by Avatar after it was re-released). Needless to say, while hitting the heady heights of a $2 billion movie isn't a realistic expectation for most upcoming MCU projects, Marvel seems preoccupied with focusing on its proven successes.
Nevertheless, the MCU needs to start backing its new narrative by shifting focus. 2024 is a sparse year for MCU releases, and it remains unclear whether the only cinematic release - Deadpool & Wolverine - will also feature a Thanos variant. Regardless, he has reared his purple head once more in an unusual spinoff, adding to the plethora of post-Endgame appearances - even if it is outside the main MCU timeline.
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What If…? – An Immersive Story Brought Back Thanos Again In 2024 What If…? – An Immersive Story is a mixed reality video game exclusively playable on the Apple Vision Pro, and features a slew of MCU characters appearing as variants across the multiverse. A trailer for the video game was released on YouTube, and depicts what prospective players can expect from the game - namely, a healthy dose of Infinity Stones and, of course, Thanos. While the video game features the main narrative arc of the Multiverse Saga in the form of the multiverse itself, the Infinity Stones and their effects are just as central.
While the game seems to provide a compelling gameplay loop in the form of collecting the Infinity Stones, it's all too apparent that the MCU is not yet comfortable relying on the Multiverse Saga and its own arch villain, Kang the Conqueror.
Suffice it to say, where there are Infinity Stones, there's Thanos, and the Mad Titan can be seen in the trailer wielding the Reality Stone with his bare hands. While the game seems to provide a compelling gameplay loop in the form of collecting the Infinity Stones, it's all too apparent that the MCU is not yet comfortable relying on the Multiverse Saga and its own arch villain, Kang the Conqueror. Instead, Thanos is back with a vengeance and continues a frustrating trend despite him ostensibly dying for good in Avengers: Endgame.
Thanos Has Been A Constant Presence In Marvel's On-Screen Franchise Despite His Endgame Death Close So far, Thanos has been killed eight times in the MCU, which is indicative of how often the Mad Titan has appeared in a post-Infinity Saga landscape. This is largely thanks to shows like What If...? bringing back Thanos variants, though MCU movies have also leaned into Thanos' legacy with the trailer for The Marvels even featuring his voice in what seemed like a cynical effort to drive last-minute ticket sales. With his appearance in What If…? – An Immersive Story, Thanos has now appeared more times in the Multiverse Saga than he has in the Infinity Saga.
Thanos Appearances
Where He Appeared
MCU Saga
The Avengers
Post-credits scene
Infinity Saga
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interacting with Ronan the Accuser
Infinity Saga
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Post-credits scene
Infinity Saga
Avengers: Infinity War
Infinity Saga
Avengers: Endgame
Infinity Saga
What If...? Season 1
Episode 2: What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?
Multiverse Saga
Episode 5: What If... Zombies?!
Multiverse Saga
Episode 8: What If... Ultron Won?
Multiverse Saga
Loki Season 1
Footage of Loki's death
Multiverse Saga
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Killed on Titan on Earth-838
Multiverse Saga
What If...? Season 2
Episode 4: What If... Iron Man Crashed into the Grandmaster
Multiverse Saga
Episode 7: What If... Hela Found the Ten Rings?
Multiverse Saga
Episode 8: What If... the Avengers Assembled in 1602
Multiverse Saga
Thanos' omnipresence is now becoming an issue for the Multiverse Saga. Despite the focus on the Mad Titan significantly sidelining the character that is supposed to be replacing him - namely, Kang - it also hammers home the notion that the multiverse negates the stakes as death becomes irrelevant. More frustrating, however, are the myriad instances in which Thanos is mentioned, or archived footage is used, highlighting how the MCU can't move on.
The MCU Will Never Escape Thanos & Endgame If Their Stories Keep Being Used Close MCU Phase 4 was ostensibly poised to tell the story of those involved in the Infinity Saga dealing with the after-effects. This was arguably achieved, with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ostensibly launching MCU Phase 5 and Kang the Conqueror as the new overarching threat for the MCU's inhabitants to focus on. Yet less than one year later, Thanos was once again up to his usual tricks after featuring twice in What If...? season 2 while Kang didn't feature at all.
Kang's MCU future still remains unclear following Jonathan Majors' departure and no confirmed recast.
This makes it incredibly difficult for the MCU to move on from Thanos and have audiences invest in its new narrative. While it is entirely within the purview of What If...? to keep featuring long-dead characters, Marvel's apprehension to spotlight its new big bad makes marketing him as "the new Thanos" near impossible. Whether Deadpool & Wolverine will lean into Kang the Conqueror and sidestep all mention of Thanos remains to be seen, but time is running short for the MCU to move away from Avengers: Endgame.
Avengers: Endgame PG-13 The penultimate chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame, marks the finale of the first three phases of the MCU and acts as part two of Avengers: Infinity War. With Earth's Mightiest Heroes failing to stop Thanos from wiping out half of all existence, the heroes discover one final chance to make things right. Journeying back through space and time, the surviving Avengers attempt to stop Thanos before all is lost.
Director Joe Russo , Anthony Russo Release Date April 26, 2019 Cast Chris Hemsworth , Anthony Mackie , Paul Rudd , Robert Downey Jr. , Scarlett Johansson , Mark Ruffalo , Evangeline Lilly , Sebastian Stan , Josh Brolin , Elizabeth Olsen , Tom Holland , Don Cheadle , Samuel L. Jackson , Bradley Cooper , Karen Gillan , Brie Larson , Paul Bettany , Chris Evans , Jeremy Renner , Chadwick Boseman Runtime 182 Minutes Expand
Upcoming MCU Movies
Release Date
Deadpool & Wolverine
July 26, 2024
Captain America: Brave New World
February 14, 2025
May 5, 2025
The Fantastic Four
July 25, 2025
November 7, 2025
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
May 1, 2026
Avengers: Secret Wars
May 7, 2027

Source: YouTube


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