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April 24, 2019

'Avengers: Endgame': Getting caught up on the many superhero characters

The new superhero film has literally dozens of characters. Here's how to keep them all straight.

Movies Avengers
The Avengers in Endgame Walt Disney Pictures /for PhillyVoice

The Avengers characters early on in "Avengers: Endgame"

"Avengers: Endgame," the latest and most ambitious film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon to date, finally hits theaters this weekend, with the first local screenings set for the 6 p.m. hour on Thursday night. The film is expected to break box office records worldwide. 

The new film puts to an end several major storylines that have been told by the Marvel films for over a decade, as the heroes deal with the fallout of last year's "Avengers: Infinity War," which ended with big alien supervillain Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapping his fingers and instantly killing half of humanity, including several prominent superheroes. 

A lot of people are obsessed fans of the Marvel superhero mythology, with encyclopedic knowledge of the comic book source material and instant recall of just about every person, planet, and storyline from the previous 21 films. 

But most of us are not that. And even though I've seen every MCU film at least once, I often find myself asking friends of mine after the movie to fill me in on who that guy was, or what that person's powers are, or what the heck was going on in that post-credits teaser. 

This is for the latter group: A guide to the Avengers and other MCU characters, based on where they stand heading into Endgame. Please note: This story does not contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, but does contain some character and plot spoilers from earlier Marvel movies.

Character: Iron Man/Tony Stark 

Actor: Robert Downey, Jr.

Powers: Flying, super-strength, and others, through his Iron Man suit; extreme wealth, brilliant scientist. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive 

Character: Captain America/Steve Rodgers 

Actor: Chris Evans 

Powers: Agility, strength, speed, powerful Vibranium shield. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: Spider-man/Peter Parker 

Actor: Tom Holland. 

Powers: Speed, quick "Spidey-sense" reflexes, ability to shoot webs from his wrists and swing from buildings. 

Status, Post-Snap: Dead (but nevertheless headlining a movie that comes out July 5.) 

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in "Avengers: Endgame"

Character: Thor 

Actor: Chris Hemsworth 

Powers: Super-strength, ability to wield hammer, is the Norse God of Thunder. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: The Hulk/Bruce Banner

Actor: Mark Ruffalo 

Powers: Super-strength,  ability to turn into the big green Hulk, and channel anger to sometimes positive ends. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Paul Rudd as Ant-Man in "Avengers:Endgame"

Character: Ant-Man/Scott Lang 

Actor: Paul Rudd 

Powers: Ability to shrink to microscopic size - or grow to enormous size- while wearing a special suit. Ability to never age, although that may just be the actor playing him. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive, but was stuck in the Quantum Realm at the conclusion of last year's "Ant-Man and the Wasp" after his three colleagues were snapped out of existence by Thanos. 

Character: Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers 

Actor: Brie Larson 

Powers: Super-strength, flight, the ability to handle massive amounts of energy, and absorb the insults of the world's most odious Internet trolls. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: Star Lord/Peter Quill 

Actor: Chris Pratt 

Powers: Strategy, spaceship piloting, and encyclopedic knowledge of 1970s and '80s rock music. 

Status, Post-Snap: Dead, along with "Guardians of the Galaxy" characters Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). 

Rocket Racoon in "Avengers: Endgame"

Character: Rocket

Actor: Bradley Cooper (voice) 

Powers: A raccoon who can speak, crack jokes, wear human clothes, and use weapons. 

Status, Post Snap: Alive. 

Character: Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange 

Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch 

Powers: A surgeon-turned-sorcerer with the ability to create time loops. 

Status, Post Snap: Dead.  

Character: Nick Fury 

Actor: Samuel L. Jackson 

Powers: No superpowers, but an expert leader and organizer of The Avengers. 

Status, Post-Snap: Dead, but appeared in de-aged prequel form in last month's "Captain Marvel" movie.

Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow in 'Avengers: Endgame'

Character: Black Widow/Natasha Romanova

Actor: Scarlett Johannson. 

Powers: Agility, acrobatics, spying and subterfuge. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: Black Panther/T'Challa

Actor: Chadwick Boseman 

Powers: Strength, speed, access to proprietary Wakandan technology. 

Status, Post-Snap: Dead along with his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright.)  

Character: Hawkeye/Clint Barton

Actor: Jeremy Renner 

Powers: Archery and other forms of fighting. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: War Machine/James Rhodes 

Actor: Don Cheadle (formerly Terrence Howard) 

Powers: Like Iron Man, ability to fly and do other stunts while wearing a special suit. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff 

Actor: Elizabeth Olson 

Powers: Magic, ability to avoid confusion with Black Widow even though both of them are named "Scarlet(t.)" 

Status, Post-Snap: Dead. 

Character: Valkyrie 

Actor: Tessa Thompson 

Powers: Strength, fighting ability, very good at drinking. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: Nebula 

Actor: Karen Gillan

Powers: Strength, athleticism, cybernetic implants, ability to fire blasts from her wrists. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes

Actor: Sebastian Stan 

Powers: Advanced super-soldier, still looks youthful even though he's nearly 100 years old. 

Status, Post-Snap: Dead.

Character: Falcon/Sam Wilson 

Actor: Anthony Mackie 

Powers: Flight, with use of a suit. 

Status, Post-Snap: Dead. 

Character: Vision 

Actor: Paul Bettany 

Powers: A powerful android who can manipulate his body . 

Status, Post-Snap: Died in Infinity War, prior to the snap. 

Character: Okoye

Actor: Danai Gurira

Powers: A strong and powerful Wakandan warrior and military commander. 

Status, Post-Snap: Alive. 

Character: Gamora

Actor: Zoe Saldana

Powers: Superhuman strength, healing, and agility. 

Status, Post-Snap: Died in Infinity War, prior to the snap. 

So that's more than 20 characters, which somehow doesn't scratch the surface of the depth of the cast that's assembled here. Beyond those first 23, plus Thanos himself, there's an even more extended cast of supporting characters. I'm counting in the third tier of the cast no fewer than six Oscar winners- Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Redford, Michael Douglas, William Hurt, Tilda Swinton, as well as one more person whose name I'll leave out because it would constitute a spoiler. John Slattery is in the film, as is Michelle Pfeiffer. 

And on a more somber note, the film also marks the last of the trademark cameos delivered by Marvel co-founder Stan Lee, who passed away last November. 

So now that you're all caught up, enjoy "Avengers: Endgame."