'Avengers: Endgame' ending explained: Who died, who survived and what comes next (spoilers!)

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

If you haven't seen Endgame, set aside three hours and stop reading immediately because SPOILERS.

So you've seen Avengers: Endgame and you're wondering: Where does the Marvel Cinematic Universe go from here?

The epic conclusion of the fourth Avengers film fundamentally changes the status quo of the world we know and love, and quite literally nothing will ever be the same again. Here’s what the ending of Endgame means for the future of the MCU.

(This is your last chance to avert your eyes before the spoilers start.)

Avengers: Endgame features a rematch between Thanos and the Avengers. (Photo: Marvel Studios)

First, every Marvel movie going forward will take place several years in the future. Endgame moves the timeline to 2023, five years after the events of Infinity War. That means that everyone who survived Thanos’s "snapture" is five years older, including Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie, and Harley, the kid from Iron Man 3, who’s now 20. However, all of the returning heroes are the ages they were when they turned to dust. That’s why Peter Parker is still in high school in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Steve Rogers experiences the biggest age jump: After returning the six Infinity Stones to their proper times, he decides to remain in the past with Peggy Carter, finally sharing that dance he promised her at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. He lives a full life in the ensuing decades, and, as an old soldier, passes his shield to Sam Wilson.

But there are two Avengers who will never grow old: Tony Stark and Black Widow. Robert Downey Jr. was there for the beginning of the MCU, and his heroic sacrifice in the final battle against Thanos ensures it will continue long after the death of this Iron Man. It’s only appropriate that Pepper Potts is the last face he sees.

Gwyneth Paltrow has made it pretty clear that Endgame is Pepper’s last hurrah. However, they now have a daughter, Morgan, who's already very interested in the Iron Man suit. Give her a few years and she may be carrying on the family tradition.

Natasha Romanoff took over the Avengers after half the world was dusted, and she steps up for her friends one last time when she sacrifices herself to save Hawkeye and obtain the Soul Stone. It’s the hero’s death that Natasha deserves — and it also means the Black Widow solo film will definitely take place in the past.

Thor has left New Asgard in the hands of Valkyrie and has joined the Guardians of the Galaxy. They're presumably searching for Gamora, who traveled forward in time from 2014 with Thanos, and therefore has missed out on the past nine years of her relationship with Peter Quill and company. (Remember: Present-day Gamora died in Infinity War when Thanos got the Soul Stone, and she's not coming back.)

Bruce Banner is now a hybrid of himself and the Hulk. We’re not sure where Professor Hulk (as he’s known in the comics) is headed from here, but after surviving two Avenger-pocalypses, he deserves a vacation.

Captain Marvel takes off by the end of Endgame, probably to save some of the thousand other planets where she’s apparently the only superhero. Maybe she took Monica Rambeau along, since she’s not in this movie.

Endgame also gives us a good idea what we can expect from the upcoming slate of Disney+ series. With Captain America now retired, the upcoming Falcon and Winter Soldier series will feature a brand-new version of Captain America in Sam, known until now as Falcon. Loki stole the Tesseract once again in 2012, which might mean the upcoming Loki series will feature him bouncing around the new timeline, Infinity Stone in hand. Clint Barton is also getting his own TV series; since he adopted the name Ronin following the Snapture, his daughter may be the new Hawkeye. He certainly seems to be training her in the family business. As for the Vision and Scarlet Witch series Wandavision, it will probably feature Wanda finding a way to bring her android lover back to life, since he's one of the few Avengers who isn't resurrected in Endgame.

Thanos is gone at the end of the film, but those pesky Infinity Stones live on, potentially tempting the next despot-in-training. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has called this portion of the MCU the “Infinity Saga,” which means they probably won’t reappear anytime soon. Endgame was truly the end of an era. Here's hoping the next superhero decade is as marvelous as the first.

Avengers: Endgame is playing everywhere.

Watch Paul Rudd and Jeremy Renner on the most bonkers Avengers: Endgame theory ever:

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle's newsletter.