Avengers 4 title is Avengers: Endgame, but what does that mean?

Doctor Strange said it in Infinity War, and there's a connection to the world of chess.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

By now, all Marvel fans worth their webbing have watched the Avengers 4 trailer, which dropped Friday morning after a seemingly endless wait

Watch this: Avengers: Endgame trailer revealed

It's a rather depressing preview. Iron Man looks to be hours away from dying in space, Shuri may have been snapped, and even the ever-optimistic Captain America sounds like he's about to throw in the star-spangled towel.

Then there's that title: Avengers: Endgame, which didn't come out of nowhere. It's been a contender for several months. Back in September, directors Joe and Anthony Russo released a mysterious black and white photo of Joe Russo on the set with the enigmatic caption, "Look hard..."

To some, the photo appeared to be just an almost-empty set. Put those ladders away, maintenance guys. But other fans looked into the image with an almost psychic gaze. Twitter user Patrick Smith sketched out the word "ENDGAME" using shelves, ladders, an archway, and even Russo himself.

"I like to follow movie news and rumors, and I had heard several possible titles and squinting at the photo, I could see Endgame fitting if I took a few artistic liberties," Smith told me Friday after his guess got confirmed. "So I took a quick screenshot, outlined how I saw the name fitting and fired off a reply."

After the title was announced Friday, other Marvel fans remembered Smith's correct prediction. 

"(Twitter users) have been returning to congratulate me on guessing right," he said. "I don't think I was the first person to guess it correctly by a long shot, but maybe the fastest to reply to the Russos."

At least one Twitter user thought Smith's psychic abilities should be rewarded.

So what's the title mean? Remember back to Avengers: Infinity War? Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) ominously tells Tony Stark, "We're in the end game now."

"End game," whether one word as in the title, or two, simply means the end of something. So many people were looking it up on Friday that even the official Merriam-Webster dictionary site offered up a definition.

The term actually comes from the chess world, Merriam-Webster points out. And if you know anything about chess, you know it's an inspired choice. 

Thanos and the Avengers were matched in a giant game of chess, and then Thanos pulled out what seems to be a checkmate. But the game may not be over, and Doctor Strange himself made a baffling sacrifice, handing over the time stone to Thanos, just as chess players may strategically sacrifice a piece to build toward an eventual victory. He tells Tony it's the only way he's visualized the Avengers winning, but at what cost?

We'll all find out when the endgame plays out in April.

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Everything we think we know about Avengers: Endgame: Think Avengers: Infinity War was intense? Stay tuned for part two.

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