Here’s what the other prominent heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were doing during The Avengers. The sixth film in the MCU proved to be a defining moment for this franchise and the rest of Hollywood. Marvel Studios successfully brought together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain America (Chris Evans) after solo films, which also introduced Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). And with Mark Ruffalo taking over as Hulk, they assembled six major characters to take on Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
The Avengers earned rave reviews, eclipsed $1.5 billion worldwide, and proved that the shared universe formula could work on the big screen like never before. While this has launched several copycats, the MCU continues to stand alone in how it has grown this universe. In the seven years since The Avengers hit theaters, Marvel Studios has released seventeen more movies. The most recent wave ended Phase 3 of the MCU in epic style, as almost every Marvel character imaginable was featured in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
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The introductions of so many other characters gift the MCU with the ability to retcon them into past events when possible. This was on display in Avengers: Endgame, as the main time travel mission to the Battle of New York from The Avengers featured some surprise cameos by MCU veterans. Since all of the MCU characters live in the same universe, many of them were alive and around when Loki and the Chitauri invaded. But, have you ever wondered what exactly all the other MCU characters who weren’t in The Avengers were up to during this time? Here’s what we know.
Thanks to the time travel scenes from Avengers: Endgame, we know with absolute certainty what The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) was doing during the attack. It was shown that she was actually doing her part to help combat the Chituari invasion. The movie showed her on top of the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York destroying some of the aliens who flew by. So, even though the MCU didn’t introduce her until a few years later, The Ancient One was secretly helping the Avengers save the day back in 2012.
Avengers: Endgame also provides the answer for what Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is up to during the invasion. The Avengers predates him learning about magic, so he is instead still one of the best surgeons in the world. And even though aliens are invading, The Ancient One says that Strange is literally in the middle of operating during it, just a few blocks down. Amidst all the chaos and destruction happening around him, the likelihood of Strange having successful surgery is all the more impressive.
Thanks to the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, we can roughly answer what Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is doing during The Avengers. He was abducted by Yondu (Michael Rooker) in 1988 and stays with him and the Ravagers from that point on. While we don’t know exactly what Star-Lord was doing on this day, he was nowhere close to this invasion of his home planet.
Rocket & Groot
It is believed that Rocket and Groot are also both far away from Earth during The Avengers. The friends have yet to pair up with the rest of the Guardians by this point in time, but they likely have met each other already. Guardians of the Galaxy mentions that Groot has recently been Rocket’s muscle, so them working together for two years or so makes sense. It’s too bad they weren’t involved with the Battle of New York though, as a deleted scene from Avengers: Endgame revealed Rocket could’ve told them how to defeat the Chitauri with ease.
The past of Drax (Dave Bautista) has largely been unexplored in the MCU, but we do have an idea of where he’d be in 2012. When he is introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax is imprisoned in the Klyn for twenty-two counts of murder and five counts of grievous bodily harm from his rampage after Thanos killed his family. We don’t know exactly how long Drax has been at the Klyn, but it is likely that he’s been locked up for at least the last two years, putting him in the prison during the events of The Avengers.
Gamora & Nebula
As for Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), it is a bit easier to place them during the events of The Avengers. Both of them have been raised by Thanos and worked closely with him up until 2014. With Loki serving the Mad Titan at this time, it is reasonable to believe that they are nearby Thanos to revel in the possible victory. We don’t see them at The Sanctuary in the mid-credits scene for the movie, but that’s probably just because Guardians of the Galaxy had yet to be announced, James Gunn not yet hired, and these actresses not yet cast.
We should also be able to place Mantis (Pom Klementieff) during The Avengers thanks to the backstory given to her in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She is established as a caretaker for Ego (Kurt Russell) who helps him rest – and may even be one of his children. The movie makes it seem as though Mantis and Ego have been working together for years, possibly even decades if Mantis was brought to Ego as a child. Either way, Mantis is likely with Ego during 2012.
One of the youngest heroes in the MCU, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man (Tom Holland) may also be one of the few non-active heroes to experience the invasion first hand. Peter would be a pre-teen at this point in the MCU timeline and still living in Queens. He would likely be safe from the invasion, but the giant wormhole in the sky and the aliens flying around the city could potentially be visible at a distance. At the very least, Peter could watch portions of the attack on the news, but he definitely isn’t fighting aliens at this time.
When the Battle of New York is taking place, it appears that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) would be just about to pull off one of his biggest heists. He broke into VistaCorp’s network and gave money back to customers who were stolen from, and then proceeded to break into his boss’ home and drive his car into the pool. He was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, with his release set for July 2015. This would mean he gets arrested around the same time in 2012, which would be a few months after The Avengers.
Hope van Dyne
The MCU hasn’t revealed too much about what Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) was up to prior to 2015, so her whereabouts during the 2012 event are difficult to confirm. It would appear that she’s been part of Pym Industries for years and working out of their San Francisco location. If so, then this is presumably where she would also be during the Battle of New York.
T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is several years away from becoming Black Panther during the events of The Avengers, but it easy to guess where he is at that moment. The future king of Wakanda was likely residing in the technologically advanced nation. While he and his fellow Wakandans did not help out in the fight, it is unknown if that option was even in consideration for them.
Unlike some recent entries, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel’s (Brie Larson) backstory before The Avengers has been plainly established. After breaking free from the Kree in 1995, Carol leaves Earth again to help the Skrulls find a new home planet. She presumably does not return to Earth until she responds to Nick Fury’s page in 2018. So, Carol is out patrolling the cosmos during this time, either still helping the Skrulls or lending a hand to anyone else who was in need. Little did she know that Earth could’ve used her help, though.
Based on the limited knowledge we have on Valkyrie’s (Tessa Thompson) life before Thor: Ragnarok, we can’t definitively state where she was during 2012. She hasn’t been part of Asgard’s Valkyrie unit in ages and wound up on Sakarr afterward. She appears to have a strong working relationship with Grandmaster and a friendship with Hulk, so her time on the planet at least goes back a few years. Without any other details on her, the likeliest explanation is that Valkyrie was on Sakarr back then as well.
Sam Wilson aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie) is still a few years away from becoming a superhero during the Battle of New York. At this time, it is possible that he is still part of the Air Force and nearing the end of his second tour. But, we do not know when he left the military after the death of his wingman, so Sam may already be back stateside and helping veterans deal with PTSD in Washington D.C.
Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) is also not yet a superhero during the Battle of New York, and was likely not close to the events at all. She should still be living in Sokovia at this time with her brother Pietro. The movies have established their hatred for Tony Stark specifically as a Stark weapon killed their parents. Since Hydra does not yet have Loki’s scepter to show them how to create enhanced individuals, it is unlikely that Wanda has already signed up for experimentation.
As for James ‘Bucky’ Barnes aka Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), nailing down what he was up to during The Avengers is fairly easy. Bucky was still operating as a secret assassin for Hydra during 2012. We do not know of any missions he’s assigned to during this time though, so it is unlikely that he is out and about during the attack. Instead, the safe bet is that he is frozen at this time.
What James Rhodes aka War Machine (Don Cheadle) is doing during The Avengers is a bit more complicated. According to an Iron Man 3 prelude comic, Rhodey was busy searching for members of the Ten Rings in Asia during the attack. The comic explains that Tony actually called Rhodey to tell him to come to help out, but he was not able to based on his current location. He winds up getting back to New York just as the attack is over and the Avengers wrap up their shawarma feast. Whether or not this backstory is MCU canon is up for debate, but it is the best explanation Marvel has given thus far for his absence.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022