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Avengers: Twilight ending explained: Inside the conclusion of Marvel’s answer to The Dark Knight Returns

How does Avengers: Twilight end and what does it mean for the future of the Marvel Universe?

Captain America vs. Red Skull
Image credit: Marvel

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In 1986, DC Comics published Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, rocking the comic book industry. The comic told the story of an aged Batman coming out of retirement to fight crime in a dystopian future.

Now, it’s Marvel’s turn.

Avengers: Twilight follows an elderly Steve Rogers, who becomes Captain America again when America has fallen to fascism in an alternate future Marvel Universe. In this world, most of Marvel’s heroes are dead, and the rest have been driven underground, as the Red Skull has infiltrated the United States government, driving the nation to fascism.

Everything culminates in Avengers: Twilight #6, written by Chip Zdarsky and illustrated by Daniel Acuna, as the Avengers have their final showdown with Red Skull. Who lives, who dies, and what does it mean for the future of the Marvel Universe? Let’s break down the epic conclusion to Avengers: Twilight.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Twilight #6!

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How does Avengers: Twilight end?

Red Skull vs. Captain America in Avengers: Twilight
Image credit: Marvel

In the final issue of the series, the Avengers have their final showdown with Red Skull in Washington DC. To even the odds, Red Skull unleashes the Hulk, who he has been controlling for years. Thor battles the Hulk in an epic fight that takes the two Avengers around the globe. Although he’s being mind-controlled, Bruce Banner’s mind is still in Hulk’s body. Banner feels guilt for being used as a weapon and begs Thor to kill him. The God of Thunder reluctantly obliges, ending Hulk’s life.

Back in Washington DC, the return of Wasp (who was missing and presumed dead) turns the tide for the Avengers. Captain America tricks Red Skull into revealing his crimes on a televised feed, exposing his fascist scheme to the entire globe. Cap then kills the Red Skull, but the villain has one last surprise. Skull hid a bomb in his body, and his death activates a failsafe that triggers the explosive.

Feeling remorse for his role in Red Skull’s rise, James Stark prepares to fly the bomb away, but Tony takes it from him. The original Iron Man flies the bomb into space, where it explodes away from the population. Unfortunately, Tony loses his life in the process.

Hulk and Iron Man reunite in Valhalla, the Asgardian afterlife. Tony reasons that Thor must have pulled some strings to get them a spot there. Thor returns to his throne on Asgard, where Loki reveals that he had secretly engineered things so that Thor would rejoin his Avengers teammates.

Due to his weakened health, Steve Rogers retires as Captain America. James Stark rebuilds Avengers Mansion as an act of penance. Ms. Marvel and the new Hawkeye (Ramona Jones) show up to help, hinting that a new team of Avengers might be on the horizon.

Who dies in Avengers: Twilight?

Hulk and Iron Man in the afterlife
Image credit: Marvel

From the very beginning, it was clear that Avengers: Twilight wasn’t playing around. Many of Marvel’s most iconic heroes, including Spider-Man, were killed in flashbacks, and the present day wasn’t much safer. Red Skull’s reign of terror claimed numerous lives, including the President of the United States.

Avengers: Twilight #6 featured a few notable deaths. Hulk dies battling Thor. Hulk spent years being controlled by Red Skull and didn’t want to live with his body being used as a weapon. Consider Thor’s final blow a mercy killing.

Red Skull is killed during his final battle with Captain America. After weakening Red Skull, Captain America finishes off the villain by slamming his shield into his chest. However, Red Skull left a failsafe in his armor. Once his heart stopped beating, a bomb within his body began counting down. Tony Stark sacrificed his life by flying the bomb away from Earth’s atmosphere.

However, there was a twist to these deaths. Thor was able to pull some strings, giving Hulk and Iron Man a spot in Valhalla, the Asgardian afterlife. The other Asgardians offer the two fallen Avengers drinks, but Tony keeps asking for the non-alcoholic options. This raises an interesting question – how does sobriety work in the afterlife?

Are there any surprises in Avengers: Twilight #6?

Loki and Thor in Avengers: Twilight
Image credit: Marvel

Avengers: Twilight #6 featured a surprise appearance from Loki, who was more involved in the plot than any of us realized. Let’s rewind...

In Avengers: Twilight #3 Steve Rogers asks a resistance fighter named Tyler to send an Asgardian distress signal, hoping it would summon Thor. Tyler’s signal works, with Thor showing up at the end of the issue to save the day. The God of Thunder’s appearance was a game changer which helped the Avengers defeat Red Skull.

However, it turns out there was more to Tyler’s distress signal. Thor returns to Asgard in Avengers: Twilight #6, where he’s greeted by his brother Loki. The God of Mischief then reveals that he silently influenced Tyler, helping the tech genius build the distress signal. “You’ve been quite moody of late. The crown grinding you down. I figured a whisper here and there to get your attention wouldn’t be the worst thing,” Loki says.

Loki reminds Thor that he was the one who brought the Avengers together in Avengers #1 (1963), so it was only fitting that he once again help re-assemble the team for their final battle. “After all these years, I’ve actually grown quite fond of you, dear brother. And getting you out of the house seemed like a good idea. These things are in your nature, adventure, helping, avenging,” Loki says.

Who are the new Avengers?

The next generation of Marvel's Avengers
Image credit: Marvel

After defeating Red Skull, it appears the Avengers have gone their separate ways. Thor returns to Asgard, and Captain America retires due to his weakened physical condition. However, we do see the beginning of a new Avengers team...

After the showdown with Red Skull, James Stark begins rebuilding Avengers Mansion by himself. It appears to be his way of coping with the loss of his father, and the realization that he had been working with a literal Nazi.

As James continues silently rebuilding the mansion, Ms. Marvel and the new Hawkeye (Ramona Jones) approach him. James is initially reluctant to accept their help, but Kamala insists. “It’ll be stronger. It’ll be better if we do it together,” Kamala says. The issue concludes with the trio silently working together to rebuild Avengers Mansion. This appears to be the beginning of a new Avengers team. Perhaps one day we’ll see them in action.

Will there be a sequel to Avengers: Twilight?

Captain America and Wasp in Avengers: Twilight
Image credit: Marvel

Marvel hasn’t announced any plans for an Avengers: Twilight sequel. However, money talks, and if sales for the Avengers: Twilight trade paperback collection do well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel commissioned a sequel. According to ICv2’s sales figures, Avengers: Twilight has done well for Marvel. Avengers: Twilight #5 was the 10th best-selling comic for April, beating out Blood Hunt: Red Band #1 and DC's Nightwing.

A sequel could take some time. As Tom Brevoort recently detailed, it took almost 10 years for Avengers: Twilight to come together. However, the success of the limited series might motivate Marvel to put something together sooner. As we’ve noted, the ending to Avengers: Twilight does give Marvel the perfect setup for a sequel.

An advance review copy of Avengers: Twilight #6 was provided ahead of release by Marvel.

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