Newly discovered 'Avengers: Endgame' cameo revealed in VFX breakdown

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in a key scene from Avengers: Endgame. (Cinesite)

Just when you thought there were no more Easter eggs to be unearthed in Avengers: Endgame, a brand new one has been revealed in a VFX breakdown shared today by Cinesite.

The London-based VFX company - which completed 264 shots for the record-breaking Marvel film - has posted a new VFX Breakdown Reel, ahead of the film coming to DVD and Blu-ray. The four-and-a-half minute long clip highlights the key work completed by the studio, including one scene that reveals an old Marvel character making a previously undiscovered cameo.

The video reveals that Toby Jones’ Captain America villain Arnim Zola appears on screen during the Time Heist sequence in 1970 at Camp Lehigh, the New Jersey S.H.I.E.L.D. base Tony Stark and Steve Rogers visit to steal the Tesseract and some Pym Particles.

Toby Jones' Arnim Zola appears on screen in Avengers: Endgame. (Cinesite/YouTube)

In the film, John Slattery’s Howard Stark says he’s looking for Zola but until now, it wasn’t apparent that the villain actually appeared on screen.

Albeit on a screen, really, really, really far away. His voice can apparently be heard during the film. It’s not clear if Jones recorded new footage for the film, or whether Cinesite used archive footage of the Detectorists actor.

The newly-discovered cameo appears at the 44-second mark of the video below.

Toby Jones first played HYDRA scientist Arnim Zola in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Zola worked alongside Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt AKA Red Skull, before he switched allegiances and joined S.H.I.E.L.D. as part of Operation Paperclip after WW2 ended.

In 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johnasson) discover that Zola had been a HYDRA sleeper agent until his death in 1972 from a terminal illness, and had been instrumental in turning Bucky Barnes into The Winter Soldier.

Read more: Endgame Easter egg guide

Before his death Zola uploaded his mind to “200,000 feet of databanks” on the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, allowing his consciousness to continue when his body couldn’t. From his hidden base, Zola assisted HYDRA, working on Project Insight in the shadows.

Toby Jones as Arnim Zola in Captain America: The First Avenger (Marvel Studios)

Zola is ultimately destroyed during The Winter Soldier when HYDRA destroys the base and its computers while trying to kill Captain America and Black Widow.

His appearance in Avengers: Endgame, on a screen, suggests that Zola had begun work on uploading his brain to the S.H.I.E.L.D. computers in 1970, two years before his death.

A large portion of Cinesite’s work was based around the Avengers revisiting scenes from previous films as they attempt to retrieve the infinity stones. Cinesite VFX supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp said, “Our work referenced three previous Marvel films; Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), so the aesthetics were an important challenge; we had to match the look and tone of the originals faithfully.”

In total, Cinesite’s team numbered around 160, including support, and work took eight months to complete.

Avengers: Endgame is out on Digital in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ 19 August, followed by a physical release on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, 3D Blu-Ray™ (3 discs) and DVD beginning 2 September, 2019.