SPOILER WARNING: Please do not proceed in this article if you have yet to see the blockbuster film Avengers: Endgame and do not wish to have the movie ruined for you…
Avengers Endgame is Marvel’s newest entry into their widespread cinematic universe, and is arguably the biggest movie ever, and how does The Roundup handle writing about the biggest movie ever? They bring in Marvel enthusiast and Student Body President Will Florer to co-write this article discussing the film. In this article we’ll discuss the best ten moments/payoffs in the film ranging all the way from Captain America saying “Hail Hydra” to Stan Lee’s final cameo, but no matter where we rank moments it can be assured that the 22nd installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the craziest comic book adventure yet.
10. MCU Nostalgia
Since a majority of this list is comprised of moments that longtime MCU (Marvel-Cinematic Universe) fans will appreciate, what better way to kick it off than to give the #10 spot to all of the MCU nostalgia, easter eggs, and cameos sprinkled throughout the film.
Endgame brought back long-lost, older, and supposedly missing characters from past films including Korg, Jane Foster, Thor’s mother, Secretary of State Alexander Pierce, and even the Stark’s butler Jarvis.
Beyond these shocking character callbacks, the plot of the 4th Avengers film allowed the audience to journey back to prior MCU locations/moments including the Battle of New York, Asgard, Morag, and Captain America’s original army-training grounds. Witnessing these classic characters and locations reprise their roles on the big screen added much excitement to the Endgame experience, especially for dedicated Marvel fans.
9. Tony Stark and Howard Stark
Though each and every aforementioned ‘past-character cameo’ was special in its own right, the standout ‘revived character’ was none other than Tony Stark’s father, Howard Stark.
Thanks to Endgame’s use of time-travel as a plot device, Tony Stark had the unique opportunity to converse with his father (a version of his father who was coincidentally still waiting for Tony to be born in his own life) while being roughly his same age. Admittedly, this scene includes several hilarious moments, however its real significance stems from the genuine words passed between the out-of-place son and his father.
At one point in the conversation, Howard tells Tony “the greater good has rarely outweighed my own self-interest,” an ironic nod to Tony’s own internal transformation over the course of the entire MCU from a self-indulging billionaire to a philanthropic hero. After both men share some wisdom with one another, this powerful scene concludes with Tony hugging his confused father and saying “thank you,” a slightly poignant yet comedic moment in the film.
8. Resolution to the Civil War Conflict
Over the course of this nearly 3-hour blockbuster, the audience finally receives an answer regarding the Tony vs. Steve conflict established in Captain America: Civil War. When the two last parted, Steve left his famous shield stabbed in Tony’s Ironman armor, symbolically walking away from the Captain America mantle and building a large barrier between the two heroes.
At the beginning of this film when the two are finally reunited, Tony continues to substantiate the conflict between them as he verbally attacks Steve saying “we lost, and you weren’t there” before passing out in a fit of rage. After the film’s 5 year time jump which allows these tensions to cool, we finally see Tony and Steve come together again when Tony chooses to help the team bring back ‘the vanished’ and in the process he gives the Captain America shield back to Steve openly admitting “I made it for you,” an action helping to mend the deep wounds of their complicated past. During Endgame’s conclusion, the duo fully trust each other once again and fight alongside one another as Ironman and Captain America one last time.
7. Black Widow and Hawkeye on Vormir
Early on in the film, Ant-Man conveniently nicknames the driving plot of Endgame’s story the “time heist”. Essentially, to pull off this time heist the team must split up and journey back in time to collect all 6 Infinity Stones so that they can undo the devastating damage of Thanos’ “snap” in Avengers: Infinity War.
Black Widow and Hawkeye are both assigned to Vormir where they hope to collect the orange Soul Stone and return it to the present. Once arrived, the duo quickly learns of the unforgiving price that must be paid to retrieve the Soul Stone, sacrificing the life of one you love—“a soul for a soul”.
The team exchanges some somber sentiments; Hawkeye claims he should die because of “what [he’s] become,” a ruthless mercenary. Black Widow responds kindly saying, “I don’t judge people on their worst mistakes,” the very line he once spoke to her years ago. After an emotional and physical struggle between the two, Black Widow ultimately dies to retrieve the stone, a sad yet honorable send off for the original female Avenger.
6. The Stark Family
Transitioning from that dismal sacrifice scene, one of the more light-hearted highlights of Endgame is the addition of Tony’s new lifestyle, complete with his young child Morgan Stark. Tony can no longer be solely defined as a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” Instead, the audience now has the chance to see him as a loving husband and father who only wants the best for his family.
At first, Tony refuses to participate in the time heist since he could never risk losing this new family of his. And even when Tony finally agrees to put his life on the line for the sake of potentially bringing back the victims of Thanos, he clearly outlines his preferred outcomes to Steve Rogers saying, “Bring back what we lost, I hope so, keep what I found, I have to, and…maybe not die trying.”
When Tony eventually fails to achieve this third goal, the pain of his sacrifice is greatly enhanced. Still, we loved the happy Stark family while we had it.
5. Thanos’ Early Death
Arguably Endgame’s most-shocking moment occurs in the first 30 minutes of the film. Picking up right where Avengers: Infinity War left off, we find the remnants of the team angered and dismayed at their crushing defeat. Under the leadership of Steve Rogers and their new ally Captain Marvel, the Avengers go on a rushed mission to a distant planet, hoping to kill Thanos and perhaps undo “the snap”.
When they reach Thanos’ humble planet, they find the villain unguarded and having unfortunately destroyed the Infinity Stones. With their only initial hope of saving the lost universe gone and in a mad fit of rage, Thor chops off the purple man’s big head, shocking both his fellow heroes and the audience.
The real payoff comes from Thor’s subsequent line, “I went for the head,” a comedic nod to the conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War. With Thanos already dead in the first act of the film, the audience sat wondering where Endgame would go next…
4. “Avengers Assemble”
In the climactic scene of the film, the ‘big 3 heroes’ (Ironman, Cap, and Thor) take turns facing off against Thanos—a past version of the big purple villain managed to use time travel against the Avengers so he could challenge them for the fate of the universe one final time. We’ll come back to one of these individual face-offs later on in the list, but for now we’ll examine an outstanding moment after all 3 heroes are bested by the impassioned villain.
A beaten and broken Steve Rogers stands up alone looking upon Thanos and his massive armies, all hope seems lost. Suddenly, the audience and Steve hear the voice of Sam Wilson (The Falcon) in Steve’s earpiece. Wilson, like all the other victims of “the snap”, had been brought back from the dead thanks to the efforts of the remaining Avengers throughout the film.
All of our favorite fallen heroes proceed to enter the battleground through Doctor Strange’s portals, lining up behind Steve in preparation for one of the greatest cinematic battles in history. Accompanied by Alan Silvestri’s iconic score, Steve utters that famous line “Avengers, assemble” and the greatest fight scene in cinematic history begins.
3. Steve and Peggy’s Dance
Advancing on to our picks for the top 3 payoffs in Endgame, we found it very difficult to rank these moments as each one of them was extremely well-written and tied up loose ends from past MCU films in a satisfying manner.
With that being said, the #3 spot goes to the final scene of the film where the audience witnesses Steve Rogers dancing with the love of his life, Peggy Carter, in a small, suburban house. Steve accomplishes this task by making one final journey through time back to the 1940s and opting to remain in the past to live out his days with his once long-lost love.
The directors intentionally included this scene to end the film on an amiable note, since the majority of the film consisted of struggle and suffering. Longtime Marvel fans couldn’t help but feel happy that Steve finally made good of his promise to dance with Peggy, even if it means that Rogers must now pass the Captain America mantle onto a new soldier….Sam Wilson!
2. “I am Ironman”
If that closing scene was the ultimate way for Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers to be written out of the MCU, maybe just maybe the shocking climax of the film was the best way to write out Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.
After the finale’s all-out war carries on for quite some time, the seemingly unstoppable Thanos retrieves the Avengers’ Infinity Gauntlet, looks Tony Stark dead in the eyes, and chillingly reasserts his disposition, “I am inevitable”. The mad-Titan snaps the gauntlet, but surprisingly does not receive his desired outcome.
In a shocking turn of events, Stark reveals that he secretly snatched the Infinity Stones from the gauntlet, allows them to adapt to his armor, boldly looks upon the stunned Thanos, and heroically responds, “And I..am..Ironman,” an iconic line from the first Ironman: the film that kickstarted the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Stark proceeds to snap his fingers, immediately wiping Thanos and his armies from existence and killing himself in the process. The beloved savior of the universe dies in the arms of his wife, Pepper Potts, proving forever he was “the guy to make the sacrifice play”.
1. Captain America Wielding Mjolnir
What other Endgame moment could possibly serve as a bigger payoff than those touching goodbyes to both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark? We deemed only one scene in this film “worthy” of such a high honor. The single greatest moment of the 4th and potentially final installment of the Avengers series is none other than when “the kid from Brooklyn” himself wields Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir!
This jaw-dropping scenario occurs when Ironman, Cap, and Thor individually take on Thanos before the giant multitude of Avengers arrive. Having thrown Ironman to the side and pressing Thor’s axe Stormbreaker into the God of Thunder’s chest, Thanos seems to have the upper-hand when suddenly he gets violently knocked in the head by Mjolnir.
To the audiences’ amazement, the mystical hammer flies into the hands of its new bearer, Steve Rogers—a moment briefly foreshadowed years prior in Avengers: Age of Ultron. While watching this spectacle go down, Thor himself exclaims “I knew it!” We knew it too Thor, we knew it too.
Whether you’re a big time Marvel fan or you’re somehow more of a DCEU person, we hope you enjoyed our lengthy list of the Top 10 Biggest Payoffs in Avengers: Endgame! We loved it 3000.
Stay tuned for more film reviews and critiques from The Roundup!