The time has finally come. Avengers: Endgame is now in theaters and brought with it the end of not only this era of the MCU, but grand finales for a bunch of our favorite superheroes and superhero teams–which means we have a lot of ground to cover here.
Watch yourself: From here on out, we are in spoiler country.
The End (Of Phase 3)
Shockingly, Marvel broke their decades-long tradition of having multiple post-credits sequences for this one–the end of this movie actually is the end, with no stingers or gags to cap it off. It goes like this: Some creative maneuvering from 2014 Nebula (not present day Nebula, who is a good guy) brings the fight with 2014 Thanos (not present day Thanos, who is dead) to Earth after the Avengers scavenge through the time stream for the Infinity Stones in the past.
Luckily, before the fight actually starts up, Bruce is able to use their time-heisted Stones to bring back everyone who was dusted, so the team has some serious reinforcements when Thanos and the Chitauri arrive. The ensuing fight is beyond epic, with legions of Wakandan soldiers, Asgardian refugees, sorcerers in training–really you name it, if they’ve shown up in the MCU before, they’re probably here and duking it out with Thanos’s alien hordes.
But of course, even with all the backup in the world, Thanos isn’t going to go down easy. The fight actually allows Steve Rogers to finally prove his worth and wield Mjolnir (remember that moment in Age of Ultron when he couldn’t pick it up?). The fight amounts to a few truly beautiful spotlight moments, including both Carol and Wanda getting their own shot at Thanos himself, all while the Avengers play cosmic hot potato with the new Infinity Gauntlet they’ve made. That’s the name of the game for most of the fight: keep the Stones away from Thanos while beating back the Chitauri and the Black Order.
Thank god this fight happens in an otherwise totally abandoned crater, right? For as huge as the battle is, there really isn’t any collateral damage outside of the Avengers compound, which is pretty thoroughly demolished. RIP.
Anyway, the fight ultimately concludes with a narrow miss–Thanos manages to get the Gauntlet back, but Tony is fast enough to pull the Stones out before he has a chance to use them. That’s when Tony gets to have his big moment. Thanos, undeterred, says “I am inevitable” to which Tony gets to make the ultimate Iron Man 1 callback by responding, “I am Iron Man.” He integrates the Stones into his armor and snaps his fingers, which results in a mirror of Infinity War’s final moments, except this time it’s Thanos and the Chitauri who turn to dust.
Unfortunately, that sort of power comes with a price.
The End (For Tony Stark)
Tony’s use of the Gauntlet takes a massive toll and, tragically (if expectedly), costs him his life. He stays alive long enough to get to say some poignant goodbyes to the people he cares about most, like Pepper and Peter and Rhodey–so get your tissues ready.
The funeral is where it gets really tough. It’s not the most traditional–Pepper makes a memorial with her “Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart” trophy from back in the first Iron Man movie and sets it to sail on the peaceful lake behind their property. It’s well-attended by all of Tony’s friends and family–even Nick Fury, who has otherwise been MIA for the whole movie, shows up. The kid from Iron Man 3 is there, too–though it might take you a second to recognize him.
Tony leaves behind both Pepper and their daughter, Morgan, who gets a very cute moment with Happy. He asks if she’s hungry, she replies yes, and that she’d like a cheeseburger. Happy laughs and tells her that her dad liked cheeseburgers too–another Iron Man 1 callback. Tony’s first request after setting foot back stateside was for a cheeseburger. Apparently the Stark family has a very specific method of coping with trauma.
Joking aside, Tony’s arc culminates in a major pay off for a moment back in Avengers 1 when Steve and Tony have one of their first fights. Steve called out Tony’s selfishness, saying he only fights for himself; that he’s “not the guy to make the sacrifice play.” It may have taken six whole movies, but Tony finally has a chance to prove himself a hero once and for all.
The End (For Steve Rogers)
Despite all the evidence and predictions to the contrary, Steve Rogers did not die in the final fight with Thanos–but he did get a pretty definitive ending.
After all the time-heisting went down, someone had to take the stolen Infinity Stones back to their respective spots in history to prevent a bunch of branching timelines from splitting off and causing temporal chaos. Steve does this alone, using a hastily rebuilt quantum portal–but it doesn’t exactly go as planned. Rather than just dropping each Stone back where it came from and returning to the present, Steve decides to peel off and–you guessed it–go live a full life with Peggy Carter back in the past.
Instead of teleporting back to the current time, an elderly Steve shows up at the rendezvous point. The logic here gets a little fuzzy from a time travel perspective, but apparently going back and marrying Peggy didn’t cause a branched timeline and they finally got their dance. In his own words, he took Tony’s advice to try just living a normal life.
As an old man, Steve clearly won’t be doing any more superheroics–but don’t worry, the world won’t be without a Captain America for too long. He passes the shield over to Sam, who will officially take up the mantle when next there is a need.
The End (For Thor)
During the five-year post-Thanos time jump, Thor and the Asgardian refugees on Earth formed New Asgard, a little oceanside town where Thor, uh, kind of let himself go. However, by the end of the movie, he’s decidedly gotten his groove back and is ready to get back in the proverbial saddle. He accomplishes this by first leaving New Asgard to a new ruler, Valkyrie, and then joining the Guardians of the Galaxy–er, the Asgardians of the Galaxy, sorry–to go adventure through space.
There’s some conflict right away, however, when Quill and Thor can’t quite agree about who’s in charge.
It’s definitely Quill, right?
We’ll see how that goes come Guardians 3, probably.