The moment is finally here. Avengers: Endgame has arrived in theaters and we're now getting to see what happened to Earth's Mightiest Heroes after the tragic events of Avengers: Infinity War. After three hours in a theater, questions have been answered, tears have been shed, and goodbyes have been said. So much happened in that movie, especially in the final 45 minutes, that it's a little difficult to process what exactly went down. Not to worry, though, we're here to help.
It's time to talk about the finale of Avengers: Endgame, what it means for the characters in the movie, how it brings an end to the stories of the Infinity Saga, and how it prepares the MCU for the future. We're going to break it all down.
As you can guess, this article contains the biggest spoilers from Avengers: Endgame. Seriously, this movie is best enjoyed if you know nothing going in. So if you haven't seen it and don't want to be spoiled, get out now. This is your warning, we'll be talking spoilers from here on out.
However, if you did see the movie and are doing your best to put together all of the pieces from that epic finale, this is exactly where you want to be.
So the "ending" of this movie really begins during the final battle on the grounds of the Avengers compound in Upstate New York. After the Snap was reversed and the vanished characters returned to fight alongside the Avengers, it all came down to Tony Stark. Everything was thrown at Thanos at some point during this battle scene and he managed to brush it all off. It was Tony's turn to do something and he didn't use force. At the subtle advice of Doctor Strange, Tony lunged at Thanos to try and make something happen. Thanos brushed him aside and proceeded to snap his fingers once more, but nothing happened.
Tony took all of the stones out of the gauntlet when he came into contact with Thanos. Now this wasn't all Tony's idea. Thanos actually showed his hand while fighting Captain Marvel just moments before. She was tugging at the gauntlet, slowly pulling it from the Mad Titan's grasp, when he simply pulled the Power Stone from its place and used it to knock her off of him. Tony saw this as his opportunity.
Thanos confidently looked at Tony and repeated his line, "I am inevitable" before snapping his fingers to bring an end to all life in the universe. When he snapped and nothing happened, Thanos looked down to see that all of the stones were gone. Right in front of him was Tony Stark, each of the Infinity Stones on his hand, held together by the power of his suit.
Tony threw Thanos' line back at him, which also doubled as a callback to one of the MCU's most iconic lines. He said, "And I am....Iron Man." With that, Tony snapped his fingers and a wave went out over the battle. All of Thanos' armies began dissolving into dust, just as the Avengers did at the end of Infinity War. Finally, the camera returned to Thanos and he slowly faded away to dust, bringing the entire story full circle.
Unfortunately, this moment came at a great cost.
It was mentioned multiple times throughout both Infinity War and Endgame that utilizing the Infinity Stones significantly harmed whomever was trying use them. Both Thanos and Hulk were severely hurt when they snapped, and they are nearly indestructible beings. Tony Stark is most definitely not that.
When Tony snapped his fingers it cost him his life, completing the sacrificial arc that began in the original Iron Man. With Pepper (in her Rescue armor), Peter Parker, Captain America, and others surrounding him, Tony Stark died. The light on his arc reactor, the device that once gave him life, went dark for good.
As if this moment wasn't sad enough, the final line from Pepper really drove it home. Knowing that her husband has spent his life trying to protect the world, she touched his face and told him, "We're going to be okay. You can rest now."
The sadness carried over to a funeral scene at Tony and Pepper's house by the lake. To say goodbye, Pepper put Tony's original arc reactor out onto the water, the one that she had encased for him with the words "Proof that Tony Stark has a heart." Not only was that a touching call-back to the beginning of Tony and Pepper's love story, but it's also a very literal interpretation of what happened in this movie. Tony Stark died to save everybody else, proving how much he cares.
Just about every notable character from the franchise was present for Tony's funeral, and the camera took a long look at each and every one of them grieving. There were several notable people in this group, but perhaps none more surprising than Harley. You remember Harley, the little kid from Iron Man 3 that helped Tony get back on his feet? He was one of the last people seen at the funeral, on the right side of the lineup just ahead of Thunderbolt Ross and Maria Hill.
Fittingly, Nick Fury was the last person in the line. When Fury began the Avengers: Initiative all those years ago, Tony was the first person he approached.
Most of Endgame took place five years after Infinity War, so people had to live with the loss of their loved ones for half a decade. When Hulk snapped the world back together, the people who were lost in the original Decimation returned, but to the current world and not the one that they left.
As Peter explained during the battle, those who were dusted essentially passed out when the Snap occurred and then almost instantly woke back up five years later. So for them, no time has passed, but for the people who survived, those five years still happened. This has led to a lot of families being in unique circumstances. For example, Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne are the same age as they were in their movies, while Scott's daughter Cassie was a teenager.
Despite these complications, the world mostly went back to normal. One scene showed Peter and Ned reuniting at school as if no time at passed at all.
This one is sort of two-fold. Let's start with Thor.
After having spent his whole life trying to be the person he thought he was supposed to be, the conclusion of Endgame finally gave Thor the chance to be who he really wanted to be, though he's never been sure who that is. Either way, he decided to try and figure it out. New Asgard was in good hands, as he appointed Valkyrie as the leader, so he packed a back and went back to space.
Thor didn't travel alone, though. It was revealed that he was going back with the Guardians of the Galaxy, who were heading out on a search for Gamora (the 2014 version that doesn't really know Peter stayed in the present timeline after the battle). Of course, this will immediately lead to speculation that Thor is going to be in the third Guardians movie, which would be pretty wonderful considering how well all of those characters get along on screen.
Obviously, Thor could get dropped off to do his own thing wherever, but the conversation between him and Quill about who would be the leader, and who could control the map, really made it seem as though he was going to be sticking around.
At the very end of the movie, Captain America volunteered to take the Infinity Stones back to their respective places in history, ensuring that no alternate realities were created. Hulk prepared the Quantum Tunnel for travel as Sam and Bucky watched. Steve spoke to Bucky before heading into the machine and it was clear that he had something else up his sleeve. He hugged Bucky and said "Don't do anything stupid while I'm gone." Bucky replied, "How can I? You're taking all the stupid with you." This was the last conversation that these characters had with one another before Bucky went off to war in Captain America: The First Avenger, except the roles were reversed.
Now, Steve was supposed to reappear in a matter of seconds, because of the way that time works when travelling through the Quantum Realm. When he didn't, Hulk and Sam panicked, thinking that something had malfunctioned. Bucky didn't because he knew his best friend, and he understood that Steve chose a different path.
Bucky stopped the arguing of the other two to show them a man sitting on a bench down by the lake. He and Sam walked down to see that it was Steve, but as an old man. He chose to go back to the 1940s and stay there, living out the life he never really got to have. This was tied back to Tony's comments about Steve needed to get a life, as well as Steve's comments back in The Winter Soldier when he told Sam that he didn't think he really fit in the modern world.
Not only did Steve decide to return to the past and live out his life there, but he also decided that the world still needed Captain America. He took the shield out of his bag and handed it to Sam Wilson. Given that both Sam and Bucky had been Captain America at various points in the comics, there was debate as to which one would take on the mantle if Steve didn't make it through Endgame. Steve made his own choice, and Bucky nodded from afar, giving Sam his approval.