It has been one year since Avengers: Endgame hit the theatres, ending an epic saga that began with Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark selling weapons in Afghanistan with AC/DC’s Back in Black playing in the background.
It has been a long ride – without any space-time constraints – and we finally arrived at Endgame after 18 movies. Some of them were good, some were bad, some were Thor: The Dark World, but more or less, the consistency held.
And it did in Endgame, which was less a movie and more a communal experience in an extremely divided world where we finally got an ending which didn’t let us down completely, unlike the new Star Wars Trilogy or the Games of Thrones climax.
The reason Avengers became the most popular superhero franchise of all time, perhaps even the most popular franchise for all time, is creativity and perseverance. Legend has it that it took the Beatles 10,000 hours to become such a great music band and the same logic applies to this masterpiece.
It is a reminder that all good things take time, that even in the era of instant gratification, creating something takes time, effort and care. That’s what raises the last two Avengers movie to an art form, the culmination of years of outlining of central figures becoming a fresco.
It must have sounded so ridiculous, imagine 18 sequels, a shared universe but what we got was the Sistine Chapel of superhero movies.
It’s not just about the effects, but the continuity, the inter-personal relationships, the dynamics and evolution of each character.
To commemorate one year since Tony Stark died, we look back at the 10 best moments from Avengers: Endgame.
This is a personal list and we are sure everyone will have their version:
10. Whatever It Takes
Steve Rogers has always been the moral centre of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He might not be as smart as Tony or as strong as Thor, but he can fight all day, even with his back against the wall.
What made Rogers amazing wasn’t just the serum that gave him superpowers, but the never-dying belief in freedom and justice, what some might even call the unwavering spirit of constitutional American morality as envisioned by its founding fathers.
The man who always led from the front gives the pep talk, and just like he did in The Avengers, Rogers breaks out a speech in Endgame before the time heist which makes Rocket go: “Wow. He’s pretty good at this.”
9. ‘The Big Lebowski’
Throughout the series, Tony Stark hasn’t stopped quipping, but his best moment perhaps was when he referred to fat Thor as Lebowski. The post-Thanos world order appears to have hit Thor the hardest who now has a drinking problem and has blown up.
Sadly, Chris Hemsworth didn’t put on the pounds but instead wore a bodysuit but his resemblance to Jeff Bridges’ iconic character was uncanny. For those of you born on the wrong side of the 90s, it was a reference to The Dude, a character in the cult classic from 1998 – The Big Lebowski.
8. ‘I love you 3000’
Tony Stark came a long way from a partying-hard weapons designer to a sensible adult and this is reflected in his relationship with his daughter Morgan Stark. The man who feared nothing, now has a family and his primary goal is to ensure none of that changes.
We already saw his vulnerable side in his relationship with Peter Parker but when Morgan says: “I love you 3000”, it not only set off a million memes but also told us that Tony Stark had evolved unlike any character seen on the big screen.
It’s an unfathomable metamorphosis of our protagonist.
7. ‘She’s got help’
Sure, it felt like it was pandering and kitschy, not to mention shoe-horned, but the all-woman Avengers team-up scene showed how far comics had come from being the preserve of nerdy teenage boys.
As Spiderman hands over the Gauntlet to Captain Marvel, he wonders how she’s going to get through Thanos’ CGI army.
Even though hardcore fans might wonder why Captain Marvel needs any help after singlehandedly taking down Thanos’ ship, the team-up with Pepper, Mantis, Okocha, Shuri, Hope Pym, Gamora and Valkyrie was still a get-up-from-your-seat -and-cheer moment!
When Tony refuses to participate in Scott Lang’s Time Heist, they go to the next best thing – a brain-and-brawn-depleted Hulk. However, instead of running Lang through time, they manage to run time through Lang so that instead of travelling back and forth through time, Bruce Banner manages to turn Lang into a teenager, an old man and a baby. The hilarious scene ends with Lang who still can’t figure out which version of himself has the incontinence issue.
5. Tony and Howard’s reunion
Of all the time travel scenes, the best was to the Shield Base at Camp Lehigh in 1970, where a heavily side-burned Stan Lee tells soldiers to ‘make love, not war’. While collecting Pym Particles, Tony runs into his dad, Howard (played by John Slattery of Mad Men fame), and they have a heart-to-heart chat, where Tony assures his father it’s going to be alright. As the old saying goes: “The child is indeed the father of the man.”
4. Steve and Peggy
A lot of individuals are still confused about the time travel dynamics showed in Avengers: Endgame. The time travel hypothesis they followed is called the Many World Interpretation, where changing the past doesn’t change the future but just creates an alternative reality in time. This explains how Steve Rogers was able to go back and spend his days with Peggy. The scene shows Rogers and Peggy enjoying domesticated bliss in suburbia as captured by a beautiful dancing scene.
How did he get back? Pym Particles of course! As Joe Russo explained, “Now what’s also a story for another time is, of course, if he created a branch reality, he would then have to use a Pym Particle to come back to this reality to hand that shield.”
Also, there needs to be a separate longform on why aged Steve Rodgers is a dead ringer for Joe Biden.
3. Thunder Cap
Up till that moment, no scene was as worthy as all of us learning that Captain America was always worthy. The theory goes that Steve Rodgers failed to move the hammer in Age of Ultron because he had one bit of guilt, not telling Tony that it was Bucky who had killed his parents. But having cleared his otherwise-morally unscrupulous slate, the Captain was now worthy which meant we got the best three minutes of action ever seen onscreen.
One remembers watching this scene in the hall and a Noida audience applauding as one does at a first-day first-show screening of a Rajinikanth movie in Tamil Nadu. It just was that epic.
2. ‘I am Iron Man’
It was really hard choosing one of the two top scenes from this epic movie, but we finally decided to go with Tony Stark’s signature dialogue. Tony Stark has been saying the dialogue since his first movie, starting with the end credits scene in Iron Man where he tells a roomful of journalists – without giving two figs about secret identities - “I am Iron Man.”
Since then, he has matured a lot but remains, to borrow a dialogue from Honest Trailers, the narcissistic a-hole who would rather die than let someone else have the last word.
So as Thanos says ‘I am inevitable’ with all the Infinity Stones in his gauntlet (he thinks), Tony quips back with...
1. ‘On Your Left’
If there’s a moment in Avengers: Endgame that sums up the entire rush that epitomises why fans have loved this franchise, it’s this one.
After beating Iron Man and Thor, Malthusian villain Thanos tells Captain America that through all the carnage and destruction he has wreaked upon many worlds, none will give him the joy of destroying this ‘annoying and stubborn planet’.
As Captain America faces them down all by his lonesome, Thanos, his children and the Outriders and Chittauri look up to our lone hero, he hears an old friend say: “On your left.”
It’s Falcon and soon Black Panther, Doctor Stephen Strange and others open portals to bring every known hero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe together (except for the Defenders). It’s a moment that screams hope that we never say die, even when we die. For the first time in 11 years, we see Captain America use the words he has avoided so far – Avengers Assemble.
No scene in movie history or real-life will ever match this.
Avengers:Endgame is available on Disney+Hotstar.
Nirmalya Dutta is the Web Editor of The Free Press Journal.