As the final adventure for the original Avengers, Avengers: Endgame is an epic that delivers on its promises. With a story that stands on its own, Endgame uses time travel to go through the memories of our favorite characters, and see what’s most important to them. For Steve, that’s Peggy, and for Tony, it’s his father. For Natasha, the most important thing in her life is the family she lost because of the snap.
There was a lot of pressure on the Russo Brothers to present a triumphant and earnest send-off to the team, and they succeeded. While some characters get a happier ending than others, they all fit with their character arcs, and feel right within the epic story of the film.
Steve Rogers gets his happy ending, no longer a man out of time
While everyone here deserves a happy ending, Steve Rogers really does. By the end of Avengers: Endgame, he’s literally been alive for more than one hundred years (though he’s only been awake for way less, but still).
He has continually fought for the freedom and rights of others, with very little thought to his own desires. Back when he was starting out, he found a chance at love with Peggy Carter, who stunned him with her intelligence and personal strength, and she felt the same.
But they never got that dance, did they? The Agent Carter tv show aired for two seasons, and set up Peggy with another charming shield agent. Once time travel enters the picture in Avengers: Endgame, Steve accidentally (or is it fate?) goes to a time and place where Peggy is. He’s so tempted to just reach out and open the door, throwing everything else away to see her again.
Passing on the shield
When the mission is finished and the world is saved, Steve gets the opportunity again when he goes to return the Infinity Stones to their rightful place. Finally, he is able to consider what he wants and make that his priority. So he goes back to Peggy, and they get the perfect life they deserve.
Along with that, he is able to literally hand off the mantle of Captain America to someone he trusts, Sam Wilson. Sam has been by his side for a long-time, and as the new Captain America, he also represents a new, more diverse image for the Avengers.
Steve knows that in retirement, the world will still be protected by Sam, Bucky, and so many others. Sam’s promotion is the first step towards a whole new generation of heroes.
Now many people are claiming that this whole timeline doesn’t make any sense with what we know about Peggy and Agent Carter. But in Avengers: Endgame, they strictly explain how time travel isn’t at all like Back to the Future depicts it.
Steve’s future is in the past with Peggy. Everything we saw of Peggy’s future after Captain America: The First Avenger is another timeline. With Steve’s choice to go back into time, his life branches off, becoming a new, happy life with the one he loves.
Tony Stark finishes his mission to save the world
Tony Stark spent his whole life trying to be a better person. As his journey continues through all the Marvel films, we can see how great of a man he is. But despite all he does, Tony never feels like he’s done enough. Until now. In Avengers: Endgame, Tony finally sees his own self-worth, completing his character arc, and cementing him in history as one of the best and most complex superheroes ever on screen.
Tony has always had a very realistic, honest perspective on the world. His whole character arc is about becoming aware of the harm he’s caused, and focusing on preventing any more destruction.
Thanos is Tony’s worst nightmare. He’s a machiavellian leader who ignores the destruction and death he’s creating, only because he believes that the world will be better after. The extreme disregard of human life is very reminiscent of Tony before he became Iron Man. Ever since then, Tony’s spent all his time and effort on protecting the world from people like that.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Tony fails. He is unable to stop Thanos and save his friends. After he sees that they’ve tried all they could, he moves on, marrying Pepper and having a daughter, Morgan. Tony is well aware of how lucky he is, and he doesn’t intend to waste his life away dreaming of something impossible.
Steve brings him hope again
But when Steve comes to him with the idea of Time Travel, we see why these two men have always worked best as a team. Tony is the realistic mind, understanding human weakness, and how easy it is to lose. Steve, on the other hand, has lived a life full of miracles. Throughout everything he’s experienced, he’s able to keep going, never giving up despite the horrible odds.
Facing off against Thanos, the man he could’ve become, Tony understands that he’s willing to do anything to save the world that he loves. Putting on the Infinity Gauntlet, Tony is taking responsibilities for all of his past mistakes, along with the mistakes of all of his friends. For the future of the world, and the future of his daughter, Tony gives up his own.
Robert Downey Jr. has been the father of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the beginning. Downey brought to life a character few people were even aware of, much less cared about. Now, after Downey’s brilliant performance, people mourn the character they’ve grown to love and respect so much.
Natasha finally gets to choose
I’ll openly admit, Marvel still has a long way to go for representation of women. Over the course of her whole story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Natasha Romanoff really did deserve better.
But the Russo Brothers only had control of her character through Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Through those films, they built up Natasha’s story into a compelling, complex narrative showing a woman who’s overcome her horrific past, accepting how it made her who she is.
She finds a family with the other Avengers, and a reason to fight, which is a big part of why Natasha and Steve have such a close relationship in these films. They deeply understand what the other’s going through. While Steve is able to find Peggy again, Natasha’s family is her team. So when Avengers: Infinity War leaves her without them, she has nothing.
In Avengers: Endgame, for the five years after killing Thanos, Nat is the center of the group of survivors, keeping their hope up and managing the team. When the choice comes to sacrifice someone for the Soul Stone, it’s very important for Natasha that she is the one to do it.
Overcoming a past of oppression
Nat spent her whole life conditioned, trained, and controlled. She was a victim, a subject, a spy, always someone following someone else’s orders. But when she comes to the Avengers, she is given freedom that she’s never had before.
With years spent killing people, not knowing who they are or why they need to die, the decision with the Soul Stone is filled with meaning, and something Natasha hasn’t experienced a lot of: choice.
Natasha understands what she’s giving up by sacrificing herself. But she’s lived the past five years with the sole goal of returning the world to what it was, and just like Tony, she’ll do anything to do it.
In this final battle, Nat’s giving her all to return the world to the way it was, when she was happy and felt like she had something worth living for. And with that, it’s something worth dying for. While it completely sucks to have one of the few women die, Black Widow’s death has weight.
It’s also a very vivid parallel to Gamora’s death. Both Gamora and Black Widow lived lives built on conditioning and a lack of choice. Gamora finally finds initiative when she joins the Guardians, and Nat does when she becomes an Avenger.
When Gamora dies, she’s a victim of the man she desperately tried to escape. For Natasha, her last moments are filled with her best friend, and she choses to die knowing that her friends might live again.
While Natasha Romanoff’s story early in the MCU is extremely lacking in any depth or sensitivity, in three movies, the Russo Brothers manage to give her enough development and care for us to not only care about her, but mourn her death, which is a testament to their abilities, as well as the writers.
Is there a chance we will see her again?
Though don’t lose all hope that we won’t ever see her again. She has an upcoming solo movie, which many think will be a prequel, but Marvel’s never done one of those. Along with that, Steve returned the stones, and as far as we know, it’s possible that they could be exchanged back, “A soul for a soul.”
Also, the new Spiderman: Far From Home trailer brought in the huge concept of multiple dimensions, which are rampant in the comics. With all of that, anything can happen, and we really don’t think Marvel will give Black Widow up that easily.