Marvel’s Key Avengers: Part Five

Thor

Thor’s impact has been much more limited in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in part because of the less-than-stellar outings of Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013). He becomes relegated to something more secondary until Thor: Ragnarok (2017). However, Thor is a bridge into the universe outside of Earth. As royalty, his actions have a huge impact on the MCU but he’s never really utilized well until Ragnarok where director Taika Waititi takes advantage of Chris Hemsworth’s acting ability and comedic timing, delving deeper into his character, and setting him up for Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

When Thor begins his journey, he is an arrogant prince– not a huge stretch for Thor‘s director, Kenneth Branagh, who is known for his Shakespearean adaptations. While having such a prestigious director on board gave legitimacy and elevated Marvel Studios, I feel that it was ultimately detrimental. Thor was played as a Shakespearean character in a franchise where humor has been a staple since Iron Man (2008). By the end of the film, Thor has learned humility and found love. He has learned enough to sacrifice his own happiness to save multiple planets, destroying the Bifrost Bridge, which enables him to travel to other planets.

Thor did well enough, but compared to more recent Marvel movies could be considered something of a failure. Thor: The Dark World brings in a new director on a story that is actually interesting and complex, but as a whole the film is a hot mess. With sloppy directing by Alan Taylor (Terminator: Genisys) and determination to portray Thor in that same high fantasy/Shakespearean style, the movie is scarcely more integral than The Incredible Hulk (2008), which is only vaguely recognized as having occurred by the characters. The reality is that for most of Thor’s appearances, he is looked at as eye candy, while Chris Hemsworth’s talents are overlooked.

The key takeaways from Dark World are this:
1. The Bifrost has been restored and Thor can now travel to and from Earth

2. Loki is masquerading as Odin, whose fate is unknown

3. Following the death of his mother, Thor is living on Earth with Dr. Jane Foster 

4.  The Aether/Reality Stone has been found and now resides with the Collector (depicted in a post-credits scene)


While events from the film are vaguely referenced as global events, for the most part the film is easy enough to sweep under the rug. There’s a lot of handwaving away any questions or contradictions.
Waititi is the first director to attempt to apply the MCU formula to Thor, recognizing the comedic talent of Chris Hemsworth, among others. He gives his actors free range to try things, with Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Hiddleston more than a little familiar with the characters they’ve been playing for years. The casting of Jeff Goldblum is further proof that humor was Waititi’s intention, while even more serious actors Anthony Hopkins and Cate Blanchett get the chance to let their hair down.

Ragnarok brings together a number of key plot points. He establishes on screen what the audience already knows, that the Infinity War is coming, and brings Doctor Strange into the fold, whose exploits in magic are a new element in the MCU. We learn that Thor and Jane have broken up, watch Odin die and Thor take his place as king, and see Thor and Loki make amends. Mjolnir is destroyed, allowing Thor to better understand his own power. Asgard is destroyed, leaving its people as wandering refugees heading towards Earth, and leading directly into the opening of Infinity War. We’re introduced to Valkyrie and given more insight into Asgard’s history and Thor’s family. And, we get the return of Bruce Banner/Hulk, who has been the Hulk since disappearing at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and is now struggling with this fact.

The point is, that in addition to being hugely entertaining, Ragnarok synthesizes a lot of stray elements and establishes a new baseline for Infinity War. In Infinity War, directors Anthony and Joe Russo draw on the characterization established in Ragnarok, which enables him to better mesh with the comedic Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, Infinity War is a more serious film, so while we all kinda wanted Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” to start up when Thor arrived on Earth, that was not the case, though Thor does prove himself to be a huge asset in the fight.

Because Thor does not have the same impact or attention as Tony Stark/Iron Man or Steve Rogers/Captain America, the decision to blind Thor at the end of Ragnarok is quickly undone in Infinity War, but we continue to see him grow as king representing his fallen people. He gains the mystical ax, Stormbreaker, which is able to summon the Bifrost, and even aids in its creation. Later, Thor not only makes a dent in Thanos’s forces, but also nearly succeeds in killing him, teaching us all the importance of going for the head.

Thor was one of the characters to survive Infinity War, and from what we’ve seen in trailers he is set to play a large role in Avengers: Endgame; already he’s expressed how much he likes Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. We’ve also recently learned that Valkyrie has survived the snap and is expected to play a role in the film. Happily, we also get to see more of Thor teaming up with his friend, the ‘rabbit’, Rocket.

Beyond Endgame, Thor’s fate is currently unknown. While there have been rumors that Hemsworth and Waititi have discussed what else they’d like to do with the character, we probably won’t know anything until for months yet. There is a rumor of an all-female A-Force movie featuring Valkyrie on the way, but we have yet to hear a peep about Thor’s future or how else Waititi and Hemsworth can surprise us. Thus far the only franchise to go beyond a trilogy is The Avengers, so it seems unlikely, especially with more characters being introduced and given opportunities for their own solo films.

Marvel’s Key Avengers: Part Four

Captain America

Captain America is perhaps my favorite Avenger in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I have a lot of things I’d like to say regarding the role he plays and his significance. With this bias in mind, I admit that while much of the MCU is focused on the journey of Tony Stark/Iron Man, I believe that it is the actions and consequences of Captain America and his franchise that have the greater impact and importance overall.

As a character Steve Rogers/Captain America is nothing if not earnest; he’s determined to do what he feels is right and what will have the greatest benefit. In Captain America: The First Avenger (2010), Steve Rogers is a small, sickly man, but determined to do his part for the war effort. He explains that there are men laying down their lives for their country and he doesn’t have any right to do anything different. It’s this determination to help that leads him to Dr. Abraham Erskine and Project Rebirth, which turns him into a super-soldier. As Captain America, he and his team is responsible for taking out the rouge Nazi science division, Hydra.

In Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), Steve is coping with having missed 70 years. This is a prime example of how he is something of a tragic character. Steve has lost time, friends and loved ones, and his home in a way that none of the other Avengers can really relate to. He still proves himself to be the capable military leader, however, when he brings the team together against the Chitauri.

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Steve exposes Hydra’s decades long infiltration into not only SHIELD, but other facets of government and politics worldwide. This is a huge blow for Steve, who thought he had sacrificed his life to bring an end to Hydra 70 years ago. He also learns the horrible truth about childhood friend and comrade, Bucky Barnes. Bucky, who was believed to have died while capturing Arnim Zola, was actually found and turned into a weapon. He’s spent the last 70 years being brainwashed, tortured, and experimented on.

That Bucky is alive is conflicting news for Steve. On the one hand, his best friend, the person who was closest to him (and a last remnant of home) is alive. On the other hand, it is heartbreaking that Bucky has spent the last seven decades under enemy control. There is guilt for not having searched for Bucky after he fell from the train in First Avenger. Steve is already someone who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, so he feels strongly that it’s his fault Bucky suffered (and continues to do so as he comes to terms with his actions as the Winter Solider).

(While I will forever maintain that there is something deeper than friendship between Steve and Bucky in the MCU, in the original comics, Bucky is Steve’s young sidekick. Comic Steve still feels guilt and grief over what happened to Bucky, but it’s more in the sense that he feels responsible for his young ward than the pain of losing the person closest to him. )

In Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Steve mentions his search for Bucky, but his main role and focus is as the leader of the Avengers. In Captain America: Civil War (2016), however, Steve’s actions are at the forefront and have massive consequences (not unlike Tony’s choices in Ultron). What is first a struggle between whether or not to sign the Sokovia Accords, essentially giving up his autonomy (something he had even during World War II), becomes a tug of war between his growing friendship and trust with Tony, and his longtime bond (and guilt) with Bucky. Steve not only chooses not to sign the Accords, but also takes Bucky’s side in the conflict, turning his back on Tony, the Avengers, and his responsibilities as their leader. Steve and Bucky find refuge in Wakanda, but as we learn in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Steve doesn’t stay while Bucky recovers. Instead, he and his team (including Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Sam Wilson/Falcon, and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch) become global fugitives (while Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Clint Barton/Hawkeye take a deal).

We don’t see Steve Rogers or his team again until Infinity War, where we are given a vague sense that they’ve been operating on their own, though what they’ve been doing is unclear. He is still welcomed back to Wakanda with open arms, and becomes sought out by Tony in response to Thanos’s impending attack. While Tony has been living his life as part of the Avengers and Stark Industries, developing or improving his relationships with Virginia “Pepper” Potts and Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Steve doesn’t seem to have any ties to life beyond being fugitive Captain America/Nomad.

With Infinity War being so crowded, we don’t get much from Steve beyond his role as a leader and someone still determined to do what is right. He briefly reunites with Bucky (who is significantly the first to be affected by Thanos’s snap), and when he reunited with the other Avengers and T’Challa/Black Panther he is looked to again for his talents as a tactician and leader. It’s exciting when he first steps out of the shadows in London to help Wanda and Vision and his reaction following the snap is something I think everyone in the audience could relate to, but we don’t get much of his emotional journey or what is going on with him, unlike some of the other characters.

The limited trailers for Avengers: Endgame suggest that Steve Rogers will play a much larger role, possibly to balance the focus placed on Tony Stark in Infinity War. One thing that has long been speculated about is the death of Steve Rogers, which occurs in the comics. Chris Evans’s contract was extended for Endgame, but he’s made it clear that this is really it for him, so I’m fairly certain that Steve Rogers will not make it out of “The Infinity Saga” alive. As I’ve said before, there isn’t much tying Steve to this world. Other Avengers have connections to the world outside of the fight (and the inevitable forthcoming resurrection), which gives them the possibility of a peaceful happy ending. And, while I continue to argue that there is something deeper between Steve and Bucky, the reality is that that has not been actively explored (nor is it likely to). With nothing official to facilitate a happy ending, and Evans’s insistence that this is Cap’s last outing, it will be hugely surprising if Steve survives. (Though I did recently read a theory that has Captain America and Black Widow leaving Earth to fight evil in space.)

Heading into Endgame in a few short weeks, I am eager to seeing how little the trailers have given away. This film will mark the end of an era, “The Infinity Saga” and I’m looking forward to Steve Rogers/Captain America making a truly heroic sacrifice and saving the day.

Marvel’s Key Avengers: Part Three

Black Widow

In Iron Man 2 (2010), the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced their first female superhero: Natasha Romanoff, also known as the Black Widow. Since then, she has joined the Avengers as well as played a supporting role with Captain America. However, despite appearing in multiple movies since early in Phase One, she has yet to have her own solo film, though it has long been discussed. As we head into Avengers: Endgame, we know that in addition to surviving ‘the snap’, she will finally be getting her own solo film next year and there is currently talk of an all-female Avengers (A-Force) movie. As a character both within the comics and the MCU, Natasha has evolved since her first appearances at the Russian Femme Fatale to something more complex.

The Black Widow is meant to be one of, if not the best, spies in the business. Overtime, however the MCU’s Black Widow has become softer, which is emphasized by her romance with Bruce Banner/Hulk. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury comments that Natasha is comfortable with just about anything as long as it gets the job done, but she has since proven that this may no longer be the case.

In Iron Man 2, Natasha is undercover as Natalie Rushman, Pepper Potts’s new assistant. She is later revealed to be an undercover agent for SHIELD, whose mission involves keeping an eye on Tony Stark/Iron Man. She is unapologetic for her actions and ruthless as a fighter; her body is a weapon both for violence and temptation. Beyond her loyalty to Fury, we don’t get much more than that.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) serves as her second outing, after which she becomes a feature of the Captain America franchise, although, interestingly, never her love interest, something not hinted in the comics, but in other media. Avengers gives greater emotional depth to her character, establishing a bond between Natasha and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (a romantic partner in the comics). She further demonstrates her effectiveness and capability, able to keep up or even outsmart the men who underestimate her. She demonstrates this particularly in her interrogation techniques, which specifically play on the male assumption that females are overemotional and weak.

Her next appearance is in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), where she becomes Steve Rogers/Captain America’s close ally. In something I believe heavily influenced by the longtime friendship between Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, the relationship between Steve and Natasha is close friends, almost like brother and sister. Throughout the film we see her risking herself to help and protect Steve, and even demonstrating her frustration when she lets him down, such as on the Lemurian Star when he learns she was secretly acting under Fury’s orders. The point is, Natasha makes herself vulnerable for the audience and her friendship with Steve.

This vulnerability is further explored in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). (Part of me wonders if there would have been a Black Widow/Captain America romance had the pair had more chemistry in Winter Soldier, but instead she pursues a relationship with Bruce Banner/Hulk, whose previous love interest, Betty Ross, has not been referenced since her appearance in The Incredible Hulk (2008).) Ultron also contains one of her most controversial scenes where she tearfully admits she cannot have children. It’s not so much the content of the scene that is controversial as the fact that it exists at all.

Despite the vulnerability she began to show in Avengers, I found this out of character for MCU’s Natasha. I feel that it was included because Joss Whedon felt that this would be the easiest way to demonstrate her vulnerability. This lazy move is one the demonstrates a lack of understanding and implies that all women are defined by the ability to bear children and that all women want children. The result is a beautiful moment of true connection between Natasha and Bruce, but I still find it to be lazy and insulting. Knowing their complex personas, a lot more interesting things could have been done (ie. guilt over killing/hurting/destroying or duality of character). What Whedon does do, is something that is called back to in Thor: Ragnarok. She attempts to coax the Hulk into making the Quinjet detectable so that he can land following the attack on Sokovia.

She has just betrayed Bruce by calling out the Hulk when he tries to get her to run away with him, and this vulnerable moment is used to show how that betrayal affects them both. Later, it is used to remind Hulk/Bruce of the connections he has on Earth. It’s a softness and vulnerability that is very much in line with her characterization in prior films.

Heading into Captain America: Civil War (2016), Natasha is focusing on her job as an Avenger and training their newer members. She is still a powerful, especially as a senior member, and still dangerous, but her humanity is clearer. She shows her vulnerability in how she is torn between Tony and Steve, the Sokovia Accords and the Winter Soldier. Interestingly, after he has been activated by Zemo, she says to the Winter Soldier, “the least you could do is recognize me.” While this could refer to the events of Winter Soldier, the comics depict a romantic relationship between the two (especially with their shared Soviet background), something that may come into play in the Black Widow solo film next year.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) depicts Natasha Romanoff as Steve Rogers’s second in command. As a fugitive and after years away from Bruce, she has become colder and that vulnerability isn’t really touched upon. From what we’ve seen in Avengers: Endgame trailers, this could continue or we could once again see her stretch her humanity. In the midcredits scene of Captain Marvel (2019), we see her walls down some as she is clearly shaken by the events of Infinity War and the loss of Nick Fury. This could indicated that these aspects of her personality have synthesized into someone who draws on their emotions to add to their strength (a fairly common trope).

Her own solo movie, which is expected to begin filming sometime this year for a 2020 release has its own speculation surrounding it, particularly after Marvel’s first female solo film was released March 8th. I heard a rumor not too long ago that the Black Widow movie may be rated R. Since acquiring Marvel, Disney’s influence has been apparent in the MCU. This is concerning and it’s difficult to imagine Disney allowing an R-rated film, something that has proved effective for Fox’s Deadpool (2016, 2018) and Logan (2017).

On March 20th, Disney officially acquired a number of Fox assets, including 21st Century Fox, which is responsible for the Fantastic Four and X-Men properties. This is huge as it means that Marvel Studios now has access to its full arsenal of characters and storylines (as long as the deal with Sony regarding Spider-Man holds up). The merger has been concerning for fans, who fear how Disney will affect future Fox films, but it has since been suggested that Fox will remain a separate entity, something I have felt to be the best course of action since first hearing of the acquisition.

Disney has limited itself in its branding, but having a separate brand geared towards more mature audiences is a fantastic way to tell a wider range of stories and also snare more moviegoers (profits). I think it is under this banner that the Black Widow movie should be released. The MCU has already established that the Black Widow backstory is a dark one, with Natasha having been raised to be an assassin and sterilized as a young adult to keep her focused, but some of the comics go darker. An R rating is the best way to tell her story.

It’s would also been quite the boon for female heroes. In Captain Marvel (2019), we finally had a female superhero who was powerful all on her own and not outwardly bogged down by romance, as is typical. For female superheroes to be taken more seriously, I believe an R-rated movie is the next step. Making Deadpool R-rated changed how it– and other superhero films– was perceived and I believe the same would be true for Black Widow.

Now, what the movie will contain is a mystery, especially as we await Endgame. I’d personally like to see her past come back to haunt her, intermingling flashbacks with the present day, depicting how her old life effects her new one. Although on principle I’d prefer not to see a romance, I think that Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier could make a good second in command/sidekick, not unlike the role played by Sam Wilson/Falcon in Winter Soldier.

Marvel’s Key Avengers: Part Two

The Incredible Hulk

Although Edward Norton began Bruce Banner/Hulk’s journey in The Incredible Hulk (2008), it’s Mark Ruffalo who has taken the character far. Most of the Norton-led solo outing has been discarded or retconned and Avengers: Endgame, which opens April 26th is being described as the conclusion to the Hulk’s storyline as established in Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). We know very little about Bruce/Hulk’s role, although there has been a great deal of speculation, but Ragnarok is a Phase Three film, which ignores his previous appearances, despite what Ruffalo has done with the role.

Very little is taken from The Incredible Hulk. It’s only been referenced as when the Hulk “broke Harlem” and with the characterization of Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who is played by William Hurt consistently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie has a number of key elements and characters integral to the Hulk canon, including Betty Ross, Samuel Sterns, and Leonard Samson. Remembering the long ago success of the TV show, which ran for five seasons from 1977-1982, this film, much more than Iron Man (2008), was preparing to spawn a series of sequels. It did well, but in light of Iron Man, perhaps not well enough, especially as it doesn’t have the benefit of Iron Man‘s influence, which came out only months prior and serves as the foundation for the MCU and Marvel films at large.

As a result, Incredible Hulk‘s secondary characters are abandoned for the most part (save for Ross). The Hulk becomes a supporting player until Ragnarok, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a storyline. In Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), Bruce is brought in by Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow for his scientific work, although the presence of the Hulk proves crucial later on. This movie is used to establish what kind of control Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce has over the Hulk and how he maintains that control. He is used primarily as a plot device, but as “the strongest Avenger” he has his big hero moments.

Although there is no real hint of it in Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) establishes a romance between Bruce and Natasha. Despite their significant interactions in Avengers, I argue that this wasn’t necessarily the intention until Ultron began production. I feel like it would’ve been more heavy handed, were that the case. This romance becomes a lifeline for both Bruce and Natasha, and Infinity War makes it clear there are still feelings there.

The storyline in Ragnarok gives Bruce’s character more weight. While Thor is figuring himself out, Bruce has been the Hulk for two years and the line between the two personalities has blurred. When Bruce comes back to himself, he’s shocked to learn how much time has passed and that he is now on another planet. Thor develops a new appreciation for Bruce, who proves himself to be an asset even without the Hulk. He seemingly gives himself up for the Hulk at the film’s end, which leads directly into Infinity War.

In Infinity War, Hulk returns to being Bruce and is able to warn Earth about Thanos. Despite being “the strongest Avenger”, the Hulk refuses to fight Thanos again. It’s a huge change for the character, where previously, it’s seemed like neither of them had control over the switch, or, if anyone did, it was the Hulk. His last appearance in Infinity War has him trying to negotiate or reason with the Hulk, and there is speculation as to what this means for the character in Endgame.

Rumor has it that ‘Professor Hulk’ will be making an appearance, which has been explained to me as combining Hulk’s body with Bruce’s mind. I’m also curious to see if/how the tension between Bruce and Natasha will be resolved, especially since Bruce’s characterization consistently includes references to his feelings for her. While we know certain contracts are up after this movie, the plans for the Hulk have not been announced. At this point, I’m mainly hoping for a satisfying conclusion, one that makes sense with the character’s arc and doesn’t feel forced. The Hulk has proved a successful franchise in the past, but it seems the focus has thoroughly shifted to something new.

Marvel’s Key Avengers: Part One

Iron Man

Although Marvel may not have realized at the time, Iron Man (2008) was the first member of a team of heroes that would protect the Earth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tony Stark’s journey has remained a clear focus throughout the first three phases, while his first solo outing set the tone for the films that followed.

In Iron Man, Tony is living in his father’s shadow, completely unaware of his legacy beyond a weapons manufacturer. His life changes when he is captured in Afghanistan and saved by Yinsen, who opens his eyes to the true meaning of wealth (Spoiler: it’s having people you love). With a focus now on saving lives (something he’d thought Stark Industries was doing all along) he takes matters into his own hands by becoming a globe trotting vigilante. By the end of the movie, Tony has taken back his company and moved it into a new direction, away from weapons manufacturing, with the trustworthy Virginia “Pepper” Potts by his side.

Pepper, Tony’s love interest is promoted to Stark Industries CEO in Iron Man 2 (2010) when he learns that the arc reactor keeping him alive is also poisoning him. In this sequel, we see Tony continue to grow, learning more about his father’s true legacy and SHIELD. This is further expanded on in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) where we get to actually watch Howard Stark in action. But, all roads lead to the conclusion of Phase One, Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), where Tony once again demonstrates what he’s willing to do to keep others safe by nearly sacrificing his own life to save New York from a nuclear bomb. By the end, he’s found a kind of family in the Avengers.

Family, a theme common in the MCU, is further explored in Iron Man 3 (2013), where we see the aftermath of the Attack of New York. While struggling with PTSD, Tony realizes what and who is most important to him when both Happy Hogan (his former bodyguard played by Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau) and Pepper Potts (and later Tony’s best friend, James “Rhodey” Rhodes) are put at risk. When he crash lands in Tennessee, he connects with a young boy named Harley, who helps him regroup and go on the attack. Having been influenced by the events and by Harley, he makes a choice at the end of the film to further prioritize family and stop putting himself at risk, destroying the evidence of his obsession.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) drives home how Tony’s choices affect the world around him. Despite destroying his army of suits at the end of Iron Man 3, he still worries about the safety of those around him and the world at large. Tony has put the weight of the world’s safety on his own shoulders and it leads to the creation of Ultron, who nearly kills all of humanity.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) is the aftermath of Ultron and perhaps one of Tony’s most difficult films since returning home in the first Iron Man movie. Weighed down by guilt, Tony has realized that he needs someone to keep him in check. Although he is no longer an active Avenger, he ascribes this need to the rest of the team, readily agreeing to sign the Sokovia Accords, which would put the Avengers under government supervision. His family is nearly torn apart when Steve Rogers/Captain America chooses his childhood best friend, James “Bucky” Barnes/Winter Soldier, over the team, and later over Tony himself. At the end of Civil War, Tony has lost the family he had gained in Phases One and Two.

We don’t see Tony Stark again until Avengers: Infinity War (2018), where Tony’s deepest fears finally come to fruition, just as he seems to be getting his life back on track, creating a home and family with Pepper and finding a surrogate son in Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Tony loses everything in Infinity War, watching as Peter disintegrates and stranded on a planet far from Earth with no idea of anyone else’s health or safety at home.

It has been speculated that Avengers: Endgame, which opens April 26th, will have a runtime over three hours. Comparatively speaking, trailers have given us only a tiny percentage of that, and that’s assuming that they aren’t utilizing fake footage, like they did with Infinity War. We know, however, that Tony will play a huge role in the events. With Robert Downey Jr.’s contract ending with this movie, it is likely that this film will mark the end of an era and the completion of the journey Tony began in 2008.

There has been speculation that Tony Stark and/or Steve Rogers may not survive the end of what Marvel is now calling “The Infinity Saga” (Phases One, Two, and Three). With Chris Evans’s contract ending with this film as well, it is likely that his story will conclude here too. I’ve maintained since before Infinity War was released that I believe that Steve will not make it out of this Saga alive. While I’ll expand on that in another post, I’d like to explain why I think Tony will live through it.

Tony Stark has a life on Earth, but more importantly, he has a love interest. In Infinity War, he and Pepper are talking about getting married. He is set to begin a new journey with her. I think he will get this ‘happily ever after’, choosing to step away from the superhero thing completely. Considering where Tony started in Iron Man, it makes sense narratively speaking that he would end his arc with the kind of wealth Yinsen described to him in that cave in Afghanistan: family.