Alright, we’re wrapping up Marvel Avengers: Endgame week where I’ve seen Avengers: Endgame, for the second time last night. Quick side not before we get into what we know, what we don’t know, and what I hope, Avengers: Endgame, just as good on a second […]
First off, this is not what movies are critically the best. I think even that is subjective on some level, but there are some movies that are clearly critically better or more groundbreaking for the genre. This is how much I like the movies. Also, […]
Today’s post will contain Endgame spoilers, you have been warned.
However, before we get to those, let’s talk about what this article will be covering so that we don’t get spoilers in the blurb on the main page. This article is going to be looking at the character arcs of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, and Hulk, the original Avengers team and to look at their arcs throughout the MCU.
I’m hoping that’s enough text, I think it should be, but I want to split up my look at characters into three different pairs. Captain America and Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye, and Thor and Hulk. Not surprisingly, that’s how they’ve generally gotten split up in the movies a well, and for that reason, they’ve ended up in similar points.
Again, spoilers ahead.
Captain America and Iron Man
The big reason to put these two together is because they have had their “end” in the MCU. I put “end” in quotes, because this is comics, there are ways to bring them back easily. I’ll toss out some stuff in the speculation article on Friday. But both of them had very satisfying ends in Avengers: Endgame.
With Captain America, we’ve seen him as the hero and the “man out of time”. However, I think we’ve mainly seen him as someone whose only real story is that of him and Bucky. Him losing Bucky, him finding a broken Bucky, and him defending Bucky. For me, this is a flaw in the development of Captain America. We’re supposed to see him as this person who will always do the right thing and who strongly believes in what he believes, but at times it’s just Bucky, Bucky, Bucky. That said, in Avengers: Endgame, we see him grow from that. He really leans into the man out of time. He can’t save everyone, he failed to live up to his own code by not being able to take out Thanos, and he feels out of place and that the world has passed him by, that isn’t laid out super well though. But he starts to see how kind of silly some of his things are and his hang-up with Bucky. Eventually, at the end when he is returning all the stones, he decides that he’s better staying back in his real time with Peggy Carter and finally getting that dance. What does this do to the timeline, who knows. But this is why I can say it’s the “end” of Captain America, we see him as old at the end of Endgame, but there’s no reason he couldn’t be brought forward again if needed, and also no reason that we couldn’t get Captain America in the 1950’s. But it’s a very satisfying ending for him, and does punctuate the whole out of time aspect for him.
With Tony Stark, Iron Man, we get the biggest arc of any character, I think. We get him going from being this playboy style character who decides he doesn’t like arming both sides, but still living a huge life, to someone who has his toys, but wants the simple life. It was fun seeing Stark as a family man, just living in a somewhat humble house for him, in the middle of nowhere, just off by himself. His real arc, though, focuses in on how his families legacy, as he saw it, was destruction, and he wants to keep everyone safe instead. He doesn’t want to be known for selling to both sides, he wants to be known as the man who saved the world, because he feels like he has to make up for everything he’s done. In Iron Man, we see that he’s armed both sides, or his company has that he doesn’t pay attention to. In Iron Man 2, he’s created the bad guy in some ways, and in Iron Man 3, he’s almost directly responsible for the evil that is happening by how he lived his life. Not to add in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he built Ultron. But Ultron is his first attempt to save humanity from itself. It gives him that complete arc by him being the one who does the snap. As Pepper Potts tells him, he can finally rest, because by destroying Thanos, and with how they tried to set-up time travel, the world should be safe from the Infinity Stones for a bit.
Iron Man’s arc is just really well written and whereas Captain America’s lacks depth, and looking at it from a long view, is all about Bucky. I think it’s an interesting thing to look at, because Stark is not always on the right side, but he’s always trying to help, and that is driving him so much. That’s why, though the movie doesn’t say it, just implies it, in Endgame, when he is working on time travel and solves it, the implication is that he’s been doing that already, he just didn’t have everything he needed. In the end, both of them get what they needed. Steve Rogers gets his dance and Tony Stark gets to rest knowing the world is saved.
Black Widow and Hawkeye
This one is probably going to be shortest section, as their stories are so intertwined. Black Widow and Hawkeye is really the story of two characters who need each other. Black Widow needs Hawkeye to keep her from slipping away from reality in her work. His family, at the beginning, help keep her grounded. Hawkeye needs her to keep pushing him forward into doing things and trying to save the world, when needed. I think that’s one thing that I really like about Clint Barton is that he isn’t always needed, and he makes space for his family.
When they were sent off to get the soul stone, I think that Marvel did a good job of not telegraphing who was going to die. I was actually thinking that it would be Hawkeye. The primary reason is that he wanted to atone for his sins that he had done after his family had been snapped away. However, I think it would have been much harder to get that feel good moment and then have it torn away when the phone rings after Hulk’s snap of the stones. I also think that it’ll be easier for Hawkeye to join the fight now, because he’s seen what has happened to the world, without Black Widow being there. Whereas, Black Widow, without Hawkeye, while the Avengers are her family, would struggle more on her own. I think this is another sense where they wrapped up Black Widow’s arc really nicely. And if Hawkeye doesn’t show up in anything else, I think that is fine, because it would be hard for Jeremy Renner to top that performance as Hawkeye. He had so much emotion and so much of a shell throughout the movie from the first scene on, that is just hard to explain. This is some of the reason why I’m not all that excited for a Black Widow movie. I do think getting her origin story would be interesting to watch on the big screen, even if it’s more her origin in SHIELD, but her character wraps up so well.
Thor and Hulk
Finally, we end up on Thor and Hulk, and that’s because I don’t think they’ve had the complete arcs like we’ve gotten from the other characters. I think that there is more for Thor and Hulk to do. Practically speaking, until The Fantastic Four are introduced into the world, Hulk kind of needs to stay around so he can be deus ex science, since Tony Stark isn’t around for that anymore.
I think with Bruce Banner and the Hulk, we’ve had a good arc for him though, so if it’s in a smaller role from here on out for Hulk, I think that’s fine. With Banner, we have the origin movie, which we’ll choose to generally ignore, but going through the movies we’ve seen him in. We’ve seen Banner fight to not be the Hulk in the first Avengers movie, eventually he admits who he is, and he turns into the Hulk and lets the Hulk go as need be. Then in Age of Ultron, he starts to feel like he’s being the Hulk too much, and we get the bit of a relationship between him and Black Widow, and it is clear that both Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff do care a lot for each other and really care for each other. I’ll unpack that a little bit, because Tony Stark, less mature at that time, does joke about it, but you really see
Natasha open up to Bruce and Bruce trust her to be able to bring him back from being a monster. There’s the scene early on in the Avengers’ tower where she is making drinks, and she, while she’s able to flirt and seduce people for her job, is having troubles being able to do that with someone she cares about, because she wants the feelings to be real back. Which they are from the Hulk, then there is the moment as Hawkeye’s farm where Bruce calls himself a monster and that he can’t provide her a family like Hawkeye has. Natasha responds with the story that she can’t have kids either and she’s done horrible things and is a monster in her own way. This isn’t a story about not having kids that makes her a monster, which some people took it as, it is that she’s done bad things that she wishes she could take back, and more so, it’s making Banner not feel like he’s an outcast and just a monster. However, Banner still thinks of himself as a monster and that he’s more trouble than good. And he leaves, in Thor: Ragnorak, we see that Hulk h as taken over. Hulks in charge and Banner’s personality and influence is being suppressed. When he comes back to Banner, we still see the struggle between the two halves and Banner being worried about losing himself. The change happens, and I think starts to happen, when Fenris damages the Hulk. Then Hulk loses to Thanos, and then Banner loses to Thanos. Hulk realizes that just as a beast, there is always a bigger fish, and Banner realizes that sometimes he needs more than just his brain, and in Endgame, we get Professor Hulk. I feel like his story isn’t complete though, because while Professor Hulk was able to help, I don’t feel like we got the hero moment for Professor Hulk where both the Banner and Hulk sides come into play fully at the same time.
With Thor, I think we’ve seen a shifting vision for him more than any other superhero. We’ve gone from him being a child who just wants to fight into looking like he’s going to be the new Odin in Thor: Ragnorak. And now we’re not back to him being a child, but to him kind of knowing what his strengths are and knowing that he’s better and leading a fight than he is at leading people. In terms of actors, we’ve gone from Chris Hemsworth just looking like and playing a fairly serious Thor with the jokes being from him not being all that familiar with Earth to a great comedy Thor being The Dude. Hemsworth has amazing comedy chops. It again, feels like we haven’t had Thor’s full arc though. Going back to what I wrote about Thor in my Endgame spoiler review, Thor gets a moment to cut off Thanos head, but in the final battle, Thor, while extremely powerful, isn’t back to the hero that we once knew. I think he still needs that final win, at some cost, more so than he had in Thor: Ragnorak. And with that, we need Thor to be able to have his moment of peace where he doesn’t feel like he’s failed because he hasn’t saved everyone.
There’s so much to unpack when you really look through all of the movies. I think that they did an amazing job from the beginning. While there are a few hiccups along the way, we’ll see those tomorrow as I go through my Marvel movie rankings, generally, they’ve written such as tight and arching story throughout all that movies, it’s just impressive. Marvel, I salute you. And I can’t wait to see what stories and arcs you take Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and the rest through.
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