Revisiting The Simple Joy Of Tony Stark Yelling At Steve Rogers In 'Avengers: Endgame'

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

Will whatever the new Avengers team look like enjoy a character dynamic as fun and long-lasting as the one shared by Steve Rogers and Tony Stark? They'll probably be charming and have great interactions with each other, but it's hard to believe any will have such a thoroughly antagonistic bromance across so many films. The current main grump, Doctor Strange, will be mean to everyone, but that's not the same. This, of course, assumes Tony Stark and Steve Rogers won't somehow come back because...

Actually, time for a new paragraph. Did Avengers: Endgame do away with death in the MCU altogether? Not that there was much to begin with. Still, with Hank Pym back from the dead along with everyone else, his Pym Particles are probably no longer in such dramatically-convenient short supply. And Tony already took the science work far enough along that Hulk can push the buttons by himself. So any of these jokers can pop back in time to abduct Steve or Tony, have them do some heroic stuff in the present, and then plop them back from whence they came. Right?

Oh heck, why not a third paragraph? These characters have been in comics for decades and not only do they never stay dead, they hardly even age. I need to just get along with the fact that mortal consequences are never what this series should be about.

Okay, sorry about that. Assuming Tony and Steve really are done, I feel it's time to memorialize one of the MCU's greatest pleasures: their fights. And the best of them came at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame.

The Scene

Captain Marvel has just rescued Nebula and a sickly, emaciated Tony Stark from dying of boredom in space. The Avengers debrief Tony on the ending of Avengers: Infinity War and Captain America pesters him for information about their fight on Titan. Man, let the guy eat his oatmeal for a second. At this point, Tony lets him have it, and the whole thing is a bit uncomfortable and dark.

Why It’s So Great

Tony and Steve have been at odds since the first Avengers. They remained at odds in Avengers: Age of Ultron (hello, wood-splitting scene) and then Marvel made a whole movie where they beat each other up with Captain America: Civil War.

No one throws a punch in this Endgame scene, yet this still feels like their biggest spat, which is odd considering Tony does most of the talking. But then, Tony always does most of the talking. Steve merely chimes in with some sensitive, but largely unemotional response whenever Stark stops for air.

As for Stark's points, some are good, some are petty, some are delirious. All are a bit over-the-top and tonally dramatic for this fun comic book film, but scenes like this are what give the last two Avengers movies more heft than your average billion-dollar tentpole gets to enjoy. 

There are two simultaneous ideas Tony goes for in his rant, always a bad idea for an argument. One is: "I told you so." It's true. He did tell us so. And it all drove him a bit crazy, and wasn't very good for him or the world he wanted to protect. Nevertheless, he has been afraid of Thanos since 2012. Point: Tony.

But he also wants Steve to feel bad for not helping everyone out on Titan, which is cheap. Steve did not have the ability to simply fly off to a distant planet, a place Iron Man ended up only because he hopped on a spaceship already headed there. Not to mention the disregard this shows to the massive Wakanda battle Steve and everyone else waged here on Earth. Point: Steve.

Tony also wants to bring up old Civil War stuff. It has the ring of truth to it, but I've never been able to make full sense of the larger point he means to make. Avengers who did not sign the accords kept him from building his suit of armor around the world? But then Steve's kind of like, how'd that work out for you, which feels like a response to a completely different prompt. Point: Rocket, for attempting to let a delirious Tony Stark go on thinking he's a stuffed animal.

It's a heated conversation, one starting with the spilling of food and ending with the spilling of Tony Stark, all over the floor. On top of the dialog and performances, the CG magic used to make Tony look frail sells the scene's emotional work, further cementing the ultra-depressing first act of Avengers: Endgame. And to be sure, it is very nice that they let this massive film live in its misery for a while before jetting off to time-travel shenanigans. Which are also delightful.

What If?

I mean, what if instead of fighting they hugged and bonded over their shared loss? The answer is: this film would have been garbage. No one would have watched it, and for years we would examine the phenomenal box office nosedive between Infinity War and Endgame, which seemed like such a sure bet. So I am very happy they had this tiff, their very last. Unless my Pym Particle theory comes to pass. Which it totally will.