As the Avenger’s franchise comes to an end, audiences all over the world have wept, laughed, and clapped. The characters in this movie series have long since stopped being nebulous ideas that are forgotten once the lights in the theater turn on. The audience cares about their heroes—evidenced by the emotions expressed by the deaths in Avengers: Infinity War. What is needed now isn’t necessarily a happy ending—instead, we need a resolution that fits.
That’s where Avengers: Endgame is successful. Here, we see a narrative arc that makes sense of each of the main character’s lives—namely, Iron Man and Captain America—in ways that are unique to their specific personalities.
Iron Man is reckless, brilliant, and daring. His driving fear is the fear of failure and of not having done his all. He is willing to bend, and often break the rules in order to accomplish his goals. His morals are dubious, but his intentions are clear. He takes his role of hero seriously—though it’s often hard to see it in his manner.
A big part of Iron Man’s problems has to do with the difficult relationship he had with his father. Since his father died at the hands of Bucky (queue Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War drama), this relationship is impossible to restore. However, two things happen to bring peace. The first is that in Iron Man 2, Tony Stark discovers lost video footage of his father addressing him and telling him how everything he had done was for Tony. In addition, in the city model he left behind, Tony is able to find the solution to the problem that was killing him. For the first time, Tony sees that perhaps his father did love him.
The second scene comes in Avengers: Endgame. When Tony goes back in time to get more Pym particles, he inadvertently comes in contact with his father. As the two talk, Stark Sr discusses how afraid he is of becoming a father (as his wife is currently pregnant with Tony). In a touching scene, Tony is able to affirm his father and also see his father’s heart for him as his son.
This reconciliation is a needed part of Tony’s arc. Once he has made peace with his father, he is free to tackle the heart of his troubling vision. Though five years after their last attempt to thwart Thanos shows him, Pepper, and their five-year-old daughter living in rural happiness, it is clear that he is still carrying the weight of his failure. Wrestling with whether or not he should attempt time travel, Pepper, knowing his heart, encourages him to go forward because he will never be able to rest while there is a possibility of making things right.
In the end, Iron Man is able to confront and conquer his fear of failure. He does this by taking the infinity stones himself to vanquish Thanos and his army and, thereby, ending his own life. Pepper’s final words to him encourage him to finally go and rest.
Read the rest here in Fathom Magazine.