***THERE ARE MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS: ENDGAME AHEAD. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ENDGAME.***
Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. I’m never going to be over Endgame and I want to share the pain, so this week I have a BROTP to break your heart: the Avengers.
Who Are The Avengers?
If you have to ask this question, have you really been alive for the past decade? The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a cultural monolith that has wholly captured the cultural consciousness for more than ten years, and the Avengers are a central part of that. To clarify, the Avengers I’m talking about here are the original six. While many heroes have worn the mantle of Avenger, these six – Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye – were the ones who started it all.
The entire MCU owes its existence to a little film by Marvel Studios in 2008. Iron Man introduced us to this new world of superheroes with Tony Stark. Tony Stark starts off the saga as an irreverent genius with too much money and not enough maturity. He is the son of a famous weapons designer and carries on that legacy until he is captured by rogue forces and tortured. In a cave with little technology and with shrapnel forcing its way into his heart, Tony invents his first suit.
After returning to his normal life, Tony can’t shake the experience. He works on refining his work until he creates the first Iron Man suit, a technologically advanced exoskeleton that makes one man into a weapon. Tony begins to set right the wrongs he witnessed in captivity, soon realizing it’s a lot bigger job than he’d first thought. After overcoming a betrayal from his mentor and announcing his identity to the world, Tony becomes the “first” superhero.
Over the years, Tony will struggle with the burden of being Iron Man. The suit starts poisoning him until he can find a workaround. His arrogant attitude makes him struggle to connect with his peers. He deals with rampant PTSD after the events of the first Avengers movie. He even gives up the mantle of Iron Man for a time, choosing a simpler life. But in the end, Tony is a hero through and through. When the Avengers tackle Thanos and save the universe in Endgame, Tony gives his life for the world he protected.
While Tony Stark’s Iron Man may have been the first hero we met, he wasn’t truly the first superhero. That honor belongs to Steve Rogers, who became Captain America in World War II. Steve Rogers was a scrawny punk with a “fight me” attitude who didn’t like bullies. When he was rejected by the Army time and time again, he found himself pulled into an experiment to create the perfect soldier. Steve may have lacked the body of a hero, but he’s always had the heart of one.
The experiment is successful and Steve is transformed into a supersoldier. He is initially disappointed to be used for recruiting and propaganda purposes rather than actual fighting. But when Steve’s best friend Bucky is captured, Steve disobeys orders and goes behind enemy lines to save him. Having proved his worth, Steve is allowed to fight with his specially picked team. They successfully harassed the Nazi group Hydra, but in a last ditch effort to save New York, Steve crashes a plane into the Arctic ice.
Steve doesn’t die, of course, but is resurrected in the modern age. In a world completely unlike the one he knew, and having lost everyone he loved, Steve struggles to adjust. But he is still Captain America, and he still works to save the day. When the Avengers are brought together, Steve helps lead and guide them as they become a team. They fought together under Steve’s leadership for a long time, but eventually disbanded. Steve found his own retirement by going back in time to his own time.
Thor is the first hero we meet who is not human. Rather, Thor is an Asgardian, a race of technologically superior aliens. Asgardians would occasionally visit Midgard – their word for Earth – leading to the development of Norse religious myths about them. Thor, the God of Thunder, is a prominent figure. He is the son of the king, Odin, and is expected to become king next. But Thor is rash and violent, and restarts a war with Asgard’s enemies.
Odin banishes Thor to Earth, where he must learn humility. It takes some doing, but we soon see there is more to Thor than just fighting. Thor becomes a good leader and a hero, though he loses his path as future king when he falls in love with a human woman. Thor is brought into contact with the Avengers when his brother Loki attacks New York, and he must help the humans stop Loki’s terror. This would lead to Thor being a hero for Earth as well as Asgard.
Things get really off track for Thor when his father dies and his previously unknown sister Hela attacks Asgard. Thor must work together with strange allies – Loki, for one, and former Asgardian hero Valkyrie – to stop her, even though it means the destruction of Asgard. The Asgardian refugees flee to Earth, but are attacked by Thanos on the way. Thor vows revenge, but is unable to stop Thanos’ snap. He falls into depression, but is eventually able to help his team save the day.
Bruce Banner was just a mild mannered scientist who studied gamma radiation when a horrible accident changed his life forever. Bruce was hoping to recreate the superserum that changed Steve Rogers into Captain America, but it went very wrong. Instead, Bruce created a sort of split identity a la Jekyll and Hyde. His alter ego, the Hulk, is a massive, green, very very angry person who lacks Bruce’s intellect.
Terrified of the Hulk, Bruce attempts to flee and live in hiding, but is recruited by Nick Fury to help the Avengers. Though Fury insists he just wants Bruce’s help, the Hulk ends up being very helpful in the battle of New York, proving to Bruce that he can still do good. Hulk and Bruce end up being a part of the Avengers for several years before Bruce’s guilt gets to him, and Hulk flees the team and finds himself on a distant planet in space.
Hulk is found by Thor when they are forced to fight gladiator style, and Thor helps him turn back into Bruce. Thor needs Hulk’s help in stopping Hela, but Bruce is reluctant to lose himself again. In the end, Hulk does help Thor, and the two journey to Earth together. But when Thanos arrives, Hulk refuses to come out, leaving Bruce on his own. Eventually, he is able to merge his two halves, with the strength of Hulk and the brains of Bruce leaving him stronger than ever.
The only female member of the original team, Natasha Romanoff, was the Black Widow, a superspy and morally dubious ally. We first met Natasha in Iron Man 2, when she worked with Nick Fury and SHIELD to keep an eye on Tony Stark, who SHIELD wanted for the Avenger Initiative. SHIELD is unsure of Tony’s suitability, and worried about his downward spiral into alcoholism, so they set Natasha to watch over him. Natasha is vital in helping Tony get his act together and save the day once more.
In The Avengers, we learn more about Natasha. She was a trained Russian spy and assassin who became an enemy of SHIELD. The agent sent to eliminate her, Clint Barton, decided instead that she needed help, and recruited her for SHIELD. Natasha manages to turn her life around with help from Clint and SHIELD, so she continues working for them. But she thinks she’ll never undo what she’s done. Despite that, she becomes a true hero and an integral part of the team.
When all goes south after Thanos’ snap, Natasha takes over managing the team. She is desperate for any meaning in a life post-snap, so she dedicates herself to trying to do some good, any good she can. When they get a chance to do things over, she is ready to go. Unfortunately, she and Clint are sent to fetch the soul stone, which demands a sacrifice. While Barton, plagued with guilt, wants to sacrifice himself, Natasha is quicker. She gives her life so that her team can save the day.
The final member of the original six Avengers is Clint Barton, alias Hawkeye. Clint, like Natasha, is a spy and assassin for SHIELD. He was the one who decided that Natasha could be an asset, saving her life and giving SHIELD the person who would become one of their best agents. He worked with SHIELD when Thor was on Earth, providing sarcastic commentary as well as aid. When Loki attacked New York, he brainwashed Clint, forcing Clint to lose the moral compass that guided him.
Clint is saved from brainwashing by Natasha, and they work together to help save the day. After that, Clint is an Avenger and helps them save the day time after time. When things get really bleak, though, Clint saves them by taking them someplace unexpected: his farm, where his family lives. We see Clint as not just a spy but as a father and a husband, giving us an unexpected glimpse of who he is without SHIELD.
Clint’s dedication to his family comes back to haunt him when they are lost in the snap. Filled with rage, Clint begins attacking criminals – whether to punish them for surviving or to ensure the safety of those left is unclear. When he gets the chance to redeem himself by working with the Avengers once more, he takes it. But though he wants to sacrifice himself, Natasha – his best friend – takes the choice away from him. In the end, though, Clint is reunited with his family.
Why Are The Avengers BROTP?
Seven years after The Avengers, we have reached the conclusion of their story in Endgame. And it really hammers home the beautiful relationships and stories we have seen with these characters. From the first time we met Tony in Iron Man to his last heroic moment in Endgame, we’ve been through it all with these characters. We’ve seen them save the day multiple times. We’ve seen them work as a team and splinter apart. And now we’ve seen their last hurrah.
The Avengers are something really special. Though the team has grown and changed over the years, the original six stand out as the heroes who introduced us to this world. 2012’s The Avengers changed the game and was a fantastic movie to draw us in with this team. And now they’re moving on. But will we ever move on? Doubtful.
When we first met the Avengers, it seemed wholly unlikely that they would ever be able to be a functional team. That’s a major plot thread in The Avengers, as these disparate characters are forced to come together in a time of great need… but can’t function together to save their lives. They’re too different, and despite the high stakes, their infighting hinders them. Tony is too arrogant, Steve too self-righteous, Thor too condescending, Natasha and Clint too dubious, and Bruce too angry.
But somehow, over the course of the film, they become a team. With New York on the line, they work together to save the day. Tony really puts this in motion, letting Steve lead and laying his life on the line for the rest of the team (and the rest of New York) in a horrible bit of foreshadowing about his inevitable end. Though the Avengers go their own separate ways after New York, they come back together to save the day again and again.
It seemed like things were over for the Avengers after Civil War, in which the team splintered and fought each other. Half the team became outlaws. The team was toast. But when Thanos attacked, they were able to overcome their differences and, once again, work as a team for the greater good. In the aftermath, they seemed to splinter again; Tony was resentful of Steve and their failure to save the day, and they had lost so many. But, as always, they worked together to save the day and the universe, though it comes at the cost of their team. But while the original Avengers may be over, their influence lives on in the new heroes that will continue saving the day.
One of the most poignant moments in Endgame is after Clint comes back from Vormir with the soul stone, but without Natasha. The team had been riding high on their plan to save the universe and undo the damage of Thanos’ snap. There had been hope for the first time in five years and, though the team said they’d do whatever it took, the hope seemed to blind them a little. So when Clint reveals that Natasha sacrificed herself, it hits home. Someone asks if Natasha had a family they should notify, and Steve heartbreakingly replies that they were her family.
That’s the truth. The Avengers might have been, at first, a disparate group of individuals who bickered and could barely work together to save the day. But they became a real family over time. Years of working with these people, of seeing the highs and lows together, transformed them from a team into a family. The Avengers were all, in their way, messed up people who came from messed up families. So they found new families in each other, an acceptance of who they were and could be.
Civil War is so rough because it’s not the breakdown of a team, it’s the destruction of a family. These people had, against all odds, found a family. But now we had to watch as it crumbled under the weight of infighting and an inability to see eye-to-eye. All is not lost, though. The Avengers come back together when they need each other the most, proving that they are, and always will be, a family. They will always work together, always help each other when everything is on the line, because that’s what families do. And that makes Endgame all the more heartbreaking.
What’s Next For The Avengers?
Can the rest of this article just be loud sobbing? Because that’s how I feel. There is no next for the Avengers. Of course, there will be more stories. Those who claim this is the end of the MCU are bonkers; Disney will never stop this cash cow at the height of its hype. We’ll see more of some of these characters. We know that Disney+ is making a Hawkeye show, so we should expect to see more of Clint. There’s hope that the show will focus on Kate Bishop, but Clint will be a big part. Thor seems set to be a part of Guardians of the Galaxy 3, as he joins their crew at the end of Endgame. We don’t know what’s going on with Bruce, but it’s not the end for him.
But it is the end for the team. Not necessarily the “Avengers” label. Many of the newer Avengers come back in Endgame, and I fully expect we’ll see more of them. With Sam Wilson taking on the mantle of Captain America, and potential team members in T’Challa and Carol Danvers, among others, it’s likely we’ll see more team-ups in the future, even if it’s not on the scale we’re accustomed to in the Avengers movies.
But our team, our family, the original six? They’re done. Half the team isn’t around anymore. Tony and Natasha are dead. While there’s a feeling that no one is ever really dead in comic book genres, I doubt they’re coming back. And Steve retired. Going back in time to live his live with his love Peggy Carter meant that he is now an old man. With half of the original six out of the way, there is no coming back for the Avengers as we knew them.
Are The Avengers Canon?
The Avengers are a beautifully developed, fully fleshed out BROTP that is delightfully canon, though of course they’ve had their ups and downs. The first Avengers movie brought these six heroes together and they’ve been a BROTP for the ages ever since. One could argue that they’ve been a bit on-again-off-again in terms of relationships.
After their first adventure, they split off to do their own things, only coming together again when the world needed them to. And, of course, they fractured horribly in Civil War. But they always come back together again. The team is the team, no matter what (even when they think they’re done, they’re not).
This, of course, just makes Endgame all the more tragic. The Avengers had been through so much together. They’ve seen it all. They’ve fought together through some of the worst things the world had ever seen. The Avengers were there to save the day when aliens first attacked Earth, forming their little team in the heat of battle. And they were there when it was all on the line when Thanos came for the stones in an attempt to eradicate half of all life in the universe. Although they failed the first time, they put their all into a second chance, succeeding in defeating Thanos after all. But it cost them too much. Two members dead.
A third gone. It’s all over for the Avengers. Despite everything they’ve seen, everything they’ve lived through, everything they overcame in an attempt to save the world, they still lost. They won, of course. They beat Thanos, reversed the snap, saved the lives of countless individuals. But they lost. They lost each other. They lost their family. In the end, they lost it all, sacrificed everything to save the day.