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How Does The MCU Fandom Pull Itself Back Together?

the surviving Avengers post-Infinity War...well, assemble

After the earth-shatteringness that was Avengers: Endgame, how does the MCU fandom move on? We’re seeing the results in recent releases like Spider-Man: Far From Home, which takes the MCU and the MCU fandom in exciting new directions. But, more importantly than just how the MCU moves on: how does the fandom move on? After all *spoilers coming* there were *spoilers imminent* several *spoilers are here* prominent deaths in Endgame.

Thanos emerges from the dust of his home planet, Titan.
Turns out he was… not so inevitable. (Marvel/Disney)

Spoilers: Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You, MCU Fandom (Multiple Times)

  • Tony Stark, and thus, Iron Man is dead — and love him or hate him, you have to admit that Tony made the first three MCU phases.
  • Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, really did die in her heroic sacrifice on Vormir (or did she? Set photos from her upcoming solo film have us all baffled).
  • And Steve Rogers, our Captain America, retired and went on to live out his life in a…confusing timeline twist with his old flame, Peggy Carter.
Tony Stark and Peter Parker are...confused by the Guardians.
Tony’s reaction to the Guardians is all of us to the events of Endgame. (Marvel/Disney)

However, that’s just out of the main Avengers. There were certain changes to the surviving three Avengers — Thor is now a Guardian of the Galaxy. Bruce Banner is now (permanently?) Professor Hulk. Hawkeye/Clint Barton, is well, kind of a mass murderer, but hey, at least he got his family back? Huh?

Clint Barton has a new haircut.
At least he got a new haircut…which is…interesting. (Marvel/Disney)

Don’t Forget The Newbies! (Because Endgame Nearly Did)

Then there are the secondary Avenger characters. Sam Wilson used to be Falcon but got handed the shield by Steve, which means he is now Captain America. (But what about Falcon and the Winter Soldier?) Gamora, despite being resurrected through some alternate timeline confusion, is not hanging out with the Guardians, but Nebula (the secret hero of Endgame) is. Scarlet Witch is alive again, but Vision is still very dead. (Despite the existence of WandaVision.) What exactly happened to Wakanda during the time the “blip” (as it’s being called in Far From Home), considering T’Challa and Shuri both went dusty?

Steve Rogers has one last heroic moment for the MCU fandom.
Ah yes, when the movie remembered that Wakanda exists… and no, giving Okoye five minutes of screentime doesn’t count. (Marvel/Disney)

We now know how Spider-Man and his friends are handling it—which, well, they’re not. Peter and nearly all of his (important) friends went away during the blip and came back to a world…fairly unchanged (except for the fact that there are now memorials to Tony Stark/Iron Man everywhere). Because of all these changes, the MCU fandom has…a lot to deal with. (I didn’t even mention that Loki is alive again.) Let’s discuss it.

MCU Fandom Remembers The Badass That Was…Tony Stark

Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, Bruce Banner and Wong face off against Squidward.
Tony Stark…the only man from Earth willing to use pop culture references to belittle his powerful enemies from space. (Marvel/Disney)

The MCU fandom has always been…mixed on Tony Stark, the one who started it all. His blasé demeanor towards being a hero seemed to offend those who were fans of say, through and through heroes like Cap. However, in the wake of his heroic (and pretty gnarly) sacrifice, hardcore fans of Tony seem to have found their voice, with more than a few Tumblrs dedicated to preserving his memory. Those who turned on him during Civil War (preferring Cap’s side of the story) have mostly backed down on their vitriol, but some detractors still remain. However, a lot of them have been shut up by Cap’s uh…lack…of sacrifice at the end of Endgame.

MCU Fandom Remembers The: “What The Hell, Hero” That Was…Steve Rogers

Remember in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Steve definitely had the hots for Sharon Carter (which yes, canonically he does in the comics) and still had the hots for her in Captain America: Civil War? This, despite the fact that Sharon was Peggy’s uh…great-niece? And then, after all is said and done, he uses the Avengers’ new time machine to live out the rest of his days with Peggy, even though that seemingly creates a whole new timeline?

The old Steve Rogers...and the young Steve Rogers and his manly tears for the MCU fandom.
You either live long enough to die a hero…or you live long enough to mess with your old flame’s timeline. (Marvel/Disney)

Fandom seems to have largely rebelled against this new take on Steve, with both casual and hardcore fans wondering what happened to their duty-bound Captain. Memes have popped up surrounding “old” Steve Rogers, and while some of them are funny, almost all of them have a bitter, “what the hell happened” streak to them. We have a new Cap now—Sam Wilson—and hopefully, he will make up for what happened to Steve Rogers in the end.

Hopefully.

MCU Fandom Honors The Hero With A Capital H That Was…Natasha Romanoff

Natasha’s sacrifice on Vormir shocked a lot of the MCU fandom…not because she did it (her journey has been one of constant sacrifice) but because it happened at all. The way it was handled was also…not great, seemingly written to satisfy Clintasha shippers (were there any left?) Her death, given little glory other than a scene with the sad, remaining, all noticeably male OG Avengers.

Natasha Romanoff confronts Clint Barton.
Yup, this isn’t at allllll reminiscent of another movie starring ScarJo in Japan. (Marvel/Disney)

Regardless, the one thing that sticks out about how fandom has been handling Natasha’s demise is this: she is, was, and will always be a hero. That’s the one thing the MCU fandom can completely agree on. Speaking of the Avengers they cannot agree on…

Permanent Professor Hulk, Fat Thor And…Serial Killer Clint?

Professor Hulk, the new nightmare of the MCU fandom.
If you made fun of Tron: Legacy, but think this is acceptable: look at your life, look at your choices. (Marvel/Disney)

Boy, these three got screwed over in Endgame. Thor’s arc from the previous movies was erased in favor of fat jokes and a…problematic depression story (which has been rehashed to death in many a thinkpiece). Hulk/Bruce Banner is now in the uncanny valley and in the idiot basket as well; you’re telling me a man whose career focused on physics and biology can’t figure out time travel?

And, of course, there’s Clint, who, upon the dusting of his family, can’t take it and snaps, becoming a killer along the way. These three are the ones left alive at the end of Endgame, and Thor’s definitely in the new Guardians. Whether Hulk and Clint will make reappearances in the MCU is a mystery, although there has been a rumor of a Hawkeye series on Disney’s new streaming platform. However, there are some other characters whose futures are also a mystery, save one…

Iron Fam: Assemble!

Tony Stark, and his daughter, Morgan Stark, the new fave of the MCU fandom.
Give your divisive hero a daughter and suddenly we love him 3000. (Marvel/Disney)

Man, nothing bad happened to the Iron Fam (Tony, Pepper, Morgan, Peter, Harley, and Happy) in this movie, did it?

Nothing at all.

So yeah, Tony’s death was pretty earth-shattering for those who are fans of this patchwork family. Sometimes a family is a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, his CEO, his adorable daughter, a Spiderling, a mechanic kid and the bodyguard, y’know?

Those in the Iron Fam fandom were expecting…a lot of different things from Endgame, most of which they did not get. There were rumors of a Tony/Pepper wedding scene…which turned out to be Tony’s funeral. Also, rumors that Tony’s daughter would make an appearance were all over the place. (This turned out to be true and is the best part of a divisive movie.)

Now, it appears that fandom has focused its art and fiction on Morgan, Peter, and Harley, the children Tony picked up and had on the way to his ultimate sacrifice. (Harley gets lucky here…his appearance at Tony’s funeral reminded fandom that he existed in the first place!)

The fam that fights together sticks together. We (I count myself as firmly a part of that section of the MCU fandom) hope.

In Conclusion: We, The MCU Fandom, Are Learning To Cope

The MCU has always been a divided fandom. Cap vs. Tony, Thor vs. everyone, Science Bros vs. the world and scientific ethics (hey, Ultron), Killmonger was kinda right…to name a few controversies over the eleven years the MCU has been around. A lot has happened in those eleven years. Some of it was highly contradictory, some of it united and harmonious. Basically, the MCU is Alexander Hamilton in “It’s Quiet Uptown” begging us, the MCU fandom, to take it back.

We, the MCU fandom accept that the council has made a decision, but seeing as it is a stupid-ass decision… (Hamilton: the Musical/Lin-Manuel Miranda)

Forgiveness in fandom, can you imagine?

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Ruth Johnson
Ruth Johnson is a screenwriter and scholar who focuses on themes of adaptation, satire and queer sensibilities in her analysis and studies of modern media. She holds an MS from Boston University and a BA from Agnes Scott College.

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