Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have always had a tumultuous relationship in the MCU continuity, going all the way back to their first meeting in 2012’s The Avengers. Though in an ironic yet clever manner, Avengers: Endgame ultimately established that the two had it wrong about one another.
As you’ll remember from the cinematic world’s formative years, Cap and Iron Man got off on the wrong foot since the beginning. That rift in characterization, and dare we say envy on Tony’s part, ultimately led to the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes falling out in Captain America: Civil War, making it all the easier for the Mad Titan to sweep in and bring annihilation to half of all living things. But interestingly enough, we’ve now realized that the last movie in the Infinity Saga slyly dismantles the pair’s respective opinions of each other and turns them around.
In the first Avengers film, Rogers tries to undermine Stark by saying that he’s not a hero: “You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play. To lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.” Under the influence of the Mind Stone, Tony had some harsh words to say to Cap as well, “You’re a lab rat, Rogers,” he seethingly remarks. “Everything special about you came out of a bottle!”
Little did they know that they’d both be proven wrong in about a decade. As pointed out by the Marvel Facts Twitter page, Iron Man made the ultimate sacrifice by donning the Infinity Gauntlet and getting rid of Thanos, once and for all. As for Captain America, by wielding Mjolnir and being worthy of its power, Rogers proclaimed that he isn’t just some super-soldier with enhanced strength and endurance created in a lab by Howard Stark.
There’s no doubt that Marvel Studios owes a great deal of its successful run to the producers’ painstaking regard for continuity and narrative coherence. And the fact that fans are still finding these connections throughout Avengers: Endgame goes a long way to prove just how much of a satisfying conclusion it turned out to be, not only paying homage to the MCU as a whole but also delivering a decent resolution to these character arcs.