How do you end a character arc that has been a decade in the making? That was one of the biggest challenges facing screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely while they were drafting the endings for Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) as seen in “Avengers: Endgame.” The record-breaking blockbuster brings Iron Man and Captain America’s time in the MCU to a definitive end: Tony sacrifices himself to save the universe, while Steve decides to live in the past. It was these final parts to the characters’ story arcs where Markus and McFeely started.
During IndieWire’s Consider This FYC Brunch, Markus said the screenwriting duo “worked backwards from Tony Stark’s death and Steve going back to Peggy.” By knowing the exact point where the characters’ journeys would end, the writers could then craft appropriate journeys that would result in “meaningful endings” and not “tragic ones.”
“What an arc Tony’s been on!” McFeely told the Consider This FYC Brunch audience. “He went from being a selfish jerk to leader of the Avengers to someone willing to sacrifice himself. And he crossed with Steve Rogers, in a way. As Tony becomes more selfless, Steve becomes more self-interested. Steve started with falling on the grenade in training camp, willing to give up his life. He put off his entire life from the 1940s on and the end of his arc was to actually live a life.”
Tony Stark and Steve Rogers had always been polar opposite characters, and their differentiating world views famously led to conflict in the MCU as seen in “Captain America: Civil War,” so it’s somehow fitting that Markus and McFeely were able to bring their character arcs to an end by more or less telling the same story. Both characters leave the MCU by taking on the values of where the other started in the MCU.
While Tony was killed during the “Endgame” final battle, there are rumors that Marvel fans haven’t seen the last of him on the big screen. Some reports claim Tony will pop up in the “Black Widow” movie (set for release May 1, 2020), which is set directly after the events of “Civil War.” Steve Rogers is still alive in the MCU, so there’s no telling if he’ll reappear in the future.