A lot of what made Avengers: Endgame so special was how it so perfectly connected all of the films in the MCU. On my second viewing, I came away with a few interesting Easter Eggs for the two most pivotal characters — Captain America and Iron Man. In time, I’ll have one for Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, but for now, let’s tackle the big two.
This one is only for folks who have seen Avengers: Endgame. We’re venturing into spoiler territory from here on out so you’ve been warned…
It stands to reason that Captain America would have a slew of Easter Eggs since he’s such a key figure in the Avengers saga.
In Age of Ultron, Cap worries Thor as he’s the only one able to get Mjlonir to budge. Cap still had that on his mind while saying farewell to Thor as he departs on his quest for the Infinity Stones. To look at this deeper, Mjlonir didn’t fully come to Steve earlier because he wasn’t fully worthy. He was harboring the secret he learned about Bucky from Tony. That secret didn’t get outed until Civil War.
Over the next two years, Cap is on the run as an outlaw with Black Widow and Falcon before re-assembling the Avengers. After the Decimation, Steve serves as a sounding board for therapy sessions — honoring his pal Sam Wilson who did the same for veterans returning from combat. Free of secrets, doubt and deception and faced with one desperate shot to save his friend Thor from certain death, Cap reaches for Mjlonir and this time is proven worthy.
This needed its own slot as it’s pivotal to Cap’s arc. In Captain America: The First Avenger, a running plot thread is Cap and Peggy’s innocent flirtation revolving around a dance. As he prepares to crash into the ocean, Steve laments that he’s not going to be able to have that dance with her.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve visits Peggy who now has Alzheimer’s. He has a standard conversation with her before she forgets him again. Peggy remarks it’s been so long, so long since she’s seen him. Steve patiently repeats the conversation and says he wasn’t going to forget his favorite girl who still owes him a dance.
Back at his apartment, Steve encounters Sharon Carter who tells him he left his radio on. Steve knows he didn’t leave the radio on and goes to investigate. He finds Nick Fury playing a song. Initially it seems like a throwaway classic song set in the 40s that Cap would listen to while unwinding. It has a greater significance later.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Steve hallucinates after having his mind warped by Wanda. He doesn’t see visions of death and destruction or the end of Asgard. Instead, he’s at a dance where across the room, Peggy strides over asking if he’s ready for their dance before vanishing.
Steve remained close enough to older Peggy that he was a pallbearer in her funeral and her death still haunted him. He might have shared a kiss with Sharon, but his heart remained with Peggy as indicated by the pendant he kept with him at all times.
Seeing Peggy during the time heist was a reminder of the great love of his life that never was, but given a chance to have a life with Peggy, Steve seizes the moment. As Endgame closes, the same song that played in his apartment is playing. This time it’s far more appropriate and fitting for the end. The name of the song? It’s Been a Long, Long Time.
Cap takes advantage of his second chance at life and experiences it at normal speed with Peggy before returning to when he left Hulk, Falcon and Bucky. Now back as an old man, Cap looks out over a serene lake. Water symbolized the abrupt end of his first life as a war hero and a future with Peggy. His battle with Bucky in D.C. ends with Cap taking a plunge in the Potomac River. His final fight with Bucky ends with both of them plummeting into a river from a helicopter.
But now, Steve can reflect on another pivotal moment in his life around water — when he first meets Sam Wilson while they run along the Tidal Basin. In Sam, Steve saw the same kind of man who reflected his values and unwavering loyalty to his friend. Where Cap went, Sam followed. Bucky and Cap coined the phrase of being with each other to the end, but Sam also treated that like a mantra. And as a result, there was no one else Steve would entrust to carry on in his footsteps.
This is the battle cry for the Avengers from the comics. We were thisclose from actually hearing it way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron as Cap and Black Widow greet the new team. While fitting, in hindsight it made so much more sense to save it for the reunited Avengers to hear it for the first time when they’re fully assembled. And there was none better to say it than Cap. If anything made viewers giddy during Endgame it was this moment.
Tony Stark’s fate has been foreshadowed for a long time. Start back to the first Avengers where Captain America calls him out for being the selfish guy who wouldn’t make the sacrifice play for his teammates. Stark thinks he’s overcome that when he grabs the nuclear missile and sends it to the other galaxy. As Iron Man 3 shows, Stark is dealing with PTSD from the Battle of New York.
It doesn’t take much prodding from Wanda’s mind-warp for Tony to have another vision of Thanos’ forces conquering the planet. This is his greatest fear along with failing to save his friends, who have all died around him. Established back in the first Iron Man, Tony has an underlined sense of survivor’s guilt. He was the lone survivor of the attack on the convoy; Yinsen sacrificed himself so Tony could power up the Mark-1 and the vision in Age of Ultron was too much. Tony’s nightmare actually predicts Cap’s broken shield as well.
Still, Tony buried it deep for a while and took proactive measures like creating an armory and the Ultron initiate. But the events in Sokovia kick his survivor’s guilt back into overdrive especially after learning the fate of a young man on a mission trip who died in the crossfire.
Through all his snark and dismissive attitude, Tony was scarred from being the sole surviving member of his family at a young age. People around him always kept dying. It’s the reminder of Peter Parker, the young boy he brought into this Avengers world that sticks with Tony five years. After he’s gotten his happy ending with Pepper and Morgan. How could Tony still be alive when this kid who just wanted to look out for the little guy be gone? And how could Tony not take the chance to bring him back?
With the Infinity Gauntlet at his feet, Tony doesn’t think twice and charges for it. Thanos overpowers him, but Tony snags the stones and pulls off the ultimate sacrifice play to save the universe even at the cost of his life.
In his first scene in Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark introduces his virtual reality chamber where people could re-enact and change memories to the way they wanted them to be. For Tony, he chose the last time he saw his parents alive. He tells his father, Howard, he knows he did his best.
Given a chance to interact with his father during the time heist, Tony seizes the moment encouraging Howard that he’ll handle fatherhood just fine. But in his most significant moment, Tony gets to hug his father and say thank you. This scene gets repeated later during the big battle when Tony sees Peter. As we see in the video, Tony has his doubts about surviving the battle. He’s made amends with Captain America, helped reunite the Avengers and can provide that lasting memory for his ‘surrogate son’ Peter.
I Am Iron Man
At the end of the first film, Tony has a decision to make. Keep the facade of an armored bodyguard or admit the truth. His final words before the post-stinger are “I Am Iron Man.”
As he thinks over his battle with The Mandarin, Tony’s final words in Iron Man 3 are the same.
It’s fitting then that in his final appearance, Tony’s last lucid words are “I Am Iron Man.”
So those were the big ones I caught. Lemme know if you found some others and I’ll add them to the list.