WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have said the events of Captain America: Civil War, which divided Earth's Mightiest Heroes, are what permitted Thanos to emerge victorious in Avengers: Infinity War.
We heard Captain America and Iron Man's differing philosophies on how superheroes should police the planet via the Sokovia Accords, reflecting their ethical and moral battle in the Civil War comics. With both outcomes being considered, the answer to the age-old question of who was right has finally been answered. Well, on the big screen. The answer comes straight from the mouth of Chris Evans' Cap himself, as he admits Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark was indeed right all along.
Steve admits it in their first meeting after Brie Larson's Captain Marvel brings Stark home after being marooned in space with Nebula. As he's recovering, Tony's clearly suffering PTSD from getting beaten on Titan and seeing Peter Parker (Tom Holland) "dusted."
When Cap tells him they need to move on and come up with a solution to avenge the fallen, Tony absolutely loses it and unloads on him, calling him out for there being no united front when Thanos came to Earth. A repentant Steve apologizes, confessing that Tony's method of safeguarding the world would have given them a better shot at defending the Infinity Stones.
No matter which side you're on, Tony's argument is foolproof. He explains how Cap failed to put aside his personal beliefs and the political dilemma that followed, making clear to Steve that "this is all on you!" It's an illuminating moment, and one we all needed for closure. As Tony ruminates on Steve's need for liberty, autonomy and freedom, he reveals how the super soldier doomed the world.
Tony throws Cap's apology back in his face, calling it all too little, too late. No one even jumps in to defend Steve or pacify the situation, not because they merely want to let Tony vent his anger, but simply because his points create a one-sided debate in which he's the definitive winner.
What makes it a bitter but honest pill to swallow is that Tony didn't even like what he was doing in Civil War and Age of Ultron, but he saw it as a necessary evil for the greater good. A shield was needed around the planet and, to achieve this, unity was essential, which included all heroes being kept in check so that the World Security Council would have the army required to combat invasions like the Mad Titan's.
This sequence even trumps their speeches in the comics (no easy task, we admit) and looking back at everything that transpired, you can see Tony came from a place of practicality and common sense. In the books, Steve's death cushioned his stance, and many didn't budge from their perspectives because of it. Here, though, Tony ends up dying in the finale after dusting away Thanos and company. Still, whether he lived or died, it's clear Tony knew what was needed.
It's such a poetic tragedy because the film cements just how much of a visionary Tony was, especially after the Scarlet Witch-induced vision hinted at impending devastation. Iron Man may have had many issues embedded under his arc reactor, but as Steve indicates, ignoring his professional advice saw the Avengers pay the ultimate price by creating a vulnerable world, and universe, ripe for the taking.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.