WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for It: Chapter Two, in theaters now.
This year, a lot of fans shed a tear or two when Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man died at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, bringing the curtain down on a decade-long role. They grew so attached to his character that it was hard to envision Downey Jr. as anything but Tony, and also, to picture the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving on without him.
However, while his death certainly left a lasting impression, director Andy Muschietti crafts a death in It: Chapter Two that's more heartbreaking than what Joe and Anthony Russo did with Endgame.
Let's be honest, given the source material, we knew the older Eddie (James Ransone) was going to die in this film, just as much as we know Tony was going to die in Endgame. Sure, there was a small margin of room left for them to live, but once they both perished, it really wasn't that shocking to audiences, as these were natural deaths to bookend their stories. But what makes Eddie's more tear-jerking is the human factor involved. They both sacrificed themselves for the greater good, but in Eddie's case, he was more more a man than Tony ever could be, in terms of mortality, as well as his entire arc in the battle against a godlike villain.
Tony went toe-to-toe with Thanos using Stark tech, first in Infinity War and then in Endgame. As we've seen Tony fight terrorists, aliens and gods before, it wasn't a surprise that he was formidable. Was he a man? Yes, but he was just a much a machine and, really, a superhero on the exterior, fitted with tech allowing him to transcend humanity. He may have been mortal but he was on a different level.
Eddie's sacrifice, though, is a totally more relatable story as it's that of a coward aspiring to be something more for the people he loves. There's no tech, no powerful weaponry, no deus ex machina or ego involved -- he's very human: Someone scared of that which we cannot understand. Tony's sacrifice comes from necessity while Eddie's comes from a sense of belief, and he's reborn as a hero in that moment. He has no plot armor or literal armor, and it shows when he wusses out of helping the Losers save Richie (Bill Hader) from a monster (a spider with Stanley's head on it) in the final act. Bill (James McAvoy) chastises him but Richie protects his little bud, knowing they can't expect much from him as he's been scared since they were kids.
But despite his geeky behavior, we know Eddie is trying, and unlike Tony, he doesn't have anyone to really help him on his journey. He has to dig deep alone, going through the motions of being bullied as a kid, then harnessing the anguish and channeling it into an iron stake, which Bev tells him can be a weapon once he wills it to be. And that's the stoic nature he displays when he uses it as a javelin, stabbing Pennywise in the finale to give him his first real wound, just as the monster traps Richie in the Deadlights and is about to kill him.
Eddie stands no chance but he tries, only for Pennywise's spider-leg to impale him fatally. At this point, as they struggle to keep him alive and carry him out of the Derry cave, Muschietti's strategy with the character comes full-circle, as he evokes so much emotion and sympathy, especially since he frames the kid version (played by Jack Dylan Grazer), too, and juxtaposes him with the hero that's come so far. Here, his gauntlet is the belief he never had before. Sadly, what hits home harder is when they do eventually kill Pennywise, they have no choice but to leave his body behind to crumble with the destroyed cave; a luxury Tony didn't have in a polished, glorified death sequence. Eddie urged his friends to leave him behind earlier, and after Pennywise dies, they have no choice, as he's now pale, limp and lifeless, which leads to them escaping without a proper goodbye.
There's no closure for Eddie, the kid, who lost his mom, nor his friends. He also leaves behind an unsuspecting wife who doesn't know what happened when he returned to Derry. Like Tony, Eddie is the heart and soul of the film in which he dies, but there's more nuance here. This leads to Richie and the gang not celebrating, but mourning after his death. After all, Eddie never stood a chance, nor did he have Avengers backing him; he simply proved himself a hero when it mattered most. When the film concludes, seeing Richie grieve for the person he loved since childhood made it sting a bit more, as he never got to tell Eddie about his feelings for him. Ultimately, Eddie may not have been an Iron Man but to the Losers, he stepped up and faced a devil like a true leader and superhero.
It: Chapter Two stars Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, Jess Weixler, Will Beinbrink, Xavier Dolan, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff and Nicholas Hamilton.