After over a decade of buildup and a year of waiting, we are in the endgame now. Avengers: Endgame finally hits theaters this weekend, and as Cap says in the trailers, this is the fight of their lives. Therefore it is worth speculating about who will be the most valuable player in that fight and offer the greatest contribution in the victory over Thanos we presume will happen before the credits roll.
With fumbles and dropped passes aplenty, there wasn’t really any hero deserving of an MVP award in Avengers Infinity War. You could maybe say Doctor Strange or Thor, but it would be a small consolation, like the Dallas Cowboy’s Chuck Howley who won the MVP award in the 1971 Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Colts. The Avengers were positively destroyed last time, but they have another chance in the rematch and someone is going to need to step up.
Who that someone will be is the question. There are a lot of contenders, some more obvious than others, and there’s a not-insignificant chance that Endgame’s MVP will be given their award posthumously. So let’s take a look at the team members who seem to be the most likely MVP candidates of the endgame, and for the purposes of this exercise, I’ll only be including heroes who weren’t dusted at the end of Infinity War.
It’s personal between Tony and Thanos, and between his brains and firepower on the field, Iron Man seems like he has a great shot at being MVP of Avengers: Endgame. Iron Man came close to making the ultimate sacrifice to save Earth in The Avengers, and there’s a possibility that this time it might actually stick. Steve Rogers called Tony Earth’s best defender and it seems entirely possible that Iron Man could sacrifice himself performing some incredibly heroic act that wins the day at the eleventh hour. That would make him a strong candidate for a posthumous MVP award.
Lots of people seem to be getting a good chuckle out of Black Widow training for the fight with Thanos by doing target practice, but that’s ignoring how much of an impact she has made in the MCU without superpowers. Consider how Natasha Romanoff was able to close the portal in The Avengers, thus stopping the flow of Chitauri into New York. Being the MVP isn’t just about who has the highest kill count, it’s about who came through with the right play at the right time. Black Widow’s mission in Endgame might be less flashy, but that doesn’t make it any less vital.
With Shuri dusted, Bruce Banner’s mind is one of the most powerful tools the Avengers have at their disposal. That may prove important, but Bruce Banner’s greatest potential to earn MVP depends on his ability to get his green friend to come out for a rematch with the Mad Titan. We haven’t seen the Hulk yet in the trailers, but if he does return to form, which seems likely, he will be a huge asset in the physical battle against Thanos and his forces. It doesn’t seem like he will be the one to end Thanos, but he could play a crucial defensive role, creating a lane for someone else to finish him off.
If you ask subscribers of the “Thanus Theory,” there is only one way Thanos will be defeated, and it’s a dirty job that only Ant-Man can perform. Yet even forgoing anal ingress and corporeal detonation, Ant-Man may still prove to be the most valuable and important Avenger in Endgame. Ant-Man’s knowledge of the Quantum Realm could be the key to bringing everyone back, and that alone might make him the most valuable. In the first trailer for Endgame, Scott Lang’s existence was made out to be a big deal and even though he’s a rookie on the Avengers team, gushing about playing with Cap, this may prove to be his big moment.
In our own poll about who will die in Avengers: Endgame, Captain America was overwhelmingly marked for death. MCU fans have been convinced that Steve Rogers is going to die for some time now, and with Endgame set to complete his arc, that eventuality seems nigh. Cap sacrificing himself to save others in an incomparable feat of bravery would be completely on brand for the character and makes him perhaps the strongest contender for MVP. He’s also the team leader; he may not be able to take on Thanos in the way Thor or Captain Marvel could, but if the Avengers are victorious, there’s a good chance that his planning and play calling will be the reason why.
Avengers: Endgame seems poised to act as a swan song for the original 6 Avengers, so it stands to reason that one of that lot will have a John Elway-esque ride off into the sunset with a game-winning performance. I don’t know if Hawkeye is the most likely candidate for that, but you can’t underestimate the importance of one well-placed arrow. Hawkeye also seems like he has lost a lot, and in order to get it back, he may do something recklessly heroic. We also must note that Hawkeye was on the bench the last time the Avengers fought Thanos, so maybe he’s their good luck charm.
With a clutch appearance and countless Outriders destroyed at his hands in the Battle of Wakanda, Thor made a strong case for the MVP of Avengers: Infinity War. Alas, his Hail Mary axe to the chest proved misplaced and they lost. Thor will want to make up for that mistake in Avengers: Endgame and avenge his brother, his fellow Asgardians and all those snapped out of existence when he wasn’t strong enough. And unlike most of the Avengers, he has a weapon that could theoretically kill Thanos. If Thor does in fact deliver the killing blow, that would make a solid case for him being MVP.
No other character has hated and wanted to kill Thanos for as long as Nebula, and if she finally succeeds, she would be the unquestioned MVP of Avengers: Endgame. Nebula played a pivotal role in The Infinity Gauntlet comics storyline and Marvel could borrow from that here. Her primal war cry in the trailers is chilling and there’s no doubt that Nebula will do ‘whatever it takes’ to defeat Thanos and avenge Gamora. And yet, her hatred could make her too emotional and a prime candidate for a Peter Quill-level mistake. But she’s definitely a dark horse MVP contender to watch for.
In one of the clips from Avengers: Endgame, Bruce Banner asks how they know this second fight against Thanos will end any differently, to which Carol Danvers responds “Because before you didn’t have me.” It’s a confident response, and given her ridiculous power level, she may very well be right. For a while it seemed like Captain Marvel was being positioned as the cavalry coming in to wreck shop when the need was most dire. It now seems she’ll be in the film from early on, but regardless, she could prove the difference maker in this fight and a great performance here would set her up nicely to lead the MCU in Phase 4 and beyond.
These are just the contenders that seem like they could make the biggest impact going in to Avengers: Endgame but someone else could surprise us. Rocket Raccoon, War Machine, Valkyrie, Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, who knows? Ultimately, I think the safe money here is on Tony or Cap, but everyone is bringing something to the table and depending how the movie plays out and how you judge what’s ‘most valuable,’ any of these characters could be the difference maker that undoes The Decimation and leads to Thanos’ defeat.