As I sat down to watch Avengers: Endgame last April, I thought to myself, "There is no way that anything I'm about to see will be as heartbreaking as watching the Avengers in the final moments of Infinity War." And then the movie opens with Hawkeye's family getting dusted moments after the snap. And then the movie just kind of went from there, slowly breaking your heart over the course of three hours and some change.
It has been a little more than a year since I first found myself openly weeping in a packed theater as some of the characters that I had watched on screen for a decade said goodbye to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its millions upon millions of fans. But after all this time — and an absurd number of repeat viewings — there are certain scenes in Endgame that still break my heart into thousands of tiny pieces. (This article is obviously full of Avengers: Endgame spoilers.)
The Look On Clint's Face When He Realizes His Whole Family Is Gone
As soon as Endgame started with a beautiful scene of Hawkeye teaching his daughter how to shoot a bow and arrow, I knew it was too good to be true. I knew at that very moment that I was in for it. I knew things were about to take a turn.
And as Hawkeye's family is turned to ash floating in the wind, the audience is left with a hurt, confused, and emotionally damaged superhero who, for what seems like the first time in his life, can't fix the situation with his masterful archery skills. His face says it all. Besides calling for wife and children, the once strong and confident Avenger says nothing for his heart is broken, as is his spirit. And then we fade.
Tony's Emotional Return From Space
"I lost the kid" will forever go down as one of the greatest and most emotional lines spoken in all the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Tony Stark returns to Earth nearly a month after losing his protégé and son he never had, Peter Parker, he still holds on to that. Tony and the rest of the Avengers lost so much with the snap, but he still holds onto the fact that he couldn't protect Spider-Man.
There's this small yet powerful moment where Tony, who never allows himself to be vulnerable (emotionally or physically), breaks down and admits defeat at the hands of the Mad Titan. This highly emotional scene is concluded with a tender moment involving the only two surviving members of the Guardians of the Galaxy when Rocket and Nebula share a warm and somber embrace on the loading dock of the damaged Benatar.
Tony And Morgan's Interactions
One of the sweetest yet most heartbreaking scenes in Avengers: Endgame is after Tony Stark has figured out how to get Scott Lang's time machine to work and is surprised by his daughter, Morgan sitting on the stairs behind him. In an attempt to get his young daughter to not spill the beans about his slip of the tongue, Tony bribes her with a popsicle before bed.
You can see it on Tony's face that he knows what he has to do, even if it means losing everything he has built. As he puts Morgan to bed, Tony says, "I love you tons," only for his daughter to respond with, "I love you 3,000." At that moment, Tony's eyes say it all. It's the kind of look a parent has after they drop their kid off at school for the first time, only this time instead of going to work, Tony is trying to pull off the impossible, no matter what it takes.
Natasha's Death And The Team's Reaction When Clint Returns Without Her
Before Black Widow and Hawkeye even left for Vormir to retrieve the Soul Stone, you knew that something devastating was to follow, especially after seeing the Gamora scene a year earlier. But nothing could quite prepare you for the back and forth battle the two friends enter to see who would be the one to sacrifice themselves to save the universe. And as Black Widow's lifeless body lies at the bottom of the cliff, Hawkeye is left with the stone and the burden of telling the others why she wasn't coming home.
That scene was only made more heartbreaking as Hawkeye returns back to the present day and has to explain to everyone what needed to happen to get the stone. Hulk's face especially is painted with the pain and heartbreak of losing one of his closest friends with whom he shared an intimate and ill-fated relationship.
Thor Seeing His Mother
To say that Thor was a damaged shell of his former self following the events of Avengers: Infinity War would an understatement of epic proportions. He lost his parents, his brother, his home, and was inches away from preventing Thanos from carrying out his plan. The tattered and severely out of shape God of Thunder was an emotional time-bomb ready to go off at any moment, and then he was transported back in time to when Asgard was still standing and his mother, Frigga, was alive.
After years of living in a personal hell populated with what-ifs, regrets, and mistakes, Thor lets it all out as he shares a moment with his soon to be deceased mother. When Frigga tells her son, "You're not the Thor I know at all, are you?" it's hard not to see the subtext, and it makes it all the more heartbreaking as Thor has lost all confidence in himself. And while this tearful reunion brings the waterworks, it's also uplifting as it gives the Asgardian king the strength and resolve to carry on.
Tony Getting To Talk To His Father
As shone throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark and his father, Howard, didn't have the best relationship, and the two never really got to properly say "I love you," or "Goodbye" for that matter. But Iron Man was given a second chance when he and Steve Rogers traveled back to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters in 1970 in order to obtain the Space Stone and more Pym Particles.
After Tony is confronted by his father in the basement of the facility, the two Starks continue to talk as they ride up the elevator and before they go their separate ways. Before departing, they talk about a number of topics, including being a parent. Seeing this as his only opportunity to make amends with his father (even if 1970 Howard Stark doesn't know it) and allow himself to let go of the pain and anger that has burdened him since his father's death.
Steve Seeing Peggy At S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters
As Tony Stark was reconnecting with his father (and locating the Power Stone), Steve Rogers went out looking for the Pym Particles. But upon his search, he finds himself in Peggy Carter's office and even sees the love of his life on the other side of a window. But unlike Tony, Steve doesn't approach Peggy and instead watches her from a distance.
You can see in Steve's misty-eyed expression that he has not gotten over being ripped away from Peggy all those years ago, and in hindsight, you can see that he is already formulating a plan to get back to her if the Avengers can pull of the "time heist." What makes it so heartbreaking is that he is inches away from the woman he loves but with the odds (and his burdens) stacked up against him, an inch becomes a light year.
Scott Lang Searching The Memorial For His Daughter's Name
There are few things more nerve-racking than watching Scott Lang frantically running through the San Francisco memorial to those who vanished after the snap as he tries to find his daughter Cassie's name etched in stone. When he finds his name instead of his daughter's, Ant-Man runs off to locate her after a five-year absence.
When Scott gets to Cassie's house, his daughter is five years older and no longer the cute little girl that he fought desperately to see in the two Ant-Man movies. He knows it's his daughter, but Scott is likely consumed with both relief that she's alive and emotion as he realizes that he has missed so much of his daughter's life and wasn't there to protect her.
Bucky And Steve Saying Goodbye
When Steve Rogers gets ready to travel back in time to return the Infinity Stones, he and Bucky Barnes, his childhood best friend turned Winter Soldier, share a moment as if it would be the last time they would see one another. And it would.
Although they give nothing away or say that Steve isn't coming back outright, their body language and veiled language says it all. These two buddies from Brooklyn, having been through hell and back by one another's side, were saying goodbye for the last time as Steve would not be returning. And this tender moment is only shared between the two of them as Hulk and Falcon stand-off to the side as if nothing is happening.
Tony's Death And The "I Love You 3,000" Video
Tony Stark sacrificing himself and wielding the Infinity Gauntlet with all of its power will go down as one of the most powerful deaths, not just in the MCU, but in all of cinematic history. Before he even snapped his fingers, it was a safe bet that Iron Man wouldn't make it out of this one.
His interaction with Peter Parker in his final moments was one thing, but nothing could prepare me for the emotional onslaught that would be Tony Stark's "I Love You 3,000" video which he recorded before he and the rest of the Avengers set out on their mission. After explaining why he was doing it, Tony's hologram stands up and walks over to Morgan and says, "I love you 3,000." Just try watching this scene without getting a lump in your throat.
Happy Promises Morgan Cheeseburgers
After Tony's funeral, Happy Hogan and Morgan Stark sit and have a tender moment where the longtime friend and confidant of Iron Man says, "I'm going to get you all the cheeseburgers you want." This is Happy's way of saying, "Don't worry, Tony, I'm going to take care of her," as a way to honor his dearest friend.
Just look at Happy's face as he holds back tears and finds a way to let the young girl know that everything is going to be alright. And sometimes, telling a five-year-old that you'll get them cheeseburgers is all it takes, even if cheeseburgers is code for anything and everything.
Honorable Mention: Quill Seeing Gamora (Just Before She Kicks Him)
Five years after losing the love of his life, Peter Quill sees Gamora on the battlefield during the epic fight with Thanos. For a brief moment, you forget that this is not the Gamora that is madly in love with Star-Lord, but an earlier version of the Guardian of the Galaxy. And then she kicks him in the groin.
Honorable Mention: The Survivor's Support Group
After the Avengers kill Thanos and the movie jumps five years into the future, we see Steve Rogers leading a survivor's support group (featuring director Joe Russo and Thanos' creator Jim Starlin) where Captain America's words of wisdom is very much in the vein of what Sam Wilson told veterans during the PTSD group session in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Everything from the stories that are told to Steve's inspirational message at the end bring on the waterworks.
Those are some of the most heartbreaking moments from Avengers: Endgame that still bring us to tears, even a year after we first watched the record-breaking crossover epic. Did you make it through this list without shedding a tear? Let us know which of these moments crushed you the most in the comments below, and make sure to check back on all things Avengers here at CinemaBlend.