‘Avengers: Endgame’: The Most Heartbreaking Scenes Fans Still Can’t Get Over

People don’t usually think of superhero movies as tearjerkers, but if any popcorn movie made audiences cry a lot, it was Avengers: Endgame

A large part of that was the film being the culmination of a beloved series in which people had a ton of emotional investment. After 11 years and 22 movies, most of them good, audiences were thrilled that the Marvel Cinematic Universe stuck the landing. The result was the movie becoming only the biggest box office hit of all time worldwide. 

Inspired by Looper, we chose the saddest moments in a movie that made Marvel and Disney very happy. 

The opening scene of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ pulled at heartstrings

Jeremy Renner
Jeremy Renner | Jason Merritt/Getty Images for MIU MIU

Avengers: Endgame wasted absolutely no time offering up a memorable and sad scene. We’ve become so used to superhero movies opening with a big bam boom action scene, that it was startling to see Avengers: Endgame start with a subtly staged tragedy.

Fans saw Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) helping his daughter with archery practice, and she’s proving to be quite an ace. The rest of the family is preparing to have lunch. Hawkeye takes his eyes off his daughter for a minute, and when he turns back to her, we see the telltale flecks of dust. We know what that means, but he doesn’t. And he quickly discovers his entire family has vanished. 

Such a moment would drive any human being to despair, but the tragedy breaks Hawkeye so badly he becomes a cold-blooded assassin until Natasha (Scarlett Johannson) pulls him back from the brink to help the other Avengers with their time travel exploits. Knowing Natasha’s eventual fate only makes their scenes all the more poignant in retrospect. 

Steve and Peggy’s story arch

Not every tear in Avengers: Endgame is one of sadness. The scenes between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) start out sadly but end with tears of joy. 

When and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) go back in time to 1970, Steve sees Peggy in her office at SHIELD. She doesn’t see him, but this is the first time Steve has seen her since he visited an elderly Peggy near death in the present day. In 1970, she doesn’t look much older than she did in the 1940s, and Steve’s heart aches for what he thinks he can’t have. 

Of course, fate had other plans for Steve and Peggy — or you could argue Steve changed fate so that he would end up with Peggy. In any case, Avengers: Endgame finishes as it started, with a quiet, subtle scene, only this time it’s a scene of well-earned happiness. We’re still sad that ABC’s Agent Carter only lasted two seasons, though. 

Saying goodbye to Tony Stark 

What’s striking about Tony’s ending is how it works on multiple levels. 

We meet Iron Man when he’s an egocentric, damaged soul who learns quite a few lessons in that cave where he hammers together the first version of the Iron Man suit. Tony never becomes less than egocentric, because that’s part of the appeal of the character. However, we see how he has begun to think about the greater good even before he makes the ultimate sacrifice. 

Downey Jr’s real-life story had a similar arc, with him scoring big until he famously hit the skids with his drug problems. The repeated tabloid headlines weren’t the worst of it: Downey Jr. actually served time for his transgressions. Then director Jon Favreau took a chance on him with Iron Man, and Stark and Downey Jr. redeemed themselves together, with Downey being named a Disney Legend

Sometimes the most potent tears are the happy ones for a job well done. That goes for Stark, Downey and for Marvel Studios as a whole.