‘Avengers: Endgame’: The Most Heartfelt Scene Proves Tony Stark Really Did Grow Up

Avengers: Endgame had a slew of heartfelt moments, but one small scene that still has fans talking is a quick moment between Tony Stark and another character.

It happens at the very beginning of the film — while the two characters are killing time until what seems like their impending doom. The unlikely pair start playing a game of paper football. Stark talks Nebula through the rules of the game, and she ends up winning. 

If there’s one thing Marvel fans are good at, it’s dissecting small moments to squeeze out every possible meaning — and that’s what they’re still doing with this scene, nearly a year and a half after the film’s release. Fans love this moment between these two characters, especially because it shows how much Tony Stark’s character has grown over the years.

He started out as a stuck-up jerk and turned into someone who would play paper football with a former villain.

How Tony Stark grew throughout the film series

Actor Robert Downey Jr.
Actor Robert Downey Jr. | Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Tony Stark, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., has been an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since his debut film Iron Man in 2008. His story arc has been considered by many to be the defining character arc of the first three phases of the MCU. So, what has the character of Tony Stark been up to to contribute such an important storyline over the years?

He has grown. When we first meet Stark in Iron Man, he’s a pompous, rich, selfish businessman running a company that manufactures weapons. Throughout his eleven appearances in MCU films, however, we watch as Stark softens and becomes more human.

Stark Industries stops making weapons, he creates the Stark Relief Foundation, he becomes a team player as a part of The Avengers, he becomes a mentor to Peter Parker (Spider-Man), he became a loving father, and he ultimately sacrifices himself to save everyone in Avengers: Endgame. That’s a lot of growth for one character. 

What did the paper football scene show us about his character?

RELATED: Why Nebula Was Really Smiling During Her Game With Tony Stark

This short scene between Stark and Nebula is the perfect example of how Stark’s character has grown throughout the years. Nebula, portrayed by Karen Gillan, started out in the MCU as a villain in Guardians of the Galaxy, but becomes a reluctant member of the good guys in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The fact that Stark is able to bond with a character that was once a villain in the MCU speaks to his character’s arc. He teaches her how to play the simple game of paper football, possibly lets her win, and shakes her hand afterward to tell her “good game.”

Nebula essentially freaks out that she has won, because she has spent her whole life losing to her adoptive sister, Gamora. All because Tony Stark decided to treat her nicely.

What ‘Endgame’ fans think about the heartfelt scene

Fans recently took to Reddit to discuss the heartfelt scene and what it showed for Stark’s character growth, and they had a lot to say on the matter. One user summed it up nicely by stating, “It really shows how much Tony grew in his time in the MCU. We saw him in Iron Man as the pompous ass who hurt those that cared about him, and then here, he shows a former villain kindness for nothing in return.”

Another user pointed out that it “just really truly humanized heroes on another level,” by showing them killing time like the rest of us. Others loved their chemistry and one person shared, “Both characters and actors are great in this scene,” which we can’t help but agree with, as well.