I could sit here and talk about everything that is Avengers: Endgame but I’d rather not. This will be adjacent though; as the title says, the torch has been passed to the next generation, or in MCU-speak, phase. You know me, I’m not going to speak honestly without spoilers, I’m just going to speak honestly. This is your first and last chance to stop reading.
So, the status at the culmination of Endgame: Vision, Iron Man, and Black Widow are dead, Steve Rogers retired, having passed on the Captain America title to Sam Wilson (Falcon), and Thor ran off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Hulk probably will continue to live the celebrity life, Hawkeye looking out for and raising his family. All the other characters are alive and presumably well, and not likely done with their adventures; or so we can expect from the known movie schedule.
What more is there to say?
A lot actually. There are multiple hints that this is not the end of the Avengers saga… Certainly not the individual members, but also for the team as a whole.
The first hint was that Tony made a set of armor for Pepper as a birthday gift or anniversary present or whatever. We know she got it because of her appearance in the film’s climax. Second, while he was already a hero and Avenger, Sam is now Cap. Third, Thor made a joke when aboard the Milano with the Guardians, “Asgardians of the Galaxy”, which happens to be a very real comic Marvel is doing, where Asgardians joined forces with the Guardians.
But I think the biggest hint is the one no one saw… But heard. Although I didn’t stay through the end credits myself, I was aware of the sound of metal clanging at the end of the credits. This, as many people of pointed out, it’s very reminiscent of Tony’s work on the first prototype in the first Iron Man film. There’s a simple reason for it… The cycle begins anew.
Valkyrie will take the place of Thor on Earth; Thor handed her the throne of Asgard before he left. Sam is the new Cap. So who is the new Iron Man? Well… It would be easy to say Pepper; she has the suit, is familiar with the capabilities, has Tony’s lab, and undoubtedly support from the other Avengers and Rhody (War Machine). But I’m going to go out on a limb, using the Marvel Comics links I’ve mentioned already, and say Riri Williams, the spiritual successor Tony already had in the comics introduced a few years ago. She currently goes by the name Ironheart, and here’s why I think she’ll take Stark’s place.
But first, a full disclosure… I only know what I’ve read of Ironheart and what I believe of her. I have not read any of the comics in which she appears, not because of how I feel about her or what she represents, but just because I haven’t bought any comics since before she was introduced. I keep minor tabs on them; I was a big Iron Man, War Machine, West Coast Avengers/Avengers West Coast fan back in the day, and frankly I like the idea of Ironheart.
So here’s why I think she’s up… While a lot of us really liked Tony Stark as portrayed by RDJ, a lot of people were not fans of his money, his ego, his personality. Tony’s chief advantage was also his greatest weakness: he was rich and had advantages no one else did as a result. From little I know about Riri, she came from the exact opposite background. She didn’t have money or power, she had her mind, curiosity, and strength of her beliefs to recreate the Iron Man technology but herself. She’s self built, from scratch, disadvantaged all the way. More importantly, not only is she a woman, she’s black. Part of the criticism of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the lack of gender and racial diversity. That has greatly improved since Black Panther, but there’s always room to do more. Riri Williams, Ironheart, is both. The sound of metal being pounded is the sound of the cycle starting again with Riri creating her first suit of armor. The metaphorical, and quite possibly literal, torch being passed is, in my opinion, to Miss Williams who will take her place along side the new Captain, the new Asgardian monarch, and all the Avengers the MCU has collected over the years.
So… What do you think?