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How Endgame actors reacted to the movie's biggest moments

Of the many things that makes Avengers: Endgame stand out — not only from other movies but even other MCU films — is that in many cases, the stars were kept in the dark almost as much as the fans, and for almost as long. Some of the more blatant examples include Mark Ruffalo filming five different endings for Endgame, Tom Holland being denied a script for Endgame because of his penchant for spoiler-dropping, and Letitia Wright not finding out her own character, Shuri, died in Avengers: Infinity War until character posters for Endgame were released shortly before the film's theatrical premiere.

As a result, fans have a unique opportunity to learn the genuine reactions of the movie's stars to the same revelations the audience had to weather. The nature of Endgame meant — whether because of death, retirement, or something else — many of the film's heroes would experience a finality their comic book counterparts almost never get to see (e.g. dying and actually staying dead). With reactions ranging from the emotional to the irreverent, from actors who have walked alongside their character's exploits for a decade in many cases, we have the chance to see just how much these stars grew attached to their parts and how they feel now that — for many, at least — their journeys have either ended or changed drastically.

For a glimpse of how the stars of Avengers: Endgame reacted to the record-breaking blockbuster's biggest moments, read on. 

I am... not sure?

One of the most crowd-pleasing moments of Avengers: Endgame comes when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) channels his inner Black Sabbath one last time and says "I am Iron Man" before snapping his fingers and using the Infinity Stones to wipe out Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his forces. It wins the day for the good guys — and it's a powerful sacrifice, as the physical toll of using the Stones is what kills Tony. It's a perfect moment, and one that wasn't in the script. At a Q&A, directors Anthony and Joe Russo said the line was editor Jeff Ford's idea that came up during a discussion about needing a response to Thanos' "I am inevitable." It was added during reshoots — but it almost wasn't, because Downey didn't want to do it. 

The Russos brought Downey to dinner to pitch the reshoot, and producer Joel Silver tagged along. According to the Russos, Downey's reaction to his character's death was so powerful he was hesitant to face it again."I don't know. I don't really want to go back and get into that emotional state," they recalled him saying. "It'll take… it's hard." It was apparently Silver — an old friend of Downey's — who changed Downey's mind, responding to the actor's doubts with "Robert, what are you talking about? That's the greatest line I've ever heard! You gotta say this line! You have to do this!"

The final eight minutes

An actor starring in a major motion picture is expected to promote a film they star in, and if asked about the quality they're probably going to talk it up like it's going to sweep the Oscars — whether they're promoting Avengers: Endgame or Caddyshack 2. Considering the expectations for Endgame not only from fans but the actors, the Endgame press tour would've likely been a tougher slog than it had to be if they were unhappy with the film but had to sell it anyway. Luckily for us and for them, having their high expectations met turned out not to be a problem.

Speaking to The Upcoming in an interview posted a week before Endgame's release, Downey was specific about his favorite part of the film, saying "The last eight minutes of [Avengers: Endgame] were maybe the best eight minutes in the entire history of the whole run of them in a way, because everyone's involved. So I was delighted."

It's particularly telling how impressed Downey was when you consider what was in those eight minutes: for the most part, not him.

The surprised wedding guests

Speaking to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Sebastian Stan — who plays Bucky in Endgame and other Marvel films — spoke of how tight the secrecy was while filming Avengers: Endgame. When Fallon asked him if Stan ever had any idea what he was filming, the actor said, "Not for this one we didn't. I mean everything I filmed I found out on the day [it was filmed]." He joked that if you can't tell he's confused as you watch the movie, it's because he "hides the confusion well under a Zoolander look."

Stan referred specifically to one of Endgame's final scenes when the surviving heroes, as well as characters from other MCU films, gather for Tony Stark's memorial. According to Stan, he was initially told it was a very different ceremony: "I was told it was a wedding, that there was a wedding we were filming. And I was like 'who's getting married?' But everybody was dressed very formal, and I was looking around, and then two people weren't there. So I guess that was the bride and the groom."

So apparently Stan thought Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff were tying the knot, and that presumably Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a guest at their wedding. Considering how strange that would be in light of their history, you have to wonder if Stan was relieved when he found out Stark and Romanoff were dead. 

Drax was destroyed

As Tony Stark demonstrates with his final "I am Iron Man," you don't need a lot of words to say a lot. Dave Bautista proved the same point with his brief but telling response to Avengers: Endgame. In an April 29 post, the Drax actor tweeted "Annnnnd…. still processing" alongside a shocked emoji. 

Drax doesn't appear in Endgame until the final battle, so considering the secrecy and misdirection used on actors like Mark Ruffalo, whose characters were more integral to the plot, it isn't likely Bautista knew much about what happened in the movie outside scenes he filmed. His reactions were likely just like those of most of the audience.

His "processing" may also revolve around what it all means for Drax's future in the MCU. With the death of Thanos — a death which, let's remember, has very little to do with Drax's actions — Bautista's character's chief motivation is gone. Not to mention the suggestion at the end of Endgame that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) may be joining the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Some of Bautista's processing might be of a professional nature. While Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Thor seem to be rivals at the end of Endgame, behind the camera it may be Thor and Drax who square off. After all, Drax is a big strong guy who says funny things. Thor is a big strong guy who says funny things. Do you need two?

Star-Lord hit the record button

Leave it to Star-Lord to do the exact opposite of what he's supposed to do.

In what Chris Pratt calls a "really illegal video," the star showed fans "collection of stars, a groupthat [sic] likely will never be in the same room again." During what appears to be the heroes' final battle with Thanos, Pratt recorded the gathering of most of the MCU's biggest stars on set and posted the video to his Instagram account on May 1. Some faces are obscured, but the actors in the video include Dave Bautista, Chris Evans, Pom Klementieff, Chris Hemsworth, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Danai Gurira, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Sebastian Stan, Joe Russo, Robert Downey Jr., Pratt himself, and Sean Gunn. Clearly when it came to one of the biggest moments in the movie, Pratt's reaction was to make sure "no rule was going to stop" him from capturing and sharing it. And it's kind of tough to blame him.

Evans ends the video by playfully telling Pratt he's in "big trouble." But it's Gunn who has the most sarcastically fitting line in the clip, saying "I'm pretty sure I'm the most famous person here."

Rhodey doesn't think the fans are fatigued

One of Endgame's biggest moments didn't take place on the screen or behind the cameras — it happened in the record books. In early May, Avengers: Endgame knocked 1997's Titanic out of the #2 spot on the list of highest-grossing films in box office history. The development didn't go unnoticed by Titanic director James Cameron, who issued a social media congratulations to the MCU. Posting a picture on Instagram of a ship sunk by a half-submerged Avengers logo rather than an iceberg, Cameron accompanied the image with "An iceberg to sank the real Titanic. It took The Avengers to sink my Titanic… You've shown that not only is the movie industry alive and well. It's bigger than ever!"

War Machine actor Don Cheadle responded to Cameron's classy congrats on Twitter with "nothing personal, james … it's the fans" and a shrugging emoji. Judging by the responses Cheadle's tweet received, the inherent snark has not been overlooked. Cameron rubbed superhero movie fans the wrong way in April 2018, when he told Indiewire he was hoping for what he called "Avenger fatigue." Cameron said he liked the movies, but "there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process."

Perhaps now Cameron is relieved Endgame has come and gone, so that the "hyper-gonadal males" will leave for a bit and give Cameron a chance to show us some movies… with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Hawkeye hugged his mom

Downey, Bautista, and Cheadle all showed us how only a few words can say so much. Hawkeye actor Jeremy Renner went a bit further, and reinforced that old adage about a picture and how many stories it can tell on its own. 

Renner's mother Valerie Cearley accompanied him to the Avengers: Endgame premiere. The next day, Renner posted a touching photo of himself holding his mother and appearing very emotional; perhaps even in tears. Renner wrote "Wow… words will only betray my feelings for this movie … this picture from last night represents … love … pride of my family, my friends, and crazy for my avenger family."

Renner didn't mention any specific scenes or aspects of the film that put him in such a vulnerable state, but anyone who has seen Endgame probably has an easy time imagining more than a few things that could leave the Avengers' favorite archer in tears.

He cried. He drank. He laughed

One of the biggest moments of Avengers: Endgame's resolution is when the aged Steve Rogers passes his shield to Falcon (Anthony Mackie). It wasn't necessarily obvious that it would happen — while Falcon did take over the mantle of Captain America for a time in the comics, Bucky did so years earlier. But it's a welcome, crowd-pleasing moment toward the end of the film.

It was a moment Mackie apparently took awhile to learn was going to happen. Fittingly, Mackie said the moment he learned about it was an interesting reflection of what we see on the screen. Mackie told IMDb "I didn't even know it was happening." He said one day when he was hanging out with Evans at his house, Evans asked him if he was excited. Mackie responded "About what?" Evans said "You don't know?" then ran into another room and returned with a script for Mackie to read.  

"We cried. We drank. We laughed," Mackie said. He went on to express his gratitude, telling IMDb, "I'm very happy I got that moment with Chris, for him not only to pass me the shield, but to tell me what was happening."

Tears of a clown

Anthony Mackie may have been grateful for the moment he had with Chris Evans while finding out he would be passed the shield, but a lot of fans were the exact opposite of grateful when the Captain America actor talked about his reaction to Avengers: Endgame with The Hollywood Reporter a month before the film's theatrical release. Evans told THR he "choked up like three times." A month later, at Endgame's L.A. premiere, Evans boosted that number to six times

The original THR interview upset fans… at the prospect of being upset. The news that the movie made one of the stars cry had some asking "how any of us are meant to cope." But what really set the fans on fire was Evans' joke during the THR interview about his own character's supposed death. The interview ends with Evans joking, "It's hard. Seeing my own death. It's going to be a long movie, that's for sure. The first edit clocked in over three hours. My funeral's like an hour."

Some fans went so far as to direct some less than polite words at the actor for joking about Cap dying, but plenty of fans had a good sense of humor about it. 

The moment that never happened

Along with big moments that happened in Avengers: Endgame, we've also seen some fun reactions to moments that fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your tastes) didn't happen. One of the many ways the hype surrounding Avengers: Endgame showed the power of social media was the reach of the so-called Thanus Theory — that Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) would defeat Thanos by shrinking, entering the Mad Titan's butt, and then switching to Giant Man size. 

Graham Norton asked Rudd about the theory on his show amidst plenty of laughter. Both Norton and Chris Hemsworth pointed out the tactic would work. But apparently not in love with the idea, Rudd asked, "Why not the ear or the nose?" Norton argued he would need to enter closer to the "middle of the body" and Rudd agreed: "Scientifically, you're right."

The Titan himself got to comment on the theory when Variety asked Josh Brolin about it at the Endgame premiere. Brolin claimed he had no idea what the theory was about, but regardless seemed to have a strange counter-theory ready. Referring to an Instagram post he'd made earlier that day featuring an artist's rendering of naked Thanos' backside, Brolin dodged the question of whether it'd work. "Does Thanos have a butt?" Brolin said. "That's a peach, man, that's a peach. That's a purple peach if I've ever seen one, that's a beautiful, purple peach."

Thor wanted to explore a new realm

In the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame's release, one of the film's most polarizing aspects proved to what has become known as simply "Fat Thor." Five years after the Decimation and Thanos' death at the hands of Thor, the thunder god is revealed to be in desperate emotional straits. Though the king of New Asgard, Thor is depicted as having done little for the past few years but eat, drink heavily, and play video games with the alien friends introduced in Thor: Ragnarok, Korg (Taika Waititi) and Miek.

Regardless of the debate about the character's Endgame trajectory and how it was handled, we know now that Hemsworth was excited about it. In an interview with Sirius XM (via Express UK), directors Joe and Anthony Russo talked about Chris Hemsworth's reaction to Thor's new direction. Anthony Russo said when they first discussed it with Hemsworth, the actor "was either still finishing or had just finished Ragnarok. But he was so energized by the work he had done with Taika [Waititi] in that movie in terms of coming up with a comedic and irreverent Thor."

That's when Joe Russo chimed in with, "And we were like, 'Wait until you hear what we've got for you.'"

Considering Hemsworth has said he was bored with playing Thor before Ragnarok re-energized his interest, it's a safe bet that if he continues in the MCU, Hemsworth is going to want to keep charting new territory for the thunder god.