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Endgame deleted scene shows us Tony in the afterlife

Avengers: Endgame tugged on our heartstrings plenty — but a deleted scene would have straight-up yanked on them.

The scene in question, recently made available on Disney+, depicts Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) visiting an ethereal afterlife immediately after his universe-saving snap, where he encounters an adult version of his daughter Morgan, portrayed by Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why). While Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo had previously discussed the scene, we had yet to get a look at it before now — and it's every bit as poignant as you'd expect.

In the scene, Stark suddenly finds himself alone in the peaceful realm, seemingly confused as to where the heck everybody went and why he's no longer wearing the Infinity Stone-powered Stark Gauntlet 2.0. He also looks like he just stepped out of a nice hot shower rather than a meat grinder, and as he begins to realize what must be happening, Morgan makes her appearance.

At first, Stark isn't sure who he's looking at — but when Morgan offers the clue that the two are "pretty close," he figures it out pretty quickly. "Guess it worked," Stark deadpans, and Morgan agrees. "Yeah, it worked for me," she says. "I got to live, grow up. For you, I can't answer."

Stark's face registers a thousand emotions as he looks at the daughter he'll never get to know, and he admits to wondering if he made the wrong decision in sacrificing himself. "I'm scared I made a mistake," he says, to which Morgan replies, "I know. And I know it's gonna be tough for you to let go. But if someone had to do that, so the rest of us could..." she trails off, then simply tells her father, "I'm proud of you."

Stark is uncharacteristically speechless, and Morgan continues, "I'm strong, like Mom. And I'm happy. I'm happy we had the time that we did, and that you were there for me — until you couldn't be."

Stark struggles to find the right words; after all, it's not like everyone gets to say goodbye to future versions of their loved ones at their moment of death (at least, we don't think so). Finally, he simply says, "If you're happy, I'm happy." Morgan tells her dad that she loves him; Stark gently kisses her on the cheek, then responds in predictable yet heartbreaking fashion, "I love you 3,000."

There's amazing chemistry in the scene between Downey and Langford, who unfortunately was aced out of an appearance in the biggest movie of all time when this scene hit the cutting room floor. It wouldn't surprise us, though, if Morgan Stark were to make an appearance in a future MCU film, or several — and if so, we're of the opinion that Marvel Studios would do well to retain the services of the exceptionally talented Langford, who demonstrates here with only a few scant minutes of screen time that she is absolutely believable as the daughter of Iron Man.

Why was Tony's afterlife scene from Endgame cut?

In their commentary on the scene, the Russo brothers explained that it was conceived as a sort of bookend to the scene in Avengers: Infinity War in which Thanos — having just accomplished his mission to snap half of all life in the universe out of existence — was basically transported inside the Soul Stone, where he encountered a young version of his adopted daughter Gamora (whom, it should be noticed, he had sacrificed in order to possess that stone). 

"We sent him to what we would call the 'Waystation,' to mirror what had happened to Thanos," Joe Russo explained. Anthony then chimed in to clarify, "The idea is that this moment... that act [of using the Infinity Stones] sort of forces you to confront, or reconcile, something that's unresolved in yourself, in your soul."

Joe then explained that the reason an adult Morgan was cast was so Stark could come to terms with what he had done, and understand — if not necessarily embrace — the fact that he was giving up so much of his daughter's life, and his relationship with her. However, at the end of the day, the scene was cut for reasons that are pretty understandable when you're talking about a flick that already ran in excess of three hours: pacing.

"When we put this in the film, we felt like it ground the movie to a halt," Joe Russo said. "And [Stark] does something similar in the next sequence, when he gives his own eulogy [via hologram at his funeral]."

The director continued to say that he and his brother were mindful of basically having too many endings (call it the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King effect), wherein audiences might have felt like the film had ended on the perfect sentimental note, only for it to continue on to another, and another. "What can happen at the end of a film this big is you can have ending after ending after ending, and it starts to feel like the movie's never gonna end," he said. "When you have too many [such] sequences in a row, you can dilute the value of each one of them."

Anthony Russo went on to remark that while Langford is "a wonderful actor," the scene also suffered for the fact that audiences hadn't been introduced to the adult Morgan prior to this scene, a fact which the directors felt led to a bit of emotional disconnect in a scene that was meant to be a highly cathartic one. 

Taking all of these things into account, the pair reluctantly decided that the scene had to go — but that doesn't mean we can't admire its power, and anyone in their right mind would admit that regardless of all the admittedly great reasons the ace directing duo had for cutting the scene, there wouldn't have been a dry eye in the house at its conclusion had they left it in.

Unfortunately, only time will tell whether Morgan Stark will make any further appearances in the MCU. In the meantime, though, you can revisit the triumphs and tragedies of Avengers: Endgame to your heart's content with a Disney+ subscription — the movie is available to watch on the brand-spanking-new streamer right now.