I broke and watch Avengers: End Game early. Don’t ask how I was able to do it because that is a secret. Anyway, I was completely spoiled when I watched it. I’m part of a Steve/Tony shipper discord server and I was literally getting spoilers from people who had watched in Asia and then now in Europe.

While I’m writing this, Avengers: End Game comes out in the U.S. tomorrow. So, it goes without saying that this post is going to have a lot of spoilers for that. Please if you haven’t watched it and don’t want to be spoiled like I was please give this post a wide berth.

Watching this movie for me has been a process. I have been rewatching Marvel movies. First Phase 3 and then I went back to the Phase I movies. I haven’t even finished doing that and I’m somewhere in the middle of the Thor movies. As I was doing this, a big part of me was saying goodbye to this fandom.

Now, let me backtrack a bit and go on a tangent. I swear, I’m going somewhere with this. I used to be a BBC Sherlock fan and was a devoted Johnlock (John Watson/Sherlock Holmes) shipper. Everything was groovy until Reinbach Falls happened at the end of season 2.Sherlock Holmes committed suicide by jumping off a building. And his death was so devasting to not only me but the entire fandom. The fandom was unending angst fest and I actually found myself grieving for this character.

From that point on, that episode soured that entire series for me. I was never the same as a fan and pretty much dropped out of the fandom. I still drop in occasionally from time to time because I’m a mystrade (Mycroft/Lestrade) shipper but any love for the canon and a huge chunk of the fandom is gone. I was terrified that this shit would happen to me going into Avengers: End Game. So, I was saying goodbye all month leading until End Game.

Then, I finally bit the bullet and started searching for spoilers. Again, I have anxiety and depression. Trigger warnings for me are a fucking must and spoilers act as a trigger warnings for me. So I went to my Stony discord and read the spoilers.I went through the cycles of grief.

First, it was disbelief, because Tony and Pepper are married living in a cabin near a lake? He also has a daughter out of nowhere at the very last minute? WTf? What part of that sounds like the Tony Stark I grew to love. Then I heard about the ending and in particular the conclusion of Steve’s arc. And wow, it was such a big fuck you to all the non-canon ships: Bucky/Steve, Steve/Sam, Steve/Tony, and the list goes on and on. It also did not seem like anything that Steve’s arc. The Steve Rogers I know and love would never be that selfish that he would let his best friend that he had burned the world for in Captain America; Civil War would leave his friend to suffer under torture for 70 years. Not to mention, if Steve went back in time to marry Peggy. Well, this means he kissed his niece Sharon? Are we completely ignoring Civil War now? With the Russos, I can never quite tell.

The more I thought about these spoilers the more pissed I got. The more depressed I got and my excitement dwindled down into dread. I actually wasn’t going to watch this at all. I actually canceled my tickets for End Game I was so depressed. And then I got another chance to watch End Game, and I realized I had to watch it. I had to sit through it and see how everything ends. I needed closure. This film actually did give me closure.

It was one last adventure with the team, it allowed me to laugh, and see the found family that I had been longing for since the very first Avengers film. However, as we got to the end I had an epiphany: These characters are not those same characters that I love. The Tony Stark I love hates nature. He loves technology and there is no way in hell his bots wouldn’t be living with him in an attached lab somewhere. He would never leave them behind. He also would freak the hell out about marriage and children because he is deeply insecure and has daddy issues. Tony wouldn’t just leave the world behind to live his apple pie dream while the world has been ravaged by genocide. This is not my Tony Stark.

The Pepper Potts I love is a headstrong businesswoman who not once talked about having kids. And that’s the truth Tony talked about having kids briefly in Infinity Wars but there has been no indication that Pepper ever wanted kids. Also, what the fuck happened to Stark Industries? Half of your staff is still half? Let me pause here to talk something has continuously pissed me off with Marvel.

Since Age of Ultron in fucking particular, there has been an underlined message that the only way people in this universe can be happy if they marry someone of the opposite sex and pop out kids. We get that shit first with Clint and his *surprise* family. We get again in that same movie when Natasha tells us that she is a monster because she can’t get married to Bruce and pop out kids. We get it again when Tony Stark and Pepper Potts decide to leave their high powered life for a place in the country and have a daughter. Then finally, we get Steve getting married to Peggy by time traveling and since Peggy had kids in the other movies. We are guessing Steve and Peggy had kids. It’s very much implied in the movie as well.

You guys see the pattern? For all, they talk about “Girl Power” that is both a heteronormative and a frankly outdated way of thinking.

Now, let’s get back to my original point. These characters were never the ones that I fell in love with in comics or hell even in fanon. I realized that after the first Avengers movie I kept hope that these characters would turn into the team and the characters I loved. In the end, they never were those characters.

The MCU is a different animal and me wishing and hoping for them to change into the characters I loved so much was like I was hoping a cat would suddenly turn into a dog. I ended up crying at the funeral, literally ugly crying in fact. Not just because of Tony’s death. To me, it was the death of a dream, of the hope I had carried with me for seven years. I felt that in that scene it was the Ruossos and Robert Downey jr’s way of giving me permission to let go and move on

So that’s what I’m doing, I’m letting go of that dream that these characters would ever become what I hoped they would be.I realized that my versions of Tony Stark and the team will live on in that post-Avengers I parallel universe known as fanon. It also went on to live in the comics and the tv adaptation (which is actually a separate universe post-Avengers 1) Avengers Assemble. Right now, I’m still mourning. I’m at the acceptance part of this cycle and now I’m just trying to heal from the wounds End Game has opened in me.

However, now I will go on with this fandom. I won’t leave it, I will keep going on and moving past the movies feeling freer than I have in a while. Because I can let it go of the burden of hoping for these movies would ever resemble fanon.I’m not even mad anymore because the Russos and Kevin Feige can keep their heteronormative little fantasy because I will always have my versions of Tony and Steve in my heart and they can never touch that.

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