The Emotional Arc at the Heart of the 'Avengers: Endgame' Trailers

Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are the signpost for how the audience is supposed to respond to the promotion for the next 'Avengers' movie.

With the release of the new teaser for Avengers: Endgame, a storyline for the promotion of the movie emerges — and it’s got very little to do with keeping Thanos more or less under wraps until this point. Instead, this one’s all about the emotional journey.

While the new one-minute teaser is likely to draw attention for the return of Josh Brolin’s cosmic villain — who, one hand aside, has been entirely absent from earlier trailers for Endgame, curiously enough — what’s more interesting may be the fact that it completes a storyline that’s been running in the trailers since December’s first teaser: Tony Stark’s reunion with Pepper Potts, and what that means for Endgame as a whole.

In that first teaser, audiences see Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) dictate what is essentially a farewell letter to Pepper. “If you find this recording, don’t feel bad about this. Part of the journey is the end,” he says. “When I drift off, I will dream about you. It’s always you.” The melancholy informs the rest of the teaser, which shows the remaining Avengers in various stages of mourning, until Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) appears and suggests that there’s hope to be found out there in the seemingly relentless gloom.

That small sense of possible hope can be found in the movie’s Super Bowl spot; yes, there are scenes of the heroes bitter in their sadness and sitting in counseling circles, but there are also the briefest of glimpses of activity, including the hero shot at the end of the Avengers, suited up and ready — it seemed — to get back into the fight.

The second full trailer doubled down on that, and revealed the next chapter in the hidden narrative of the Endgame promos: Tony Stark makes it back to Earth, even though all hope seemed lost. This is barely a spoiler, given that there was almost no doubt that Iron Man would rejoin his fellow Avengers at some point before the final battle, but it was nice to have confirmation, nonetheless. On a meta-level, the trailer acknowledges how obvious this was, with Stark saying, “I know we said no more surprises, but I was really hoping to pull off one last one.” He’s talking to Pepper, of course, in the dictated letter we saw in the first teaser.

The new teaser, of course, shows the scene these teasers have been leading up to: Stark and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) reunited, as his narration turns the emotional tenor of the promotion around entirely: “It’s not about how much we’ve lost; it’s about how much we have left.”

Sure enough, this is followed by the most stirring shots of the promos to date, whether it’s Iron Man back in action, Stark and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) making up after the events of Captain America: Civil War or simply the heroes lining up against Thanos one more time. It’s the obvious place to leave promotion for this movie, having gone from the despondency intended after the end of Avengers: Infinity War to something approaching rugged determination, if not optimism, on behalf of both the protagonists and the audience, themselves.

We know, after all, that if nothing else, Tony Stark gets reunited with his true love despite starting the promotional cycle announcing that it wasn’t happening. If that small victory can be achieved, who knows what else could be possible?