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Tear Jerker / The Avengers (2012)

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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_avengers_tearjerker.jpg
"I guess he never did get you to sign them."

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  • Steve's first appearance, where he's working the heavy bag at an old, empty gym. He starts having flashbacks about the war, the Howling Commandos, and his last words to Peggy Carter, and his blows grow more vicious and more rapid, until he literally knocks the bag off the chain... and then we see that Steve has had multiple heavy bags prepared. This has been going on for some time, and Steve has come to expect it.
    • Everything about Steve, frankly, is a tearjerker, if one stopped to really think about it.
  • The deleted scene (which would have been his introduction) where Steve is wandering around present day: seeing old film of him and his men together, looking at the files of his men ("Status: DECEASED") and Peggy (which says "Status: RETIRED") and wondering if he should call her, doodling in a cafe, and then just sitting on a train on his way to the gym. Through this whole montage, he's alone. Aside from Stan Lee saying to Cap to ask the number of the waitress in the cafe, it's mostly depressing. And apparently Whedon wrote him reuniting with Peggy as well. Which would be equally depressing. This was written into Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was depressing, but heartwarming simultaneously.
  • The elderly German man who refuses to bow to Loki. It gets even worse when you realize that the man is old enough to have been alive in Nazi Germany (it was suggested by some fans he might've even been a Holocaust survivor, and Word of God says he is indeed one). He's seen this happen before and he will not let it happen again.
    Loki: There are no men like me.
    Old man: There are always men like you.
  • Even after all that Loki has done and will do over the course of two movies, Thor still considers him family and tries to protect him. Culminating in a scene where Thor embraces his adopted brother and asks him to "come home," it makes Loki's cold rejection of him and the resulting pain in Thor's eyes all the more heartbreaking to watch.
    "You give up the Tesseract, you give up this poisonous dream! You come home..."
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    • Following the quote above, that awful moment when Loki, the God of Lies, can't even pull up a convincing scathing reaction to that line. He stares at his brother. He tries to smile, to laugh it off, but it dies almost seconds afterwards. Then all he says is "I don't have it". It could mean two things: Either, after everything that happened, Loki feels that he doesn't have a home anymore and belongs nowhere, despite his family clearly thinking otherwise. Or, he didn't expect such an offer from Thor at all so that he doesn't have an answer ready, and thus changes the subject to the Tesseract which, in his mind, was the only reason why Thor came to earth in the first place.
      • Considering that what he went through between Thor and The Avengers changed him from a villainous yet sympathetic person to a twisted psychopath with little empathy.
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    • What makes it worse is that you can see Loki's eyes get unusually wet when he asks Thor whether or not he was mourned. And when he stabs Thor in the stomach in the climax, even smiling away, a tear escapes his eye. Perhaps there is some part of him that regrets what has happened...?
    • There are hints of this. Before he stabs Thor in the climax and continues, when Thor tries to persuade him to help him stop it, Loki answers that it is too late now to be stopped, and the desperation in his voice when he says this sounds pretty genuine. And throughout the movie, there are repeatedly small moments where he doesn't look happy about what he's doing.
  • Tony's snarky dig about Captain America ("That's the guy my dad never shut up about? Maybe they should have kept him on ice.") becomes a tear jerker if you recall what he says about his father in Iron Man 2 — "He never told me he loved me, didn't even tell me that he liked me." Along with their vastly different personalities, it also goes a long way towards explaining Tony's initial attitude towards Cap.
  • Steve and Tony's argument. Their barbs hit all the open wounds, and what's worse, they're both wrong.
    • Steve fears he's useless — "I don't remember it being that easy". Tony, the son of an old friend, calls him useless — "Everything special about you came out of a bottle". But Steve is a hero for his character — "Good becomes great, bad becomes worse".
    • Tony is desperate for approval — "He never even said he liked me"; "Tony Stark — not recommended". Steve, "the guy dad never shut up about", questions Tony's character — "Take away the suit, what are you?... I knew men who had none of that worth ten of you. You're not the one to lie on the wire. Stop pretending to be a hero". But Tony took one for the team the second he was captured, became an atoner and denied being a hero — "They want you to build the missile you've demonstrated" — "No"; "I'm not a hero type, obviously, what with all the character defects, the laundry list of mistakes. ... I am Iron Man".
  • Banner tells Fury he can't be killed, because he's already tried putting a bullet in his mouth — "the other guy spat it out." The man's been driven to actual suicide, and has had even that release denied him.
  • Natasha's dismissive retort to Loki that "love is for children" takes on Tear Jerker elements if you've seen Age of Ultron, and know that she can't have kids. She's not really poo-pooing the idea of love per se; rather, some part of her may equate love with becoming a mother, and believe that her sterility means she'll never have any love since she can't have that kind.
  • Natasha desperately trying to calm Bruce down so he won't hulk out: "We're gonna be okay. All right? I swear, on my life, I will get you out of this! You will walk away and never, ever..." She knows it's her and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fault he's here, and that if he transforms not only will she probably be killed, but so might he, through no fault of his own.
    • Well, Bruce can't be killed — not easily, anyway. On the other hand, the only alternative from the standpoint of threat neutralization is his lifelong captivity. Which is worse.
    • Right before he finishes transforming, the helpless look he gives Natasha, a look that says "I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry..."
  • Loki tricks Thor into the holding cell and deliberately drops him down thousands of feet to Earth, while telling him that this experiment will test whether or not Asgardians are immortal. Thor doesn't try to reason with Loki. Thor actually doesn't do anything but stare at Loki, who is coldly and casually about to try to kill him — yet again. He simply blinks back tears. And once he lands on Earth, he takes a long moment and just clenches his fists. Just... ow.
    • It's more poignant when you realize he's trying to call to Mjölnir, which isn't responding. Hearken back to the Thor film where Odin casts a spell on the hammer that it can only be lifted (or recognize Thor as its master) by one who is worthy. Thor, clearly conflicted about his brother, has clearly lost his sense of purpose.
      Thor: Loki is a prisoner.
      Nick Fury: So why is he the only one on this boat who wants to be here?
    • About the above comment, it's not that Mjölnir wouldn't come to him. It's that he couldn't focus on calling it to him. He was so distracted by his grief over Coulson's death, and being helpless to stop it that he had shut down for a moment. Also, Thor truly considers himself a hero... but after Coulson's death, he feels like he failed, and thus he isn't worthy of holding Mjölnir. Alternatively, Thor hesitates because he is afraid to try summoning the hammer, for fear its lack of response would confirm the self-doubts he's feeling in the wake of his failure.
  • The death of Phil Coulson. We just spent four movies getting to know him as the hypercompetent, stoic Man in Black and he even gets fleshed out somewhat in the movie, only to be summarily stabbed by Loki. His final line to his boss is an apology for dying and telling Nick that "[the team] needed something to....*dead*". That being said it's also a Moment of Awesome for him, as he delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Loki and then blasts him with a BFG. Even if he was brought back to the land of the living in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it's all still hard to swallow.
    • Thor's reaction to it as he was inside the cage and helpless to stop it. Especially since he was grateful to Coulson for making sure that Jane Foster was safe.
    • The trading cards. Just... the trading cards. Even if that was a ruse by Fury.
      • Especially Captain America's expression when seeing them. You can see that he's thinking that he let a man who believed in him down in the worst way possible.
    • It's very easy to miss the first time, but if you look very carefully, Tony's arc reactor is very clearly not shining its blue-glow through his Black Sabbath shirt throughout that entire scene. Even though Tony Stark may not shed tears even for the death of his friends, his heart is quite visibly and literally broken. (Once again, the arc reactor is "proof that Tony Stark has a heart.")
      • Also Tony's reaction. It's clear he's holding back tears as he angrily states that Coulson was stupid for trying to take on Loki alone. For all his teasing and snarking at Coulson, it's clear he was fond of him and even invokes his name when fighting against Loki.
        Tony: And there's one other person you pissed off. His name was Phil.
      • Tony doesn't count himself as one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. That just makes it worse.
      • Tony looking at the blood on the wall where Coulson was leaning after he was stabbed and then this angry, desperate line to Steve:
        "We are not soldiers!"
      • The really heartwrenching part is that when Steve asks Tony if he had ever "lost a soldier." Tony's above reaction is as powerful as it is because while he hadn't lost a "soldier", he did lose someone close to him: Yinsen. And his angry admonition of Coulson that he "should have waited" can apply just as much to Yinsen's death. Tony is blaming himself once again for the death of someone he cared about.
      • He actually has lost soldiers; in the beginning of Iron Man, every single one of the soldiers in the "Fun-Vee" died in front of him.
      • He's seen soldiers die before, but not his comrades. He was just cargo on that ride, not a member of the unit.
      • Also the way the heroes react to Fury announcing over the comms Phil's death. Natasha is clearly distraught but Tony and Steve look broken. It becomes particularly heartbreaking when you remember that as soon as they got their respective abilities, they each failed to prevent the deaths of the people who helped give them their abilities. In Tony's case, Yinsen and in Steve's case, Erskine. It's more than possible that both of them are replaying their failures to save those men in their heads especially given how close they had gotten to Phil.
    • During Fury's speech about the Avengers, and him specifically calling out that Coulson died "Still believing in heroes," Tony bolts to his feet, looking like he's about to give an ass-kicking St. Crispin's Day speech... then just walks way. Tony Stark, the man with a jibe for every occasion, is at a complete loss for words.
  • When Natasha pulls Clint out of his Brainwashed and Crazy state, his first question is:
    Clint: How many agents did I—
    Natasha: Don't do that to yourself, Clint.
  • Black Widow revealing that Loki's words from earlier did indeed affect her more than she'd like to express.
    Clint: You're a spy, not a soldier. Now, you want to wade into war. Why? What did Loki do to you?
    Natasha: He didn't... I just... [visibly uncomfortable]
    Clint: Natasha...
    Natasha: I've been compromised. I got red in my ledger. I'd like to wipe it out.
  • Tony's Heroic Sacrifice. He's flying the nuke into the wormhole, calls Pepper, there is a long moment as the phone rings and Pepper doesn't pick up, the line goes dead, the suit goes dead, Tony closes his eyes and lets himself fall, all while tear-jerking music plays. He doesn't die, but still. Not yet.
  • The scene where the nuke is launched at Manhattan. Hawkeye, Iron Man and Hulk are all, for various reasons, out of the fight, with a dramatic soundtrack growing bleaker with each hero's removal. We see the fighter pilot launch the missile right at Manhattan — "detonation in two minutes, thirty seconds, mark" — and the city to be destroyed, the portal still looming overhead. As the music reaches its crescendo, we cut to Captain America and Thor (whom we haven't seen for a while now), the last two Avengers still left fighting, desperately fending off Chitauri infantry in the streets. In that moment, the sense that they're all about to be killed by the nuke now contends with the sense that these two been left behind. Fortunately, it's only just that, a moment, as we see that Cap and Thor most certainly have each other.
  • The wall of remembrance shown in the aftermath videos, reminding us that even though the Avengers won the day, a huge number of ordinary people still died in the battle, despite all that the heroes could do.
  • While all the other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are celebrating after Tony takes the nuke through the portal, Fury starts to smile, but ends up looking sad in the midst of all these celebrations. Why? Because they've won, but he knows what it all cost: Coulson (his one good eye) and, as far as he knows at that point, Tony.


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