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Haunting Fanart Shows Us the Personal Tragedies Behind Avengers: Endgame

Steve Rogers fanart Avengers Endgame

Did the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame not grab your heart and squeeze it hard enough? I have good news! Suffer alongside me as we take a look at some beautiful fanart that reminds us about the deeply-felt losses our heroes have endured as they head into the final stretch.

Indonesian artist Bella, who goes by @_superspicy on Twitter, graciously gave us permission to feature her artwork here. Bella has filled in the blanks of the trailer: she captured scenes depicted there perfectly, then shadowed grief-stricken characters with those that they lost in Avengers: Infinity War. 

Whether you want to interpret these as actual ghosts, or simply ghosts of the mind, they show with aching poignancy those who vanished in the Snap or fell victim to Thanos’ hand, and how at sea the people left behind seem without them.

Bella’s art brought my favorite element of the MCU into focus: that these superpowered people are grounded and given depth by the relationships we’ve watched them develop year by year, some for nigh on a decade. We care about these characters because they care so deeply about not just saving the world but about those closest to them. It’s this aspect that renders gods, aliens, billionaires, and men out of time more than relatable.

Nebula fanart Avengers Endgame

Nebula’s relationship with her sister Gamora had only recently begun to heal when Gamora was sacrificed by Thanos, but Gamora was willing to give up the location of the Soul Stone to prevent Nebula’s further torture. I believe we’ll be seeing a Nebula filled with the desire to rain down fiery vengeance upon Thanos as ever, now with the added motivation of avenging her sister.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be Thanos—or anyone in Nebula’s way as she pursues him.

Thor fanart Avengers Endgame

In the vein of recently reconciled siblings, Thor and Loki share an even longer and twistier history than Thanos’ badass space daughters. These on-again, off-again brothers have spent 1500 years as comrades in arms and foils; Thor: Ragnarok had them working together again, and Infinity War saw Loki sacrifice himself in an attempt to save his brother and stop Thanos.

With Loki’s final speech declaring himself an Odinson and promising Thor that “the sun will shine” on them again, we can imagine that Thor is spending quite a lot of time brooding his way through that turn of events. In addition, Thor has lost most of his people, his closest friends, and his homeworld. Like Nebula, he’s motivated by a burning desire for revenge, and since by his own admission he feels that he has little left to lose, Thor could be a total loose cannon in Endgame, doing anything and everything necessary to get the job done.

Tony Stark fanart Avengers: Endgame

Since we don’t know Pepper Potts’ post-Snap status—but Gwyneth Paltrow’s on-set pics suggest she may be alive—it’s fitting that Tony here is sitting with the “ghosts” of Peter Parker, the mentee he feels personally responsible for, and Doctor Strange, a new ally who seemed to give up the Time Stone on Titan to preserve Tony’s life. The scene with Peter turning to dust in Tony’s desperate grasp was one of the most wrenching parts of Infinity War.

Tony’s responsibilities seem to be physically weighing on his shoulders as he slumps to record a final message to Pepper, the inquisitive spirit of Peter nearby. If any of the Avengers would feel themselves to be constantly “haunted” by their mistakes or what they might have done differently, it would be Tony. Except, of course …

Steve Rogers fanart Avengers Endgame

Steve Rogers has shown the utmost loyalty to his loved ones, going so far as to cede his very identity as Captain America rather than betray his best friend Bucky Barnes. The Steve that we see in the Endgame trailer appears a broken man, in tears and later declaring that their plans had better work, because he doesn’t know what he’ll do otherwise. Steve is a man on the brink.

After Infinity War, Steve has suffered not only the loss of Bucky again, but the gut-punch of also losing his modern-day best friend and partner Sam Wilson. If I know Steven Grant Rogers, he’s not only feeling deeply profound grief but also guilt, certain that he should have been able to do something to prevent the Snap in the first place. This poignant picture of “Team Cap,” now halved, makes me glad that Steve still has Natasha to lean on.

I adore the evocative style of this fanart and the effortless way that it drives home how the MCU’s heroes are defined by being caring partners, friends, siblings, and leaders. They may have the unique power to change the course of the world and history because of those attachments, but at heart, we love them because they love the way that we do.

(images: @_superspicy on Twitter)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.