Avengers: Endgame‘s paper football scene between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) sets up an important moment during the movie’s Time Heist. Almost four months since Marvel Studios’ culminating film hit theaters and fans are still dissecting aspects of it. The latest of which is a realization that the seemingly unassuming sequence at the beginning of the movie may have a subtle lead in for a pivotal scene later on.
Opening with the disappearance of Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) family in light of Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame picked up with a stranded Tony and Nebula in space following their devastating loss in Titan. The pair, who spent several days working together in Benatar have formed a good enough relationship for them to engage each other in a paper football game. Nebula eventually emerged victorious during their multi-round battle, and while it didn’t seem anything important, it actually mirrors a later sequence in the movie where Tony had to use his precise flicking skills in order to successfully carry out the Time Heist mission.
Reddit user JSwanny pointed out the similarities between the paper football game and Tony having to flick a shrunken down Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) during the Battle of New York portion of the Time Heist. In the latter scene, the pair, alongside Captain America (Chris Evans) went back to 2012 to retrieve the Space Stone and Mind Stone. The genius, billionaire had to launch Scott near the brief case that contained the Tesseract. Check out the comparison below:
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo, as well as writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have yet to mention this particular sequence in their post-release interviews, but regardless whether its intentional or not, it’s a cool parallel. Fans enjoyed Endgame for a several things, but most of them can be chalked up to the filmmakers’ attention to detail. A lot of scenes are pay-offs to set ups – some of which were years in the making (case in point: Cap wielding Mjolnir), while others like this one, took place in the same movie. Another example of the latter was Pepper Potts’ asking her husband if he can rest knowing that he has the key to make the Time Heist possible but he opted out of the mission, only for her to tell him that he “can rest now” following his sacrificial play to ensure the safety of the universe free of Thanos’ threat.
In the event, however, that this is nothing but a coincidence, Avengers: Endgame‘s paper football scene was still a nice touch to the movie. Odd as it was seeing a snarky industrialist spending time with the reluctant child of his arch nemesis, it was an effective way to establish himself getting more in touch with his paternal instincts which first started by mentoring Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland). The fact that he eventually had Morgan (Lexi Rabe) five years later made this much more apparent. As for Nebula, who had to endure years of parental abuse from the Mad Titan, seeing her have a genuine interaction with another being was heartwarming. Her realization that she won the game knowing that she always came second best after Gamora (Zoe Saldana) was a great character building moment for her.