In Avengers: Endgame, speaking of their loss in the previous film, Tony says:

I said we'd lose. You said, 'We'll do that together too'. Guess what, Cap? We lost, and you weren't there. But that's what we do, right? Our best work after the fact? What are— the A-vengers? We're the A-vengers, not the Pre-vengers, right?"

Besides the obvious, the victory of Thanos, what is Iron Man referencing here? When have they done their best work "after the fact" of a villain's victory? In the first film, they defeated Loki before he could take over the world, and even New York seems to have taken only modest damage during the battle, seeing how quickly everything was rebuilt. In the second, they stopped Ultron before he could carry out his plan of destroying all life. In neither of these cases did they achieve victory after the villain won.

So what is the "best work" that the Avengers do "after the fact"?

  • 2
    They could've had Loki stopped much earlier, and didn't. Ultron was literally Tony's fault, and Sokovia was obliterated because of it.
    – Radhil
    Dec 14, 2019 at 19:12
  • @Radhil - That still doesn't seem quite like doing their best work after the fact, though, does it?
    – Adamant
    Dec 14, 2019 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


This is a direct reference to a conversation Tony and Cap have in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Tony Stark: Recall that? A hostile alien army came charging through a hole in space. We're standing three hundred feet below it. We're the Avengers. We can bust arms dealers all the live long day, but, that up there? That's...that's the end game. How were you guys planning on beating that?

Steve Rogers: Together.

Tony Stark: We'll lose.

Steve Rogers: Then we'll do that together, too.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The conversation is of course in reference to Tony wanting the suit of armour around the word that created Ultron. The loss he’s referring to in your quote from Avengers: Endgame is Thanos beating them. Tony has already given up on the Avengers at this point.

If you want to know other things that Avenge rather than prevenge, well Loki and the Chitauri was only stopped after they invaded not before. They were already on Earth at that point. Ultron was only stopped at the last second and still resulted in a large proportion of the population becoming homeless.

  • Also - don't forget Coulson. In a small way, his death in the first Avengers film was also a catalyst to draw them together to 'avenge'
    – NKCampbell
    Jun 16, 2020 at 20:10
  • 1
    @NKCampbell Good shout, I'll leave it out the answer though, doesn't need too many examples when all of what they do on screen is essentially an example.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jun 17, 2020 at 8:28

I think it's just a play on words. The prefix "a" in "avenge" means after. And in that moment they are acting "after the fact."

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Wordplay aside, the question is about why Tony claims the Avengers do their "best work after the fact." This only addresses what he says and not why. (Besides, according to Oxford and other sources "avenge" comes from "ad (to) + vindicare (vindicate)".)
    – DavidW
    Jun 16, 2020 at 20:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.