Iron Man says that while he’s not the boss, he pays for everything in Avengers: Age of Ultron but Falcon & Winter Soldier reveals that’s not the case.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiere.
The premiere for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier retcons Iron Man’s explanation of who funds the Avengers’ operations in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel Studios is keeping the MCU Phase 4 ball rolling just two weeks after WandaVision wrapped up. This time, the narrative is focused on Steve Rogers’ two closest friends, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes as they team up for a new mission.
Set in a post-Infinity Saga world, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes place a few months following Avengers: Endgame. The premiere episode titled “New World Order” reveals Sam and Bucky separately trying to reintegrate themselves into society after five years of disappearance due to Thanos’ snap. Bucky goes through his rehabilitation journey by going to therapy and making amends for some of the atrocious things he did as the Winter Soldier. Sam, on the other hand, is now working with the Air Force; he also returns to Louisiana and settles with his sister Sarah and her kids. As more of an everyman between the titular characters, Sam deals with his family’s financial woes raising the question of how exactly the Avengers are funded in the MCU.
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The general idea has always been that Tony was funding the initiative. In Age of Ultron, he casually mentioned to Maria Hill saying that Captain America was the boss of their operations, saying, “I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler.” The Falcon and the Winter Soldier provides additional context to this line in the show’s premiere as he and his sister, Sarah, attempt to get a loan from the bank to save their family’s boat. During their appointment, the bank employee asks how exactly the Avengers get compensated for their work, even predicting that Tony was paying them. Sam, however, says that it’s nothing like that; commenting on how MCU superheroes make money, he says they’ve been relying on goodwill for their personal expenses. He didn’t expound on this idea, but this explains why he has to rely on getting new gigs from the Air Force for money; unfortunately at this point, he just needed a bigger sum of money right away.
To be clear, Iron Man did fund the Avengers after S.H.I.E.L.D. collapsed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but he didn’t “pay for everything.” He converted the Stark Tower in New York to be the Avengers Tower which was their base for the most part of Age of Ultron. At the end of the same film and as the team got new members such as Wanda, Vision, War Machine, and Falcon, they relocated to upstate New York where Iron Man repurposed the old Stark Industries warehouse to become Avengers HQ. Aside from being their main operations hub, the facility also provides housing for the heroes as seen in Captain America: Civil War, Endgame, and most recently, in the flashback sequence in WandaVision. Tony was also involved in the upkeeping of the team’s costume and weapons, with Sam initially seeking his help to upgrade his gears. From the sound of it, he just didn’t provide their salary.
In hindsight, it makes sense that Stark Industries didn’t pay the Avengers upfront as that would essentially make them the company’s employees. That shouldn’t be the case, however, as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes aren’t commissioned workers; it’s something they did out of their own volition as the new members weren’t exactly recruited in Avengers: Age of Ultron like the original six. This was part of the issue in Civil War, and Tony Stark never operated as if he could mandate his team members just because he’s partly paying for their operations. All that being said, considering how being a superhero is one of the most dangerous and rigorous professions out there, the Avengers shouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet just as Sam is in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
More: WandaVision Finale Hints That Wanda Already Forgave Iron Man
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