The Gods of Death really wanted to toy with our emotions this past weekend, as Avengers: Endgameand the Game of Thrones episode "The Long Night" featuring the Battle of Winterfell were released literally days apart from one another. If you thought only one of them was going to be an emotional gut punch, you were wrong. Both pop culture milestones were packed with epic battles and tragic deaths, but throughout all of it, somehow both ended up with reasonably happy endings. Our heroes (most of them, anyway) lived to see another day.
But who actually won the weekend? Was it the Avengers, who finally managed to un-dust half the population and defeat Thanos once and for all? Or was it House Stark and allies, who went up against the Army of the Dead completely outnumbered but still managed to defeat every single one of them?
Saddest Death: Black Widow
The Battle of Winterfell certainly had more major deaths than the Endgame, but the saddest one has to go to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). She's been with the MCU since almost the beginning, first appearing in Iron Man 2. Over the years, she's managed to right so many wrongs in her life and become a better person because of it. In Endgame, she makes the ultimate sacrifice to make sure that everyone else can survive, and it's a huge moment for the character, the movie, and the MCU. Black Widow was the first female Avenger, and everyone else is constantly going to have to live up to her.
Most Heroic Death: Theon
Theon ( Alfie Allen) came back to Winterfell to fight alongside his adoptive family, the Starks. And sadly, Theon died fighting for the Starks. Theon volunteers to protect Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) by the weirwood tree in the Winterfell Godswood, and somehow he manages to fight off all the white walkers until the very, very end. Bran knows Theon is going to die and thanks him for all his efforts, telling him he's a "good man." Theon definitely dies a hero's death.
Most deserving spin-off: Lyanna Mormont
Sure, there are like 100s of Avengers at this point who all deserve their own spin-off series, and many of those are coming down the pipeline, whether on film or television. But Lyanna Mormont ( Bella Ramsey) deserves her own cinematic universe. Give her a movie, a TV show, a web series, a comic book, give her everything. Though she may be small, she is mighty. She will be missed.
Best Surprise: Melisandre
Is it weird to call Melisandre (Carice van Houten) the MVP of the Battle of Winterfell? She shows up out of nowhere and actually helps out the armies getting ready for battle. That's...surprising. She lights the Dothraki's swords on fire, before lighting the barricade on fire when Jon (Kit Harington) and Dany (Emilia Clarke) can't with the dragons. Then most surprising of all? Melisandre nudges Arya (Maisie Williams) in the direction of her destiny, reminding her of their meeting many years ago and how she's going to shut many "blue eyes" forever. This is all Arya needs to hear to go out and get stuff DONE. Arya might have been able to connect the pieces without Melisandre, but she certainly puts everything into motion.
Best Dusting: Tie between Thanos and Melisandre
Wow, who would have guessed that we'd get to witness two major dustings this weekend? Obviously, it's a major win for the Avengers when Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) snaps the Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his armies slowly start to fade away forever. But it's also a huge ohmygod moment when Melisandre walks out of Winterfell, removes her red choker, and rapidly ages before turning to dust herself.
Best man going up against an entire army all by himself: Jon Snow
All of his other comrades have fallen, so Captain America (Chris Evans) decides he's going to fight Thanos' army by himself. All of Jon Snow's comrades have fallen, so he decides he's going to fight all of the white walkers by himself. These two men have chutzpa to spare, but you just know someone's going to end up coming to Cap's aid. You're not so sure about Jon, though, because aside from Dany and her dragons, no one else at this battle can fly. No one in Winterfell has a magic hammer, and no one can shrink or enlarge. Jon feels way more alone than Captain America, and his decision to stand up and fight was way more intense.
Best jokes: Endgame
No, there was no time for wordplay at Winterfell. While both sagas are actually pretty funny when you strip away the doom and gloom of what's happening in the universe, Endgame managed to include dozens of quips and one-liners during its sprawling three hours. Whether it was the visual of Bruce Banner finally going full-Hulk, or Ant-Man accidentally traveling through time as a baby, or even everything about Thor, Endgame had jokes. At least there are still three more episodes of Game of Thrones for Tyrion to get in a few last zingers.
Best Battle: Winterfell
The battle at Avengers HQ after Thanos attacks it is insane by all accounts. It's epic. It's incredible. However, a lot of it is CGI, which is why we've got to give the best Battle to Winterfell. The cast and crew shot overnight for upwards of 10 weeks in the cold to bring the battle to life. No offense to the Avengers, but they shot their battle on a soundstage in sunny, warm Atlanta. Nothing can replicate the real thing, and knowing that all those white walkers bodies are real bodies is impressive.
Best Stark: Arya
Come on. This isn't even a competition. While the two certainly came close for this honor, and Tony gives it his all, literally, we've got to give it to Arya. Tony goes up against Thanos himself, grabs the Infinity Stones and snaps his own fingers in his Iron Man suit, which unfortunately leads to his own death. It's hella sad and Tony's impact on the Avengers is going to be felt for a long time, 3000%, but...
Arya literally took on the Night King by herself without any exoskeleton, just a valyrian steel dagger. Even while she was being choked by the Night King, she still killed the Night King. In the end, there's literally no competition when it comes to Arya and Tony. Arya's our favorite Avenger.
Overall winner: Game of Thrones Sure, Avengers: Endgame made over a billion dollars the first weekend of release. But eventually, someone else is going to come along and make another movie that makes a billion dollars right away, and the cycle just continues on and on forever. But with the Battle of Winterfell, the television landscape has drastically changed. Now, any other show that tries to replicate a sprawling 90-minute fight on television will be compared to "The Long Night." Game of Thrones just set the bar incredibly hight, and it's unlikely we'll see anything like it on television for a long, long time.