It’s all been leading to this — the best Marvel Cinematic Universe pairing we always/never knew we wanted. Thanks, Thanos.

To some fans, the serialization of MCU’s storytelling is a huge strength in Infinity War. Understanding our favorite characters’ motivations established in the nearly two dozen films to come before offers a blanks canvas on which the MCU could essentially rearrange these characters in a multitude of pairings.

Spoilers ahead.

One of the biggest anticipatory factors leading up to Infinity War‘s debut was fantasizing about how all these characters that we know so well would interact upon meeting. Some we could predict, while others — take Steve and Groot for example — resulted in some unexpectedly delightful moments.

Whether you left the theater having witnessed a fulfillment of your wildest dreams, or got a chuckle from the give and take of two unlikely heroes trying to save the world, there was something for everyone in Infinity War.

Our editors assembled to offer up their favorite pairings that will — hopefully — return to fight along side each other once again.

Bucky/Rocket

The parallels between Bucky Barnes and Rocket Raccoon are pretty stark, if you’ve seen the origin story for both. Each was altered against his will, experimented on body and mind to become weaponized. Rocket’s line about his creation (“Well, I didn’t ask to get made ! I didn’t ask to be torn apart and put back together over and over and turned into some little monster!”) is one of the most serious moments of Guardians of the Galaxy and it kinda gets skimmed over, but was instantly and deeply resonant for those MCU fans invested in the autonomy of the Winter Soldier.

Bucky Barnes infinity War

This sad shared experience, plus the fun fact that they’re both salty, scrappy bastards made this pair-up one that fandom had been speculating about for years. That “how much for the arm” joke? Markus and McFeey stealing straight from fanfic, or just great minds thinking alike, because of COURSE Rocket would. However, the twirling-while-shooting assistance on the battlefield goes beyond our wildest dreams. More of this immediately and forever.

Natalie

Strange/Stark

infinity war stark strange

To date, Dr. Strange is the only MCU movie that I did not watch in theaters. And while Iron Man is my second favorite MCU film (only recently knocked down from first by Black Panther), I’ve been actively hoping for Tony Stark’s retirement from the MCU for the past five years.

So trust me when I say that no one was more surprised than I was at how much I enjoyed the Tony Stark and Dr. Strange pairing.

I found myself grinning through most of their exchanges, charmed by their quirks and idiosyncrasies. It was so much fun to watch these two men go toe-to-toe with one another, trade barbs and call each other out on their respective shit. It reminded me just how delightful Tony Stark is and gave me a glimpse of how charming Dr. Strange could be.

Maybe these two are like the cilantro of the superhero world — powerful and wonderful in small doses, but overwhelming just on their own. Either way, I loved them in this movie and would love to see them matched up again in the next (once everyone returns from being dead, as we know they will). —Lelanie

Banner/Hulkbuster

Infinity War Banner Hulk

So I’m not going to say “I told you so” (mostly because I can’t remember who I told), but I KNEW it was going to be the Hulk in the Hulkbuster armor in one way or another from the way the Hulkbuster carried itself in the trailers. Little did I know that it’d be BANNER in the Hulkbuster armor.

I have to say, Banner suiting up was a really great surprise! I loved seeing him in a position of physical strength and power where he’s fully conscious and in control of his actions. It’s fascinating to compare the way he moves as Banner in the Hulkbuster armor in comparison to just being the Hulk. I could probably watch the scene of one-armed Banner/Hulkbuster down by the stream just going crazy on one of those aliens over and over again. It’s not a traditional team-up, but Banner/Hulkbuster was pretty great. —Danielle

Thor/Groot

thor 2 infinity war

One thing Infinity War made me realize is that Thor is probably my favorite Avenger. I don’t know how I am just realizing this now, but it’s true. From the moment our poor Asgardian landed among the Guardians, I felt a kinship forming. Not with Rocket or Drax or Quill, but with the stubborn little twig slouching in his chair. Thor, quite literally, understands Groot (thanks, Asgard elective courses!). And while Groot might just be along for the ride when it comes to the teams splitting up, something happens along his journey.

It’s easy to ignore the sacrifices (and advice) of your family. The Guardians were raising Groot in a loving environment. But Thor, an outsider, gave Groot the opportunity to see what heroes look like outside of Quill’s spaceship. So as Thor lies nearly lifeless on Nidavellir, Groot sees an opportunity to join in on the mission. Now, and for as long as Stormbreaker exists, the pair are forever entwined. —Brittany

Shuri/Bruce

Infinity War shuri Banner

Since Shuri stole my heart in Black Panther, I’ve been looking forward to seeing her interact with the so-called geniuses of the Avengers. Her work has been nothing short of amazing in the short time we’ve come to know her, so undoubtedly her interaction with the brains of the Avengers would be interesting. And the moment she shares with Bruce in her lab is a short one, but it’s brilliant nonetheless.

Shuri, let’s say, is less than impressed with Bruce and Tony’s work that comprises Vision. On the spot, she’s able to spot a better way to do the work, which immediately humbles Bruce. She’s not cruel but her superiority is apparent. Seeing a young woman of color out-science the Science Bros — and effortlessly at that — gives me life. —Caitlin

Steve/Groot

Groot Steve infinity War

My first screening of Infinity War had a crowd that laughed and cheered for just about anything. My second screening was the complete opposite. There were only a few moments that evoked a reaction out of the audience around me and the moment that Steve and Groot meet was definitely the loudest.

Up to this point in the movie, Groot has been super sassy. Aside from sacrificing a limb to create Stormbreaker, he’s been all eye rolls and video games all the time. However, he recognizes greatness the moment he meets Steve Rogers (because Groot ain’t no dummy). And Steve Rogers knows how to take the lead from someone from a different culture when meeting them for the first time (because Steve is great). The way he pats his chest and slows his speaking cadence down is absolutely adorable and endearing.

Plus, they’re in the middle of a huge freaking battle with space people. And Groot is a TREE. Steve Rogers doesn’t bat an eye because he can recognize a fellow cinnamon roll when he sees one.

Mark my words, this is a moment that will live on in MCU infamy and it’s definitely one that I’ll replay over and over again. —Danielle

Okoye/Nat

Okoye Nat infinity war

I was waiting to see which badass women warriors were going to team up during Infinity War and I was not disappointed to see Nat and Okoye take on Proxima Midnight. Nat and a member of the Dora Milaje had a briefly tense interaction back during Civil War, so I’m glad there was no time for rivalry when it came down to defeating the Black Order and their minions.

These two kicked serious ass together and I wouldn’t be upset to see them team up again. Bonus point for Wanda coming in and handling Proxima Midnight like it was nothing. More ladies, please! —Karen

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