Marvel’s Avengers Endgame serves as the ultimate finale to a scope of 21 MCU live-action films. Not only is this outing the accumulation of the largest ever shared on-screen shared universe, it may feature the most impressive roster of A-list stars ever featured a singular cinematic venture. Make no mistake, this film accomplishes the goals the prior installations had laid out before it. It’s action-packed, unapologetically hokey (in the best way), and closes out storylines for a few of our OG Avengers. Is it the best superhero film I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching? No. In my humble opinion, Avengers Infinity War runs circles around it. This film had a lot more to accomplish, though. Expectations were sky high and in leaving the theater, I was not disappointed.
The following is a deep dive of the good, bad, and what could have been done differently. It is riddled with spoilers. These are personal opinions, you can absolutely disagree, but on your own time, somewhere else (preferably Vormir), far away from this site.
The Arc of Iron Man
It’s no secret, there’s a story formula as to how the MCU has used their beloved Tony Stark. In any given scenario Tony begins as a selfish entity. Once an evil emerges, he realizes “the right thing to do” which is usually in juxtaposition to his original personal intentions. The end result: a sacrifice. Just before the credits roll, cue the cheeky one-liner annnnd he’s embraced as a hero.
Sorry if you haven’t seen them all, but that is essentially the theme of every Iron Man film. With that said, I have zero issues with this setup because it’s truly authentic to the heart of the character. Though, repeat structure of Iron Man’s cinematic narrative was the telltale sign that he would not make it out of this film alive.
Avengers Infinity War showed us a version of Tony that was really contemplating a normal existence alongside Goop aficionado Pepper Potts. Obviously, that would never work. Duh, Pepper. He may be a wise-cracking, unfaithful billionaire, but he has the unquestionable spirit of a hero. It’s in his DNA. Stark’s final moments were artfully portrayed as he wielded the gauntlet to save the universe. Sacrifice is the theme of this character, both in life and in death. Gold Star to the Russo Bros for understanding that. Or should I say, “Gold Stark”? I shouldn’t.
Valkyrie, HBIC of New Asgard
In addition to building out every single primary Avenger in this film, Endgame also really added to the narrative to a few other characters, especially Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Although she only gets eight minutes of screen time (which is a lot more than other characters) Marvel makes it count. When Thor relinquishes his mantle as leader of New Asgard, he passes the title to this badass woman of color. These are the creative choices I want to see. Valkyrie was the standout of Thor Ragnarok and always deserved a larger role in the greater MCU. Thanks to Endgame, she got just that. And did you see her riding on that glorious pegasus? Majestic af. Give me more.
The Quantum Cameo Realm
Turns out the Quantum Realm is just a giant, fan-service-driven red carpet. With appearances by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Crossbones (Frank Grillo), Howard Stark (John Slattery), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and so many others, it’s a little overwhelming when you contemplate the scheduling process that took effect to make this film possible. It wasn’t just limited to the Quantum Realm either, I felt like every few minutes were was a character from another film rearing their head, pulling the fibers of this 22 movie story together even tighter. As a fan, it was a blast to watch them weave in and out of the plot. If you blink you’re bound to miss someone.
Battle Against Thanos
From the moment that Doctor Strange opens his sparkly yellow, portal and Cap yells “Avengers Assemble” the entire sequence reads like a neo-classical painting of war. Overlapping bodies, gratuitous explosions, and an onslaught of your favorite characters coming back from the dead. The standout moment: the superheroines escorting Captain Marvel with the gauntlet in tow. Was it fan service? Of course, but that was the whole film. In total transparency though, it is one of those moments where you cheer in the theater and then later get to your car and question the logistics of the scenario.
In my opinion, it would have far better if Black Widow was present to pass off the Infinity Stones off to Carol, symbolizing a literal passing of the gauntlet to usher in a new MCU era of female empowerment.
Captain America’s Storybook Ending
The loss of Peggy Carter was the emotional epicenter of Captain America. He couldn’t move past it. In many ways, she was his constant catalyst to do good. Upon talking to people about this film I can’t help but feel as if they gloss over the brilliance that was the end of Steve Rogers’ storyline. Being a super soldier robbed Captain America of finding love and having a normal life. After defeating Thanos and finally saving the world, Steve travels back in time to spend his life with Agent Carter.
Present Day, Steve is now an old man. He has finally lived for himself as well as his country. In the very last moment of Avengers Endgame, we see Steve and Peggy slow dance in their living room and lean in to kiss. It reads like a classic movie, he got his American fairytale.
Timely Time Travel
Time travel an overused trope and one that causes a lot of confusion. It’s fairly confusing here, too. Go into the Quantum Realm, collect the stones, don’t interfere with history, come back. Not only does that agenda go astray but some characters just embrace changing history and interact with whoever they want? Overall, the set-up of getting into the Quantum Realm takes too long, and once they’re in it, it’s as if the Avengers are peddling against themselves. Endgame undoubtedly has its own time travel laws, unlike the rules we’ve seen before in Back to the Future or Harry Potter. I’d love to explain in depth (I really wouldn’t), another time.
Thor: God of Beer
Call 1-800-Jenny-Korg because the god has a “dad bod”…for the entire film. Maybe the first six minutes of this joke served as a clever laugh for moviegoers with an affinity for slapstick gags, but it wasn’t funny to me. Not only do I think we should be beyond “fat jokes” as a culture but he’s grieving and devastated with himself, that’s why he gained weight. Laughing feels, incorrect?
I thought, at some point will he slap his stomach and the godly electricity will recreate his perfectly formed Hemsworth abs? But if that were to happen, it sends weird body positivity messaging to viewers. The whole gag just felt very uncharacteristic for Thor. Maybe he would have become lazy from a break in his previous non-stop heroism, but the overstated prosthetic was not necessary. As a viewer, this choice broke tone and took me out of the MCU reality.
What Could Have Been Different
The Destroyer’s Revenge
Our favorite alien warrior who is quick to throw punches and slow with the upkeep, did not personally exact his long-planned revenge on Thanos. As stated in previous films, Drax’s wife and children were gruesomely murdered at the hands of Thanos. This event has been Drax’s primary motivation since the second we saw him on screen. In a greater scheme, the demise of Thanos did occur therefore, he got what he wanted? But I would have loved to see a Wanda/Drax attack on Thanos. They both suffered great losses at the hands of the titan. Missed opportunity.
Adam Warlock: MIA
Created by scientists to counteract the large influx of superheroes, Adam Warlock was created. Playing a pivotal part in the Infinity War arc in the comic books, this cosmic being divided up the Infinity Stones, dispersed them across the galaxy, and later rallied earth’s mightiest heroes against Thanos. Teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, fans were clamoring to get an appearance by Adam in Endgame, but no dice. In an art book, you can see a rough version of what Adam would have looked like in the film, but the idea was scrapped (Jared Padalecki, is that you?)
Although it would have been great to see him, there were already a lot of superheroes in this movie. I’m sure we’ll still see Marvel’s pseudo-Jesus in the MCU someday. He’s already in talks to be casted for a future film, with Zac Efron as one of the potential frontrunners.
Black Widow, Jipped Until the Bitter End
Poor Natasha. She was never handled with the correct finesse. As the only female Avenger, Black Widow never really come across as a feministic icon. This was only worsened by her notorious meme-worthy squat-pose and perpetual flirtatious dialogue between Captain American, Iron Man, and Hawkeye. Never the less, this is how Nat carries herself in the comics, her sexuality is a tool, and she uses it.
In Avengers Age of Ultron we try to swallow her strange budding relationship with Bruce Banner (that no one asked for) while learning of Nat’s dark past. Black Widow was tortured, brainwashed and even sterilized by her previous captors. Heavy takeaways straight across the board. After nine MCU appearances, one could only hope that Natasha would get some redemption. She inadvertently has played second fiddle to male characters since 2010 and Avengers Endgame was no different.
In an attempt to retrieve the Soul Stone, Clint and Nat argue back and forth who will meet their eventual fate and plummet over the cliff on Vormir. As cute as it was to watch them argue, it was no contest, throw Hawkeye over the edge. He has always been the “Cousin Oliver” of the Avengers, a bizarre fan favorite with no real context to the larger continuity. Natasha begs Clint let her go, insisting that he has a lot to live for.
Let’s examine the facts. Yeah, Hawkeye had a wife and kids to recon. Yes, Clint’s kids call Black Widow “Auntie Nat”, she knows these children and is aware of how they’ll need their dad. Clint’s dream of quaint family life was a potential pipeline fantasy that had been snatched from Natasha. It’s because of this, she insists to take the fall, and Hawkeye becomes a human can of Raid, exterminating Black Widow with one fatal splat.
It isn’t the fact that she died that is bothersome, it’s the endgame, we knew there would be major deaths. It’s the manner of her death. Not even two minutes of mourning, no eulogy, no funeral. She deserved a unique heroic exit, not a repeat of Gamora’s demise. Star Lord’s machine read “searching…” when scanning for Gamora in the final moments of the film. If Gamora returns and Black Widow does not, I won’t be surprised. Just one more way in which Natasha will pull the short end of the stick, but it does leave the door open. To those of you exclaiming “but Black Widow is getting her own movie” you’re right. But now, the stakes are far lower knowing it will more than likely be a prequel, and that’s a shame.
What was your favorite/least favorite moment of Avengers Endgame? Let us know in a comment below.
Avengers Endgame is in theaters now