In Day Five of my Seven Day Blogging Blitz, I talk about one of the most successful movies ever made.
It’s safe to say that I wasn’t the only person waiting for this movie, the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third phase. Considering that this movie has become the second highest grossing film of all time in 11 days, a lot of people out there are invested in these characters that we’ve grown to know, love, and hate over 22 films and 11 years. Now that I’ve seen the movie twice in theaters, I feel that I can talk about it and weave my own thoughts and opinions into Marvel’s storytelling.
Let me start off by saying that I didn’t think I was going to be able to see the movie on opening day. Endgame was released theatrically a few minutes before midnight on April 26th, and I was at work bored out of my mind. Most theaters were sold out, and I had resigned myself to see it the following week. Then, my significant other sends me a text, saying that I needed to get out of work at 11 pm. I ask why and his response was that it was important. Taking this as a slight emergency, I let my boss know that I was leaving early and was out in the parking lot at 11:01 as my boyfriend rolled up to come get me. As soon as I got in the car and asked what was up he said to me that he got us tickets to see Avengers: Endgame. I can’t even imagine the grin that was on my face when I heard those words.
The first time we saw the movie, the place was packed, and that always gives an interesting experience. When the surrounding audience has the same reactions to the scenes that you do, it’s an affirming feeling. You think to yourself, “Yes, we are supposed to do this thing right at this time.” It creates a sense of camaraderie and togetherness that I really enjoy and rarely experience in a public setting. That first midnight showing was mind-blowing and amazing for that.
The second showing was different but no less interesting. The theater was empty except for me, my boyfriend, his bestie, and a couple of other randoms. This provided me the opportunity to view the movie with a lot more nuance and carefulness that I couldn’t do in the first one, being all wrapped up in my emotions. This is the showing where I got to analyze the times when I didn’t have the same reactions as the audience did in the initial viewing. In the quiet, I was able to fully coalesce my thoughts on what I was seeing and solidify my opinion on the film.
The first scene is with Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, who was noticeably absent from Avengers: Infinity War, and we now see why. He’s living his dream with his family. Heartwarming opening, but as the audience, we know what’s going to happen next. The snap’s effects are tastefully done, and Clint’s horror and despair segue nicely into the “Where are they now” beginning scenes of the film. I find Tony Stark’s and Nebula’s screen time together to be particularly enjoyable.
Brief aside and full disclosure: Nebula is my favorite character in the MCU (so far). She has the best character development in the entire series, with Thor being a very close second. The most important trait about Nebula is that she is still learning and coming into herself as a person after having her entire being disassembled, reassembled, suppressed, and consumed by Thanos. She’s sharp as a tack, pragmatic, and blunt, but in her quiet moments she is kind and thoughtful. After all she’s been through she still cares about those around her, and I find that to be incredibly beautiful.
Back to the movie, the remaining Avengers, minus Tony who has had more than enough, hatch a plan to find Thanos and undo the snap. When we first see Thanos, we know that something isn’t quite right with him. Fully revealed, we can see the effects on his body of having used the Infinity Stones, and I was quite shocked. Before we even have time to register what exactly happened, the Avengers crash through in a frenetic scene that leaves Thanos minus a forearm and eventually minus a head. This also leaves our heroes minus any hope once they realize what Thanos did to preserve his homicidal legacy.
We fast forward five years to check in on everyone, and it’s apparent that the team is not doing too well. It’s also here where I want to point out that this is Scarlett Johansson’s best acting in a while since she hasn’t had anything to do since The Winter Soldier. We are introduced to our McGuffin/comic relief in the form of Scott Lang aka Ant Man, who’s been chilling in the quantum realm all the time and was immune to the snap. After he checks in on his daughter, who is now five years older, he decides to head to Avengers HQ because he’s the only one with hope and the beginnings of a plan to undo the snap.
First stop on the list is our resident genius/billionaire/playboy/ philanthropist Tony Stark who is revealed to have procreated and will have absolutely none of these “time heist” shenanigans. He also does a good job of convincing us that the time travel rules from Back To The Future are nonsensical, which hurt my heart to hear. Tony’s a no-go, so the team must move on to the next big brain who the audience finds out is a perfectly melded Bruce Banner/Hulk who took the time to actually work on himself and embrace his Hulk alter ego. While he admits time travel isn’t his expertise, he’s still willing to help.
After we’re treated to some time travel ha-has, Tony comes back into the fold with the answer to the time travel problem as well as some bolstering from Pepper. I always love scenes with Tony and Cap because they have the most complicated friendship. They’re family, really. They don’t necessarily like each other all the time, but they love each other, and they both realize that they aren’t at their best without the other. With the reunion out of the way, the rest of the team must be gathered, and it is here where my feelings split heavily from the overall consensus of the theater and rest of the world.
Black Widow goes and collects a mass murdering Hawkeye, and Bruce and Rocket go to recruit Thor, with a quick shout out to angry girl Valkyrie. When Thor is revealed, the audience in my first viewing laughed because he gained weight. I did not laugh. Every single one of these characters has experienced PTSD in some form or fashion. Cap’s emotionally stunted, Black Widow threw herself into work, Hawkeye kills people to fill the void, and Thor turned to food. That’s not funny. It’s sad, and I wish that this wasn’t played for laughs because there was an opportunity to have a serious discussion about depression and emotional eating that could have reached a massive audience. Despite my long side eye, the movie rolls along.
We get our teams situated, our times situated, circumstances understood, and off we go to…New York in 2012…because that’s where three Infinity Stones are at in one point in time, with very little explanation as to how that happens but alright, fine. This is also ground zero for the initial Chitauri invasion of The Avengers but it’s okay because time travel! Bruce goes to retrieve the Time Stone, meanwhile Tony, Cap, and Ant Man attempt nab the Tesseract/Space Stone and Loki’s staff/Mind Stone. The audience is also introduced to America’s ass, and I’ll tell you right now readers, that is definitely America’s ass right there, no elections needed.
I have to also mention a huge plot hole here. When Bruce is discussing with the Ancient One (Hi Tilda) about how not returning the stones creates an alternate reality for the present that the future has come to, they did just that when Loki managed to get his sexy fingers on the Tesseract/Space Stone and teleport away. This is never addressed or spoken of again, and it could very well impact the rest of the film as well as the universe. But, we’re not going to worry about it because time travel! So, Tony remembers that they’ve got one more shot to get some more Pym Particles, i.e. the substance that enables the time travel, and the Tessaract/Space Stone in one go by travelling back to 1970, and they do just that with a couple of cute scenes with Tony talking to his dad and Cap gazing longingly at Agent Carter.
Meanwhile, we hussle over to our next team consisting of Thor and Rocket who are in Asgard to suck out the Aether/Reality Stone from Jane when she was infected with it in The Dark World, otherwise known as the worst movie in the MCU. We won’t talk about that, but we will talk about Thor having a heart-to-heart with his mom Frigga, played by the ever fabulous Rene Russo. I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I saw her. It was also nice to see that Thor, despite all of his trials and tribulations, is still worthy of Mjolnir and takes it with him, creating a beautiful plot hole but we won’t worry about it because time travel!
Finally, we’ve got War Machine/Nebula and Hawkeye/Black Widow on Morag in 2014 to retrieve the Power Stone before Peter Quill does. This team splits up, and Hawkeye/Black Widow then travel to Vormir to grab the Soul Stone, and we know how this is going to turn out from Infinity War. In a silly fight of “I’m going to jump off this ledge first,” Black Widow…wins (?)…and sacrifices herself so Hawkeye can get the Soul Stone. I can’t lie to you, readers. The first time I saw this, I was sad to see her go, but in the second viewing, I was happy because it was the best thing she’s done in the MCU since walking away from the Senate hearing in The Winter Soldier. She went out like a champ. I can respect that.
Back on Morag, this is probably the easiest stone to get because Quill was by himself at the time, and we get to see how a gorgeous opening scene in Guardians of the Galaxy is rendered wonderfully ridiculous looking at it from this end. As we were warned that they aren’t the only ones looking for the Power Stone, we see that 2014 Nebula, Gamora, and Thanos are also in the vicinity. As Timecop told us, the same bodies cannot exist in the same space at the same time. Evidently, they got that a bit wrong in Nebula’s case since her old self and her new self went through some sort of mind meld thing and now Thanos knows everything. Before they can get back home, Nebula has the most untimely incapacitating migraine, gets captured by Thanos and then replaced by 2014 Nebula who knows how the Pym Particles work. I mean…damn.
Of course, none of our heroes know this when they get back to present time Avengers HQ and all of the stones assembled onto a Stark Industries sponsored gauntlet. Bruce volun-tells everyone that he’s doing it because the energy being released is mostly gamma radiation, which he is largely immune to. After some groaning, a snap, and a blackened arm later, we get hints that Bruce was able to undo the damage that Thanos did by a phone call from Hawkeye’s wife and a bunch of sparrows outside. Then, the HQ gets blown to literal smithereens by Thanos’s ship that was summoned to this time by 2014 Nebula.
With the entire team imperiled in some form or fashion, Cap, Tony, and Thor (fully equipped with Stormbreaker and Mjolnir) face off against Thanos. This is where everything starts to come together for me, all 22 films. We got your standard 3 on 1, but everybody knows that the three can’t win that fight. Then, we discover that Cap becomes worthy of Mjolnir, completing that scene from Age of Ultron. It’s cool seeing Cap fight with the hammer and the shield, but he’s simply not enough, and we see Thanos destroy Cap’s shield, completing Tony’s vision in the beginning of Age of Ultron. Then, the battle that we’ve been waiting for begins. We hear Sam aka the Falcon’s voice in Cap’s headset, and he says “On your left.” Then, a whole bunch of magic portals are created and everyone steps through. When I say everyone, I literally mean everyone, those who were snapped away and those who weren’t, come through to fight off the never ending wave of Thanos minions.
This is the battle we have been clamoring for since Civil War, and it is glorious to watch. Pretty much everyone gets to show off their skills and talents, working together to keep the Infinity Gauntlet away from Thanos, who has already revealed that he’s gonna snap the whole universe away this time. There are a couple of scenes that steal the show. First is anything with Spider-Man in it. He is hilarious in anything he does. Second is Scarlet Witch and third is Captain Marvel. I must say that those two ladies had Thanos’s number, and he had to cheat in both instances to stop them. To stop Wanda, he had to call down artillery from his ship, and to stop Carol, who was about to rip his fingers off while he was wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, he had to remove the Power Stone from the Gauntlet and punch her with it.
After this, we are reminded by Tony and Doctor Strange out of the 14 million realities he saw, there was only one chance to win against Thanos, and he couldn’t tell Tony, otherwise it wouldn’t happen. So, Tony launches himself at Thanos, managed to take the Infinity Stones off of the gauntlet and merge them with his suit, and snaps his fingers, making Thanos and all of his troops fall to dust. This saves their reality but it costs Tony his life. (It also creates a plot hole that if 2014 Thanos was not returned to his time with no memory of what happened, alternate realities are created but who cares because time travel!)
In the end, we see how everyone is coping with the passing of their friends, and how they plan to get on with their lives. As Cap goes back in time to put the stones back (time travel!) he doesn’t come back. He stays in that time and gets a life, as Tony always told him to do. He does appear again, as an old man, waiting to be noticed. He passes his shield to Sam and tells him that the world still has a Captain America, and the film ends.
Is Avengers: Endgame a masterpiece? No, but it comes close to it. The Russo Brothers gave us a super solid and satisfying ending to a universe that no one could have even dreamed of being conceived back in 2008. If there is anyone who said that Iron Man would be the beginning of a new wave of cinematic storytelling, hire that person as a consultant and give him or her all the money they want. Did I have problems with the film? Yes, but those problems do not outweigh the overall goodness of how well done this movie is. In the end, it lived up to the hype, and these characters that were created in comic book form were displayed magnificently on screen.