Avengers: Endgame 2019
Even though it’s only been out for a little over a couple weeks, it feels like everyone has already seen this movie considering that it’s about to top Avatar to become the second highest grossing movie in the US of all time. The MCU in general has become the biggest franchise of all time in short order, offering up 22 movies over the course of only 10 years, and while most of the films follow a similar overall formula, the specifics of each film tends to vary wildly among secondary genres. The MCU films are safe, and yet they still manage to take chances, whether it’s giving unknown characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy a chance to shine, or what it does in this movie: it spends time to show the audience how the characters react to loss. This film feels like a culmination of all the previous MCU films in more ways than one, it revisits moments from earlier movies, and it generally offers closure for the majority of the original six Avengers in a rather satisfying way. And while the official spoiler has ended, I am still offering my typical spoiler warning from here on out.
One of the most interesting things that Endgame is able to do is to show how the characters suffer from loss in different ways. Infinity War was really the first MCU movie that ended with the heroes losing. And they didn’t just lose in a minor way, they lost in an incredibly major way with literally half the universe dead in a wisp of ash. Several of the heroes handle the loss in the way that you would expect them to, Captain America remains the eternal optimist and joins a therapy group to help others cope with their own losses. Black Widow buries herself into the continued hero work that still needs to be done. And others handle it in less likely ways, Iron Man manages to move forward with his life and starts a family with Pepper. Thor sinks into a deep depression and drowns himself in alcohol and video games. Hawkeye loses his entire family and emotionally shuts down to become a violent vigilante along the lines of the Punisher. And Hulk spends several months to combine Hulk’s strength with Bruce Banner’s mind and becomes a celebrity. Even Thanos has a few moments to show how he’s handled loss as he “retires” in a remote uninhabited planet where he used the Infinity stones to destroy the stones only to get struck down by Thor in a futile effort to correct his initial mistake when he first had the chance to kill him.
Aside from the time spent dealing with loss, the other great aspect of Endgame is more or less the fanservice and there are plenty of moments of fanservice throughout the film once it starts going. Pretty much all of the main characters have their moments to shine while we get to see moments from previous MCU movies from different perspectives. Essentially the plan to bring everyone back from the snap involves using the quantum realm to go back in time to collect the stones so we get to see a few scenes from previous movies and get to meet previous characters in different ways. They travel back to the battle of New York from the first Avengers movie to get a fun moment to see the difference between current Professor Hulk and the more classic Hulk from seven years ago. We also get to see Banner interact with Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One. And while it was an odd choice considering it’s viewed as one of the lesser MCU movies, since it was the only one with the Aether infinity stone we get to revisit Thor: The Dark World. Instead of being a fanservice moment, it actually becomes more of a cathartic character moment for Thor as he gets to make peace with his failings by talking to his mother on the day she was to die. We finally get to see Captain America wield Mjolnir in all its glory. We also get a moment to see Star Lord’s dancing from his introduction in the first Guardians of the Galaxy from a different perspective. The climactic battle is really the biggest fanservice moment as we get nearly every fight-capable character involved in this massive battle royale including Pepper in her own Iron suit. We also get a moment that’s either considered nice or pandering depending on your perspective as Captain Marvel carries the gauntlet and is supported by all of the female superheroes. Plus Spider-Man.
And while time travel is both an important part of the film, it takes a different route concerning time travel paradoxes and changes in the past that would affect the present. Here, time travel is represented in more of a multiverse theory, where going back into the past does not affect your present, but instead it splits the past off into a new alternate timeline. Of course this doesn’t quite jive with the appearance of Captain America at the end as he would theoretically only exist in a new universe rather than come back around to the original one, though that doesn’t diminish the emotional impact of his character’s arc and the closure that it brings to him.
While every Avengers movie has been building and raising the stakes in every incarnation, Endgame feels like it’s finally closing the loop in order to allow the next team-up movie whether it’s an Avengers movie or a different team named movie to be a smaller conflict. It also ends the story of nearly all of the original Avengers except for Thor and Hulk, and both of them have been permanently changed by what has happened in these movies. In a way, this cycle of Marvel movies really starts with Iron Man and ends with Iron Man. His was the very first movie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Endgame ends with his funeral as he made the ultimate sacrifice to save the world. He started out as a selfish character who only cared about himself, and through all of these movies has grown to become a much different character. He gets the chance to speak to his father again and connect with him on a new level as a father and a father-to-be. And while he initially wanted to eschew the superhero life in order to live normally, he couldn’t live with the knowledge that he could make a positive impact on the world and chose not to. Of all of the original Avengers, it’s a little disappointing that Black Widow more or less got the short shrift of them all. While her sacrifice for the soul stone tied into her love and connection to Hawkeye, she has always been the supporting character and never really got a chance to come into the limelight. And in this movie, while she briefly takes on the Nick Fury role more or less, she’s relegated to jumping off a cliff to save the world. It’s an emotional scene, and the impact is important on many different levels, as her death would reunite Hawkeye with his family should they succeed while Black Widow has no real family outside of the Avengers themselves. But it just felt like she deserved more than that, despite the fact that she still has a movie in the works which would likely take place in the past considering the events of this movie. I could go on much longer, as there is so much to unpack in this film. It’s not a perfect movie by any means. There are tons of characters and many of them don’t really get to do as much as they could have. Despite the empowering female moment, the female superheroes generally have the least amount of screen time compared to their male counterparts. The time travel concept is fun and interesting as long as you don’t think too hard on it, and the action is great despite once again having them fight a horde of essentially meaningless CGI blobs plus Thanos. It’s still an amazing accomplishment and one that’s likely to be remembered and well thought of for a long time. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.