"Avengers: Endgame" - SPOILER TALK
One more time for the record, this is a discussion of the film Avengers: Endgame. There WILL BE SPOILERS so if you haven't seen the film and want to know nothing about it, my non-spoiler review can be found here. Still here? Okay, let's get started.
The film opens with a heartwarming moment that quickly turns dark. Hawkeye is teaching his daughter how to shoot arrows when, suddenly, she and the rest of his family vanishes because of The Decimation. Hawkeye is left standing very confused and alone. The tragedy caused him to turn into Ronin, an international assassin. He is taking out his anger on the remaining criminals of the world because good people disappeared and a lot of scum are left. Of course, the only person who could pull him back from the edge is none other than Black Widow, his closest friend. I have loved the constant bond between the two of them throughout the series. It's also a great parallel to the first Avengers when Hawkeye was brainwashed by Loki and Black Widow snaps him out of it. While they may not have been front and center throughout the span of the MCU, they certainly showed us that even the people with the darkest of pasts can change and become heroes.
When we first see Tony Stark, he's adrift in space with Nebula, one of the only two remaining Guardians. He's been teaching her how to play paper football because, well, what else is there to do in space? He's also been recording messages for Pepper. He says at one point that he wasn't sure if she'd even get them. That tells me that these messages were the only thing keeping him sane. It's a perfect callback to Iron Man 3 when he says, "The only reason I haven't cracked up is probably because you moved in." Pepper's always been the one that kept Tony in check and kept him going day after day. They have without a doubt had the best love story throughout the MCU. Nebula's compassion really shows throughout this scene as well. She and her sister Gamora finally made semi-peace in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, her icy cyborg heart finally opening up a bit. I think it was only after Gamora died in Infinity War that Nebula learned to empathize and sympathize with others. Nebula trying to comfort Tony as he slowly withers away shows that she's trying her hardest to help him, even though she really had no clue what to do to help. That's when the wonderful Captain Marvel shows up to save them both. I have to acknowledge how amazing the effects were on Robert Downey Jr. He had to look like he had been without food or water for several days and they pulled that off well.
The tension between Tony and Captain America at first helped resolve the resentment Tony has held against him since Civil War. It's a powerful scene, one that RDJ deserves an Oscar nod for, whether the Academy agrees or not.
The prologue ends with Cap, Thor, Captain Marvel, Rocket, and a few others taking the fight to Thanos. They successfully remove the Gauntlet, which no longer has the Infinity Stones, and Thor angrily whacks Thanos' head clean off. Thor's guilt for losing still engulfed him and turned him into a drunk slob with a beer gut the size of Rhode Island. The next 30 or so minutes was the worst section of the film. You may or may not agree, and that's fine, that's why this is a discussion. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. To me, Thor became nothing more than a parody of himself. I understand what the Russos were trying to do, but they're far better with drama and intensity. They tried to transfer what Taika Waititi did with Ragnarok to this film and it did not cross over well at all. You can show guilt and depression in a better way than that mess. Once the main plot kicked in though, the film resolved itself and became epic again.
Oh, before we move on, let's talk about how Ant-Man got out of the Quantum Realm - a rat accidentally stepped on the control panel. Did that feel like a cheap shot to you? Maybe I got myself hyped for some grand re-entry and just disappointed myself.
Anyway, now, Ant-Man has the idea to use the Quantum Realm as a means of time travel. After doing a lot of convincing, especially where Tony is concerned, they finally reassemble to make things right. This is where the film's pace starts picking up. Tony emotionally says goodbye to Pepper and daughter Morgan and away we go.
Captain Marvel spends most of the film away in the vast corners of the universe trying to help each planet learn to move forward. Sadly, we don't see much of her. But I understand why. This is a conclusion for the ones that started it all and having her come in and save the day would overshadow their goodbyes.
The remaining Avengers split into small teams and go back in time to grab each Infinity Stone before Thanos ever gets it. Captain America gets to see Peggy again, Tony has a touching moment with his father Howard, and Thor gets sense smacked into him by his mother. Thanos discovers what they're doing. How, you may ask? Why are you asking? You should have seen the movie if you're reading this. Nebula's cybernetic parts betray her. Her past self plays a recording from her future self. Thanos has Ebony Maw extract every piece of information from Nebula's mind and learns how to get to the future.
As I mentioned before, Hawkeye and Black Widow were the closest of friends. So close, in fact, that, in an effort to get the Soul Stone, Widow sacrifices herself so Hawkeye can be with his family again. Now, we know that there's a Black Widow movie in the works. Unless there's some elaborate resurrection plan, which I doubt seeing as how this act of sacrifice is supposed to be unable to be reversed, her solo film will be her origin story. I honestly don't see the point but, hey, whatever the ScarJo fans want.
Now that everyone except for Widow is back in the present, Tony invents his own Gauntlet to undo The Decimation. Professor Hulk, which they never really explained in full how that happened, decides he needs to wield the Gauntlet because he's the strongest of all of them. He's able to reverse Thanos' actions. Hawkeye is brought to tears when he hears his wife's voice again. Ant-Man has some explaining to do, however. Literally, how is he not dead? When Thanos arrives, he bombs the Avengers facility. Ant-Man was looking out the window at the time and took multiple rockets to the face and survived to rescue the others trapped in the rubble. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he survived, I'm just not sure how exactly he did.
Here it is, the big finale. Instead of going through the final battle step by step, I'll just hit the highlights real quick. Doctor Strange rounded up EVERYONE and brought them to face off with Thanos and his army. Scarlet Witch had one of the best moments in the finale. Remember in Infinity War when we found out just how strong she was? She was forced to destroy the Mind Stone, which she knew would kill Vision but Vision knew it had to be done to save humanity. Scarlet destroyed the Mind Stone, held Thanos at bay, all while having an emotional breakdown. Thanos just turned back time and got the Mind Stone anyway, but now, in the Endgame, Scarlet gets her revenge. "You took everything from me." she says. She would have destroyed him too had Thanos not ordered an air strike. Captain Marvel swoops in last second and takes out his ship.
Tony and Spider-Man have a beautiful reunion. He is finally at peace inside. I couldn't help but remember in Spider-Man: Homecoming when Tony stated "If you died, I feel like that'd be on me." When Spidey vanished in Infinity War, Tony not only carried the guilt of losing Peter, but also failing the universe. Now that everyone's back, including Peter, he finally can smile again. After a lot of Gauntlet Football, Thanos nabs it and is ready to erase ALL of humanity this time. Tony fights him, but is tossed aside. Thanos snarls, saying "I am inevitable". With that, he snaps his fingers. He realizes too little too late that Tony used his suit's tech to suck out the Stones. He is in a ton of pain but still manages to smile, stating one last time, "I am Iron Man." He snaps his fingers and peace is restored. Thanos and his entire army vanish. Forever? We aren't sure, but we can assume so. Because Tony didn't have the Gauntlet, he had to use his suit. The lack of a safety measure overloaded his suit and, in turn, himself. Tony made the ultimate sacrifice.
In a way, the film had to end this way. The MCU began in 2008 with Iron Man and it ended with Iron Man. It was a tragic, beautiful symmetry that brought everything full circle. Pepper kissed Tony one last time, causing us all to weep as she said, "It's okay. You can rest now." The tears continued when, at Tony's funeral, every hero attended. It was yet another respectful nod to the fact that none of this would have been possible without Robert Downey Jr. It was the MCU saying goodbye to Tony and the cast saying goodbye to RDJ. Captain America went back in time once more to return the Stones to the exact moment they were taken so that balance would remain in tact. He didn't come back, however. He decided to stay in the past and make a life with the only woman he ever loved: Peggy Carter. When he reappeared, he was an old man who had finally found some peace and happiness.
In what was probably one of the more surprising moments in the film, Cap passed his shield on to Sam aka Falcon. I thought for sure he'd give it to Bucky. That was his oldest friend, after all. However, that does set the stage for Falcon and Bucky's forthcoming Disney+ series.
The MCU certainly won't be the same without Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, but their exit was just as glorious and beautiful as their entrance. All in all, this was a fantastic tribute to this 22 film journey and I can't wait to see what Marvel Studios throws at us next.
© 2019 Nathan Jasper