Consider this your only warning. If you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame and give one tiny shit about spoilers…get out.
Everyone okay? You good? Alright, let’s do this.
I’ve already stated in my full review that I consider this one of the most haunted, grueling experiences in the MCU. Most of their stories are more fun, full of entertaining situations and characters spewing dialogue that is wall-to-wall jokes. This, however, is different. Gone is the fun insanity of “Pure Imagination” playing in Thor: Ragnarok, the smarmy villainy of someone like Loki or Ultron, and even the goofy insertions of S.H.I.E.L.D. references that have appeared throughout the franchise. Instead, we’re offered some slight reference to the Marvel formula while instead telling a very dark ghost story for most of the narrative.
Avengers: Infinity War was very much a story about Thanos, one of the only fleshed out and competent villains in this franchise. Avengers: Endgame, is more of what people were waiting for. It isn’t really an Avengers movie though, even if it lets everyone shine. This is a movie about Captain America and Iron Man, our big two heroes, and their role reversal.
First off let’s talk about Tony coming back from space. When we left him, he was trapped on Titan with Nebula. He’s wounded, he’s lost his pseudo-son, and he’s angry at his own failure. But we see growth here. Ten years ago, this character would not have kindly and patiently taught Nebula how to play paper football. His care is very sweet and fascinating, something he’s newly capable of since learning to be less selfish, and we can see that she appreciates it. She gives him the lion’s share of the remaining food as they drift in space, seeing how emaciated he is (kudos to Marvel for letting him be half-dead in appearance). And then he gets back and calls Captain America on his self-righteous bullshit directly to his face? Awesome opening.
And what about Cap? He goes through more development in this movie than he has in years. For a long time this character has been pompous, a self-important individual that ditches everything and answers to noone because he simply “knows he is right.” In doing that, however, he wasn’t there when he was needed and Tony’s predictions of alien destruction came to pass. He’s humbled by all of this, and it shows throughout the film as he struggles to deal with his own failures. Cap forms a trauma group, allowing others to join him in sharing how they are dealing with their pain after the snap. It’s an impressive journey that culminates in one of the most nerdgasmic images in the MCU – Cap wielding a time-warped Mjolnir against Thanos.
And Thor. Oh, Thor, buddy…lay off the beer for a bit, yeah? More people can now claim they have the body of Thor, as he’s broken completely. Within the first thirty minutes of the film the remaining Avengers track down Thanos and confront him, intending to take the stones and undo the snap. Problem is that he already used the stones to…well, destroy the stones. Thor cuts off his head for this, but it feels meaningless. They’ve failed, and he can’t fix it. He didn’t aim for the head, instead intending to make Thanos suffer for the things he’s done, and this act of egotism destroyed half the universe. Most would be angry and try to channel it into something productive, but he’s sequestered himself away with some friends instead. Thor is fat now. That’s right, the sexy god of thunder is a fat and drunken slob that spends his day attempting to drink himself to death in a hovel with aliens that play video games. It’s played for laughs, but the reality of it is very depressing to watch and I applaud the writers for not really alleviating him of his suffering. Even in the finale, when the Avengers are victorious, he continues to be a broken slob. It’s interesting and I look forward to seeing him travel with the Guardians of the Galaxy as this new version of him would fit right in.
But let’s talk the big two – the deaths of Iron Man and Captain America. These are the cornerstones of the MCU, our heavy-hitters that have carried the series for a decade. Their development finishes it’s long arc in this film, with Iron Man going from being a selfish asshole to making the ultimate sacrifice and Captain America taking a lesson from him, learning to live at last.
There’s something amazing about how Tony Stark departs this world. His death is a perfect one, swiping the stones and snapping (knowing it will kill him) to end the threat of Thanos once and for all. And no one says they love him, no one truly tries to save him because they know it’s too late. Instead, Pepper Potts just calmly kneels in front of him and tells him that he can finally stop, rest, and go to sleep. It’s a cathartic moment, watching him boldly state, “I’m Iron Man,” as he clicks his fingers and ends the fight.
And Cap takes the happiest option he could have, returning the stones to their proper places in time to avoid universal destruction, and then goes back to the 40’s to marry Peggy Carter and live a full life. The Captain America of five years ago would never have done this, too caught up in his own sense of importance to the fight to slow down enough that he could have a life. He’s taken this lesson from Iron Man, the former hedonist that held onto himself enough to both have a life and remain a superhero. Cap, unable to reconcile both, gives up the fight and settles down. Both heroes received ends that reversed who they were from the start, and both are finally allowed to rest. Iron Man finds peace in death, at last unable to be anything but selfless, and Cap finds his in life, able to set aside his own high-horsing.
The list of the dead is long, from Heimdal and Loki to Gamora and Black Widow, and where we go from here is a complete mystery (I’m guessing it’s Skrull-related). But make no mistake, this is a finale. The deaths involved and the bluntness of how everything goes down definitely makes this an ending. We’re allowed, like Tony Stark, to rest at last. Kevin Feige and his team of directors, writers, and actors have completed their decade-long journey and it was something special. This will never be perfectly replicated, probably not even by the MCU. And that’s okay. We got this, a cinematic feat that I doubt can be replicated. Twenty-two films and a decade of buildup for one of the most perfect payoffs in history.
There’s plenty I didn’t touch on, but I’m only human! Was there something else anyone wanted to discuss? Please, weigh in!