SPOILER WARNING STARTING HERE!
With Avengers: Endgame (2019) comes the end of an era. An era that spanned over a decade – films that many of us have followed since Iron Man (2008). It’s the inevitable conclusion of a saga that was first hinted at during a mid-credit scene of The Avengers (2012) – back when only a handful of us knew the name Thanos.
Avengers: Endgame stars the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the cast that composed the original six Avengers – Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlet Johansson – to the new additions to the team’s roster, from the beloved supporting cast of characters who we never thought we’d see again.
This masterpiece is brought to us by directing duo Joe and Anthony Russo, who also directed Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), Captain America: Civil War (2016), and the first part of the film in question – Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
After the Decimation that occurred in Avengers: Infinity War, Tony Stark and Nebula reunite with the remaining Avengers to put a stop to Thanos and retrieve the Infinity Stones from the Mad Titan to reverse the effects of the snap.
They manage to track Thanos to a remote planet, where he has since retired and taken up agriculture, of all things. But to the Avengers’ horror, the Mad Titan had already destroyed the Infinity Stones, rendering the effects of his snap permanent. In a fit of anger, Thor decapitates Thanos, but it made no difference. The Avengers had lost.
Five years later, the team is forced to learn to live with their lost – continuing their heroic acts, albeit fractured and dejected. Captain America and Black Widow lead what remains of the team together, Captain Marvel and the remaining Guardians protect the cosmos, and War Machine continues efforts on the field.
Meanwhile, Thor, contrite for not going for the head the first time, becomes a recluse. He has spent the last five years sulking in New Asgard, drinking beer and playing Fortnite. Hawkeye, on the other hand, takes up the persona of Ronin – a merciless vigilante in Japan.
The broken Avengers find renewed hope, however, with the unexpected arrival of the unlikeliest of heroes – Ant-Man.
REVIEW & ANALYSIS
The first act of this film was a complete subversion of many of the audience’s (or at least my own) expectations going into the cinema. It was a jaw-dropping opening that instantly kills off the main villain with a single swipe of Stormbreaker. It was at this point that the audience in my cinema was completely silent. The most silent the cinema was for the remainder of the film.
The second act was episodic, fan service galore as the heroes revisited events from previous films through time travel. It was interesting to see the Infinity Stone’s greatest hits from another perspective. Among my favorite moments from this portion of the film was seeing the surprisingly light-hearted aftermath of the Battle of New York. This was additionally made even more entertaining with cameos from Alexander Pierce and Crossbones. And, of course, I have to mention the Steve Rogers vs. Steve Rogers fight scene that, in my opinion, was one of the best one-on-one bouts in the franchise, so far.
The final act was a heart-stopping and emotional battle scene that had so many tense twists and turns that the applause in my cinema went on almost non-stop for that entire sequence. If the previous act didn’t have enough fan service for you then this final battle had enough to make you incessantly radiate goosebumps every five freakin’ seconds. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a fight between all your childhood toys versus all your neighbor’s childhood toys. No amount of words could possibly describe how I felt while watching that battle scene.
From Thor dual-wielding both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker to Captain America finally being worthy enough to wield the God of Thunder’s enchanted hammer, from Thanos breaking Cap’s shield to the epic return of our lost heroes – a lot of the awesome moments from the final battle were somewhat forced and some were a little corny but that definitely didn’t take away from how amazing the entirety of it was.
And of course, the best moment of the entire film was the moment that Tony Stark swiped away the Infinity Stones from Thanos and, just before snapping his fingers to finally put an end to the Mad Titan’s tyranny, uttered the iconic words that started this decade-old franchise – “I am Iron Man.”
It expected this to be how it would end. But in spite of that surmise, to actually see it sent a cold chill down my spine as I leaned in closer to the theater screen. It looked amazing – how the stones moved across Tony’s nano armor, how their power surged through him as his face filled with both pain and conviction, how Tony was left burnt and dying from the power of the snap. It was simultaneously satisfying, breathtaking, and emotionally crippling.
It was the inevitable conclusion to Tony Stark’s character arc – his final act of heroism and sacrifice as the Iron Avenger. It was something that was hinted at as far back as the first Avengers movie and something that Tony struggled with and eventually conquered during Iron Man 3 (2013). Tony Stark, as a character, has gone through the most change since his introduction back in 2008 – going from playboy to superhero to broken man to leader of the Avengers and father figure. And finally, in Endgame, we see him become an actual father – happy, stable, and ultimately, content.
Tony wasn’t the only Avenger that had a sentimental send-off in Endgame. Thor learns an unexpected lesson with the help of his mother. Thor’s arc has always been about being the Odinson – the eventual King of Asgard. But the throne was never something that we truly wanted. Thor’s character arc revolved around self-discovery. In his first film, he learned what it meant to be a hero. In the second, he learned how much love and family define us. And in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), he learned who he truly was – more than his feats or his weapons or even Asgard, he was Thor, the God of Thunder. And in this finale, the Odinson finally learns that he should stop trying to be who he should be and just learn to be who he always was – not a ruler, but a hero.
And finally, the happiest ending of three – Steve Rogers, with a little help with quantum realm time traveling, finally reunites with his long-lost love, Peggy Carter. This was just the sweetest thing to come out of Endgame. It may have been the most expected conclusion to Steve’s story, but to see him sitting contently on a park bench, old and married to the love of his life, was the ‘happy ever after’ that we were all hoping for him. It was the end that he deserved, and to see him pass the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson was the icing on the star-spangled cake.
Sadly enough, there was one goodbye that I didn’t feel quite right and that’s the sacrifice of Black Widow. While it was undoubtedly emotional and she will surely be missed, her end felt like it came out of no where, unlike the rest of the characters. It would’ve made far more sense for Clint to make the sacrifice from a storytelling standpoint. At the beginning of Endgame, he was a broken man who has just lost everything and everyone he ever cared about. Someone like that would do anything to get their family back, even if it means sacrificing themselves for it. Black Widow, as a character, had far more to offer us than Hawkeye. But the scene on Vormir was definitely thrilling, regardless. The back and forth made it seem like any which of one them could die at that moment.
Avengers: Endgame is the bittersweet reward for the MCU fans who have followed the franchise since its humble beginnings. In spite of a few faults and a handful of plot holes, this film serves as the ultimate climax for a franchise that helped define the modern film industry and the pop culture scene for an entire generation.
It closes the books on the original Avengers in a satisfyingly tongue-in-cheek fashion, while also setting up a world where larger-than-life heroes will continue to go on in honor of those who came before.
Avengers: Endgame is not a perfect film. But it’s clear that the film is a labor of love that was made with as much care as it took to plan the franchise in the first place. Ultimately, it succeeds at the one thing it was designed to do: leave us with a sense of both fulfillment and melancholy, while our bladders burst with excitement.