All right… Has everyone seen Avengers: Endgame by this point? If you haven’t, you may be one of the ten who did not see the movie. But we are now more than two months past its opening weekend and even the Russo brothers, directors of the film, have stated that the ban on spoilers was lifted back on May 6.
The Russos announced that the spoiler ban would be lifted on May 6 about a week before that date arrived. Looking back now, it’s clear to see why that specific date was chosen. Because that’s the day that the second trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home was released. And that trailer gets into spoiler territory within the first five seconds.
That said, I will have no problem spoiling all the things for Endgame. So if you have yet to see it and have not yet heard about all the juicy plot points… well, first of all, good for you. How you’re able to navigate the world wide web without having the movie spoiled is amazing at this point. But I’ll still warn you of spoilers from this point on.
To be honest, I’m really not going to delve into anything deeper than the things that have already been delved into across countless websites, podcasts, and YouTube videos. I don’t have any fresh information. I don’t have any unique theories. At least, I don’t think I do. I’m just going to share my thoughts about this movie that, in my opinion, set out to do something incredibly ambitious and succeeded.
I know… We all said that Infinity War was ambitious when it first came out. Because it’s the movie that tied together the 18 films that came before it that, at that time, made up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But Infinity War didn’t really tie it all up. Instead, it did what no other Marvel movie had done before. It left us without a happy ending.
Thanos had won. He got all of the Infinity Stones, he attached them to his Infinity Gauntlet, and then he snapped his fingers, wiping out half of all life in the universe. Tell me you don’t tear up just a little when Peter Parker is telling Tony Stark that he doesn’t feel so good…
Endgame picks up with a world that’s been devastated. The remaining Avengers are ready to find Thanos, take him down, and use the Infinity Stones to restore what was taken away. By the time they find Thanos, they’re too late. He used the stones one more time… to destroy them. It’s at this point that Thor follows the advice Thanos gave him just before the snap in Infinity War, using Stormbringer (his handy new lightning axe) to separate the mad titan’s head from his body.
They couldn’t save the earth. But they avenged it.
And then life went on. Five years passed. People are making the best of a horrific situation… or they’re wallowing in misery.
The remaining heroes, both on earth and elsewhere in the galaxy, are doing the best they can to maintain order keep a lid on the chaos. Captain America tries to inspire hope when and where he can, even leading support groups for those who lost loved ones. Iron Man has started a family with Pepper Potts. Thor has settled the remaining Asgardians in New Asgard, but he’s also wracked with guilt and seriously let himself go. Black Widow keeps an eye on things from Avengers HQ. Bruce Banner has discovered a way to live with the Hulk, instead of fighting it, maintaining his intelligence while still being big and green. And Hawkeye… poor Clint… He lost his entire family to the snap and is now on a vengeful rampage, taking out criminals as he sees fit. In his mind, it’s not fair for the bad guys to have survived the snap while innocents like his family turned to dust.
Seems like this is the world our heroes live in now. Until Ant-Man mysteriously returns from the quantum realm with news that they could potentially set things right using time travel.
And here’s where I spend too much time overthinking things. Because that’s what I do. I watch movies and I overthink the things that don’t make sense to me. But I shouldn’t overthink the time travel stuff. Because the writers in the MCU went out of their way to push the idea of paradoxes out of our minds. For the MCU, time travel isn’t like Back to the Future, where you can go back in time, give yourself a sports almanac, and alter things enough so that you’re the king of Hill Valley. No, it’s more like, if something in the past changes, then it creates a new timeline, separate from the one that the time travelers had come from.
I just can’t help it. It still raises too many questions in my mind.
The Thanos of 2014 catches wind of earth’s Avengers going around and collecting Infinity Stones before he has a chance to get them himself. He discovers that his future self succeeded and now they’re trying to change that. He follows the Avengers back to 2023, where Tony Stark ultimately sacrifices his own life to perform a new snap that destroys all of Thanos’ armies. But doesn’t that negate everything that’s come before? The Thanos of 2014 is dead… therefore he doesn’t exist to collect the stones in 2018… right? But I guess that’s where the whole alternate timeline thing comes in.
So the question I ask next is, if 2014 Thanos is jumping ahead to 2023, why isn’t he jumping to the alternate 2023 that exists because he found out about the Avengers collecting the stones? Is it because his version of Nebula is the one who pulled them through the time vortex?
My brain hurts.
And what about Steve Rogers? When he goes back in time in the end to return the Infinity Stones to their rightful places in time and space, he chooses to stay in the past to live out the rest of his life with Peggy. Does that mean that he was secretly married to her in the prime timeline the whole time? I’m okay with that, if that’s how it happened. I don’t think it would have been too difficult for him to maintain a low profile if that’s what they wanted for him. I mean, she’s a founding member of SHIELD. Surely she could pull some strings to get him a new identity to hide Captain America from the world while the world believes the real Captain America is still frozen somewhere.
But if it was all an alternate timeline, how did Old Man Steve return to this timeline to give Falcon the new shield? And if it’s all alternate timelines thanks to changing history anyway, what was the point of Steve going back to put the stones in their proper places?
My brain hurts worse.
Time travel problems aside, I thought this was a really well done movie. Of course it’s not perfect. No movie ever is. But they managed to pull together plot threads from nearly two dozen movies over the course of more than a decade. It was an incredible endeavor. My only real complaint was the lack of Captain Marvel. All that build up and she’s barely in the thing.
I make it no secret that I’m more of a fan of DC Comics than I am of Marvel. But there is no denying the talent and passion behind these Marvel movies. I mean, yeah, somewhere down the line it’s about making money. That’s what it’s about for Disney and the studio executives. But for so many of these creators, the bottom line is not their endgame. It’s taking these characters that Stan Lee and other Marvel writers and artists have created and telling compelling stories with them. They get to play in this incredible sandbox that few people get to mess with. And they’ve managed to tell a cohesive story over the course of 22 films that actually makes sense. It’s rare that a comic book company can pull that off, even with just a few creators trying to share a continuity.
It’s impressive. And I desperately wish that someone at Warner Bros. would stop trying to compete with the MCU and just make decent movies with the DC characters. I’ve never thought that DC’s movies have been horrible (and yes, they are improving after a lot of course correction). But I also definitely believe that they could have been so much better. They were so desperate to copy the success that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy saw that we got a Man of Steel with a darker, far more serious Superman. They were so desperate to copy the success of the MCU that we got a Justice League that was rushed and made little sense. If Warner and DC want to truly emulate the success of Marvel’s films, they just need to take their properties seriously, but not so seriously that they forget to have fun with the characters.
Marvel succeeds where DC fails time and again because the writers and directors behind these movies remember that these characters came from comic books. These are the characters that kids grow up reading about. And when we go to see these characters brought to life on the big screen, we want to be reminded of what it was like to be a kid, looking to be entertained by our heroes and the belief that good will always triumph over evil.
Endgame gave us, in my mind, a nearly perfect wrap up to 11 years of cinematic history. The MCU began with Iron Man. And while this isn’t the end of the MCU, it’s the end of Iron Man’s story. And he was sent out beautifully. Tony Stark began his on-screen life as a narcissistic, egotistical, war profiteer. His path changed when he saw what his company’s weapons were really being used for. To fight it, he became Iron Man. His guilt and desire for redemption drove his heroism right up until the end. Everything he did in every movie prior to Endgame was about fixing his mistakes. When he snapped his fingers using an Infinity Gauntlet of his own design, he sacrificed his life. But this time, it wasn’t to fix a mistake. He was doing what was right for the sake of doing what was right.
Chronologically, the MCU began with Captain America, with his first solo outing taking place more than 60 years prior to Iron Man’s debut. And Endgame also represents the end of his story, as well. Throughout his heroic journey, he was driven to heroism by simply doing the right thing. It’s why he was worthy to wield Thor’s hammer in Endgame’s climactic battle. If Steve Rogers existed in the DC Universe, he’d have probably been chosen by the wizard Shazam to harness the powers given to Billy Batson. He’d have been worthy of a Green Lantern ring. He’s the best of the best of the best. And, much like the Superman I grew up reading about, he fought for what’s right because he had a responsibility to do so. He got the ending he deserved, being able to travel to the past to live out his days with the love of his life.
Best superhero movie of all time? I won’t go there with it. I’d be more likely to call it the best Marvel movie… though I’m not sure I can do that either. I know a lot of people have said it’s the best, and there’s nothing wrong with thinking that. Endgame certainly fires on all cylinders and pulls off an incredible accomplishment. If you’re one of those ten who have yet to see it, go see it. It’s worth the three hours of your time.