First of all, this post will be filled with major spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film, want to avoid spoiling it, and read on anyway, that’s on you.
I saw it for a second time (Monday morning) and there were over 100 people at the 1030am showing, many first time viewers (because they stuck around for nonexistent mid- and end-credits scenes. Normally, I’d confine my responses to “I liked it!” on social media, but when I see everyone making white hot takes, I feel I ought to counter-balance their errors with my own.
For the record, I did like the movie quite a bit, but I didn’t shed any tears (and I cry at the movies, lemme tell you).
IRON MAN/CAPTAIN AMERICA
Without these two actors knocking these two roles out of the fucking park right from the beginning, I don’t think we would have had an MCU. Not like the way it has turned out. Yes, in later movies, other actors made their marks, but I don’t think people would have kept coming back with out these two stars and the charisma they brought to these roles. Stark was such a jerk for so much of the time, and Rogers was such a boy scout, that either could have been insufferable. They weren’t.
Stark sacrifices his life at the end, finally proving that he is, in fact, a guy willing to lay down on the wire. Not that he needed to prove that, because we already saw it in the first Avengers movie. But no matter. It’s his big heroic moment. It’s his tragedy. At the end of the first movie in this franchise, he stood before the news media and said he wasn’t the heroic type. In the end, he’s the one who has to give his life to save everyone, and he doesn’t hesitate.
Rogers walks away from his life as a hero. He literally turns his back on it and retires. Honestly, I’m happy that he gets a happy ending, but it seems a shame to me that the same Captain America who refused to sign the Sokovia Accords would walk away
I’d heard people talking about The Hulk’s/Bruce Banner’s last three supporting appearances as a three-act Hulk storyline, and… I guess? In Thor: Ragnarok, he spends a lot of time with Hulk, except when Banner is terrified of letting him out. In Avengers: Infinity War, he spends most of his time as Banner, because the Hulk is afraid to come out or something? Because the Hulk got knocked around and now he’s scared?
And for the third act of this Hulk story, we get Banner and Hulk mixed together. Which isn’t a story. Ruffalo is great–he’s extremely likable, even when he’s mo-capped and cgi–but this movie needed The Hulk.
I keep seeing people writing takes on this character’s death, saying she’s been fridged / semi-fridged / had her agency taken away / is devalued because she can’t have kids / and so on. Frankly, it’s annoying.
“Fridged” does not mean “a female character died and the other characters in the movie didn’t like it and neither did I.” It means a female character had no other function in the story except to die, motivating the male lead(s) with their grief. If you want to see a fridged character in an otherwise fantastic movie, watch The Man From Nowhere. What happens to Romanov isn’t fridging.
She and Barton love each other (but platonically, because they’re both awesome). Each is willing to die for their mission, and neither wants the other to die. They fight over it. You can’t say there’s a lack of agency if she has something she wants, fights for it, and gets it. That what agency means. That’s what Stark does at the end of the film, to much more fanfare.
And frankly, who else are you going to put into that spot? Someone has to die to get the soul stone, as established in the previous movie. Someone has to not come back after the successful time heist, so the audience doesn’t think the movie is making the plot too easy. So there needs to be loss during the heist.
You can’t lose Banner, because you need him for the snap. You can’t lose Rogers, Stark, or Thor, because they’re your trilogy-each centerpiece characters who need to fight to the end. And the other characters love someone, but they’re either a) one of those necessary four, or b) already snapped into non-existence.
Barton and Romanov are the only two characters who have genuine love for each other, and can be sacrificed for the plot. At which point you have to ask: Do you want a scene where Barton’s kids get to be reunited with their father, or do you want a second, mini-tragedy that steals some of the narrative thunder from the Stark memorial? The Hulk snaps his fingers and Romanov wanders into the other room, where she sees Barton’s phone buzzing with a call from his wife?
That would suck. It’s supposed to be an upbeat moment right before the missiles hit. These up/down/up/down reversals are the fuel of a big action thriller (or any story, really).
Romanov is haunted all through this picture–in yet another fantastic performance by Scarlett Johansson. For all my talk about how Downey and Evans sold their characters in the early Marvel films, Johansson’s performances in the Avengers films are the most grounded, real, and interesting. She’s fantastic. I had no doubt whatsoever that Romanov would have made that choice.
Finally, we have to ask if she’s really dead or not. Banner says that he tried so hard to bring her back in the snap, but didn’t succeed. But how does he know? Peter Parker appeared on Titan, where he died, and was returned to Earth via one of Dr. Strange’s portals. If Romanov was brought back, she’s standing around on Vormir, wondering if someone’s going to swing by and pick her up.
Plus, she’s going to have her own movie. They say it’ll be a prequel, but will it? Will it really? We’ll have to see.
A bunch of people were upset by his characterization in this film, especially for what they considered fat-shaming. As an actual fat person myself, I’m usually put off by fat jokes, but Endgame came with a context that made it all right. Just about every film with Thor in it makes a point of showing him with his shirt off. (My wife’s a big fan of those scenes.) They did it again here, and it’s not sexy at all.
What can I say? I laughed. If you didn’t like it, I’m not here to tell you your reaction was wrong. I could have done without the “Eat a salad.” line, though.
Also, it’s interesting that, watching the Movies with Mikey episode about Thor: Ragnarok, he talks explicitly about how that movie shifted the tone of the Thor pictures to match the Guardians of the Galaxy films. And now James Gunn gets to play with that character in the GotG3. Mikey Neumann, prescient as ever.
Nothing is going to make sf/superhero nerds tear their hair out as much as the time travel rules in this film. Why? Because the time travel rules break all the standard formats for time travel stories that we’ve grown used to, and people keep talking about how flawed it is.
Here are the standard time travel formats:
1. When you travel back in time, you are the secret reason that everything turned out the way it did. (aka Timecrimes)
2. When you travel back in time, anything you change alters the future that you came from. (aka Back to the Future)
3. When you travel back in time, any changes you make create an alternate reality. (aka I can’t think of a movie that does this and don’t want to google one up)
Avengers: Endgame establishes that none of these formats apply. Characters can go into the past, but they can’t change their own past. They can screw things up so badly that Loki steals the tesseract and escapes with it instead of returning to Asgard with Thor, and still, nothing about the world they lived in has changed.
But an alternate reality is created, right? Nope. Tilda Swinton explicitly says that the Infinity Stones prevent alternate timelines from being created. There are no alternate timelines.
That means Nebula can murder her 2014 time traveling younger self without blinking out of existence. Thanos can jump to the future from 2014 and get evaporated by Iron Man but still snap his fingers in 2018. Rogers can whisper “Hail, Hydra” to the Hydra agents in that elevator and also have them believe their cover is intact in Winter Soldier.
In short, cause and effect is broken. And that’s fine. This movie didn’t erase the previous ones. If you can’t handle that, I don’t know what to tell you.
Although, how Banner and Nebula became experts on time travel is beyond me, but they needed someone to lay down the rules, so they gave the dialog to the smartie pants and the space lady. That’s less believable than their time travel.
THAT WOMEN OF MARVEL MOMENT
I guess that moment where Captain Marvel has the new infinity gauntlet and a bunch of female superheroes rally around her got a big cheer in some theaters? It didn’t happen in either of the showings I saw. For me, when I saw that, I was reminded that Marvel has a bunch of kickass women in these films, but only one has been in the lead. The rest are supporting characters. Terrific supporting characters, but still.
Is that moment pandering? Maybe so, but I think you can tell a lot about a person (or organization) by who they pander to. When I saw that moment, I took it as a promise. I recognized it as a way for them to say We know we have all these great female characters, and we know you want us to do better with them. And we intend to.
At least, I hope that’s what they’re thinking. Don’t fuck up, Marvel.
If I’m being honest (and I am) one of the fun parts of any superhero story are the power moments, and this movie was full of them.
Cap calling lightning with Mjolnir
Scott Lang grinding one of the Children of Thanos under his heel
Pepper Potts fighting in her own suit
Scarlet Witch breaking Thanos down and taking him apart (something Thor, Cap, and Iron Man couldn’t do) forcing him to wreck his own army to save himself.
Captain Marvel taking that head butt like it was nothing.
The moment where Cap stands alone against Thanos and his army was gorgeous.
And more. So much fun.
One of my favorite parts of that final battle was all the callbacks to previous movies. “On your left” Black Panther calling out “Clint!” Hope Van Dyne saying “Cap.” Peter Parker getting that hug from Stark. And activating kill mode. And getting called “Queens” by Captain America.
TO SUM UP
Because I have more to say but this is getting long: The first time I saw it, I went with my wife. She’s not a fan of much of anything (except sunshine and the outdoors) but she enjoys big fun entertainment as much as the next ticket-buyer. You’ll never get her to buy an action figure or a branded T-shirt, but if the movie’s fun, she’s cool with it.
But she didn’t like Endgame very much. For one thing, traveling to past movies made it harder to suspend disbelief. She also didn’t care for the plot coupon storyline to collect the stones. “Just a bunch of short films that didn’t hold together” she said.
And I’m not going to argue her point (not just because she’s my wife). She’s not interested in the callbacks or the power moments. She’s not waiting for someone to acknowledge the female characters in these films. She’s not hoping to see each of the minor characters have a cool moment in a big battle.
The movie to be physically beautiful.
To care about the characters
To get caught up in the plot (even if it’s sorta manipulative)
To feel something.
Endgame managed the first and second, but not the rest. That’s why I suspect its legacy will be mixed. For those of us who have followed the MCU with something like enthusiasm, it’s a terrific season finale for the first three phases. For everyone else, it’ll be another overly busy cgi punch up that they watch once, maybe, but not again.
Which is another way of saying that I don’t think it’ll crack my top five, but I enjoyed it none the less.
[Opening comments for a few days so we can have a spoilerish conversation without going to social media.]
[Eleven comments–five by me–and 28 spam comments. I’m going to close comments here a day earlier than expected.]
11 thoughts on “Extremely Spoilerific Thoughts About Avengers: Endgame”
My breakdown of the various films:
• Iron Man movies were about personal redemption;
• Captain America movies were about politics;
• Thor movies were about leadership and duty;
• Guardians of the Galaxy movies were about space heists;
• Ant Man movies were heist films;
• The Avengers movies were about saving the world.
Endgame combined most of those very well — as an example, Tony Stark redeemed himself by saving not only the world, but, most importantly to him, *his* world. Also his relationship with his father.
It turns out that Universal owns distribution rights to any Hulk movies, but not movies that have the Hulk in them, so this explains why Disney decided not to make more Hulk movies. But they could put a movie’s worth of story about the Hulk into multiple films.
The women-of-MCU moment made me squee so hard I was vibrating. Literally. Even on the second viewing.
Fridging: it doesn’t have to be a man and woman. Over on the show Cloak & Dagger, they fridged a woman’s boyfriend. Literally, he was killed and left in the refrigerator. It was so blatant I have to assume it was the writers saying “See how stupid this is when it’s the other way around?”
Time travel hurts my grammar. This movie embraced that really well. (Quick question: how did Thanos travel through time when Nebula only had enough for one use? And that got used by Nebula’ to come to the present?) The movie broke its own rules, by having Thanos destroy the infinity stones (no infinity stones, no time according to the Ancient One). It also broke the franchise’s rules by having the stones be destroyable — they were the embodiments of aspects of reality.
Let us take a moment to think just how stupid Thanos’ motivation was: our population has gone from ~4b in my lifetime to well over 7b. So Thanos thinks too many people are the problem — so he destroys half of them, and then his ability to do it again? Doesn’t fly. I like the comic’s motivation better.
I did not care for Thor. But I really disliked Thor: Ragnarok as well, because it was *stupid* humour. It took the noble, brave, wise Thor from everything before, and turned him into a joke generator. And Endgame did the same. And Quill vs Thor was painfully stupid. Note that while Quill *is* an idiot, he is a *remarkably* effective fighter.
You missed some foreshadowing about Cap: his language. He swore and used vulgarity, and this indicated, to me, that he was done being Captain America. (And as a character, this bugs me, but I can accept it because the actor is not the character.)
The last Phase 3 movie will be Spider-Man: Far From Home. Which makes me wonder if Fury will bite it in that one. This movie really, really makes me want to see it.
“On your left” was Cora’s favorite moment.
Cap and Mjolnir was my favorite moment. “America’s ass” was my favorite gag.
The franchise began with Natasha and Stark, so it’s kind of a no brainer that this was the end of the road for them.
And I frankly loved that they made up their own time travel rules. It freed then up to use time travel without the fact of time travel then instantly predicting the rest of the plot.
I would be deeply shocked if Fury dies in the Spider-Man picture. I can understand that Jackson might be done with the role–or that he wants to relax a bit–but he hasn’t been doing super vigorous stuff in these movies. Not any more.
But Chris Evans, I’m exhausted just thinking about doing all those Captain America bits.
Me, I liked Ragnarok a ton, as I think the ranking I posted proves. I liked earnest Thor well enough, especially when he was being a loving brother, but comical Thor was great fun.
And yeah, Thanos’s plan is dumb and bad and little more than an excuse to murder a lot of things, but I still prefer it to “Darkseid with a fedora” Thanos from the comics. (not my joke, but I like it quite a bit)
But I didn’t know that about distribution rights to The Hulk. No wonder they aren’t in a rush to make a new one. He’s one of their most recognizable characters, but his movies haven’t exactly been gangbusters.
I confess that I also *really* liked Cap and Mjolnir.
Also, when I realized what Thanos’s ship was firing on.
I was mad at the “eat a salad” line; that was obnoxious and awful. The rest of Thor-gets-fat, well, okay, he’s a god, but he believes he completely fucked up his golden opportunity to save the world, he has major PTSD and self-loathing. And he escapes into what many people do: He sits around and drinks beer and does nothing and doesn’t take any care of himself (by which I mean the unkempt hair and beard and unwashed bathrobe).
And mostly they handled Thor’s new body from the point of view of “Ok, our friend has significantly changed because he’s depressed,” i.e. as a symptom, not a moral failing. (This has the problem of reinforcing the stereotype that fat people are all depressed/self-loathing/etc, which is bad, but at least for some people, that is a real thing that does happen.)
I laughed at the “Lebowski” line. And I like that Thor was allowed to become THOR GOD OF THUNDER and take up his hammer and axe and kick ass again without having to regain his old physique. Not gotta-get-back-in-shape montage, not even a “I am a god and –zappy lighting– am magically buff again!” quick fix. He was allowed to be fat and still a hero.
I thought the Ancient One said there would be alternate timelines; she talked about how Banner’s world would be saved, but hers would be doomed (because it wouldn’t have the Time Stone for Strange to use against Dormammu). That’s when Banner said he’d make sure the stones got put back, so they would be there to be used.
Gee, I guess I’ll have to go see the movie again to be sure! :)
–E, those are good points. I, too, thought there might be a bit where Thor transformed into a thin version of himself for the final fight, and I was happy it didn’t happen.
Robert, it was the lack of stones that would allow alternate timelines, not the interactions of time travelers with their own past. But yeah, you should go again to double check my findings. :)
I didn’t like how they handled the Hulk change. In the comics back in the ’90s they had a storyline where it was revealed that Bruce suffered from multiple personality disorder or some sort of mental break. The hulk was a manifestation that happened when Bruce got angry and transformed into a 2-year-old mentally. He met with Doc Samson and managed to heal the trauma/combine his personalities and then he was Bruce Banner with the powers of the hulk. He was a little different since he now had that anger rather than manifesting it as the hulk. I thought it was a really interesting idea because I was never that into “hulk smash.”
So I thought they might do something like this in the movie, but they skipped the journey and just showed the end result. I was hoping to see some of his process of how he got there. Seemed very rushed how they did it. I like how when they travelled back to New York how he had to pretend to be angry, but I was was hoping to see something actually set him off and you see that the anger is still in there and can come out when provoked.
They didn’t even deal with why Hulk refused to “come out” during Infinity War. Was he, just, afraid? I dunno. It seems like they left a lot on the table.
Your post is fully valid and while I might quibble some points here and there I’m not here to nitpick, as it’s nobody’s job to police another person’s reactions. So what follows is not meant as a rebuttal, just my couple pennies’ worth.
The girl-power moment mainly bothered me because it felt SO artificial, PLUS “you know this would’ve been cooler WITH NAT ALIVE TO BE PART OF IT.” So there’s that.
I think my main problem going into the movie that colored my entire experience is that I came out of Infinity War knowing there was a reset button coming of some sort, and I really, really don’t like reset button plots. This was… as good of one as I suppose I could have hoped for, but that doesn’t change what it was, at its core.
Why don’t I like it more? A bit too much fridge logic, too much wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey, and is it just me or did the “50% of everyone” get applied… unevenly? (Scott Lang walking down an abandoned street. Um. It was 50% not 85%, right? To say nothing of Peter’s classmates.)
Anyway. Didn’t hate it, had some fun, but at this point the only actual-Avengers-named movie I’m going to revisit is Whedon’s first one. (Gods I hated Ultron. Ugggh.)
The moment might have felt a bit artificial, but I was glad it was there instead of not there.
And losing 50% of the population (including animal and plant populations would have vicious ripple effects, even beyond simply having fewer people doing the work. It’s going to be tough to manage basic needs. People are going to have to relocate. Infrastructure will break down.
As for Peter’s classmates (and Hawkeye’s family) well, meh. The medium has constraints, and bringing back his classmates using actors that are the same age is not something I can condemn them for, anymore than I’d want to laugh at the folks making Stranger Things because they didn’t de-age Mike and Eleven for their second season flashback scenes. I accept the limitations of the medium.
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