Movies

Joint movie review: Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame (ALL THE SPOILERS)

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame

Last year when Infinity War dropped, I put up the post that has my non-spoilery review. Y’all may have noticed that I never got around to posting a full review of the movie. Sorry about that!

But now Avengers: Endgame has dropped. And when my household along with long-time friend Mimi went to see it, Meems asked me whether I liked Infinity War better than Endgame. She preferred Infinity War and was a trifle stunned that I liked Endgame better, hands down.

I told her at the time that this was because for me, even though Marvel backed off of doing these two movies as a Part 1 and Part 2, they really do still function for me as one great big story. And Endgame delivered on concluding what Infinity War set up, beautifully.

So this post is going to be a combination of “review of Endgame” and “discussion of Infinity War and Endgame as a unit”.

Spoiler-free picoreview of Endgame first: I haven’t cried this hard at the tail end of a movie since Return of the King, you guys. There are parts of it that I like less than other parts, and some parts that I feel don’t stand up to close scrutiny, but by and large it was a very, very worthy conclusion to the entire MCU story arc.

Let it also be noted for the record, in case it isn’t obvious: if you haven’t seen Infinity War yet, rent it and get it watched before you see Endgame. And if you haven’t been keeping up with the MCU in general, BOY HOWDY is this not the place to come in.

And in order for this movie’s emotional beats to carry the proper weight, you really, really need to have been keeping up with the MCU. Hell, for a lot of the plot points to make general sense, you really need to have been keeping up with the MCU. I don’t think you absolutely need to have seen every single film in the Infinity Saga (as it’s now being called). But you’ll get the most out of Endgame if you’ve seen most of the saga already.

Now let’s get into the heart of this post, shall we? ALL THE SPOILERS will be behind the cut tag. If you’re reading this directly on angelahighland.com or on my Dreamwidth account, be advised that the comments are also spoiler-friendly territory.

Right then, let’s just get into my reactions, shall we? I’m not going to follow the plot of the two movies directly here. Instead, I’ll focus on the various characters, major and minor, and both individual characters and sets of characters.

The Asgardians

I feel pretty sad for the Asgardians in general, who really get the short end of the stick as a result of this plot. Asgard got obliterated in Thor: Ragnarok, and then Thanos came along in Infinity War and took out half of the survivors even before he did the Snap. It’s not clear how many survivors of that made it to New Asgard on Earth, which we see in Endgame. But it’s clear that there were only a small number, enough to populate a small village.

I’m still sad that Heimdall didn’t survive Infinity War. He hung in there through all three Thor movies, and survived Hela. So seeing him taken out in Infinity War was disappointing. I feel like the New Asgard settlement could really have benefited from having him around. Particularly given how Thor falls apart (more on this below).

That said: I’m pleased Valkyrie stepped up as the new leader of the settlement, and that Thor acknowledged her being worthy (aheh) of the task and abdicated in her favor. I also found it intriguing that she’s the new King of Asgard, not the Queen. Reminds me of “Lord” being used as a gender-neutral term in Elfquest. So does this mean “King” is a gender-neutral term among the Asgardians? If Valkyrie takes a new spouse, will that spouse be the “Queen”? And given that Hela in Ragnarok tried to set herself up as Queen, how does that tie in? Is the use of “King” as a gender-neutral term here a new development among the Asgardians?

This leads me naturally into…

Loki

When Infinity War dropped, one of its bigger surprises for me was that they did in fact kill off Loki.

I’m not as big a Loki fangirl as some, though I am pretty partial to the character. And I do find Hiddleston awfully charming! But the idea of him dying didn’t fill me with near the same dread as, say, losing Captain America. This is partly due to my knowing how comic book mega-plots like this work, and how major characters very, very rarely stay dead. The rest of it is due to my being very, very dubious that Loki, massive fan favorite that he is, would be killed off.

And I was right. Endgame gives us an opportunity to see Loki again, when the team sent to New York in 2012 tries to recover the Time Stone, the Tesseract/Space Stone, and the Mind Stone (the one in Loki’s scepter). We also get to see 2012-Loki seize the opportunity to GTFO with the Tesseract.

Which means of course that some version of Loki is in fact STILL ALIVE. And unaccounted for. And isn’t THAT just innnnnteresting. Particularly given the forthcoming Loki series on Disney’s streaming service that they’re setting up.

Thor

Oh dear gods Thor. Boy, do I have a lot to say about Thor.

He was another emotional core of Infinity War, once the Guardians found him. I really liked the one-on-one scene he had with Rocket, in which it is painfully clear that Thor is barely holding his shit together. Given that he just watched Thanos rip through his surviving people AND kill his brother right in front of him, on the heels of losing Asgard AND his father AND his hammer, losing his shit would be entirely justified.

But he does hold it together (and I appreciated that scene all the more when we went back for a second viewing). He goes and gets himself a shiny new weapon–one which, apparently, does actually have at least a passing connection to an equivalent weapon in the comics, although not one wielded by Thor. (Stormbreaker, for those of you who don’t know, is wielded by Beta Ray Bill. Which I only learned after I looked this up.)

This is another way Infinity War flowed right into Endgame for me, though. Because the Thor we see at the very beginning of Endgame is still the Thor barely holding his shit together. And when that first attempt to take out Thanos lets him actually kill Thanos but makes it entirely meaningless because Thanos has already destroyed the Stones, it’s clear that that’s the point at which Thor falls apart.

When Endgame makes its jump forward five years in the plot, the next time we see Thor, he’s holed up New Asgard hiding from everyone. He’s taken to drinking, and he’s gotten fat as well. He’s clearly got massive PTSD. He’s fucking shattered.

And I’m really ambivalent about how the movie treats him from that point forward. Half of me thinks it was a bold move to show this, and I say this as someone who did her share of ogling shirtless Thor in previous movies. And I do respect the attempt.

On the other hand, how Thor becomes a figure of comedy for most of the rest of the film (up until the final battle) didn’t sit well with me. Some of the scenes with him in Asgard went on too long and worked too hard to drive home the point of “ha ha Thor is a fat drunk now isn’t that funny?” Likewise, his last scene with the Guardians when they went on a little too long with that exchange between him and Quill (though Drax’s line about “you should fight for the honor of leadership” and Mantis’s “YES! KNIVES!” line were both great, lol).

That said, once Thor calls the hammer and exults “I’m still worthy!”, his participation in the plot picks up considerably. It was delightful to see Mjollnir again. More on the hammer below too!

Banner/the Hulk

I was mostly charmed by the Hulk in Infinity War reacting very, very badly to Thanos handing him his ass. Hulk’s used to being able to beat down any opponent, especially after spending a couple of years in the arena during Ragnarok. I totally buy him being freaked out that Thanos laid the smackdown on him.

Plus, it meant that Mark Ruffalo got some of the nicer comic moments in that film. I rather loved him arguing with Hulk, as well as his delight at being able to romp around in the Hulkbuster suit on the battlefield.

In Endgame, it was actually kinda cool to see Bruce reaching a kind of peace with the Hulk and taking on a physical state that combined aspects of both of them. It was also hugely funny to see him like that in contrast to the 2012 Hulk in New York, and only putting up a perfunctory show of smashing things. πŸ˜€

Taking the two films together, this shows Banner and the Hulk on a very nice joint character arc.

Doctor Strange

I was kind of surprised and yet not that Strange turned out to be one of the heaviest hitters of Infinity War. I do like Cumberbatch’s portrayal of him, even if he comes across as “Tony Stark, neurosurgeon with magic”. Some reviews of Infinity War talked about him and Tony having a snark-off being like Tony looking in a mirror, and those reviews were not wrong.

But I did quite like it being clear in Infinity War that Strange was playing a long game here. At the time, I had a nice little shiver of dread as I considered that this was presumably the good timeline, the single one where our heros and heroines had a chance at actually pulling this off.

(Also, shoutout for Strange’s cape, which is responsible for some of the other nice little comic moments in Infinity War, even if it didn’t get to do anything amusing in Endgame that I saw.)

Strange’s long game comes back as a plot concept in Endgame, too. I was surprised–and yet should not have been!–that we see the Ancient One again. And I really liked her interactions with Banner, and how he finally convinces her to turn over the Time Stone by describing how Strange had given it to Thanos willingly. Which means she realized Strange was playing that long game. And she knew she’d need to support that.

In the final act, too, it was delightful to see Strange being the one who rallied the troops and had everybody show up to join the battle. He was clearly the one who realized very fast that it was now five years later and that SHIT WAS GOING DOWN. Also, great to see him being one of the heavy hitters in the battle as well, along with the rest of the sorcerers. Like Wong! \0/

Spiderman

I’ll say it straight up: I have almost zero fucks to give about Spiderman. He’s never been a favorite hero for me, and I’m still slightly cranky that Marvel delayed the oncoming of Captain Marvel’s movie for the sake of doing yet another version of Spiderman.

However, I also acknowledge that Tom Holland does an adorable job with the character. It’s nice to see a version of the character that legitimately feels young. Particularly since I’m totally with Tony in feeling entirely old when this kid talks about how old Empire Strikes Back and Aliens are.

But since I’m less emotionally invested in this character, his dusting in Infinity War didn’t hit me nearly as hard as it did a lot of other folks. I was less gutpunched per se because of Parker going out than I was at Stark’s reaction, really–and also because I knew for a fact that he’d be coming back.

Which of course, he did. And here’s yet another place where Infinity War flows into Endgame as two parts of one big story. Because when we lose Tony, Peter’s reaction to that is a strong and powerful mirror of Stark’s reaction to Peter’s dusting in Infinity War.

The Guardians of the Galaxy

I was weirdly ambivalent about most of the Guardians portion of the cast in Infinity War. I mean, obviously, they had to be there what with the whole critical “Gamora is Thanos’ daughter” part of the plot.

But really, Peter, Gamora, Rocket, and Nebula are the ones from this part of the cast that contribute plot relevance. And Quill’s part of the overall story felt perfunctory to me. In Infinity War, I felt like his wigging out too quickly and fucking up the plan to get the Gauntlet off Thanos happened because the plot required it to happen, not because Chris Pratt sold it for me by his performance. Likewise, with Endgame, I feel like his angst at seeing some version of Gamora alive again–an earlier version of her that has not yet established their relationship–happened because the plot required it to happen.

But I don’t know whether this is because Pratt just didn’t have enough time in his share of the movie to really sell it, or whether his character just doesn’t work for me as well outside the lighter context of the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Nebula, by contrast, does excellent work all throughout Infinity War and into Endgame. It genuinely surprised me that the networking of her current and past selves caused a surprise sharing of memories–and alerted Thanos and his minions to what was going on. And I really liked that past-Gamora made the leap of faith and chose to help current-Nebula.

(Even though I have some STRONG QUESTIONS about certain actions of Nebula’s. More on THIS below, too.)

And I do like that now that we have some version of Gamora alive again, one who has no emotional connection to Quill, that this raises a bunch of interesting questions about how the next GotG film might go.

As for Rocket? Rocket is entirely delightful through both of these films. Given how he and Thor bonded in Infinity War, it’s entirely appropriate to see him sticking by Thor in Endgame. And that he’s the one who knows what to say to get Thor on board with actually helping them again.

Black Widow

This is one of the parts where Endgame stumbled for me, because I am not happy that they killed off Black Widow.

Mind you, the reason I’m not happy about this is less that they killed her off per se–because I knew coming into this movie that we were going to lose at least one major character and possibly more–and more how they actually chose to handle it.

Infinity War establishes that in order for someone to get the Soul Stone, they have to sacrifice something they love. Permanently. And while Infinity War shows us Thanos choosing to kill Gamora, in Endgame, we see Clint and Natasha racing to see which of them will be the one to voluntarily sacrifice themselves.

During the movie, I wound up feeling like Natasha won that fight because she was all “Clint, you’re the one with the family!” Later, when Dara and I discussed this, Dara told me she was feeling like the intent of the scene was supposed to be more along the lines of Natasha wanting to do something to finally eliminate “all the red in her ledger” that she mentions clear back in the first Avengers movie.

Likewise, the movie setting up Clint as a vengeful gang-murdering ronin gives him a lot of red in the ledger that he could meet and match Natasha on. But the scene we get in the movie doesn’t deal with that as a theme. Instead we get Hawkeye being all “tell my family I love them!” and Black Widow retorting “tell them yourself!” before she finally wriggles out of Clint’s grasp and lets herself plummet into the abyss.

I really wish that the plot had done a better job of dealing with this.

And given the big reaction to Tony’s passing at the end, I am ALSO cranky that by comparison, Natasha’s passing gets barely a few lines out of Steve, Bruce, and Clint. Tony gets a touching funeral, and multiple scenes of characters reacting to his death. Where the hell was Natasha’s funeral? At the very least, could we not have seen a quiet gathering of the team in her honor, since it’s said right out on screen that they were in fact her family?

Now we also have a real big interesting question in play here: given that in theory we have a Black Widow movie on the way, is that movie going to be a prequel? Are we finally going to find out what happened in Budapest? (I’d be up for that.)

Because otherwise, if they were going to try to do some sort of a movie about figuring out a way to get her back, then we’d have a Black Widow movie that’d mostly not be about Black Widow herself. And I would not be up for that.

Hawkeye

And as long as we’re talking about Natasha, Clint is the other side of that particular coin.

He has no presence in Infinity War, but he doesn’t need to. And I’ll say this: the opening scene of Endgame, where his entire family gets dusted, is efficient and brutal.

And I really did like his reactions to seeing his wife call him on his cell once Banner un-Snapped the universe, as well as his reactions to Natasha’s loss.

Ant-Man

Ant-Man is another character who has no presence in Infinity War. But he is critical to Endgame, and I really kinda love that.

I didn’t love so much that they overplayed the scene he has with the kids asking Banner for a photo and Scott whinging about how nobody wants his photo; that was another comic moment in the movie that overstayed its welcome. Everything else about his part in Endgame, though, I liked a lot.

As of the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, I was real curious as to how he was going to get out. Dara and I had quite the disagreement about what actually happened, though. She thought the whole idea of a rat randomly wandering across the van’s console was stupid.

Whereas me, I really kinda loved that. I loved that it was one little random happenstance that managed to turn the universe back in the direction of “let’s bring everybody back”. You can even argue that that one rat is the turning point that puts us into the one single timeline that Strange foresaw. Though when I made this argument to Dara, she grimaced and told me I was making the movie worse for her, so I shut up. ;D

Aside from that, though, I did also like the glimpses of the world we got through Scott’s eyes. How he found himself stranded inside a storage lot and had to get out by holding up a HELP sign to the security camera. How he found the city in a weirdly dilapidated state. How he found the memorial to the vanished–and his own name on it. And his reunion with his now-five-years-older daughter.

And I like that he’s the one to bring news of the Quantum Realm to the Avengers, and how he keeps obsessing over the idea of whether it can be used to bring everybody back. He’s the one who keeps them focused on the Pym particles, just out of what he’s picked up from being around Hank and Hope.

I like his participation in the New York sequences as well as the final battle. And he gets one of the best lines in the New York sequence, setting up the whole gag about “America’s ass”. ;D

We don’t see much of the rest of the characters from his movies, just a few glimpses of younger Pym in 1970, Hope back on screen after the un-Snap (YAY), and Scott, Hope, Cassie, Hank, and Janet at Stark’s funeral later. But I did get a giggle out of how they got younger Pym to run off in 1970 so they’d have access to his Pym particles.

Captain Marvel

We had no Captain Marvel in Infinity War, of course. But as of that movie, her origin movie hadn’t dropped yet. So her participation in this plot is restricted to Endgame.

Of which I will say:

THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH CAPTAIN MARVEL IN THIS MOVIE.

Rationally, I know that this is because Carol is so powerful that they couldn’t use her much. It’s the Superman problem: if Supes is in play, all but the most powerful villains can’t stand a chance. Same with Captain Marvel. So I get that the movie had to establish that there are thousands of other planets who are also struggling to survive what Thanos did, and they don’t have a team of Avengers to help them. So Carol’s off taking care of other planets for most of the plot.

But given that I just saw her movie a couple months ago (as of this writing), I would have appreciated knowing how the Rambeaus had survived the Snap, or not. And how Carol would have reacted to seeing them back.

I really did like that she was the one who rescued Tony and Nebula in space, though. I was expecting she would be. And that shot of her arriving, all glowing and angelic in Tony’s dazed sight, was glorious.

And she was spectacular in the final battle as well, particularly during the whole tag-team to get the new Gauntlet.

Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch is another stupidly powerful character that I think the MCU undersold. I repeatedly see her described as someone with staggering levels of power, so it makes sense to me that they had to dust her to keep her out of play until the final act. Once she was back in play, though, seeing her come at Thanos was also glorious. “You took everything from me!” “I don’t even know who you are.” “YOU WILL.”

This was, I believe, one of the points during that entire sequence where I may have been heard to utter FUCK YES.

Black Panther, Shuri, Okoye, and the rest of the Wakadans

I am slightly miffed that we didn’t find out Shuri got Snapped until this movie. Because SHURI IS AMAZING.

I did appreciate that Okoye was at least functioning as a point of contact to the Avengers during the five-year interval. Because Okoye is ALSO amazing. But I would have liked a glimpse at how Wakanda was hanging in there during the interval. Dara thinks we can assume “better than most”, and I can’t argue with that. I could see Wakanda maybe having to do even more outreach to other nations, trying to help them get their shit back together after the Snap. At least, as best they could without Shuri’s scientific guidance.

But yeah. Seeing T’Challa get dusted in Infinity War was another emotional beat that didn’t land as hard for me as I think that movie wanted, because I knew for a goddamn fact he’d be back.

And seeing him and Shuri and Okoye bringing in the Wakandan host to join the fray: another FUCK YES.

I adored seeing T’Challa being one of the major players in the battle, too, which leads me to hope he’ll continue to be one of the major players as Marvel moves into the next phase of its movie existence.

Bucky

Not much for Bucky to do in Infinity War, though I did love Rocket coveting his arm in that movie. And there wasn’t much for him to do in Endgame either, once he got un-dusted. But I did like his reunion with Steve (“don’t do anything stupid till I get back” and “how can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you” <3), and his being there in a supportive capacity for the final handoff of the shield to Sam.

Sam

“ON YOUR LEFT”. Another FUCK YES moment when Sam shows up on the battlefield. \0/

And *sniff*, he gets to be the new Captain America. It’ll be REAL interesting to see how this’ll play in with the new show he’s supposed to have with Bucky, given that “Falcon” is in that title. I’m hoping we’ll eventually get to see him be Captain America on screen in a movie, though.

Because it’ll be super powerful to see that name attached to a black man in a movie. I’m here for it!

Thanos

Before I get to the last two big players for the Avengers, I’ll talk some about Thanos.

Both as a viewer of the movie and as a writer, I liked the original attempt at the start of Endgame to take down Thanos, only a couple of weeks after the Snap. Seeing Steve moved to declare, “Let’s go get the son of a bitch” was moving, and certainly you might be moved to say in response, “CAP! Language!” To which Dara has pointed out quite correctly that Steve Rogers fought on the battlefields of World War II. This is not a man who’s unused to swearing. πŸ˜‰

The whole sequence has immense narrative weight, though. Not only because of what I described about Thor in particular up above, but also because of what it means for all of the Avengers. They find the bad guy and kill him, only to realize that this does not in fact save the universe. So they have to learn how to deal with that, and move on.

But that was all also centered around current-Thanos, the Thanos who has been terrifying up through all the movies leading to now, including Infinity War. The lesson the Avengers have to learn after Thor beheads that Thanos is also a lesson for the audience. We, too, see that sometimes, beheading the bad guy, as satisfying as it might be at the time, doesn’t set everything back to rights.

Of course, what Endgame then proceeds to show us is that current-Thanos is not the one we have to worry about. It’s past-Thanos, the one who figures out via the two Nebulas what’s going on, and who comes to Earth with the full might of his forces and blows the shit out of the Avengers compound.

And as satisfying as it is to see the combined might of all the characters taking out Thanos’s forces–not to mention what Tony pulls off–still, it does raise a lot of questions about the mechanics of time travel in this plot. Which deserves its own section of commentary.

Time Travel in Endgame, WTF HOW DOES THIS EVEN WORK Yeah Maybe We Should Really Just Relax

A lot of us knew coming into Endgame that time travel was going to be the means through which the Snap was undone. And certainly, as a fan of the SF genre in general and of Star Trek and Doctor Who in particular, I know how wibbly-wobbly time travel plots can be.

Endgame even goes out of its way to talk about this, with Scott and Rhodey mentioning multiple pop culture examples of time travel plots (“you mean Back to the Future lied to me?!”), while Banner makes his case about how all this was going to work.

And I was willing to buy that, up to a point. The thing is, there are multiple changes to events in Endgame that now clearly have spun off at least one if not more alternate timelines, so I’m all WTF HOW DOES THIS EVEN.

One, Loki vanishing from New York in 2012. With, I might add, THE TESSERACT. So not only do we have an unaccounted for Loki, we ALSO have at least one unaccounted for version of the Space Stone. (Dara, at this point, was telling me she’s actually kinda okay with that, given how the Infinity Stones are by definition outside the laws of the universe and in fact dictate the laws of the universe. So the Space Stone bending laws of physics by having multiple copies of itself running around? NOT A PROBLEM.)

Two, Nebula killing her past self.

Three, Thor taking off with the hammer from Asgard.

Four, Steve buggering off to the past for important Getting a Life Reasons (more on this below).

And last but certainly not least, THANOS AND HIS ENTIRE ARMY GETTING DUSTED.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of sources saying this was apparently the movie’s attempt to set up time travel in keeping with what actual physicists think should happen. So I guess the whole “if you go into the past, the past becomes your future and the future becomes your past” thing applies to every single character in the cast? How does this apply for people in this plot who aren’t actually time traveling? (E.g., Loki, e.g., THANOS?)

If I think too closely about this I keep going WTF HOW DOES THIS EVEN, so yeah, I think I gotta classify this as “we should really all just relax”. πŸ˜‰ Because at the end of the day, this is a superhero comic book plot. And there’s only so closely you can examine superhero comic book science.

Instead, let’s talk about Captain America.

Because I Think We Can All Agree It IS America’s Ass

In both Infinity War and Endgame, Cap is a stalwart goddamn lion. It’s beautiful, really. In Infinity War, he has the final OH GOD reaction when the Snap happens. And in Endgame, he has multiple points throughout the movie showing how he’s stepping up and trying to help everyone around him survive.

His scene with the support group he was leading was lovely (though I really do wish it hadn’t taken Marvel so long to get a clearly queer character on screen, someone who’s clearly identified as queer in dialogue, as opposed to just hinting at it as they did with Valkyrie). I also liked his comment to Natasha about seeing whales in the Hudson–and her comeback of threatening to throw a sandwich at his head if he was about to say something about looking on the bright side.

I adored his several comic moments throughout the film, though. Loki getting to reprise the Making Fun of Captain America joke, hee. And of course, Tony giving him shit about how he looked in his 2012 costume, Scott setting up the “America’s ass” joke, and Steve finishing it out with joking about seeing his own ass after fighting his earlier self.

One joke made that didn’t land with Dara but landed better with me was the scene where Steve’s in the elevator with all the Hydra agents, where we’re calling back hard to Winter Soldier. I had to giggle that he got out of that scene by delivering the “Hail Hydra” line, which I saw as a dig at the comic book storyline about Hydra!Cap. Dara didn’t agree, as she couldn’t see why the writers would want to call attention to a poor storyline decision like that from the comics–a point I couldn’t really argue with, honestly. Still, for me, it played as a dig at that story, in no small part because Cap in this story was being clever about utilizing what he knew from his own past to deceive the Hydra agents. And I’m always on board with Cap being clever. <3

We get the resolution of all the tension between him and Tony, finally. Meems told me she felt like Tony was a dick at many points in Endgame, and she’s not wrong, but for me that’s not exactly new. He’s been a dick to Steve a lot before now, too!

It was really lovely though to see him wholeheartedly welcoming Tony back to help them.

And of course, there’s the whole question of setting up Steve’s eventual fate. The support group scene starts that thread. Then, in 1970, Steve sees Peggy through a window. She never sees him, and he doesn’t utter a word, but it’s a wrenching scene nonetheless. And it clearly stays with Steve, since when he finally goes on the solo mission to return all the Stones, he goes back to her.

And he gets that dance. *sniff*

There are still questions here, of course. I don’t know enough of Cap’s history in the comics to know whether it’d make sense for him to have aged; I’ve seen references that suggest that he only winds up aging in circumstances where the super-soldier serum is removed from his bloodstream. It’s not clear to me how the MCU is choosing to handle it, or whether the implication here is that he’s finally just had the time to get old.

I will say though that the ability to age up a character, akin to de-aging them, is way better than it used to be. Old Cap seemed a lot more plausible to me than old versions of characters I’ve seen in past parts of other genre franchises. Not only visually, but how they changed his voice, as well.

Let’s also talk about one of the most awesome Cap moments in the movie: WIELDING MJOLLNIR. I did NOT know this was coming, though I really should have done, since we’ve all been speculating about this ever since we saw him budge the hammer just a bit in Age of Ultron. It was magnificent to see him finally do it, along with Thor yelling “I KNEW IT” at the sight of it.

(Which implies very strongly that Steve realized at the time that he could in fact move the hammer, and deliberately chose not to reveal that he could. How Captain America is that. <3)

This let us get another delightful little exchange though where we see Steve with Stormbreaker, and Thor with Mjollnir, and Thor gets him to trade. “You take the small one.” LOL.

Speaking of that hammer, WHAT DID CAP DO WITH IT? He left on his Stones-returning mission with it, and he did not have it when he showed up old to give the shield to Sam. Did he take it back to Asgard when he returned the Aether there?

And for that matter, given that Red Skull became the guardian of Vormir, I SO VERY MUCH NEED FAN ART of the reactions of both Steve AND the Red Skull when he shows up to bring back the Soul Stone. πŸ˜€

Dara and I both REALLY wonder if Steve taking the Soul Stone back earned him the right to return to Peggy. Because he’s giving back the Stone, so this could mean that he wins the right to return to her because he’s doing the cosmos a favor. I think Dara’s about to whip out this scene and post it to AO3. πŸ˜€

Last but most assuredly not least…

Iron Man

And speaking of Stark: hoo boy. Going into Infinity War, I was legitimately dreading whether we were going to lose him then. At the time, I was legitimately surprised that we didn’t. On the other hand, it also made sense that Tony would survive the dusting, given that he occupied an emotional core of that film. As was very clearly underscored by this whole idea of his finally getting his relationship with Pepper headed towards marriage, a payoff we get in Endgame when he does in fact marry Pepper and have a daughter with her.

“I love you three thousand.” Sniff. Five-year-old Morgan Stark was adorable. One also hopes she’s going to be a genius like her father and grandfather before her.

Little Morgan all by herself exemplifies how far Tony’s come throughout this entire saga, though we also see it portrayed in how Tony meets up with his father in 1970 (and calls himself “Howard Potts”, lol). We see it in Tony still wrestling with that time travel question even after he tells his erstwhile teammates to take a hike–because they’ve brought him a problem and he just has to solve it, even as he wrestles to keep his focus on his wife and daughter.

We also see Pepper, who’s understood Tony better than he’s understood himself through so many of these movies, giving him the final push he needs to return to the Avengers with what he’s discovered. And she’s the one who tells him in the end that it’s okay for him to rest. Sniff.

“I AM INEVITABLE.” “I am Iron Man.”

FUCK YES. And yeah, by this point of Endgame, I had tears streaming down my face. Tears that just kept coming, as we saw the gathering watching Tony’s final recording later, and the gathering for the funeral at the lake that did all the final lingering shots on characters and sets of characters… including that one lone young man who, it turns out, was the kid from Iron Man 3.

As cranky as I am that Natasha didn’t get any funeral at all, yeah, I was sobbing for the sendoff for Tony. I have both of these reactions at once, and that’s okay. As with any fan of the MCU, I can contain multitudes. :~}

This, even more so than the throwing of the nuke into the Chitauri ship at the end of The Avengers, was Tony growing into the kind of person who could do what Cap described: sacrifice himself to save everything and everyone he loves.

And even though I’ve been more of a Cap girl all this time, still, I’ve rather adored Tony. RDJ has done such an amazing job all this time as Stark, has made him so compelling, that I couldn’t help but cry my eyes out at his death.

I love you three thousand, indeed.

All in All

Even with the parts of it I found rougher, I still feel that Endgame was a worthy conclusion both to what Infinity War set up as part 1 of this final story… and to the Infinity Saga as a whole.

The ride Marvel’s taken us on with all these movies has been incredible and I for one have been thrilled to be a part of it. I’ll be eagerly waiting to see where they’re going to take us next.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Yngvar FΓΈlling April 30, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    I remember thinking of a thing or two that I wanted to put in a comment to your eventual spoilerific review of Infinity War, but at this point, I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Maybe one of the things I’ll write here anyway.

    I’ve got to say that you probably got more details than me. πŸ™‚

    I don’t think Hulk’s refusal to come out in Infinity War had much to do with getting beaten up by Thanos. Rather, he’s pissed at Bruce and the rest of the Avengers. Remember, in Ragnarok he actually got to live a full life for two years. His encounter with Thor ripped him away from that, and he’s back to being just called upon when needed for a fight, but otherwise unwanted. Bruce himself regarded The Hulk as a disease he wants to be cured of. So Hulk is all, “fuck that, you don’t want me, see how well you do without me.” And so comes the peace in Endgame.

    Which does raise the question of how much of old Hulk that’s actually left in the new merged brainy Hulk.

    I agree that I felt limited emotion from seeing characters like Spider-man, Black Panther, and most of the Guardians getting dusted, since I knew that they’d be back. Sure, there were things I could have wished for, but even two movies at this length can only have so much. Tony Stark has been part of this since the beginning, so it makes sense that the main focus was on him. Natasha did sort of get her due with Bruce and Clint’s conversation.

    I thought the humour generally was handled well. It was mainly used when suited to the situation. Honestly, I can never totally forget how ridiculous the whole thing is anyway.

    As for the Tony Stark/Dr. Strange snark-off, there was no way that I could not think of the fact that both actors have played Sherlock Holmes. I listened to the Infinity War commentary, and the Russos mention that they had to resist the temptation to have Tony say: “No shit, Sherlock.” πŸ˜€ Curiously, both of their Watsons are in the MCU as well, though sadly not in these movies.

    As a patriotic Norwegian, I’m kinda happy to see my country mentioned. πŸ™‚ A bit less so that I don’t think anything was actually shot here. Between the Viking Age scenes in the first Thor, the WWII scenes in Captain America: The First Avenger, and now this, they have connected the town of TΓΈnsberg all through history, which actually makes sense. It *is* the oldest town in Norway. Though even though I don’t remember having been there, I doubt that it is that much of a tiny fishing village in real life. Maybe the Aesir found their New Asgard at the oldest part of town.

    And then we see Thor, looking an awful lot like Jeff Bridges’ The Dude from the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski. Tony even calls him Lebowski. Everybody looks at how fat he’s become. But me, I notice the “lusekofte” he’s wearing, a Norwegian sweater/jacket. πŸ˜€

    • Reply Angela Korra'ti April 30, 2019 at 10:11 pm

      Hee, I am deeply charmed that of course you’d notice all the Norway connections, especially Thor’s new choice of attire! Me, I never actually saw The Big Lebowski, so that reference didn’t land for me, but I’ve glimpsed the character enough that I at least have the idea.

      LOL about the Sherlock line. Good for the Russos for resisting the urge. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Carrie/Kes April 30, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Right there with you on the Asgard bits, including Thor as a humor outlet. I think they went a little too far there. I did really like Valkyrie’s arc through the three movies she’s been in. (But where did she get a Pegasus for the final battle? I understand they were the traditional mount of the Valkyrie, but… ?)

    As for Loki, I went into Endgame believing they would use the Time stone to bring people back, and thought that might be how the popular Loki returned. With how the storyline actually unfolded, as soon as he grabbed the tesseract my immediate assumption was this would be the basis for his new series.

    Dr. Hulk (Incredible Banner?) was completely unexpected for me. I admit it took me a little time to adapt to the idea of them, but I did come to like him (and his fake hulk smashes). His realization that he had waited too long upon learning about Natasha was heartbreaking.

    Jumping to Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m curious why you think there is a living Gamora? When Tony snapped the stones, he dusted Thanos and all of those he brought with him. Tony would not have even known an exception needed to be made for Gamora, let alone had the time and/or focus to make it. I thought her death was clear when they showed the GotG on the Milano without her, especially as Nebula was with them. If a Gamora was still around, she would have not been left to her own devices on Earth, even at the Avenger compound. Certainly Nebula would be with her wherever she was, but it would be most likely for her to be entrusted to the Guardians as she had no other way off Earth.

    Rocket and Thor was my favorite pairing of Endgame.

    For Natasha, I am very sorry to see her go but I am okay with how she did it. I saw her motivation in part to be seeing this battle through as she was the one who seemed the most focused during that 5-6 years after the snap.

    I did hold out a small hope she might return at the end. If it is a soul for a soul to get the stone, I thought they might get her back when they returned the stone. Theoretically, since Steve was returning the stones to the moment they were taken, Steve was on the cliff returning the stone even as Clint was waking up in the pool below with the soul stone in hand. I thought there was a chance… Alas!

    Their failure to mourn her was irritating. She sacrificed herself no less than Tony did. At the least, it should have been a joint service at the end!

    And my understanding of the Black Widow movie was always that it would be an origin story. I guess it can only be so now.

    One of the first things I said after the movie, once I had processed it enough to think, was that I had expected Carrol to play a bigger role, or at least be more present. That might have been my three viewings of her movie causing a hopeful wish, though. I hope there’s another Captain Marvel movie in the works.

    I think this is the first time we got a true glimpse of what Wanda can do. I think she’s always been somewhat reluctant to use her power, but losing Vision after losing her twin was just the final straw for her. Seeing her let loose was glorious!

    Honestly, that exchange with Thanos was the point I realized just how much winning the Endgame depended on the female characters!

    I’m not ready to comment any further right now. I’m planning another viewing this week and maybe I’ll be back after that.

    There was a lot of fan wish fulfillment going on in the last half hour of the movie. Honestly, I think that was what we needed and wanted. It was a solid and satisfying conclusion with fewer losses than any of us expected. As my friend Es said, “it was lovely and lovingly done.”

    • Reply Angela Korra'ti April 30, 2019 at 10:02 pm

      Hmm, we didn’t see Gamora dust, though. And since we didn’t see that, I find that last glimpse of Peter trying to scan for her to indicate that “she buggered off out of Dodge” to be as likely as “she died”.

      Also, it makes no narrative sense either to have included her in the Snap. You are correct in that we are not given enough data on screen to conclude that Tony would have known to exclude her from his final Snap of Thanos’s forces. But I think it’s also plausible that he’d have at least some idea of who Gamora was. If nothing else, he was alone with Nebula for a while on that spaceship as the two of them were waiting to die. There was plenty of opportunity there for him to have learned about Gamora from her sister.

      Also #2, in the heat of battle, if all Tony thought was “this big purple bastard and everybody fighting for him need to be obliterated”, that excludes Gamora by definition. We know that by that point, earlier-Gamora had turned on her father, rescuing current-Nebula and joining forces with her to help stop him. She was not fighting for Thanos. She was fighting against him. Therefore she was not part of his army. Therefore Tony didn’t obliterate her.

  • Reply Erin Schram April 30, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Amy, Cync, John, and I saw Avengers: Endgame today.

    Some of the odd scene choices, such as Captain America’s Hail Hydra, are like Hulk being a gladiator on planet Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok. The Incredible Hulk comic had a lengthy storyline, dubbed “Planet Hulk,” about the Hulk being stranded on a barbarous war-torn planet named Sakaar where he found a home for his savage ways. I truly hope that the Marvel Cinematic Universe never does a Hydra Captain America storyline, and I am happy that they shrunk the possibility of that story to a one-line Easter Egg. There has also been a recent story about Unworthy Thor giving his hammer to Jane Foster, and alternative timeline stories where he becomes a drunkard unworthy of lifting Mjolnir.

    As for the time travel paradoxes, that is a giant plot hole that can be sealed up with enough spackling compound. The basic principle is in the conversation between the Ancient One and Bruce Banner. If a major breach in the timeline, especially the removal of an Infinity Stone, is repaired quickly enough, then the timeline resumes its previous course without spawning off an alternative universe.

    Let me start with number 5, Thanos and his army being destroyed in the future so that they cannot live out their roles in the past. But Doctor Strange while playing the long game made sure that Tony Stark, who figured out how time travel works, made that snap. Tony Stark did not make Thanos and his allies vanish into nothingness as they dusted. He sent them home to the past with their memories of future events erased, their dead raised (including younger Nebula, paradox 2), and their equipment restored.

    For paradox 3, Thor stealing his younger self’s Mjolnir, I think that Steve Rogers had to return it while he returned the Aether to Asgard to prevent a paradox.

    For paradox 4, Steve remaining in the past, I would be worried about it except that Steve Rogers would have consulted with Doctor Strange beforehand about how much he could stretch the timeline. Thus, his choice was probably within the safety limits. And maybe he did not pair up with Peggy Carter. She was building a new relationship with Daniel Sousa in the Agent Carter TV series. He would have met her for help on returning the Tesseract, and the passionate kiss shown could have been a departing kiss.

    Paradox 1, Loki escaping with the Tesseract, is the tough one. However, if it spawned a parallel timeline, that timeline never lost its Space Stone to time travelers and its other infinity stones were returned or never stolen. Remember that when Thor appears in Asgard’s past to steal the Aether, Loki is in his prison cell. So the timeline with the escaped Loki is not that timeline.

    I am amused to imagine Steve Rogers, perhaps accompanied by Peggy Carter, returning the stones and clearing up several messes. He would be shocked to discover the Red Skull on Vormir–I presume he has a miniature spaceship hidden in his pocket to go to Vormir and Morag–and have to leave him in place. And he might have spent decades making sure that the Hydra plans in SHIELD kept being defused before they took effect, all the way up to Captain America: Civil War.

    As for the other captain, Captain Marvel, yes, she had too little screen time in Avengers: Endgame. I wonder whether Marvel Studios had no idea whether she would be loved or hated or ignored after her own movie, so decided to not gamble with more appearances in Endgame. She would have been a good time traveler for visiting Morag, but that might have made the Nebula storyline less plausible.

    One more deduction. A black-haired teenage boy that I did not recognize attended Tony Stark’s funeral. We decided that it was probably Harley Keener, the boy who helped Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. If he did not vanish in the snap, he would be several years older than his last appearance. We wonder whether he will become a second Iron Man.

    • Reply Angela Korra'ti April 30, 2019 at 9:52 pm

      The kid at Tony Stark’s funeral was specifically the kid in Iron Man 3, yes. I mentioned this in my post. πŸ™‚ As to whether he’d be a new Iron Man… eh, I’d much rather see Tony’s kid do it, or else bring in Riri from the comics and have her be Ironheart.

      I refuse to believe that in the way this ending played out, that Cap didn’t marry Peggy. Not after the way the movie specifically had him call her “the love of his life”. And not after the movie makes such a point of having him and Tony make their jokes at each other about “getting a life”.

      And most importantly, not after we see a wedding ring on Old Cap’s finger when he comes to give the shield to Sam.

      And yes, I’m aware that Peggy was building a relationship with Daniel in season 2 of Agent Carter. And that this raises acres of questions of what happened to that version of Peggy’s life if Steve shows up and marries her. Which returns me to my original point of this whole time paradox question not really standing up to close scrutiny. πŸ˜‰

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