The Avengers Assemble for one more battle that will take them to the Quantum Realm and across time itself in a desperate attempt to save their fallen comrades and half the population of the universe! Avengers vs Thanos Round Two! 'Nuff said!
Spoiler Level: Heavy
Avengers Endgame had a lot riding on it to be sure. Perhaps more than any movie should have to shoulder. It was the crowning jewel of 11 years of interconnected films…a feat never before seen in the history of cinema and likely to never be seen again. Did it accomplish its task? Is it the greatest Marvel movie ever? Was it a satisfying conclusion to the story begun in Avengers Infinity War? The answer is…yes! And…no. As with all things it comes down to a matter of perspective. This is my perspective and I’m going to go through what I feel worked and what didn’t work. An analysis of The Good, The Bad and the just plain Ugly (apologies to Clint Eastwood there!).
The Good Audiences across the world have embraced Avengers Endgame with rousing enthusiasm, shattering ticket sales like no movie before it. There was a report that people were selling Endgame tickets for $1000 a pop! That’s absolutely ludicrous in my opinion. I thought my $9.75 ticket for a matinee was a little high. But whatever the cost, people flocked to the movie in such numbers that the film has already shot to the second highest grossing film in history (must’ve been those $1000 tickets!). It even stands a chance of overcoming Avatar in the long run to become the King of the Hill, the highest grossing film ever. Marvel Studios and Disney and their shareholders are very happy indeed. But numbers, solely, do not a great film make. This is the Age of Super Heroes in Hollywood and they have dominated the box office for nearly 20 years. At another time you could find a two hour cat video shooting to the top of the charts if enough people paid to see it. Titanic long held the number two spot even though you’ll find a lot of people say they hated it. So everything’s relative.
The Good We were given the chance to see the original Avengers assembled for one last time. Although there are some bad vibes at first — particularly between Tony and Steve — eventually differences are overcome and friendship wins out for the first time since Captain America Civil War (or Avengers 2.5 if you will).
The Good Cameos: Thanks to the time tripping and the funeral scene we got to revisit some characters from the past…Cross Bones (Frank Grillo), Jasper Sitwell, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), Happy Hogan (John Favreau), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Howard Stark (John Slattery), Valkyrie, Frigga (Renee Russo), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Korg and Meep, Peggy Carter and my favorite, The Ancient One (Tilda Swenson). As hard as I looked, I couldn’t find Sharon Carter anywhere. When Professor Hulk shows up for the Time Stone he gets a lesson in the ramifications of time travel. She (and a couple of others) actually got a scene to play out as opposed to many others who didn’t get speaking roles. The cast for this movie was so enormous as to preclude cameo status for many characters including the returning hero dustees. Thor’s dead mother Frigga had a nice scene with her son whom I’m surprised she recognized.
The Good Hawkeye is back! After sitting out Infinity War we didn’t know the archer’s fate. When his family disappears from The Snap, Clint seems to lose it and puts on an over hyped Ronin persona. He has one scene violently tearing through bad guys as Ronin then Natasha shows up and he’s back to being Hawkeye again. The whole Ronin thing seems to be more of a nod to comics fans than anything else. Still it was good to have him back.
The Good Captain America (Chris Evans) felt to me to be the star of the movie. All through the three plus hours of film I, as many others were, was expecting Captain America to die in this movie. Chris Evans had been very vocal about hanging up the shield and there seemed to be an odd blood lust out there that so many fans wanted to see him die. I’m very glad they didn’t kill him off. Captain America really shined in Avengers Endgame and one of his finest moments was when he lifted Mjolnir (which was retrieved during the Infinity Stone hunt) and used it against Thanos. So, despite his not being able to lift it earlier, it turned out he really was worthy! Then at the end, Steve, looking like a young 95 year old, reveals he remained in the past after returning the Infinity Stones and lived a full life married to Peggy Carter. Never mind the time paradox that would have cause (I’ll bring it up later). Finally, he hands the shield over to…Sam Wilson, the Falcon. I know Sam filled in for Captain America in the comics for awhile but so did Bucky and I think it would have spiced up his Winter Soldier identity to make him the new Captain America and let Sam remain the Falcon, a hero in his own rights.
The Good The Scarlet Witch. While most of the returned heroes were relegated to the background battle scene at the end, Wanda Maximoff really had her moment to shine. Enraged by the death of the Vision she let loose with more power than we’ve seen her yield in the past. While it was hinted at during Infinity War when she managed to hold Thanos at bay for a few moments before getting knocked out, her scene in Endgame had you believing she was going to take down Thanos all by herself…until she got knocked out again. It seems to me that Wanda — not Captain Marvel (more later) — is possibly the most powerful Avenger of all. My disappointment was in not seeing or hearing anything about the Vision at all. Since The Scarlet Witch and Vision have an upcoming series on the new Disney + streaming service my guess it that someone (perhaps Shuri?) will find a way to put Vision back together again. But what condition he’ll be in without the Mind Stone is anyone’s guess. But I do hope they will be getting back to the romance between Vision and Wanda.
The Bad “Professor Hulk”.That’s what people are calling him. First we get no satisfying answer as to why the Hulk refused to show himself in Infinity War. When we catch up with Bruce Banner/The Hulk we get a jolly green giant…literally! In the comics we have seen the Hulk go through many personality changes… Monster Hulk, Gangster Hulk, and yes, Smart Hulk. But this “Professor Hulk” was just a little too happy, too comical, a little too at peace. The Hulk is never at peace. Remember, the madder Hulk gets the stronger Hulk gets. And even though they have shared bodies in the comics never did it come out so goofy looking. He also injures his arm very badly using the new gauntlet and I’ve read that the directors are saying it’s not going away. Maybe the Hulk will just go away.
The Bad The story…simply put, Avengers Infinity War > Avengers Endgame. Endgame did not feel like a continuation of Infinity War. You have the “Five Years Later” bit which felt like an awfully long stretch of time and then you have Scott Lang popping up because of a errant rat and shifting the action to this big time travel story (a “go to” to get yourself out of a pickle). I’ve never been a time travel fan. To quote Captain Janeway from Star Trek Voyager it just gives me a headache. The time travel, by the way, was spoiled months ago by merchandising of toys and costumes depicting the Quantum Realm suits. I have to take part of the guilt because I did a whole column on Avengers Endgame in my “Collector’s Corner” column for Comic-Watch. I also inadvertently spoiled the second gauntlet by running an “Onion-esque” story about it in that column (I didn’t know! I swear!). But here’s what I wondered…why couldn’t the good Doctor Strange who viewed a gazillion possible futures and only found one where a rat saves the day (good rat!) go back in time himself, get the Infinity Stones and hide them throughout the multiverse where Thanos could never find them? Why didn’t he just kill baby Thanos? It seems to be a subject the producers didn’t want you to think too hard about.
We know that Tony Stark is a genius like no other but when did he have the time to master quantum physics so fast? Hank Pym, a genius in his own right, spent a lifetime in these studies yet he was never able to rescue his wife Janet. Yet Tony is able to figure out the intricacies of the Quantum Realm in a very short time. Even though the time travel plot lent for some interesting scenes and tributes such as the Ancient One, Loki’s escape (off to star in his own Loki series for Disney + perhaps?), Tony’s touching scene with his father…it seems like it would have an enormous “Butterfly Effect”…especially when Steve decides to go back and stay and have a life with Peggy. This for sure had to create a divergent timeline, one where old Steve should be not sitting on a bench handing over his shield to Sam. Perhaps he held onto the Quantum GPS band and hopped back over to the main timeline from his altered one? Speaking of Steve…why did he have to return Mjolnir to the past? The hammer is Thor’s rightful weapon not Stormbreaker. Steve had to have brought his shield back from the past as his shield in the present was destroyed by Thanos, another puzzling incident as it seemed the vibranium just stopped working. Captain America’s shield withstood the impact of Mjolnir yet it gets torn to pieces by Thanos’s spear?
And we have Captain Marvel. A lot of hype arose about her coming to The Avengers. And what we got was little more than a cameo appearance. She swoops in to save Tony and Nebula, spends a little time with them at the beginning of the movie then disappears until she does a fly by at the end. The movie could have done just as well without her in it. Frankly, she’s not a very interesting character in the movies. Brie Larson’s acting in the Captain Marvel movie came off flat and stale. Yet she will be one of the characters supposedly taking the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward in the future. For Marvel’s first big female movie headliner she leaves much to be desired.
Where did Gamora go? She remains dead in the original timeline but now we have her 2014 self displaced to 2023. I read an article awhile back where Zoe Saldana said she had three more body paint jobs to go and she was done with it…easy to understand I mean does anyone even know what Zoe looks like out of make up? So with Avengers Endgame making one and two upcoming Avatar sequels does this mean Gamora is out of the picture for good? No Guardians of the Galaxy 3 for her? And Nebula…do we now have two Nebulas at large in 2023?
When the snap to undo things occurred our first sign is a call from Hawkeye’s wife. The other heroes don’t reappear till a little later. Is this because they were all undusted in the same place they were in when Thanos made the first snap? This could explain why everyone returned through portals that looked like the work of Dr. Strange and why we see Okoye with the Black Panther when he emerges and the fact that Dr. Strange, Spider-Man and the Guardians were on another planet. But another anomally arises….if our heroes are battling Thanos and his minions (Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive and the others were killed in 2018) and they all die from Snap 2 in 2023 then there was no Thanos to go about gathering Infinity Stones between 2014 and 2018 which would mean Snap 1 couldn’t occur. The only way to deal with all this for me is to take what I learned from watching Lost: everything that happened, happened. OK, can someone please pass the Tylenol?
The Ugly By ugly I’m not just referring to Thor but to Kevin Feige, the king of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hasn’t Thor suffered enough? Kenneth Brannaugh brought Thor to the screen in 2011 in all his glory and nobility from the comics. Chris Hemsworth imbued Thor with a believable personality and charm. He was my favorite out of all the Marvel Studios heroes. This character was sustained through Thor, The Avengers, Thor The Dark World and Avengers Age of Ultron. Then came Thor Ragnarok and it seems the decision was made to tear his character apart and turn him into a comical buffoon. Unlike the rest of the Avengers whose characters grew but stayed consistent over the years, Thor underwent a complete personality change. He became a jokester, his faithful hammer Mjolnir was destroyed. His golden locks of hair shaved off. His friends were brutally slaughtered within moments of coming on screen. All-Father Odin died. Asgard and most of its people were annihilated. Thor was reduced to nothing but a shell of the great character he had been all for no other apparent reason than to turn him into a comical character. And now this? Unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable.
And yet a portion of the general audience takes to social media with “Stop Fat Shaming Thor!” Like this was some kind of post traumatic stress Thor was manifesting. It wasn’t. The proof is in all the laughter that filled the theatre when he came on. Laughter that was the goal of the producers when they leveled this latest blow to Thor’s character. He should have been the one to die instead of The Black Widow. Thanos should have ripped him open with his own axe, putting Thor out of his misery for good. Now we have memes and t-shirts of Fat Thor. Kevin Feige and everyone else involved in destroying one of Marvel’s greatest super heroes should be ashamed. I would never “fat shame” anyone…I’ve had weight issues off and on during my life and I’ve been through some PST myself. But despite what the Russo Brothers may say I think this is not the case with Thor as tearing down his character has been going on since Ragnarok. And it appears fat Thor will probably be back in Guardians 3.
Finally, a bittersweet moment: Stan Lee’s final cameo in a Marvel film. When Stan Lee passed away last November legions of fans like myself cried and mourned the loss of a man who was our real life hero. Yet, what a legacy he leaves behind! A universe of pop culture icons Lee created with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Gil Kane, John Romita, Steve Englehart, Jim Starlin, and so many, many others. Stan Lee changed the very fabric of what comic books were forever, making them a respectable part of modern day literature. His characters will never die and because of them, Stan Lee will never truly be gone. Here’s to you, Stan…Excelsior!
While not a perfect film, Avengers Endgame does its best to wrap up 11 years of interconnected continuity between individual films. No movie studio has ever tried such a grand adventure and I for one am glad I was along for the ride.
Avengers Endgame: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 10/1010/10
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