(Note: this post assumes you have seen all the Marvel movies, or at least do not care about spoilers)
There is this amazing moment in Avengers: Infinity War when Wakanda is being overrun and the heroes are truly being threatened despite their powers. Thor was presumed dead by the Earthbound forces, but then suddenly teleports in with Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The musical score swells and he utters this howl “BRING ME THANOS!” as he slices through the monsters on the field.
And it feels really good the first time you see it. It is because the tide of battle is turning, even though our heroes are divided on Earth and Titan. However, after you know what is coming, you can’t help but read it as false hope. Thanos will get the time stone from Doctor Strange. He will arrive on Earth, take the mind stone, and complete his mission. Thor and the rest fail.
That in a nutshell is why I wasn’t a big fan of Infinity War. I knew I would probably come around and enjoy it more when I saw the second half of the story, the one where we don’t see Spider-Man beg for his life before crumbling into nothing.
Avengers: Endgame wastes no time in delivering another gut punch. Before the title or even studio logo, we see Clint Barton at his farm with his family he kept away from the world. He is giving his daughter an archery lesson, and turns his back long enough to miss seeing her completely disappear. Another turn to the rest of his family and they’re gone too. I want to start crying right here but its only been one minute. The “snap” while purportedly only removing 50% of all life seems to have affected a some of our heroes a lot more than others. I imagine there are probably a lot of completely intact families out there if there are so many where 4 out of 5 disappear.
Nebula and Tony hang out on the Guardians ship, having run out of fuel and running out air and food. The scene is really helpless for a few minutes until Captain Marvel shows up. She truly comes out of fucking nowhere. The teaser during the credits for her movie seemed to be a scene from Endgame, but now it seems it was more of an event that happened while Tony was in space. Rocket and Thor knew the Guardians were headed to Titan. So when Carol shows up and can fly through space with ease, they sent her out to see who survived. This is why we don’t have a “who the fuck is this?” scene when she brings them back.
They waste no time at all putting all the survivors together and tracking Thanos. Now the title comes in. This is a fair amount of movie before the title. Reminds me of episodes of Alias when the cold open would go so long we’d see the intro 12 minutes into the 41 minute show. What doesn’t last long is their next encounter with Thanos. The team rushes in, slice off his hand and find the stones are gone. Thanos used the stones to destroy the stones so his act would be irreversible. Thor takes his advice and goes for the head.
And that is it. End of movie. They couldn’t protect the Earth but they made damn sure to avenge it. What a saga!
Anyway, five years pass and it isn’t clear how everyone is getting on. We never really ‘check in’ with the bulk of humanity or anywhere else. Steve is running a group therapy session. Nat is the one running missions and we see Okoye, Rocket, Carol, and Rhodey all dispatched to different areas. Carol has an approximation of her shorter hair from the comics, but its kinda big and a little goofy looking and I am glad Rocket made fun of it immediately so I don’t have to pretend I like it.
The dire situation has been normalized. But its about the pick up. Scott Lang makes it out of his quantum realm of solace. For him is been only 5 hours. He takes a little time to figure out whats happened and then hauls ass to New York to rally the Avengers. But like I said, its been normalized. To Scott this shit JUST HAPPENED. To the rest it is old news and they moved on. They accepted fate.
There is a bit of table setting here like showing how Hulk got smart and Thor got fat and Tony went home and became a family man. Clint becomes a murdering psycho after his family is gone. Nat and Steve are the only ones who kinda hold it together.
I don’t really have snarky observations about this second hour of the movie. It isn’t like you could cut this out but its hardly the most exciting part. They figure out time travel and argue about the rules of time travel and branching realities to the point where you forget what the actual rules might be so whatever happens in the FINAL moments of the film are OK because whatever. Vulture has a nice write up about how Time Travel works here.
When Nebula gets to 2014 her brain automatically updates her iCloud and gives 2014 Nebula and hence Thanos a picture of whats to come. Yes, the plot twist on Endgame is basically Nebula SPOILS Thanos on his own death with bootleg cam footage. If Nebula hadn’t spoiled the movie this all could have been avoided.
Thor has a good cry with his mom, Steve fights himself, Tony talks to his dad, and Hulk reasons with the Ancient One. Thats 4 of the stones. Nebula and Rhodes get the 5th from Star Lord before he can finish his chorus of “Come and Get Your Love” in 2014.
Clint and Natasha have it the worst. As the audience we know what going to Vormir means. Red Skull is waiting, though neither of them identifies him as such. There is some argument about it, but we know for sure what needs to happen. It had to be Natasha. Can’t being Clint’s family back without Clint. I don’t think I got teary eyed here. I love ScarJo and love this character and have a chaotic history with defending her in Age of Ultron’s toyline that went viral a few years back. But this felt RIGHT. I was with her. She was being brave and I supported her decision.
Upon returning to the future, Nebula is revealed to be her 2014 self and then teleports in also from 2014 Thanos and his full undefeated army. This happens just as the stones are assembled into a new gauntlet for Hulk to snap and reverse Thanos’ act from before. It isn’t spoken, but that undoubtedly increased the number of allies Thanos brings into the fight as well as he regains all the monsters and grubs that disappeared when he snapped.
There is a tense battle as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America try to hold Thanos after he basically nukes Avengers headquarters from orbit. Cap gets to swing Thor’s hammer as a combo weapon with his own shield. This is where the fight gets BIG.
Portals start opening up and out steps Black Panther. Then the Guardians, Strange, and Spider-Man. And the then assembled forces from across all the movies. Its too many to list. The ensuing fight makes Helm’s Deep look like a game of dodgeball. There is no word for what happens here. It is the most comic book thing ever put on screen. Captain Marvel finally gets back in the fight and there is an awesome shot of all the powerful women coming together running with the gauntlet to keep it away from Thanos.
Its obvious from the moment this starts who is going to end it. And it plays out beautifully. And the epilogue showing what happens next is emotional and appropriate for all involved.
But where do you go from here? Every single Marvel movie seems to set up the next until now. Spider-Man is coming back in July. There are more movies coming 2 or 3 a year every year from now on. But this is the biggest franchise film making is ever going to get. It will be impossible to top this. They’ll try. And they will copy. But they won’t top this. Now every studio who is planning on trying for a “cinematic universe” realizes what the fuck they are up against. Transformers won’t top this. Nor will Fast and Furious. Nor will James Bond. And probably not DC either.
Hang it all up. We’re fucking DONE. Avengers have assembled. And there will never be another movie like Endgame.