Avengers: Endgame is not only the biggest movie of the year but of the last 11 years and I felt like the movie deserved its own post outside of my monthly Media Bites posts and my MCU rewatch posts (which needs to be updated/wrapped up with Captain Marvel and now Avengers: Endgame once those hit home video). Needless to say, there will be tons of spoilers in this post – so if you somehow haven’t seen the movie yet do not read this post.
Going to see Iron Man in May of 2008 no one had any idea the journey we were about to embark. I bet Marvel didn’t even know for sure – Iron Man (the movie) was a big gamble for them. Coming out of bankruptcy in the mid-90s Marvel sold off the movie rights to a bunch of their high-value characters like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and most notably, Spider-Man.
These deals left Marvel without some of their most relevant and popular characters at the time they decided to try and make their own movies. At the time, Iron Man was not a big name – sure comic book fans knew who he was, but the general public didn’t really know him – and that is who Marvel used to kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
But, as we all know, the bet paid off in a big way raking in over $8 billion over 22 movies so far in the past 11 years in the US alone.
Avengers: Endgame did a beautiful job tying up storylines that were started in either the character’s solo movies or the previous Avengers movies – I’ll get to some of those threads in a minute – but I just wanted to call out that this movie was very satisfying in that regard. There are a few things that were dropped or pseudo retconned but that’s understandable when dealing with 22 movies, dozens of writers, and directors. Not everything will be perfect, but this movie damn near was.
The Arc of The Avengers
Since the is the penultimate film in a 22 film run, I thought I’d collect some thoughts on each character’s arc throughout the MCU and more specifically in Avengers: Endgame.
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Black Widow character since she came into the MCU in Iron Man 2, though I mostly think this has to do with the writing more than anything. I like her revel in Iron Man 2 that she’s not an assistant to Tony Stark, but an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. working for Nick Fury under deep cover and into Avengers, but I think the drop-off for me starts in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Joss Whedon started playing with a semi-love story with her and Bruce – it didn’t play well for me in a movie that really didn’t need a love story angle especially with these two characters.
In Avengers: Endgame her pain was clear. In the scene with Cap at the beginning after the hologram conference call, she was broken. Cap was saying that maybe they don’t need to keep trying to find a way to undo the snap. She then explained had nothing, then she had “this” – the team – and then it was taken away from her. She was back to nothing and would do anything to get that back. Ultimately, she did just that, by choosing to give up her life so Clint could return to the future with the Soul Stone and help the team bring everyone back. A lot of people weren’t happy with the MCU killing off one of their strongest female characters, but the writers were really backed into a corner with how you have to obtain the Soul Stone, and I think the way they wrote it by it being 100% Natasha’s choice and action were great.
Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)
I think Clint was everyone’s least favorite Avenger in all of these movies (he really wasn’t someone we had any reason to care about until Avengers: Age of Ultron when we met his family), but he’s definitely had some great moments. His pep talk with Wanda is one of the few highlights of Avengers: Age of Ultron and stands out as one of these moments.
The movie opened up with Clint who, like Ant-Man, we didn’t see in Avengers: Infinity War at all. The scene opens just moments before the snap that happened at the end of Avengers: Infinity War and we watched with broken hearts knowing what was happening to Clint’s family as he looked on with no clue.
My only squabble with Clint’s path in this movie is why did he turn into a homicidal maniac and make it his mission to take out the cartels and similar groups around the world and not going directly to Avengers HQ? He went right from S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to family man under house arrest (because of his actions in Captain America: Civil War) to Ronin, a killer of killers.
Jeremy Renner’s acting in the scene after the un-snapping that brought everyone back was great. He lost his wife, two sons, and daughter and probably has the strongest personal motivation of all of the Avengers to undo Thanos’ snap to get them all back. As soon as his cell phone rings and it’s his wife the emotion plays out beautifully on his face and in a few sounds that he’s able to grunt out between the tears. Great acting there.
Bruce Banner / Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)
I didn’t really like the Professor Hulk look, and I would have really liked to see Bruce work out his troubles with Hulk in this movie – which I know would have added a lot to the runtime, but it is one of the few threads not picked back up from Avengers: Infinity War.
With as bad as Ed Norton’s The Incredible Hulk was, the movie ended showing that Bruce could summon The Hulk on command, seemingly while still being in control. This thread was touched on in Avengers with Mark Ruffalo with his line of, “That’s my secret, Cap, I’m always angry.” and then instantly turning into the Hulk.
In Infinity War Hulk got his ass kicked like it’s never been kicked before. Sure he had a tough fight with Abomination in The Incredible Hulk, but they were pretty much on the same level of strength. Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky knew how to fight, which gave Abomination an advantage with hand to hand combat where Hulk just went berserk and punched at everything with no strategy. Thanos was different, he’s is stronger and he overpowered Hulk almost immediately. Hulk didn’t know what to do with that and basically ran and hid and we never saw that moment of Hulk getting over his fear of facing someone that could for all intents and purposes hurt, or ultimately, kill him.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
Out of all of the Avengers, I believe Thor had the biggest arc contained wholly in Avengers: Endgame. When we first saw Thor in this movie he’s suffering from severe PTSD and depression, the former much like Tony after the first Avengers movie in Iron Man 3. In Avengers: Endgame he deals with the trauma of *almost* killing Thanos but not going for the kill by opting to make him suffer for what he did to his brother and his people.
We saw how far that depression went after the five-year time jump by seeing Thor living perpetually drunk and becoming overweight which I have some quibbles with how it was handled. The first reveal of this definitely got a lot of laughs from the crowd for two reasons – Chris Hemsworth is an incredibly buff guy, and two, the camera hides Thor for most of his introduction and then plays the reveal for a joke. What doesn’t come through enough is that Thor is self-medicating and trying to cope with the fact that he believes he is the reason trillions across the universe. He’s hurting in a bad way and there were a lot of jokes at his appearance.
The jokes from Rocket make sense, he’s a dick and the jokes are not out of character for him to make – but they were out of character for the other Avengers. Tony’s jokes weren’t really about Thor’s appearance, but Rhodey had a joke about food that could have easily been about him being drunk and why he wasn’t in a position to carry out a task (which wouldn’t have been that much better given his PTSD). But mostly, the jokes came all in camera and staging, and they were cheap when it’s clear Thor really was in a bad place. I praised Iron Man 3 for handling PTSD and anxiety so well, and it sucks to see the MCU miss it so dramatically here.
The best scene with Thor in this movie was the one with his mother, who died in Thor: The Dark World. Since the Avengers all went back in time to find the Infinity Stones, Thor got a chance to talk to his mother and get advice, and hear something that he truly needed to hear – that he needs to become the person that he is, not who he is supposed to be. After that moment, Thor knew what he had to do, and then tried to summon Mjölnir which came which was another great moment for him. I think all of his depression and self-medicating was also in part because he thought he may not be worthy to lift Mjölnir anymore, but him being able to wield it was the final push he needed to break out of his funk and get down to business.
Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)
Tony was classic RDJ throughout the movie. He had a lot to work on within his first few scenes after Captain Marvel rescued him and brought him back to Earth – particularly with Steve. His relationship with Steve grew over the course of the first two Avengers movies and soured in a big way in Captain America: Civil War. They didn’t have any screen time together in Infinity War, but those sour feelings definitely were still present when they met for the first time in a few years – and Tony was angry.
I loved everything about Tony and his daughter Morgan. RDJ is such a charming actor, and he seems even more so when acting with children (thinking of the kid in Iron Man 3, and Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man).
The sequence with Tony and his father in the 1970s was also a really great character moment for Tony. The arc of exploring his relationship with his father started in Iron Man 2, and played out in Captain America: Civil War before Tony finally got the closure he needed in Avengers: Endgame.
I was okay with Tony dying in the movie. I had a feeling going into the first viewing that he would not survive the final battle. What I was surprised by was my reaction to his death in the first viewing – it just didn’t hit me as hard as I would have expected. That said, with my second, third, and fourth viewing his death did hit me harder each time.
Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans)
I love how Cap was inspired by Sam / The Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and was leading support groups to help people after the snap and half of life was dusted away. It’s very fitting with his character.
Steve Rogers being worthy to lift Mjölnir makes so much sense. He’s done it in the comics, so it was bound to happen in an Avengers movie at some point. As soon as Mjölnir started to slowly move in the final battle I knew that it was going to Cap. And Thor being excited that Cap was worthy was just as awesome, and a huge moment of growth for Thor because he would have not acted that way in the first two Thor or Avengers movies. Also, when this moment happened the audience cheered out loud every time, and that made me so happy.
I had dread leading up to this movie. I was terrified that they would kill Cap. Even though I had this fear going in there was no preparation for what I thought was the inevitable end of Captain Steve Rogers. Surprisingly they went a different way with Steve’s story and I really loved it. Steve was a man out of time, someone who put duty and others before himself, and I love that he finally was able to make himself happy at the end of the movie with Peggy.
Steve Rogers is the heart and soul of the team – the moral compass that pointed the Avengers in the right direction to move forward. Losing him (seemingly) for whatever is ahead of us in the MCU will be a massive loss.
- The move run time was three hours and two minutes and didn’t feel like it at all. I hope there is an extended cut because I’ll watch the hell out of that, too.
- This script, like Avengers: Infinity War, shouldn’t have worked. There were too many characters, too many parallel storylines, but it all works beautifully.
- The scene in the final battle where all of the portals opened up and all of the dusted heroes came back was so cool.
- After everyone came through the portals, Cap summoning Mjölnir and saying “Avengers Assemble” was one of the best payoff moments in all of these movies and got one of the biggest reactions from every screening I have been to.
- I don’t know why, but the line delivery of “Hey Peter Parker.” From Captain Marvel to Peter as they meet was one of my favorites from the movie. Brie Larson is great and I can’t wait to see what she and Marvel does with Carol Danvers as the MCU continues.
- I loved the A-Force team-up during the big battle – it was a great moment and hopefully a hint of things to come with more women-led superhero movies and teams in the MCU.
- I really hope Thor is in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 that was kind of teased at the end of Avengers: Endgame and not just them giving him a ride somewhere in space. It feels like Marvel just figured out what to do with Thor in Thor: Ragnarok and I’d hate to be done with the character at this point.
- While I enjoyed the movie a whole lot, what I really got a kick out of was the audience reacting to the movie at some key parts in each screening I went to. It made my dork heart so happy.
- I loved how some of the Avengers who aren’t genius scientists and engineers took all of their time travel knowledge from popular time travel movies and television shows like Back to the Future, Bill and Ted, Quantum Leap, Hot Tub Time Machine (starring Sebastian Stan/Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier) and Die Hard. Wait, that’s not one.
- I’ve mentioned previously how I love opening and closing title/credit scenes in movies and television and Marvel did not disappoint. This article over-analyzes the order of the cast, but what blew me away – besides the sheer size of the cast of these 22 movies – was the incredible send-off they got in these credits. They were artistic renderings of key scenes for each actor – no matter how small the role. The credits then ended with a curtain call of sorts – a longer actor card for the original Avengers with an animated background, cast photo and animated signature across the center of the frame as their names came in. It was a beautiful way to close this story and say goodbye to these characters who we’ve been watching for over a decade. The credits really got to me because it’s the nail in the coffin that the Infinity Saga (MCU Phases 1, 2, and 3) are over and done forever.
- I love that the trailers didn’t give too much away. Hell, Marvel outright lies to us in these trailers, so there’s no telling what we will or won’t see in theaters.
- The time travel aspect of this movie is probably the most “comic booky” thing that Marvel has done in these movies. There are definitely some strange concepts and superpowers, but now we’re talking the traveling through the microverse quantum realm back into time creating multiverses/pocket dimensions, and then undoing it all again. As Marty McFly would say, “That’s heavy, Doc.”.
- This article from Birth. Movies. Death. called Grief, Consequences, and Avengers: Endgame’s Dead Superheroes was a really great read.
- I’m sure I am missing so many other important notes and beats in this movie.
This fan video that Mark Ruffalo posted on Twitter is a nice look behind the scenes at all of the fun that the actors and crew had when making these movies.
OMG 😮! What a ride. How I love these people and all the fans who made it so damn good.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) May 27, 2019
I can’t say enough things about this movie. I saw it twice on opening weekend, and then two more times since then and I can’t stop thinking about it. I got the feels several times throughout – some from character moments, some from visuals or music cues, but honestly every time I’ve watched this movie I’ve had a dumb shit-eating grin on my face.