Renegade Review of Avengers: Endgame (SPOILERS)

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Renegade Review of Avengers: Endgame (SPOILERS)

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I walked into an afternoon showing of The Avengers with little interest in or knowledge of the Marvel comics. I knew that the green guy was the Hulk and the robotic chap was Iron Man, and that was about it.

Fifteen movies and seven years later, I sat for the three hours of Avengers: Endgame, blown away by the magnificent tributes to the past. It was a convoluted mess and heavy-handed with certain character arcs,  but it felt to me like an epic closing chapter to my childhood.

Loss and failure haunt the characters, a dark cloud following Avengers: Infinity War, in which half of the cast was reduced to ash by Thanos and others sent to more permanent ends. In its wake, Endgame is a slower movie. A five year time slippage shows us the quiet melancholy of a world missing half its people.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) drifting hopelessly in space. Marvel Studios.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) exchanges his Avenging for a support group. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) balances keeping the world in order and weeping over her PB&J. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) retreats into his depression and self-destructive drinking habits. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) restlessly tries to start over, raising his young daughter Morgan. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) goes on a killing spree to distract himself from his family’s death.

It doesn’t sound like a great set up for a superhero film, but their pain is what drives them to the extraordinary lengths–even across the universe to kill Thanos in the first ten minutes, and into time travel when Ant Man (Paul Rudd) makes his miraculous return from the quantum realm.

Ant Man’s quantum realm is the key to time travel. Marvel Studios.

Yes, the time travel. Controversial in its execution but seemingly liked in its fan-service, the Avengers’ “Time Heist” was my favorite part of the movie, even if it did splinter the prime timeline into alternate realities (and upcoming TV shows). It was like being plunged into 2012 again, or 2014, reentering stories we’d thought we had left behind, in which Captain America snarkily fights himself, Loki steals the Tesseract for the third time, and Nebula must again face her father Thanos. 

If you’re confused about the state of the timeline now, it depends on how effectively Captain America was able to return the Infinity Stones when he traveled back to the past. At the very least, there’s two branch timelines: one in which Loki escapes New York and a younger Steve knows Bucky is alive, and one without Thanos, Gamora, Nebula and by extension the Guardians of the Galaxy. At most, there are potentially six fractures: Steve brings back the Stones themselves, not the artifacts (the Scepter, the Orb, the Tesseract, etc), which could mess with the events of Age of Ultron, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more.

The team prepares their most desperate (and calculated) attempt to undo the snap. Marvel Studios.

On the big screen, I don’t think we’ll see all of the madness that ensues because of the Avengers’ time meddling, but as Spiderman: Far From Home will deal with the multiverse, something tells me we’re not quite done with the aftershocks of Endgame. 

Overall, this was the swan song of the characters we’ve come to know and love.

For me, Nebula, the blue and “only a tiny bit sadistic” alien played by Karen Gillan, absolutely stole the show. She has almost as much screen time as the ‘big three,’ showcasing a fiercely good side of the anti-hero as she is forced to struggle against her younger, less redeemed self.

Tony Stark, of course, brought Thanos’ conquest crashing down with his iconic “I am Iron Man,” a crushing but fitting end to over ten years of RDJ’s contributions to the cinematic universe. Few were shocked by his death; self-sacrifice was the heart of his character, and both he and his towering co-star Chris Evans, aged out of the MCU by a tricky bit of time travel, had to make room for the newbies.

Finally, if Stark was the heart of the Avengers, Black Widow was the soul. She was the counterpoint to Thanos’ one-sided for Gamora in her selfless love for her ‘family.’ Her death may have been overshadowed by Stark’s by the end of the film, with little more than a mention after the final battle, but her absence was definitely felt in the line-up of female heroes.

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) tries to keep the team together. Marvel Studios.

The legacy of this decade of the MCU is the fact that a still somewhat niche interest in comic book movies became an international phenomenon. At the time of writing, Endgame has surpassed Titanic to become the second highest grossing movie of all time. It’s my generation’s original Star Wars trilogy.

What happens next is anyone’s guess; part of the journey is the end, and this was the end of an era.

 

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