Avengers Endgame is a sad movie. The creative staff behind it have not shied away from showing and letting the viewer feel the full repercussion from Infinity War. Set 5 years after the events if the previous movie the remaining Avengers live on a significantly depressed earth. This stands in contrast with my own feeling on who would be brought back from oblivion and who die ‘permanently’ in this movie. Instead, the creative staff focus heavily on establishing what the fallout was, on a personal level, for each Avenger.
The Avengers cut in half
Clint (Jeremy Renner) is probably the most hurt. He lost his entire family. Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) manages to find some happiness with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their daughter, but he is rapped with guilt. He is also angry with Steve (Chris Evans). Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) meanwhile has sunk into depression. The Avengers were her only family and so she lost half of that. It takes balls for the Russo brothers to show the consequences of failure with such details and clarity. It almost overwhelms the viewer. Nearly all of the heroes look gaunt, signifying their emotional wounds. Things take a turn for the worse when it becomes clear Thanos (Josh Brolin) is dead and the Infinity Stones are destroyed – for good.
The return of Ant-Man
Slowly a plan is hatched though. By chance Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) escapes the quantum realm. He got trapped there when Thanos snapped his finger. Scott posits the use of the quantum realm to affect time travel and bring back the stones to the present to undo what Thanos did. It is made abundantly clear that they cannot preempt what Thanos did. What has happened has happened, but they can bring back the half of every living thing in the universe that was destroyed.
Despite the seriousness of the situation the movie is not above poking fun at itself. As time travel, or time heisting is about to happen every time travel movie ever made is discussed. The Avengers conclude that they are all rubbish. Again this is a not so subtle hint that things will not happen the way the viewer thinks they will. Undermining expectations is the true strength of Avengers Endgame.
The person that needs convincing to join the time heist is Tony. If the Avengers fail he risks losing his family. Yet, with Pepper’s urging he rejoins them. There is no small amount of foreshadowing here. Meanwhile the remainder of the Avengers need to be assembled. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is both an emotional and physical wreck, but also continues to be an effective source of comedy. Natasha manages to convince Clint to join the team as well, again the directors do not shy away from foreshadowing.
The middle part
And so instead of rounding up the heroes the middle part of the movie it is about rounding up the Infinity Stones. This part is easily the most enjoyable as through time travel we get to see the Avengers interact with their past. It gives a good indication of just how complex the series has become and it shows the breadth of storytelling. I will definitely be rewatching this part of the movie over and over again.
Through many foibles and sacrifices (Natasha Romanoff) the six Infinity stones are returned to the present. Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) then uses it to bring everybody who was erased back. The Thanos of the past however, has managed to follow the heroes to the present. For a character who initially got little screen time he now appears in full swing.
The final fight
The final, most epic fight is also very strange. It is overwhelming, but not in a bad way. The soundtrack of Alan Silvestri makes everything more ominous with plenty of cues back to Predator. Everybody in the audience watching the battle knows the stakes. If Thanos manages to get the gauntlet he snap his fingers again. This time he would eliminate the entire universe, or so he says. Yet, the viewer knows that cannot possible be the ending, but a victory also comes at a price.
Though not every hero gets the same amount of screen time everybody gets to do a bit. One shot showed all of the female heroes (Pepper included) defending Peter as he then has the Infinity Gauntlet. It proofs that the MCU has evolved over the last decade. Marvel is willing to take more risks, and that means more women as superheroes.
Despite Thanos’s immense strength, besting Thor, Tony and Steve, the tide turns with he help of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). With her help Tony manages to remove the stones from the gauntlet and place them on his own hand.
And so Thanos is ultimately defeated when Tony snaps his fingers. Slowly Thanos sits down for the inevitable and then he also disappears into thin air just like his army. But the stones have taken it’s toll on Tony. With Pepper and Peter around him he dies.
The funeral for Tony gives a lot of closure. Clint reminisces with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) about Natasha’s sacrifice. Meanwhile for the viewer it quickly adorns that more heroes won’t return: Vision and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) foremost. they both died before Thanos snapped his fingers in Infinity War. Steve returns each of stones back to their rightful place in time, but instead of returning to the present he stays in 1945. A very old Steve approaches Sam and passes on his shield.
And so the final chapter of the current MCU ended as best it could. It is in my opinion one of the most rewarding endings possible. It is also an ending I could never have conceived of. In many ways Avengers Endgame does not feel like a sequel to Infinity War, it feels like a sequel to the entire MCU.
I say final chapter, but of course there is a Spider-Man movie coming out this summer. Far From Home stars Tom Holland and plenty of MCU characters, yet it is unclear how the timeline works in regards with Endgame. Peter greeted his friend Ned at the end of Endgame, but five years did pass.
PS, despite Natasha dying her character will return in its own Black Widow movie with Scarlett Johansson. Filming is set start in June this year, so I expect a release date no sooner than summer 2020. After this we still have Black Panther and Dr. Strange sequels to look forward to, but they won’t part of any MCU phases.