One thing that I do need to make clear here is that I did see Avengers: Endgame on Friday morning. However, its impact left me believing that I needed to see it a second time to really understand what I just saw. In retrospect, I am glad I had a second screening. This gave me balance and context for my Avengers: Endgame review. It allowed me to dig deep into the themes and angles they were going for – instead of the close-minded, knee-jerk reactions that some “fans” had about the movie. Most of all, “fans” that didn’t understand that the ongoing “joke” was to add some levity but was more of a meaningful character issue.
Leading up to Avengers: Endgame, we had countless theories that were coming littering the internet. Everything from bullshit casting news, Loki actually being the Hulk (which was laughable) to Ant-Man defeating Thanos by going up his butt. Some people are into kinky shit. The early theory, which involved time travel, made the most sense, and that’s where we ended up going. Yet, with that being the solution, it actually led the film into a completely different direction than I (pretty much anyone) believed. Of course, we assumed that the ripple effect would restore the universe into a complete universe again. However, that was not the case.
Completing Infinity War, we got to see what happened to Clint’s family, which led him on the path to being a Ronin. That smart rat that saved the universe by releasing Scott from the quantum realm (he is the real MVP). The film takes us into space for the final face-off with Thanos, but only to find that the trip was made for not. Once present day Thanos was dispatched of, the movie can actually begin. The heroes didn’t save the day. They failed. On a cosmic scale. They are left to deal with their failure.
Obviously, the one that is hit the hardest is Thor. Yes, we know some of you had a problem with that gag/progression of the character. Yet, it made the most sense. If you think about his character arc since his first film in 2011, he was the unwanted leader. He believed he could be king, only to understand that he was not ready. He did not have the wisdom to be king. He led them to ruin. Half his people killed. His home destroyed. Parents and brother killed. He even failed a second time in Wakanda. He lived out his greatest fear into fruition.
Thor, defeated, hid away in the mountains and let himself go. Anyone that has come under depression can relate to his actions. Yes, there were some gags about his weight, which were done to lighten the heavy themes, it was an important aspect of his character and made sense. As a person that does suffer from depression, we can look at Thor and know how he is feeling. This is what makes his “new” final moments with his mother so much more compelling. If you look at the superficial aspect, and don’t dig a bit deeper, you can find that Thor, Tony, and Steve have grown the most in the entire series of films.
There is a slight beef I have with people that claim this film relies heavily on nostalgia. It actually doesn’t. That is saying Back to the Future II relies on nostalgia. The film uses its universe to link everything together. Past, present, and future. Nostalgia is defined as “something done or presented in order to evoke feelings of nostalgia.” Endgame was not such. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was nostalgia driven and a rip-off of A New Hope. Creed was nostalgia driven. As was Cobra Kai. Does that make them better or worse? No, they were still solid in their own right. Endgame did rely on their fan’s memories, and they did do some fan service, but it worked.
The film completed the journeys of their main six Avengers. Yes, Black Widow and Hawkeye have some post-Endgame content, but it was a goodbye to them as their cinematic universe. Tony saw his journey as a guy that was the reluctant hero. Looking for a short cut to come out on top. Yet, he made the ultimate sacrifice to save, not only his family, but the universe. Steve had sacrificed his own happiness to do the right thing. After everything was gone, he felt that he was owed one. A chance at happiness. Seeing Tony have a shot at happiness, he could get one too. Natasha was saved by Barton and turned to SHIELD. It was a debt she could never repay, until now. If her death could have meaning and bring something good to someone she loved, this was her moment. Even Nebula’s character came full circle.
The final battle between Thanos and the Marvel Universe was something from my dream as a kid. Seeing all the heroes from across the universe come together on Earth to fight for their lives. It was a moment that every comic book nerd dreamt of. We got a taste of it in Infinity War, but we still didn’t get to see them fight alongside. Black Panther and Doctor Strange. Rhodey and Nebula. Peter Parker meeting Captain Marvel. It was a delight of the senses. That 40-minute sequence was enough to give it a second viewing.
The emotional climax of the film really spoke to the trail that Marvel made. Ending Tony Stark’s life on the nine year anniversary of Iron Man, a film that started it all off, was a full circle. People can sit and nitpick the film. Was it a perfect film? No, but no film ever is. Unlike Warner Bros., Marvel was able to accomplish something that no franchise has ever been able to do. Create a 21-film series and end it with a natural conclusion. Throwbacks and references to salute the most dedicated of fans. Give emotional moments that made the audience feel for these characters. Show studios how they tried to copy (and failed) in creating their own universe.
This was a “thank you” to fans that started with them in 2008. It was made for people that knew these characters. For me, as a fan, it couldn’t have been more perfect. As a critic, not everything was clean. But, the overall impact allowed this movie to get a pass. Avengers: Endgame is the perfect end, which brings satisfaction and sadness. Where do we go from here?