Movies

Movie Review: “Avengers: Endgame”

{Warning: Here there be spoilers. Also, I got all my pictures from Google Images.}

Avengers: Endgame may very well be the most anticipated movie franchise finale of all time. Star Wars: Return of the JediThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 could easily compete for the title–but even the Harry Potter films only spanned nine years from beginning to end. Endgame, by comparison, is the final installment of an eleven-year-old, 21-film saga. By any standards, that is a huge accomplishment.

For my part, I’ve been invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for seven years. I saw Captain America: The First Avenger for the first time back in August of 2012. Ever since then, Marvel’s stories of flawed yet endearing superheroes have claimed a solid place in my imagination–but more importantly, I’ve watched them spark and mold the imaginations of my younger siblings. I grew up passionately loving the sprawling cast of characters of The Lord of the Rings; my siblings grew up feasting on the stories of Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, Thor, and Bruce Banner.

So it should come as no surprise that we all cried like wee babies during Avengers: Endgame…and our mom may have cried the most.

“Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.”–Google synopsis

Endgame picks up right where Avengers: Infinity War left off, and begins with a startlingly short “First Act” that sets the stage for each Avenger’s final emotional journey. Skipping forward five years, we find the whole world still reeling from Thanos’ ruthless “snap.” Some Avengers have moved on; others are still trying to maintain their old roles of protector and defender, while others have spiraled into deep depression or vengeance.

But when Scott Lang returns from the quantum realm (where we last saw him in Ant-Man & the Wasp), the “new normal” gets turned upside down. Scott’s mind-boggling experiences give him an idea that just might undo Thanos’ annihilation of half the universe. It’ll be risky, but after Tony, Thor, and Clint do some serious soul-searching (prompted by the desperate pleas of Steve, Natasha, and Bruce), the original Avengers and several new allies set off on a dizzying journey through time and space to recover their friends and families.

I’ll admit it: as a Whovian, I got a huge charge out of the time travel. (Also, as a Whovian, I noticed Scott Lang’s description of their scheme as a “time heist” right away. Coincidence? I tend to doubt it.) To the Russo Brothers’ credit, the logistics of their time travel scheme held up incredibly well. Some of it was confusing, but in the end, I noticed only two glaring plot holes–and one of them might have been an intentional plot point of an upcoming TV show starring everyone’s favorite Trickster-God. I’m just sayin’.

But here is the greater proof of the Russo Brothers’ storytelling talent: they could’ve gone the easy route and used time travel to whip up a happy ending for everybody. Yet they didn’t. As many others have pointed out, superhero movies (and other sci-fi stories) do tend to wave away the permanency of death. Endgame doesn’t do this. In Endgame, Death has a sting. And that’s good. After eleven years of loving these characters through their ups and downs, the final triumph over Thanos needed to have a cost.

And yes, that final triumph was awesome. I still grin whenever I remember Steve Rogers FINALLY wielding Mjolnir (I knew he was worthy, I KNEW IT!), Black Panther reappearing in all his kingly glory, and Carol Danvers giving Thanos the most terrific Death Glare I have ever seen.

But the victory came at a cost: the sacrifices of both the MCU’s first great heroine and its first great hero. I was honestly more stunned by Natasha Romanoff’s death than Tony Stark’s. I’ve been expecting Iron Man to die for a while. I did not expect to lose Black Widow.

And yet–and yet, both Tony and Natasha got what they always wanted, didn’t they? Tony always just wanted to keep everyone safe…and he died saving the world one last time. Natasha always wanted to redeem herself from her history as a Russian assassin…and she gave her life so others could live. Tony proved, once again, that he had a heart, and Natasha, for her part, wiped the red out of her ledger.

At the end of the day, superhero tales are dim, imperfect, but valuable parables. The Marvel stories, especially, have provided poignant examples of selflessness (Natasha Romanoff), meekness (Bruce Banner), growing maturity (Tony Stark), kindness (Clint Barton), nobility (Thor), and conviction (Steve Rogers). I wouldn’t be surprised if, twenty or thirty years from now, we’ll find that the younger generations have been deeply inspired and enriched by these stories and these characters. Yeah, they’re action-packed, a bit silly sometimes, and certainly not “sophisticated.” But then again, Jesus never told vague, sophisticated stories when he taught his disciples, either. He told them stories about real people, with real struggles. And therein lies the value of the Marvel films, as well as the tender pathos of saying goodbye to the Avengers…at least on the big screen.

But for those of us who will be re-watching “The Infinity Saga” for the rest of our lives? Avengers…assemble. Assemble for us again, and again, and again.

9 thoughts on “Movie Review: “Avengers: Endgame””

  1. Beautiful review. <333

    For me, Natasha's sacrifice was the most powerful part of the whole movie. I didn't expect it at all and I was blown away.

    What I loved MOST is that she didn't sacrifice out of guilt, but only out of caring. She's made peace with herself, she's no longer trying to earn anything or wipe out anything . . . she just wants to bring her family back; and she did that. What an amazing legacy for an amazing woman.

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    1. YES YES YES!!! That whole scene near the beginning of the movie where she said something like, “I used to have nothing, and then I got this family”–that alone tugged all the right heartstrings and was probably our first foreshadowing of what was to come. I do think that she always had that desire to atone for her past, but by the time she reached Vormir, her character development was such that it was no longer her sole motivation.

      I’m so glad–and relieved!–that you liked the review! I have to admit, when I first wrote it, I worried I had done justice to either the film or my personal feelings and thoughts about it. So it’s very good to know you enjoyed it!

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      1. Exactly. Whereas if Hawkeye had gone over, his MAIN (sole?) motivation would’ve been atoning for his more recent past of bloody destruction; and that is not healthy at all. He is worth so much more than throwing his life away out of guilt . . . and I’m so glad he had a good friend by his side to stop him.

        I did, I really did! ❤

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  2. I loved this review ❤

    Like you, Nat's death hit me the hardest. I was expecting Tony's- I was NOT expecting Natasha's. I saw on Pinterest or tumblr someone say that Tony and Nat were the heart and soul of the avengers (symbolized by Tony's arc reactor & Natasha dying for the soul stone) and just….ajkhdkfsjnf

    Also, my mom was also the one who cried the most when my family was watching it, lol.

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    1. Natasha’s death left me slack-jawed. I would’ve been far less shocked if Steve had died! But from a storytelling point of view, it was the perfect end for her character arc.

      HOW ABOUT THAT FINAL BATTLE, THOUGH? When Steve grabbed Mjolnir, my family and I started clapping and cheering, haha. We were all like Thor: “I KNEW IT!” And yes, I cried and cried during the credits. When the original cast’s names started rolling and I realized, “Oh my gosh, I’m never going to see these six names all together ever again–and oh my gosh, Robert Downey, Jr. is going to be the last one,” I just burst into tears. Such an emotional moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES!!! Oh man, when we walked out of the theater, my dad was like, “we all know what the best scene was, right?” STEVE WITH MJOLNIR. Seriously, that end battle was one of my favorite scenes of any Marvel movie. There was something just…so poetic and full of justice at seeing Thanos face a literal ARMY of people whose lives he’d destroyed. Like, it was personal for ALL of them.

        Yep. We did cry at the same moment, haha. Something about not only seeing their names-but their signatures, too-just made me lose it.

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  3. How true: Natasha’s death had me sobbing so loud I actually had to cover my mouth. I cried for Iron Man, but not nearly as much. She has been such a favorite, and I think this movie proved that I am WAY too emotionally attached to fictional characters. The MCU will always be such a memory in my life forever. Endgame was totally wonderful. And yes!!! I caught that Time Heist reference *inner geek rejoices* 😂😂

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    1. You know, I have talked to SO many Whovians who said the exact same thing–they caught the “Time Heist” phrase right away–and I can’t imagine that the Russo Brothers are ignorant of Doctor Who Things. So I’m gonna accept it as my Whovian reference until I’m told otherwise 😉

      By the way, I did see your Felicitous Fictional Characters tag, and I’m planning on doing it for my next post!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I am certain the Russo Brothers cannot be so ignorant as to not know about at least a little bit of Doctor Who – it’s such a huge phenomenon! Oh, and regarding my character tag, as Nine would say, “fantastic!” I hope you have fun writing it just as much as I did! 🙂

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