Avengers Endgame was, beyond being a movie of spectacular scale, a love letter from Marvel to all its fans and a glorious homage to its history. This post shall be my love letter to Avengers Endgame.
After eleven years of building up to something, how does one deliver? Franchises have fallen for much less. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the Russos or Feige or the writers McFeely and Markus to bear upon such expectations and still maintain the integrity of their jobs. It can get tempting, you know? To see all these fans and their loyalties and sometimes you just want to give them exactly what they need and call it a day. But a movie filled with fan service back to back and dropping dialogue verbatim from past movies and golden-era comics might end up being of no substance whatsoever and leave no impact beyond making hardcore fans cheer on the opening weekend and then wither away. It is near impossible for such a movie to be a great movie.
Near impossible. I’m talking super low odds. Like maybe one in fourteen million six hundred and five, perhaps?
It truly is the Endgame. The movie somehow simultaneously made every impossible fan theory come true and still ends up surprising the heck out of anyone lucky enough to have avoided all the spoilers before
watching experiencing it for the first time. I wasn’t one of those lucky few. The internet is a cruel place and doom shall be upon us all. Pull out all the fan service, time-travel induced nostalgia and the quips, there is an earnest attempt to do the most justice to all these characters’ arcs that were set in motion a decade ago. With honouring the loyalties of its fans, the movie does justice to its characters too with just as much respect and love. And in a sense to the studio as well, because – expiring contracts. I now understand why the Russos made Endgame its own movie and did not let it be “Infinity War Part II”. Infinity war was just that, a war. Perhaps with the exception of Thor and Gamora, we didn’t see any “character development” or meaningful arcs for any of the other Avengers, as opposed to both the previous Avengers movies and Civil War. It was entirely Thanos’ movie and the Avengers were merely responding to a threat that they didn’t understand or foresee, with the best they had at their expense. Unfortunately, they failed. I wouldn’t blame Star-Lord or Thor or any one person in particular ’cause there was clearly an excess of fourteen million other ways they would’ve lost even if these two didn’t miss their chances. This particular arc being the only possible way they could win, negates any argument about how differently Infinity War would’ve ended had they had done anything differently.
~ Mandatory SPOILER warning. Loads of SPOILERS ahead. ~
Endgame is all about resolution. It stands independent of Infinity War in that it specifically deals with giving closure to our six OG Avengers and not just as an extension of the previous events. It very smartly dusted away the “newbies”, giving enough space for the plot to focus on these specific characters. Almost the entire first 60 per cent of the movie is devoid of any action whatsoever save for a little Future Captain versus Past Captain brawl. Even that was a fun gag at best, it was nothing like the hand-to-hand combat that we’ve seen Captain America is capable of from movies like The Winter Soldier. But the movie never gets boring even for a second. Even before all the set photos released, it was nearly confirmed that one of the likeliest ways things get resolved in Endgame is through time travel. So we figured out the ‘what’. The movie fills us in on the ‘how’ in a ride filled with laughs, surprises, callbacks, iconic comic book moments and loss. Perhaps most important of them all, the ride ends with a sense of closure and no cheap gimmicks to tease their next movie or an open-ended post-credits scene. This truly is the endgame.
For all the fan service.
I cannot thank the creators enough for the sheer level of fan service in this movie. The Russos had twenty-one movies worth of content backing them up, spanning across eleven years at their disposal and have taken full advantage of that fact throwing countless callbacks to very memorable moments from all of them. While every movie in the MCU has had scenes and lines thrown in that was purely for the sake of making the fans jump in glee, they were quite scarce and were littered in such a way that they fit the plot or sometimes as a closing montage. It is almost a responsibility of any movie that is adapted from comic books or novels or any form of existing literature to pay homage to the source content, acknowledging the fans. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Batman v Superman – they’ve all done it their own ways. But with Endgame, adding to decades of comic book material, they’ve also very faithfully paid homage to their own history from the previous movies. They were under no obligation to do that but they did it anyway. “Farmer Thanos” was a near exact recreation of farmer-Thanos from the comics. There was a cheeky callback to Captain America’s now infamous “Hail Hydra” panel. In the shot when we are shown a young Hank Pym working at Shield in 1970, there is the exact OG Ant-man helmet from the comics just lying on his table. Hulk holding up the rubble protecting Rhodey and Rocket is yet another close recreation of a comic book cover. Falcon carries over the mantle of Captain America just as he does in the comics. I’ll add links to videos which have done a much more exhaustive search for all the comic-book references in this movie, I’m not exactly from the comic book world. However, I am very much thorough in the MCU world and it was as if the Russos themselves sat down binge-watching the entire roster as they wrote this movie. Every few minutes there was a callback to a moment from a past movie.
Ironman building his first suit in a black tank top with Yinsen as his assistant in an Afghan cave is mirrored in the introductory sequence with Nebula, Peter’s ‘instant kill mode’ comes to use, Hawkeye and Black Widow once again talk about Budapest just like the first Avengers, Steve and Bucky role-reverse their exact lines from The First Avenger in the very end, the Shield building Captain recognises in 1970 is the same building he didn’t recognise in the Winter Soldier, I could go on for days. The thing is these were deliberate additions. The directors and the writers didn’t have to do it but they did it anyway. Because it would mean so much to the fans, because this is the end and hence their one last chance to give us as much as they could and damn did they deliver. There would be no huge difference in the plot if Thor had been playing Fortnite on his own but Korg and Miek were thrown in right beside him, we would’ve cheered just the same had the dusted Avengers just dropped out of the sky but Sam pings in with an “On your left”, a very quaint moment from their first meeting but enough to bring all the nostalgia rushing in. They brought the same actor to play Jarvis from Agent Carter, the first and probably only character from the TV-side of the MCU to be acknowledged in the large screen. They even went as far as repurposing a deleted scene from The Dark World to bring Jane Foster back to the MCU, we would’ve probably let it slide had they just implied Rocket succeeded. Any random group of agents with the Shield logo could’ve collected Loki’s sceptre but they brought back Rumlow and Sitwell pretty much near recreating the elevator scene as well as giving us “Hail Hydra”. Even little moments that nobody would remember were thrown in. Remember Hope’s exasperation when Lang referred Captain America as “Cap” in Antman and the Wasp? She calls him Cap in this movie and her and Lang share a knowing smile. Remember Cap and Spidey’s exchange in Civil War? In this movie, Cap calls out, “Hey Queens!” before throwing Mjolnir to help him out. Remember Barton introducing himself to T’Challa in Civil War with a – “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Clint” and T’Challa replies with “I don’t care”? As Barton struggles with the gauntlet towards the end we hear, “Hey Clint” and voila! there he is, warrior and king, Black Panther. Tony Stark’s heartfelt farewell to Potts in the very beginning where he asks her not to post it on social media is a callback to him asking a soldier not to post it on his MySpace page in the first Iron man movie. Even his final line, “It’s you. It’s always you” has already made an appearance, word for word, in Iron man 2. Even Tony and Pepper now living in a farm with a kid is lifted off from the end of Age of Ultron where he is shown talking to Captain about whether he should take a page out of Barton’s book and build Pepper a farm. Natasha is seen wearing the same “arrow” necklace she’s been wearing all the way back in the Winter Soldier but I guess it’s even more meaningful now because she worries for Barton. All the women of the MCU assembling to help Carol get the gauntlet to the van is a simultaneous callback to the ‘A force’ comic series, the “She’s not alone”-moment from Infinity War and the scene in Age of Ultron where Tony, Thor and Vision shoot their multi-coloured beams at Ultron, only now its Rescue, Shuri and Wasp at Thanos. I’m probably reaching but Quill getting his head knocked out felt like sweet justice for him ruining everything by knocking out Thanos’ head. The part in Avengers where Thor and Captain stand side by side as Mjolnir and the shield return to their hands is here too but with Stormbreaker and Mjolnir instead. This entire movie is one big easter egg and every single reference sunk in and hit all the right spots. I’m pretty sure 90% of this movie can be recreated from earlier MCU movies. Someone on Reddit is probably already working on it. Screencrush has a video on YouTube that boasts 209 easter eggs in Endgame and lasts a good 25 minutes. You can check it out right here.
It is amazing just how many members of the Marvel Universe reprised their roles for this one movie, even if for a few seconds only. From veteran actors like Robert Redford playing Alexander Pierce to that little kid from Ironman 3 was brought back for this one movie, for a few seconds. Did anyone notice the ravagers and frickin’ Howard, the duck walk out of the portals for the team up scene? If it wasn’t obvious before to someone out there, it sure is now – Marvel has truly crafted an entire, cohesive universe through all these movies. It worked. Tony Stark’s funeral stands testament to that. While the lack of mid or post-credits added to the sense of finality, they did add an “autograph” montage of all the founding 6 Avengers set to the main Avengers theme for the loyalists who waited. That sequence got the most cheering from the audience only second to the climactic battle of the movie.
P.S How many hearts broke when little Morgan H. Stark asked for cheeseburgers from Happy? They just had to do us like that.
For making all our dreams come true.
Thor realises his mistake and goes for the head? Check. Why doesn’t someone just cut off his arm? Check. Does Captain Marvel rescue Tony? Check. These are so many more theories that fans had came to glorious fruition on the big screen, albeit in ways we both did and didn’t imagine. When the first Endgame teaser was released, I remember reading someone’s comment below the video elaborating how as Tony stares out the window, a gradual golden hue engulfs his face and it dims down to reveal Carol Danvers saying, “You’re a long way from home”. It is safe to say that this prediction came true nearly 99% on the screen, so random guy on the internet, hope you are happy.
Other predictions like time travel using the quantum realm and an intermediate time jump within the movie were discussed heavily online too, but they were mostly a given. The trailers and leaks of set photos, Jeremy Renner being spotted with a mohawk and leaked Lego toy sets, as careful as they were, did give away some of these. Gwyneth Paltrow even posted and immediately took down a picture on Instagram of her in a mo-cap suit, which led to people immediately talking about the appearance of Rescue. While Rescue didn’t turn out to rescue Tony from outer space as some speculated, especially due to his stressing on the phrase “..no promise of rescue”, she did make an appearance in the movie. Rescue and Ironman flying back to back shooting repulsor beams is just instant fangasm material.
In my previous post that I put up a day before the movie’s release, I had asked for a very few specific scenes from Endgame that I just wished were there. Even I couldn’t believe just how spot on everything was delivered. I wanted all the dusted Avengers to stand next to the living ones and to have it all in one glorious shot and they gave me all the Avengers and Guardians, the entire Wakandan army with Shuri, all the Ravagers, Wong and all the wizards, Valkyrie on a frickin’ pegasus, Rescue and Howard, the damn duck just float out of hundreds of portals in the greyed out sky just as my man Cap was about to stand in front of the entire Chitauri army and Outriders and the Black Order with half a shield. And he said “Avengers Assemble”. With the best version of the main theme by Alan Silvestri in the background. When Strange asked Wong, “Is that everyone?” and Wong responds, “What, you want more?”, it felt like the creators were addressing the audience directly. “Is this enough? Does this exceed all your greatest dreams or do you dare ask for more?”
I also wanted either Captain or Tony to wield Mjolnir. For Captain’s part, I had wanted him to save Tony as Thanos was about to kill him, but in the movie, it’s Thor who’s about to get killed, reliving his Stormbreaker moment with Thanos but on the other end of the blade. My “theory” went like this –
The hammer flickers and hovers up from an unconscious Thor’s palm and whizzes across slamming Thanos to the side and ends up in Captain’s palm and he emerges unscathed, eyes glowing blue, shield in one hand and hammer in another amidst a swirl of purple from the power stone and electric blue from all the lightning.
Of course, it didn’t end up being as dramatic as that but the hammer did hover in slow-mo, slam Thanos to the side and end up in Cap’s palm. I see that as an absolute win. Frankly, the things I write don’t get many views and hence no feedback. To see that, at least partly, my vision coincided with the greats at Marvel is validation that I’d never forget.
I asked for a sequence with just the Trinity and was already excited when one of the tracks in the movie’s album was called Tres Amigos. They gave us a whole prelude to the big battle with just the three of them going against Thanos.
I had also wanted the time travel parts to come with their own constraints like perhaps they get only one shot at it, which they did. I wanted it to have them make very difficult choices, which Widow took care of. I wanted it to screw things up, which Nebula took care of. I wanted the movie to end quietly giving us room to breathe and accept that it really is over and they had the Avengers autograph us away. I wanted Tony to make the ultimate sacrifice, which he did but in no way that I imagined would happen. The climax was so far beyond anything I could’ve ever fathomed. Personally, I got everything that I wanted and so much more I couldn’t have ever dreamed up from this movie and for that, they have my gratitude.
For the closure.
Like I said before, Endgame is all about resolution. It’s a three-hour superhero flick with no action sequences in the first two hours. The only reason it worked is because of the ten years behind it and how invested we are all in the arcs set up for our favourite characters. For most, their stories came full circle; for some, their stories ended bittersweet; for all, their stories ended perfectly. I can’t see how much more justice could have been done to these character arcs. I’m forward-warning you, the theme of this section is “full circle”.
Thanos, given that he had the lion’s share of screentime in Infinity war, isn’t present for much of this movie. We already know everything there is to know about him. He’s done and resting peacefully in his garden. When some of the toy sets and official synopsis of Endgame came out months ago, there was always the mention of a ‘bigger threat’ and fan theories ranged from Galactus to The One above all. Someone on Reddit predicted then that this bigger threat would be none other than Thanos himself, but a younger and much more ruthless version of him. That was exactly what we got too. Honestly, I thought that theory was a bit too far fetched and the bigger threat would be a set up for whoever’s going to fill the shoes of Thanos for the next Marvel phases to come. This Thanos was much stronger, holding his stand against Ironman, Thor and Captain America even without the stones. He’s got a temper and rains fire as soon as he comes under threat. His ego and god-complex are all still very much intact, as evident by his monologues but there is no method to his motions. The Thanos from Infinity war had lost the Black Order and had to kill his own daughter with his own hands; there is an honour to his fights and almost a sympathy when he kills Vision and confronts Wanda. He had 4 infinity stones and could’ve just obliterated them all as soon as he landed in Wakanda, but he merely disables them using one stone at a time and walks towards his end goal. He barely attempts to fight back later in his farm in the opening of Endgame since he has fulfilled his vision. This Thanos is angry and is out for blood. In spite of being a giant purple alien, he is still one of the most human MCU villains of all time. Josh Brolin somehow has brought emotions ranging from anger, shock, despair and desperation to an exhausted disappointment permeating all that CGI.
Let’s face it. Antman, Nebula and Rocket were retained for their connections to the quantum realm, Thanos and the power stone respectively. The fact that the snap was “random” gave the directors complete freedom to decimate and keep whichever character they wanted to and they went with the original six to give them a fitting goodbye. These characters stayed because they were necessary to tell the story. Yet, they weren’t shunned to the back of the class either after fulfilling their roles. Antman’s motives have always been defined primarily by his need to be “the person his daughter already thinks he is” and he gets his moment with Cassie and in that one scene Paul Rudd wins over all of us. For the rest of the movie, he is the mandatory “clueless” character that the other characters explain stuff to and with it, to the audience as well.
It is remarkable just how a game of paper football became a meaningful character moment for Nebula, who has been made to compete all her life against her own sister for survival. All her life, all her losses and wins resulted in her losing another part of her or a momentary feeling of being good enough until the next contest came by. Her surprise when Tony asks, “You won. Did you have fun?” retells this very tragic backstory. In the next few scenes, we see her refuse food so that Tony can have it and she dignifies him in what should’ve been his dying moment. Her growth is shown even more glaringly when she is posed directly opposite her younger self who falls to her knees the moment Thanos arrives dying to please him. Perhaps her killing her younger self just goes to show the audience that she has completely changed and redeemed herself and is no longer Thanos’ daughter.
Rocket had his last moment of interest at the end of Guardians Vol. 2 where he finally understood that he now has a family and would never be alone again, no matter how much of a deliberate asshole he is. That fact is reiterated in Endgame when he rushes to Nebula’s side and holds her hand, mirroring a moment from the first Guardians movie where Drax sat next to him holding his hand after Groot ‘dies’. He later slaps a panicking Thor and asks him to get his shit together because he “lost the only family he ever had”. Finally a blatant, out loud confession. It would be super fun if Thor recalls this moment in Guardians Vol 3 and the other Guardians rib on him for it.
The best friends
While we were introduced to Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff independently in Thor and Iron man 2, we were constantly reminded of their friendship every time the whole crew comes together. And the Russos just had to have them fight each other to decide who jumps to their death. Cruel. We’re never really shown much about Nat’s life outside Shield, except for her “red on my ledger” speech to Loki in Avengers and her “graduation ceremony” nightmare scenes from Age of Ultron. She does mention from time to time about how she owes it all to Barton, who saved her while on a mission to kill her. That’s one way to make a friend. In her own words, she had nobody. Didn’t even know her father’s name until Red Skull mentions it. And much like Rocket, the Avengers were her only family. She was the only one who kept cautioning Tony and Steve in Civil War and looked genuinely worried that her family is falling apart. In Endgame, she tries to maintain her sense of normalcy by keeping a version of Avengers or Shield running with the help of the others. Once Tony agrees and they are all standing on that quantum tunnel together, it is her who is all smiles, “See you in a minute”, she says nodding her head. She is even smiling all the way to Vormir, on Morag and again on the ship. So once she succeeds in her mission in getting the soul stone, her story is complete. She says so herself, “All these years I’ve fought to get right here”. The struggle ends there. In that way, I guess her death at Vormir is justified. Given that Tony is a much more public figure while Nat was always the secret spy hidden in the shadows, maybe it makes sense in the plot that she didn’t get a funeral but still, from outside as a fan, it would’ve been nice to see her honoured next to Tony in the climax.
Hawkeye, on the other hand, has a very real family. Being an Avenger is his day job, one he’s been wanting to retire from since Age of Ultron. Yet somehow, he’s always pulled into all their drama. His unborn son in Age of Ultron is shown in this movie named as Nathaniel Pietro Barton, paying homage to Natasha and Pietro Maximoff, who gave his life to save him. Nice touch. His family being dusted away would’ve actually made a cool mid-credits scene in Infinity war. The writers confirmed that it was indeed written during IW but ultimately ended up not being added then because he was absent for the whole movie and adding him at the end wouldn’t really fit well. His turn to the Ronin persona actually has a cool motive than being just a comic callback. He is pissed that while his family vanished bad guys like mobsters, the drug cartels and Yakuza are still alive and kills anyone he deems deserved to die much more than his cozy family. Would it bring his wife and kids back? Nope. Does it help? Maybe. We all heal differently and ninja-murder revenge is Hawkeye’s choice of coping mechanism. Yet, he does not flinch when he decides to sacrifice his life at Vormir. Between meeting his family again but losing a friend and having both his friend and family stay alive but never getting to be with them, he chooses the latter. Selfless, true. Sad, much truer. Since it’s Avengers and not pre-season five Game of Thrones, the universe isn’t that cruel and Black Widow takes his place and he survives to be reunited with his family. The audience and sometimes the characters themselves often question the place of Widow and Hawkeye in the Avengers, these mortals amidst gods. But in this one movie, in this one scene, they turn all our doubts to dust proving that they are Avengers just as much as the next guy. Magic hammer and Flying Frisbee or Bow & Arrow and Electric gloves, it doesn’t matter -it is their concern for the greater good over their own self-preservation that defines an Avenger.
Endgame’s Thor was practically unspoilable. Feige himself could’ve said on live camera, “Oh, Thor gets fat and plays Fortnite with Korg and Miek. Also, Stormbreaker is a beer opener now” and not one of us would’ve believed it. Even after seeing him in the movie, I just assumed he would get ripped again once he gets in the mood and a dash of lightning hits him. But he didn’t and that was cool. It is amusing that a god did the most human thing to cope with his failure – alcoholism and video games. Tony and Steve sort of moved on or were in the process of it, Nat was still sulking but was about to start filling the shoes of Nick Fury, Barton sought murder but Thor sought Fortnite and a bad diet. So cool. Many people on Reddit pointed out what an accurate representation of depression it was. He was still joking about Cinemax and all up in smiles when he saw “the boys”, Rocket and Hulk, but the instant Thanos was named, he is triggered. The remorse never left. He’s taken his failure so personally as if being Thor is defined by winning every brawl. This Thor knows that he messed up big time choosing to have the last word rather than end it with a swift slicing of the head. When the Avengers stop him from trying on the gauntlet, he is almost in tears as he begs them, “Let me do something right”. He’s had to make certain sacrifices along the way and has lost people he loved but in the greater picture, he’s tasted victory in all his 1500 years of existence and failure, especially on this scale, is brand new and destroys his sense of identity and purpose. Even though Frigga explains to him that being like everyone else isn’t so bad and doesn’t make him any less of the God of Thunder, it is when Mjolnir flies back to him that is the ultimate proof that he is still Thor, He’s so relieved and back to being confident. “I’m still worthy!”
I guess it was his reboot in Ragnarok and the audience’s reaction to the scenes with him and the Guardians in Infinity War that led the directors to have him join them in the end. It would’ve been perfectly alright for him to have handed over the mantle to Valkyrie and stayed on as her advisor of sorts. James Gunn did post a very long time ago that the script of Volume 3 was completed. Did it include Thor in it all along? I don’t know. I’m excited to find out. It was a nice touch that New Asgard stands on Tonsberg, Norway the same place that Odin died after saying, “This could be Asgard” and the same place where Odin’s army fought the Frost Giants and the church from where Red Skull retrieves the tesseract for the first time in The First Avenger.
On the other hand, Hulk who so lovingly refers to Thor as his pal repeatedly in this movie after all their bonding in Ragnarok has dealt with his survivor’s guilt by essentially the Hulk-equivalent of a teenage boy hitting the gym after a breakup. He combines his brains with the strength of the Hulk. “Best of both worlds!” It is understandable that Hulk’s arc ends here because we are introduced to him trying to get rid of the Hulk. He removes himself from society to do no harm and admits to attempting suicide and that he’s “always angry” in Avengers. Again in Age of Ultron, we see that he isn’t too excited about a “code green” and only ever comes out when absolutely necessary. Hulk and Banner are always treated as two distinct personalities where Banner is the brains and Hulk is the thug that saves him from situations that his brains won’t be of much help in. They are both just as important but Banner is praised while the Hulk only ever gets hatred from the public. Poor guy couldn’t even get to ride the elevator. It is no wonder that Hulk decided to not go away once they ended up on Sakar where he was celebrated but totally refuses to come out as soon as he lands on Earth in Infinity war. Much of Infinity war was spent with Banner “trying to figure things out” with the Hulk and it would’ve been nice to see some of that process but that lunch scene with Antman freaking out over Hulk was classic Marvel’s brand of comedy. He went from staying removed from society to dabbing in selfies with children. Many fans were eagerly awaiting the “rematch” between Hulk and Thanos and I too was low-key hoping for a brief Hulk vs Thanos moment in the final battle but I guess, it would have had to end up with Hulk losing again or else we wouldn’t have gotten the ending that we did. Nevertheless, his arc too comes to a fitting end with his snap bringing back the dusted. He was essentially brought to the Avengers all the way back in the first movie because the Tesseract emitted gamma radiation. So it is no surprise the rest of the stones do as well. There is an exchange between him and Tony in the lab aboard the Helicarrier which goes like this –
And in Endgame he says, “I was made for this”. Talk about a full circle.
Sidenote – maybe it is just me but the movie seems to hint at Bruce and Nat’s brief romance a lot in this movie. When he’s talking about putting his brains into Hulk, Nat smiles and asks him how he did that now given he wasn’t able to control it last time and it really looks like she’s talking about them in Clint’s farmhouse where he confesses he “physically can’t have children”. Even her death seems to hit Bruce much more than the rest of them. No? Just me? Going crazy? Okay.
Rogers and Stark.
Damn, where do I begin?
While the audience has just met them last year in Infinity war, they haven’t met each other since Civil War. So as soon as Tony returns to Earth, just as he spills his remorse over losing Peter and relief at having Pepper alive, his anger bubbles right to the surface straight from the end of Civil War, and even a little from Age of Ultron. He very strongly believes that they could’ve stood a chance had they fought Thanos together and frankly, so did we. And then he moves on.
He builds a farm, lives out his dream from Infinity War with a kid named Morgan and just how adorable was Maguna! He’s the genius who figures out time travel overnight and builds suits with the same capabilities of the forge in Nidavellir that forged Mjolnir and Stormbreaker. Yet when he does, he wants to hide it away because messing with time could mean the events of the past five years are undone. I was actually surprised at how easily Pepper asked him to go ahead with it. She used to be terrified of everything he did as Iron man in past movies. “…you’d go to bed, but would you be able to rest?” But now she’s donned an armour too and fought side by side with Tony. It’s amazing how far she’s come to accepting his Ironman-isms. She freaked out with tears welling up in the first Iron man movie on seeing bullet holes on his suit. And now, she patiently held back her tears waiting for him to pass peacefully before breaking down. I’m so glad she wasn’t turned into the typical hero’s girlfriend trope shouting “Noooo” or “Whyyyy” at her loss.
He wasn’t like Barton. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to live the life he had built and be around Morgan like his father never was for him. “Bring back what we lost? I hope. Keep what I found? I have to, at all costs…and maybe not die trying”, he tells Cap. Even at the very last moment, he realises what he needs to do but looks at Strange for confirmation. Only on seeing that this was the “one” out of the fourteen million ways he was talking about, he snaps. It’s a theme in MCU where every time characters lose their loved ones, they reassure them that it’d be okay. Vision to Wanda, Widow to Barton, Pepper to Tony – they all say the same thing, “It’s okay/ It’s alright/ We’ll be fine”. Is there a better way to put someone with no other option at peace?
Even if any of the other Avengers could return for cameos or Disney+ shows, Endgame is the swansong of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans within the MCU and one of them just had to die, I wouldn’t lie. Cap’s death would’ve been expected as people have been talking about him dying since Civil War. Tony’s death brings both his character and the MCU, full circle.
We were introduced to him as this morally ambiguous, largely indifferent, self-centered genius, playboy, philanthropist. One of his early interactions with Captain America ends with this –
So their last interaction being Captain staring from afar as Tony saves the universe with his own life is what intellectuals on the internet would call “A+ character development”. Throw in another “I am Iron man” – the moment that kicked off the MCU, and there you go – full circle.
The sorrow goes even deeper when you watch the movie a second time knowing he is going to die in the end. Everything seems like foreshadowing. He repeats the same lines to Pepper at the very beginning which he did previously in Iron man 2 when he was dying as well. He constantly talks about how he wants nothing from the past five years changed. He had everything, perhaps except Parker. He even finally resolved his father issues over six lines of dialogue and acknowledges that while his father wasn’t perfect, while he could’ve done so much more, it still isn’t okay to blame him for everything. He did the best he could. Tony knows it now. And then he sacrifices himself. Heart = shredded. He did get the perfect funeral though, as the entire MCU came together to honour the man who started it all.
Steve Rogers, on the other hand, has always been the soldier. First, the army and then Shield were his family. His greatest fear as shown in Age of Ultron is basically having no more wars to fight. Back in Winter Soldier, when Sam asks him what would truly make him happy, he responds with, “I don’t know”. He does not know who he is outside the role of a soldier. At the very end of Endgame, when the camera pans over the front door of Cap and Peggy’s house in 1970, their flag holder remains empty and there concludes his arc.
While Tony had to learn to put the greater good ahead of his own self-interest, Steve was born that way and frankly, needs to unlearn it for his own good. It makes sense that his arc ends with him being a little selfish and retiring choosing the love of his life over his country. He’s done enough for one lifetime in one timeline. He’s earned this, right? When he stumbles into Peggy’s cabin in the Shield facility in 1970, you could see the longing in his eyes. I’m pretty sure he made his decision to get back here and stay with her once it is all over. On her part, she too still clutches onto his photo much as he carries her around everywhere inside that pocket watch. Let’s face it, for all his advice about moving on to his support group, he’s clearly still struggling with it in spite of having decades to do so. But if he could get a do-over, why should he give up that chance? The possible consequences of him taking that chance and the general logic of how time travel works in the MCU will be explained in a follow-up post.
Steve’s trust in the system started falling apart since way back in Avengers when he finds out about Shield secretly using the Tesseract to make weapons. The crack deepens with the fall of Shield and the return of a piece of his former life in the form of Bucky Barnes in the Winter Soldier, leading to him choose autonomy in Civil War. He’s almost glad in this movie that it is all over. None of the “Let’s get this son of a bitch”-anger is seen in him five years later. He’s already talking about whales reappearing in the Hudson due to cleaner water and fewer ships. ‘Mad’ Titan or not, his plan was cruelly noble. Cut to the time travel sequence and he no longer punches his way out of situations instead choosing to “Hail Hydra”. His exasperation at the 2012-Captain saying, “I can do this all day”, sparks pure joy. He even admires his own ass. Sure it was deliberately pandering to the fanbase, but still it not too hard to believe that even Steve Rogers wouldn’t be amused by his past stoic dutifulness after everything that’s happened.
Looking back at the initial moment of conflict between him and Tony in Avenger, right from where we left off earlier, we get this –
And in Endgame, Mjolnir answers just that. The fact that he is worthy denies all doubt whether the hero was created by the super-serum or merely dug out. He is barely surprised the hammer came to him, even Thor shouts, “I knew it!” He doesn’t just lift the hammer, he wields it. He flies, summons lightning and uses it in tandem with the shield like he’s trained all his life with them. We’ve seen a Mjolnir-on-Shield strike moment sending off blast waves in both Avengers and Age of Ultron. In Endgame he executes that move single-handedly throwing the shield at Thanos who seems to dodge it successfully only to have Mjolnir follow and strike it sending sound waves disorienting him. Frickin’ cool.
An interesting fact about Captain’s worthiness here, many seem to think that while he slightly nudged the hammer in Age of Ultron, he couldn’t become fully worthy until Civil War where he confessed to Tony that he knew about Bucky killing his parents. Somehow that act has rubbed off the only smudge on his persona and he is now fit to wield Mjolnir. Personally, I don’t think so. While it is shown in Winter Soldier that Hydra was growing within Shield and was responsible for the Starks’ murder it is never explicitly stated that Bucky was the killer. Even when Tony asks him if he knew, he responds with, “I didn’t know it was him”. I believe him. Add to the fact that being worthy isn’t subjective. You’re either worthy or you’re not. There is no “kinda worthy” or “worthy just enough for a nudge or 2 inches off the ground only”. Back during Age of Ultron’s press tour, when Wheadon was asked why Captain couldn’t lift it fully, he responded with, “He couldn’t or didn’t?” and the stupid audience cheered and moved on to the next question instead of pondering over the ramifications of that statement. He felt the hammer budge and chose to stop because he’s got the answer now and any more would only go to embarrass Thor and showboating in front of the other Avengers. Captain and Mjolnir are meeting only in Endgame after Age of Ultron and he saw the moment and he took it. My man Rogers has always been worthy and can hold a chopper to a building, that’s my truth. [P.S The Russo brothers just confirmed this in an interview. I am awesome.]
Sidenote – How awesome was this moment?
I refrained from using screencaps of Endgame throughout this post choosing to add them later after the home DVD release but couldn’t help myself with this. That’s some fantasy concept art shit right there and it’s been directly relayed onto the big screen. I’m so glad that the Russos chose this colour palette for the end battle. Even Infinity War’s “wars” were super bright, both on Wakanda and Titan but Endgame’s final battle is the one that truly feels like THE battle. Even though it had the most joyful moment in the entire roster of MCU as everyone assembled, it wasn’t the happy-joy like the OG “Assemble” scene in Avengers sparked. This was more of an “OMG it finally happened! At the very last moment! Why am I sobbing?!” type of emotion. Captain America just got his shield broken into pieces and repeatedly pummeled to the ground. He can barely stand up but he still does and in front of him is an alien army so many times larger than the one they struggled to contain in New York in spite of working together. I was so sure he was gonna charge and die as he walked forward. Like what’s even the plan man?! And then they came. Even the music wasn’t one of triumph, it starts out with horns and strings slowly building up as relief sets in, and it peaks as they just keep coming and coming and then there is the OG Avengers theme and in all previous movies, it’s been used to denote a “coming together” but the variant in Endgame is more shrill, like a war cry. With Captain leading the front with Mjolnir. Fuck.
For all the little stuff and the future.
I have been writing this for nearly 7 days. The first draft was written after the first viewing on 26th after which I’ve watched this movie twice and have plans for a couple more times. Each time I go back, I end up noticing something new or realising something I had missed and this post has grown a bit out of control. The directors and writers have been releasing information in bits and pieces in interviews as well. With the spoiler ban lifting officially in 2 days, I would probably get a lot more behind the scenes intel to add in here and this post may never end. There is just that many minor details packed within the three-hour runtime of this movie and I’d like to thank them for all of it. For Thor’s crocs, Hulk eating Hulk-A-Hulk-A-Burning Fudge, Peter and Tony’s hug, Falcon’s double wing punch, Mantis putting a Chitauri to sleep, Giant man pushing a Leviathan into one of the Portals, Spiderman flinching as Giant man steps over an alien he just pulled to the ground, for incorporating the individual character’s solo music scores within the soundtrack whenever they appear, for America’s ass, for Peter Parker explaining how Dr.Strange did the “sparkly thingy” he always does and most importantly, not pulling a Justice League with Captain Marvel’s timely entry.
I guess much like all the future set up in Age of Ultron went unnoticed or felt like an unnecessary detail at the time, lots of mini-moments in Endgame too will end up playing a part in future movies or the new Disney+ series that are to come. Talking of which, the future of the MCU seems to be majorly female and I’m all for it. Ironman, Antman and Hawkeye all have daughters. Pepper has a suit too now. Valkyrie is the queen of Asgard. There is a Black Widow movie in the making. Captain Marvel clearly kicks so much ass now. She is shown to hold back Thanos’ palm in almost the exact same fashion that Captain America did in Infinity war, only, he gets knocked out with a punch but she barely moves even with a headbutt. It is clear that we have a new captain and she is awesome.
Just like how Tony’s opening speech to Pepper about pulling one last surprise and part of the journey being the end can be understood to impart both his feelings towards dying away from Pepper as well as the MCU coming to an end pulling one final surprise, his final words too appear to hold so much more than meets the eye.
Everybody wants a happy ending, right? But it doesn’t always roll that way. Maybe this time. I’m hoping if you play this back… it’s in celebration. I hope families are reunited. I hope we get it back, in somewhat like a normal version of the planet has been restored, if there ever was such a thing.
God, what a world. Universe now. If you told me 10 years ago that we weren’t alone, let alone you know to this extent… I mean, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But come on, you know. That epic forces of darkness and light that have come into play. And for better or worse, that’s the reality Morgan’s going to find a way to grow up in. So I found a private area to record a little greeting in case of an untimely death on my part. Not that death at any time is ever timely.
This time travel thing that we are going to pull off tomorrow… it’s got me scratching my head about the survivability of all this. But then again that’s the hero gig. Part of the journey is the end. What am I tripping for? Everything is going to work out exactly the way it’s supposed to.
I love you 3000.
While this definitely fits the ending of the movie, the fact that no one had any clue that the universe would be this big 10 years ago definitely hints at how no one expected that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would grow to be this big when it began 10 years ago. After all, we were first introduced to the MCU when Nick Fury dropped in on a little visit to Tony in the post-credit scene of Iron man and his first words are – “You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr.Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet”. On top of that, given how Kevin Feige is constantly talking about Phase four and beyond being largely cosmic, Tony’s lines about how Morgan’s going to have to grow up in a world with such a populated universe, it could also be indication that the MCU will be dealing with these other, unexplored parts of the universe going forward.
If at all I must state a grievance with this movie, I have just one. When Tony and Scott are in New York, 2012 trying to create a distraction by giving past-Tony a seizure, Scott Lang quite literally climbs into Tony’s arc reactor to do it. All they needed to do was add couple line of dialogue there, something like this –
Tony : Careful Thumbellina, don’t push the wrong button and grow into a giant from inside my body.
Scott : Hey Mr.Stark, brilliant idea moment! Why don’t I get inside Thanos’ body and do just that?
Tony : How are you planning on getting inside Thanos exactly?
Scott : Well, his pants don’t seem to be armoured…
Tony : I’m intrigued. Let’s call that Plan B.