The Biggest Movie of the Year Delivers, For the Most Part

Walt Disney Studios

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Walt Disney Studios

John Orzechowski, Head Writer

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If you’re alive, you’ve probably heard of the MCU and The Avengers. What started in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr.’s career-reviving Iron Man has evolved into a 22 movie saga that explores the farthest reaches of time and space, from the Queens based Spider-Man to the space pirates of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Most of them are really good. There’s a few missteps along the way (Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World), but none are really bad and all are enjoyable and rewatchable. And that’s what really matters.

Last April, the Titan Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War and half the population of the universe ceased to exist. And from there, we get Avengers: Endgame.

Endgame is an incredible movie, but it has flaws.

First, what I liked: Almost everything.

The plot, while complex, was not confusing. There’s time travel, doppelgangers, and different realities, but I was never truly lost. I think that’s the first time I can say that about a movie that involved time travel to such an extent.

Major Spoilers Ahead. Most of the characters who starred in the first Avengers movie in 2012 met their ends in this movie, either by death or retirement. As a lot of people predicted, and even more people spoiled for me before I saw it, Iron Man dies. I won’t tell you how. Black Widow also dies. We’ll come back to her. Steve Rogers goes back in time and ends up staying to spend his life with Peggy Carter. Hawkeye retires to his farm and continues teaching his daughter how to use a bow. Hulk just kind of hangs out and Thor joins the Guardians of the Galaxy. Except for those two, everyone gets a fitting end to their story.

This movie set up the new phase of Marvel. Spiderman, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Scarlet Witch are some of the names that are going to be key players in the new Avengers. Along with names that we’ve already been introduced to, Adam Warlock is going to show up soon, as hinted at in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Disney bought the rights to Fox, meaning that we may see the Fantastic 4 and X Men soon. In the MCU nothing is totally normal, but now is the best time for a restart that doesn’t include wiping out half the population.

Even though we knew that all the dusted characters would come back somehow, it was still really satisfying seeing Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and everyone else we care about walk through those portals.

The action scenes were awesome. CGI heavy, yes, but enjoyable all the same. The way they revisited stuff like the battle of New York, from the first Avengers movie, and Asgard, from the Thor movies, was very well done. Except for the fact that Marvel couldn’t seem to find Anthony Hopkins to play Odin for the Thor scenes, so they just brought back Rene Russo to play his mom, who we absolutely don’t care about.

The character maturation of Iron Man is probably the best thing about the whole movie. In the first Iron Man movie, within the first fifteen minutes we see Tony Stark skipping out on award shows to go gamble, drinking on the job, and hooking up with random reporters. In the second one, he decides spontaneously to partake in some race in Monaco that almost gets him killed, he loses his company, and throws a rager in his house that culminates in him fighting War Machine in his armor. Iron Man’s story never called into question his courage or his willingness to help Earth, it just called into question his maturity. When would he grow up? This movie answered that. In the future, his family is what drives him to do everything. In the past, he connects with his father, something he was never able to do. He decides he’s not going to make his father’s mistakes and originally refuses to participate in the Avengers plan.

Now some stuff I didn’t like, from minor to major.

The biggest running gag in the movie was Thor. Thor felt serious guilt over Thanos’ snap because he was about six inches from stopping it (Go rewatch Infinity War). So in Endgame, which takes place five years after the snap, Thor has become an alcoholic and a coward. And he’s got a beer belly. When we first see him, playing Fortnite with a bowl of Guacamole resting on his gut, it’s funny. But it doesn’t change. The whole time, I expected him to call down lightning and go back to normal or cut his fat rolls off with his axe or something. It bothered me that the most powerful character in the MCU was so pathetic. Even during the final fight with Thanos, when his eyes were channeling lightning, it didn’t seem right.

In Infinity War, Proxima Midnight (the woman who works for Thanos) corners Scarlet Witch on the Wakandan Battlefield. She makes some comment about how Wanda is going to die alone. Then Black Widow and Okoye show up and Black Widow says she’s not alone, and then they fight and somehow Midnight gets chopped up. I forgot exactly what happens.

Come on.

Scarlett Witch is one of the most powerful people in the MCU. She can take on an alien. She doesn’t need a feminist moment to fight another woman.

It happened again in Endgame. During the final fight, when Dr. Strange comes back and opens up portals for everyone who got dusted to fight Thanos’ army, there’s a scene where almost every woman in the MCU shows up. It would be a cool moment if I actually really cared about any of these characters. But except for Captain Marvel, all these characters played a supporting role in some movie led by a dude. The scene was obviously supposed to get people cheering in the theater, but it really just exposed how much work Marvel has to do on their female roles. I don’t care that Pepper Potts finally got her Rescue suit. She’s gotten about 20 minutes of screen time in the last 6 years.

We have to talk about how dirty they did Black Widow. At the end of the movie, Tony Stark gets a funeral. Obviously. Iron Man was the first MCU movie. But (lets ignore the Incredible Hulk because everyone else does) guess who the second Avenger introduced was? Black Widow, in Iron Man 2. She’s been around longer than everyone except Stark. And there’s not a mention of her. It’s like the Russo brothers were rushing to finish the movie and forgot what they did with her.

One more thing about the whole progressive movement: Captain America leads some counseling group in the aftermath of the Snap. Director Joe Russo cameos as a gay dude talking about his first date in five years. Then we never see or hear from him again in the movie, and I doubt he’ll show up ever again. I don’t think this is what people had in mind when they said they wanted LGBTQ representation in the MCU.

The character maturation of Iron Man is probably the best thing about the whole movie. In the first Iron Man movie, within the first fifteen minutes we see Tony Stark skipping out on award shows to go gamble, drinking on the job, and hooking up with random reporters. In the second one, he decides spontaneously to partake in some race in Monaco that almost gets him killed, he loses his company, and throws a rager in his house that culminates in him fighting War Machine in his armor. Iron Man’s story never called into question his courage or his willingness to help Earth, it just called into question his maturity. When would he grow up? This movie answered that. In the future, his family is what drives him to do everything. In the past, he connects with his father, something he was never able to do. He decides he’s not going to make his father’s mistakes and originally refuses to participate in the Avengers

Really, Iron Man is the best part and worst part of the movie. At the beginning of the movie, he and Nebula are floating in dead space, about to run out of oxygen, when Captain Marvel rescues them and carries their ship back to Earth. Expectedly, he’s pretty broken over the experience and his failure in Infinity War. So when the Avengers go after Thanos in the first 45 minutes, he bows out. He’s done. Flash forward five years, and he’s settled down with Pepper and they have a daughter. When Captain America approaches him and tells him about their time travel plan to go back and fix everything, he doesn’t know how it would work, and he doesn’t want to give up what he has now. And that’s fine. That shows how much he’s grown up since his first movie. But then he figures out how to make time travel work.

So then he has to choose between keeping his life that he’s achieved and helping bring back half the universe.

But the thing is, he doesn’t. He figures out how to make it work and keep everything that he has now. So now he’s got no reason to say no and it’s just another Iron Man saves the world movie. Marvel could have made a pretty obvious parallel with his journey in this movie to Thanos’ in Infinity War if he had to choose between his daughter and the rest of the universe. This is no knock on Downey Jr.’s performance. It’s really good. Maybe even Oscar worthy. But the Russo brothers refuse to put him in a tough position. Because it’s pretty obvious that if he had to choose between the two, he’d choose his daughter, and then Iron Man wouldn’t be a major part of the plot, and who wants that?

Overall, the movie is great. The positives far outweigh the negatives. Even though Thor is a coward, Iron Man doesn’t have the stakes he really should, and Thanos is a less convincing villain in this one, it’s still massively entertaining. It’s hilarious in some scenes, heartbreaking in others, and just all around fun.

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