By Priyanka Sarkhel (‘20)
In the wake of the cliffhanger served to Marvel fans worldwide after the release of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, directors Anthony and Joe Russo return once again to deliver closure with Avengers: Endgame.
Up until the release of Avengers: Endgame, the film was kept under tight wraps by everyone involved in it, even to the point where the actors had no idea what story was going to be told in the grand finale of an era that started 10 years ago with the release of Iron Man in 2008. Despite the theories circulating around the fan base, no one could guess what exactly the Avengers will do to avenge the 50% of the universe wiped out by Josh Brolin’s Thanos. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos, with a snap of his infinity-gauntlet, turned characters like Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Scarlet Witch to dust.
The film opens with Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) losing his entire family during a picnic right at the moment Thanos snapped his fingers. Hawkeye was not seen in the previous film because he was committed to settling down with his family rather than fight, but he returns in this film with a new haircut and a chip on his shoulder, making his character more dynamic and involved in the events of the film than ever seen before.
In the aftermath of the battle with Thanos on Titan, a starving, sickly Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is on the Guardians’ spaceship with Nebula (Karen Gillan), drifting and almost on the verge of death. Nebula and Stark display an odd, but endearing friendship, an interesting thing to see considering Nebula’s history as a villain in the Marvel franchise, being Thanos’ daughter.
Stark and Nebula are saved by the convenient arrival of Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who returns the ship back to Earth, and then proceeds to never have an interaction with Tony Stark ever again?
Regardless, the film being the three-hour long monster that it is, events are rushed along fairly quickly, but the pacing did not feel too overwhelming or overdone, so the little inconsistencies matter much less, although they are a bit confusing in the grand scheme of things.
Stark returns to Earth to find broken Avengers licking their wounds just like he is.
Here, Stark reunites with his estranged friend and teammate, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who we last saw interact with Stark in Captain America: Civil War, where the two characters fought each other in an explosive political disagreement turned war.
After 11 years of playing Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. puts his all into his performance in Avengers: Endgame, something that can be shown quite obviously in the scene where a , frail, skinny, and sickly Stark lashes out at the Avengers, specifically Rogers, for not listening to him when he warned them of a greater threat that would attack Earth from outer space years ago.
The issue, however, is not his anger at the fact that the other Avengers did not listen to him, per se. It’s that Rogers, the person his father, Howard Stark, idolized as a man of honesty, bravery, and valor, lied to him about his parents’ death. This lie, brought to light in Captain America: Civil War, tore the two apart, leaving one to resent the other, and eventually, have to fight Thanos separately in Avengers: Infinity War.
Audiences are led to believe by both the directors and the actors that the reason the heroes lost in the previous film is because the two leaders were not working together, which makes Rogers and Stark’s relationship even more integral to the plot of Avengers: Endgame.
In the trailers, the audience is led to believe that the plot of the Avengers: Endgame revolves around finding Thanos, stealing the infinity gauntlet from him, and reversing the events of the previous film by using the infinity stones. However, during the movie, it is quickly revealed that the trailers actually only summarized the first half hour of the film.
The Avengers find Thanos, but they do not get what they need from him. Thanos, who retires contently as a farmer on his peaceful planet, destroyed the infinity stones to make sure they could never be used again. Hindering their plan, the Avengers had nothing else to do besides kill Thanos, which Thor (Chris Hemsworth) does by officially “going for the head.”
After this moment, there is a five year time gap where every character deals with the impact of their loss in their own way. Thor becomes an overweight, alcoholic recluse who plays Fortnite. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) makes amends with The Hulk and exposes himself to more gamma radiation in order to become a hybrid of Hulk and Dr. Banner. The concept is essentially Bruce Banner in Hulk’s body. Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is searching for her friend, Clint, who has gone on a vigilante murder spree after he lost his entire family. She uses the help of War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to look for him. Steve Rogers/Captain America started a support group for those still mourning their loved ones in the wake of Thanos’ snap. As for Tony Stark/Iron Man, he settles down with his wife Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) at a lake house to raise their daughter, Morgan (Lexi Rabe).
Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) returns from his time in the quantum realm to propose a possible solution to Thanos’ destruction: a time heist. The time technicalities in this film are very hard to understand, even for a devoted fan. It takes a couple of times to fully absorb the concept, but once it’s been dissected carefully, the movie makes much more sense.
And yes, there are plenty of Back to the Future jokes.
For a fan who has been watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2008, Avengers: Endgame was an homage to all of the previous films. Audiences got to witness moments in past movies from a different perspective, so fans got to revisit the past with an added twist. Of course, taking a risky path like this is bound to raise questions in terms of continuity and making sure the story gets told in a way that makes sense, but the Russos and the writers, Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, manage to tie everything together decently so that audiences can follow what’s happening.
For the most part.
While it is impossible to make everyone happy, and every character did get their respective ending, Captain America’s ending in particular left many fans scratching their heads, especially considering the two different explanations both the Russo brothers and Markus and McFeely are giving.
According to both Anthony and Joe Russo, Steve Rogers’ life with Peggy Carter was lived in a different timeline. So then how does that explain how he returned to the original timeline with a brand new shield?
According to Markus and McFeely, Steve Rogers was Peggy Carter’s husband and the father to her children all along, and he was simply closing the loop by deciding to go back in time to be with her. So Steve kissed his blood related niece (ew) , Sharon Carter, in the previous Captain America films? Does this mean the events that took place in the Marvel TV show, Agent Carter were just all irrelevant?
Continuity issues aside, Tony Stark, on the other hand, does receive a meaningful ending which closed his arc perfectly. Stark and Rogers were foil characters, in the sense that Stark began a selfish man, but ended a selfless man, and Rogers began a selfless man, but ended as a man who made a selfish decision.
Stark’s ultimate sacrifice of his life was Robert Downey Jr.’s way of bowing out of his role as Tony Stark as well, a character that he has played for eleven years.
His death, as well as Natasha Romanoff’s death, mark the ends of the heart and the soul of the Avengers.
While Stark’s character arc ended with him becoming selfless, Romanoff’s character arc ended with her letting herself be vulnerable. She began as a character who only knew her mission and how to manipulate her way to complete it. In 2012’s Avengers, she said “love is for children,” but as the franchise progressed, Romanoff realized that she had a family with the Avengers, and she is willing to do “whatever it takes”, including give up her life, for the Avengers’ purpose.
Overall, Avengers: Endgame was more than just the closing of a chapter, it was a segue for the beginning of a new one.