In 2008, Iron Man was released in cinemas, starting over a decade of superhero movies within the same continuity known as ‘The Marvel Cinematic Universe’ (Or MCU for short). At last, all the build-up and anticipation has recently culminated in Avengers: Endgame, a 3 hour movie phenomenon. I don’t normally state my official opinion on films and TV shows because I find that too many people make definitive statements and comparisons that don’t give much leeway to considering events from another viewpoint. However, I have been looking into doing reviews for a while now and picking one of the best selling movies of all time seemed like a good place to start.
Avengers: Endgame picks up after the conclusion of the previous Avengers movie, Infinity War. We first see Hawkeye with his family, moments before he witnesses them disappear as a result of Thanos’ infamous finger snap which wipes out half of all living creatures in the universe. Even though fans had a pretty good idea about what had been happening to Hawkeye since his absence in Infinity War, Marvel Studios made a good decision to include that as the first scene, as it immediately readjusts the audience to the grim tone that the MCU is now in. The next scene shows Iron Man and Nebula drifting in the Milano, slowly running out of resources before being saved by Captain Marvel, who then delivers them to Earth. When they reunite with the surviving members of the Avengers, they discuss their next move. With the help of Nebula, they deduce where Thanos escaped to after the ‘snap’, prompting Captain Marvel to declare that she will go to kill Thanos. The team then insists on going there together. What I think worked well in this scene was the inclusion of Captain Marvel. Many people thought that she would be an overpowered addition, or one that seemed shoehorned in at the last second, but I think that at this point she is very much needed. The rest of the Avengers seem broken, distraught and unsure of what to do next, especially when compared to how we see them in other movies. Captain Marvel’s forthrightness reminds them that they are not the only ones who have suffered and that action needs to be taken, despite what they may be feeling. Upon confronting an injured Thanos, the Avengers discover that he used the Infinity Stones again, this time to destroy the Stones themselves, thus eliminating any hope the Avengers had of bringing back the other half of the population. Filled with rage, Thor wastes no time in decapitating the Mad Titan, a call back to his failure in the previous movie to stop Thanos before it was too late. Once again, the scene does well to reinforce the dark atmosphere of the movie from such an early point.
The movie then skips to five years after the ‘snap’. Captain America holds a support group for people who have trouble moving on (a heart-warming gesture made even more poignant considering he was frozen for 70 years), Black Widow organises the rest of the superhero community to help out across the world, Iron Man lives a peaceful life with Pepper and their daughter Morgan, and Hawkeye has taken the mantle of ‘Ronin’, bringing his own lethal sense of justice to criminals wherever he finds them. The status quo seems to be that of a world with no hope of going back to the way things were until Captain America and Black Widow discover someone at the entrance to their compound: Ant Man, who to the outside world had disappeared during the ‘snap’. It turns out that he had been trapped in the Quantum Zone and was recently brought back to the regular universe due to the timely intervention of a rat who happened to scrawl across the control monitor that sent him there. With this revelation, the Avengers pitch an idea to Iron Man: to use the Quantum Zone (where time flows differently) to go back in time and get the Infinity Stones to undo the ‘snap’. However the plan, which Ant Man dubs ‘The Time Heist’, is initially rejected by Iron Man as he does not want to tempt fate with the life he has now. Eventually, Iron Man figures out the formula to make it work and heads over to the Avengers’ compound to team up with Captain America, Hulk (who now retains the intelligence of Bruce Banner), Black Widow, Thor, Rocket Racoon, Nebula, War Machine, Ronin and Ant Man. Using the Pym Particles, they travel back to specific dates in the past where they can obtain the Infinity Stones. Many people already guessed that time travel would be involved at some point during this movie and so it lacked the novelty that the producers were probably hoping for. However, it does feel like it is the natural progression for the Avengers. The first film dealt with someone trying to conquer Earth, the second film dealt with someone effectively trying to destroy it and the third dealt with someone attempting to wipe out half the universe itself. It would only be a matter of time (no pun intended) before they tackle the subject of time travel.
It is at this point that the audience begins to understand how the remaining events of the film will most likely play out. True to form, as with other films that deal with time travelling hijinks, hilarity and chaos ensues when the modern day Avengers come face to face with figures from their past. Nebula’s memories are shared with her 2014 self, allowing the Thanos of that time to become aware of his future success and eventual demise. This allows him to follow the heroes back to the future where he once again becomes the main threat. Before that happens, the rest of the Avengers obtain the Infinity Stones but unfortunately, Black Widow does not return alive. When she and Ronin go after the Soul Stone, they learn that a soul must be sacrificed in return, thus leading to a brief scuffle as neither are ready to let the other one die. Admittedly, I was a bit conflicted with this scene. On the one hand, I did appreciate the tension as I didn’t want to see either of them die but both gave compelling arguments as to why they should be the one to commit the sacrifice. Ronin noted his recent vigilante activities as being a line he could not cross back from, whereas Black Widow wanted to give him the chance to be reunited with his family. On the other hand, I felt that the impact of the scene fell short as we were already aware that a sacrifice of this nature had to be made as Thanos did the same thing with Gamora in Infinity War. Nevertheless, the impact of Black Widow’s death does permeate throughout the movie as the remaining original members of the Avengers struggle to come to terms with it. It was only after seeing their reactions that I realised why Marvel chose to kill her off. Black Widow had very strong ties with the other members, ones that could arguably be described as motherly/sisterly. She was best friends with Hawkeye, who thought she deserved a second chance from her chequered past. She had a slightly romantic connection with the Hulk, proving to be a person that could calm him down. She stuck by Captain America’s side during the events of Winter Soldier and eventually aided him in Civil War. Wasting no effort in honouring her sacrifice, Hulk puts on Iron Man’s newly created ‘Nano Gauntlet’ and uses the Infinity Stones to bring back all those were previously wiped away in the ‘snap’.
This is the point that I would say the movie reaches its final (and most exciting) act. Thanos, who has followed the Avengers from the past, blows up the compound and sends Past Gamora and Past Nebula to retrieve the Infinity Stones. He then waits amidst the devastation for the inevitable showdown. Whilst the other Avengers are pinned down in the rubble, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man confront Thanos. Due to his time travelling adventure, Thor now has both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker in his possession, leading to him feeling rejuvenated and possibly more powerful than ever before. The image of the lightning coursing around his body as he held both weapons was already enough to give me goosebumps, and yet, there was still two more scenes to come that would blow it out of the water. During the fight, Thanos has knocked Iron Man and Captain America away, pinning Thor down to the ground with Stormbreaker. Just as things begin to look dire for the God of Thunder, we see Mjolnir crash into Thanos from behind, but it is clear that Thor wasn’t the one controlling it. We then see the hammer slowly lift from the ground and return to the person who threw it: Captain America! It is very rare that a scene in a movie gets me so excited that I literally hang by the edge of my seat, but there was no denying how much of an impact it had on not only me, but other people in the cinema. Thor then remarks that he always knew Captain America was worthy of Mjolnir, which refers back to Avengers: Age of Ultron, where Captain America attempts to lift the hammer and it shakes just visibly enough for Thor to notice. With a renewed pace, the fight continues and Captain America wields Mjolnir in perfect synchronicity with his own shield as if he had rehearsed it before. Eventually, Thanos once again gains the upper hand, and Captain America is stood on his own against Thanos and his army (An homage to a similar scene that actually happens in the comic books.) As all hope seems lost, Captain America hears the voice of Falcon in his earpiece calling his name and uttering the words ‘On your left’. Suddenly on cue, portals begin opening around him, out of which emerge the Avengers who had previously been wiped away from the ‘snap’. We see Spider-Man, Black Panther, the Wakandan Army, Doctor Strange, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Wasp all join the fray, along with the other Avengers who were trapped under the rubble. A breathtaking panoramic shot of the Avengers is then seen before Captain America summons Mjolnir to his hand and says the famous line ‘Avengers Assemble’. The two armies charge into each other and we see various interactions between the main characters, including a heartwarming reunion between Iron Man and Spider-Man as the former eagerly embraces the latter. From that point on, it’s a frantic mission to push back Thanos’ army whilst also making sure he does not get his hands on the Infinity Stones. In a scene that caused quite a stir (intentionally or otherwise) the female Avengers all band together to keep Thanos away from Captain Marvel as she escorts the Nano Gauntlet away. Whilst it came off as slightly cheesy, and arguably overly PC in some people’s eyes, I enjoyed the scene as did showcase the power of the female characters that sometimes on the whole get sidelined. Captain Marvel then fights the Mad Titan and holds her own extremely well, considering that Thanos has obtained the Gauntlet at this point. Utilising the Power Stone however, he blasts her away from him, thus removing the suspicion that fans had been harbouring of Captain Marvel completely stealing the show and solving the problems all by herself. With a look of desperation and a raise of his index finger, Doctor Strange confirms to Iron Man that this is the winning scenario he had foreseen in Infinity War. Taking the hint, Iron Man confronts Thanos and amidst the action manages to take the Infinity Stones back from him. In a moment that will be remembered for years to come, he references the first Iron Man movie and declares ‘I am Iron Man!’ before snapping his fingers and decimating Thanos and his army. But of course, the cost is too high. Iron Man loses his life in the process, which many fans had been expecting to see for quite a while. When the battle is done we see Iron Man’s funeral which is attended by his loved ones, friends and teammates. Thor decides to put Valkyrie in charge of New Asgard, before he joins the Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain America is tasked with returning the Infinity Stones to the places in time where the Avengers took them from, but when the Hulk attempts to summon him back, he is shocked to discover that Captain America has not returned. It is then that Falcon and Winter Soldier discover an old man sitting at a nearby park bench. Approaching the bench, Falcon discovers that it is in fact Captain America, who returned to the point when he was frozen in time and lived a long ordinary life with Agent Peggy Carter. He then hands Falcon the shield and requests that he picks up the mantle of Captain America. I was surprised but happy with this ending for the character, as if anyone has deserved the right to live an ordinary life, it would be Captain America, and in various moments throughout the movies, it is hinted that this is the one thing he secretly longs for.
Looking back at the film, it would be safe to say that it is most definitely one of the best movies that Marvel has ever made. The only reason why I would not outright declare it to be the best is that I feel that this movie doesn’t stand on its own for those who have not seen previous Marvel movies. Whilst anyone can enjoy the quality of the movie itself, I do feel like it is mainly catered to fans that have been on the cinematic journey of the past decade to truly treasure. All in all, I consider Avengers: Endgame to be an excellent swansong to the current phase of Marvel movies. If not for a few moments of slow pacing during the first act of the movie, and the fact that we did not get to see a dramatic Hulk vs Thanos rematch that was sorely needed, I would say that it is perfect. I give Avengers Endgame 9.5 out of 10.