This post is nothing but atomic spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
The good news is, Endgame wasn’t actually quite what I was expecting, and I didn’t hate it with the ELE-level fury I felt about Infinity War. Probably because the Russos had already pissed all over Thor: Ragnarok, so they couldn’t make it that much worse.
(Actually, they did manage to make it worse, but when you’ve already murdered Loki and Heimdall… at some point you get numb to the tragic misuse of beloved characters, I suppose.)
Plot summary if you’re one of those few people who wants to be spoiled:
The Avengers (what’s left of them) find Thanos… after Thanos has already destroyed the Infinity Stones. Thor, understandably pissed off about this, cuts off Thanos’s head. This was not what I was expecting out of the first act of this film, by the way. Back on Earth, everyone is basically varying rates of sad, depressed, and rudderless, until the true MVP of the film, Henry**, accidentally releases Scott from the quantum realm. Scott rejoins the Avengers and suggests they perform a “time heist” to get the Infinity Stones from the past. There’s much discussion of how time travel actually works (don’t worry, they break all the second act rules in the third act) and everyone goes into the past to do a sort of MCU’s Greatest Hits and retrieve the old stones. One problem: future Nebula gets technologically linked to past Nebula, so Thanos finds out about the plan, and past Nebula infiltrates to get in on the time travel shenanigans. The Avengers, having assembled the Infinity Stones again, have Bruce Hulk snap everyone who got ashed back into existence (but fuck everyone who got murdered before, so Heimdall and Loki are still dead) and then past Thanos travels in time to get the stones from them. A battle ensues, the ultimate result being that Tony gets the gauntlet he made from the stones away from Thanos and uses the power to turn Mr. Butt Chin and all his forces into ash… at the cost of his own life. Then Steve goes back in time to return all the stones and stays in the past to finally have that dance he was promised. And the scene is set for the next Avengers team.
There were things I loved about this movie, and things I absolutely hated.
- There was a lot of pandering in this movie, and when it was pandering aimed at me, I was okay with that. There was a team up of all the lady heroes at the end. Pepper got to be a badass in a blue iron man suit. Captain Marvel punched a ship out of the sky. I am good with these things.
- There’s an entire part of the Thanos fight where Steve wields Mjolnir, and I. Lost. My. Shit. Way to reach all the way back to Age of Ultron and say yes, by the way, Steve is worthy.
- We’re going to have Sam Cap.
- Frigga got to be more of a character in this movie than she got to be in all of the Thor films, which is sad, but she has such a good scene with her son. Mostly. And I loved Frigga.
- Each of the original Avengers got to have a good emotional moment that brought them resolution… even Thor, with his conversation with his mom. (Though the ugly side of this in a moment). Steve finally got to do something selfish. Tony got to go down doing something selfless. Natasha (and boy more on this too) arguably got to clear her ledger. Bruce found peace with himself. And so on.
- Nebula was really great.
- I thought Thanos going Peak Internet Guy was fucking hilarious. He was absolutely miffed that the world dared to be ungrateful about his badly thought out plan. His entire speech boils down to, “Fine, I’ll make a better universe! With blackjack! And hookers! A universe that will appreciate how awesome I am!” Honestly, I wish he’d had this kind of meltdown in Infinity War because this is what finally shows how utterly bankrupt his entire plan is.
- Steve avoiding another elevator fight (which is another great callback) by saying, “Hail Hydra” also just about killed me. Kudos to the MCU for flipping the bird at that horrible comic plotline.
THE [at times laughably] BAD
- Time travel plots are kind of shit a lot of the time, which is why you’re always best off just kind of hand-waving them, Doctor-Who-style, as wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey things. It’s actually to its detriment that the film took such pains in the second act to explain how time travel did and didn’t work in this continuity, because then the third act happens and it all gets thrown out the window. Future Nebula shoots and kills her past self. Tony satisfyingly turns Thanos into ash, but it’s Thanos from the past who hasn’t actually done the Snap yet, so… yeah, happy paradox, everyone. It was hilariously bad. Like seriously, just next time airily handwave everything.
- This movie does not need to be 3 hours long. The second act is interminable, a long scroll through the greatest hits of the MCU… which yes, had its moments. But it was absolutely endless, and honestly more self-indulgent and fan-servicey than it needed to be. And I say this as someone who has been a dedicated fan, and has watched all but one of the movies (because fuck Doctor Strange).
- While the army versus army portion of the final fight was suitably epic, I was incredibly unconvinced by most of the heroes versus Thanos portion of it. And it’s because Thanos basically has no defined power level or challenges; he’s always whatever hero(es) he’s facing, plus just enough to come out on top. The exemplar of this, for me, is that weapon of his. When he’s hitting Tony with it, it’s denting up the iron man suit. Then as soon as he’s up against Cap and Cap’s doing a little too well, it’s taking chunks off the vibranium shield. Thanos is basically that annoying kid we all used to play pretend with, you know, the one who always had to win, and if you had “infinity!” power, he had “two infinities! I still win!” I didn’t find it tense or particularly interesting. It was just annoying.
- There was not enough Captain Marvel in this film. Yes, I know, we were mostly trying to lay the old guard to rest. Mostly, I just figure it’s because Carol is too damn powerful for them to know how to deal with her properly.
- So this film gave us “the first gay MCU character”!!! HAHAHAHA yep, sure is a nameless character who is in only one scene, someone who can be easily cut or dubbed over so other countries can continue to have queer-free MCU. On a certain level, I appreciated that they made his presence seem so normal, and Steve got to show he’s super cool with gay people, etc. But when the directors are running around, plainly expecting butt pats for this pittance? That’ll be a no.
- They sure did fridge Natasha. They even sent her to the planet of the Dead Lady People to do it, and had her kill herself to be in the soul stone, and it was visually such a call back to Gamora’s death that it was even more upsetting. Was this supposed to somehow redeem things, because she sacrificed herself willingly? Nat got the soul stone so the boys could stand around in the next scene and feel angry and sad. Perhaps in isolation, you could argue it’s a good character moment, but when you are doing this to THE ONLY WOMAN OF THE ORIGINAL AVENGERS, it is super not okay. Fuck you, Russos. (My headcanon will forever be that maybe the Soul Stone requires a soul in exchange, but the Red Skull is a fucking Nazi Troll who’s been lying to everyone about the terms. Because for fuck’s sake, WHY WOULD YOU LISTEN TO THE UNDEAD NAZI?)
- So… Hawkeye loses his family and thus goes on a murder spree across the globe where we specifically just hear about/see him slaughtering brown people. And his final confrontation before the reveal on his super questionable haircut is with a Yakuza boss, in Japan, who has a… katana? That’s some nuclear YIKES, right there.
- I am so incredibly upset about everything they did to Thor in this film. It isn’t that he’s fat, depressed, and dealing with PTSD… it’s that they make all of that into a joke. The theater I was in spent a lot of time laughing at things that made me super, super uncomfortable. Extra fuck-you points for all of the really mean-spirited fat jokes, many of which seem to have been added in post-production, including the scene-ruining moment when Frigga calls after her son to “eat a salad.” Here is a post from Tor.com that articulates my feelings on it better than I can, really. I also expanded on how upset I am about the entire treatment of Thor (and Loki, and Asgard) throughout all of the Avengers movies on my Patreon (public post). And kind of in line with the whole Natasha thing, where her being the only woman in the original Avengers adds some really inescapable context… Look, I honestly think it would be great if Thor stayed fat IF THEY STOP MAKING IT A JOKE but there is also an incredibly unfortunate undercurrent to having your only fat superhero being that way because he’s depressed and miserable.
How do I feel about the implication that there may be a Loki alive and well out there, thanks to him grabbing the Tesseract and peacing out? Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey-ness allowing, that is. Honestly, I wasn’t able to categorize that fact into any of these, because it’s like… yay for Loki. But fuck the Russos for deciding that an ever-so-slightly-well-adjusted Loki was too difficult to write and murdering Ragnarok!Loki unchangeably at the start of Infinity War. (Or perhaps Loki had to die because him being alive could have prevented Thor’s spiral into punchline-dom, which is also an infuriating thought.)
If you loved the movie, great. I did not, but I also am not here to convince you that you are wrong to like it. These are simply my own feelings, at last spewed out onto my blog so I can be done with them. I do tend to agree with my wise friend Matt Wallace, though. If you go into this movie wanting to like it, you’ll like it despite its flaws. If you go in not wanting to like it, you’re not going to. It takes a lot (like I don’t know, the stupid murder of your favorite character?) to shake good faith going in like I got turned to the dark side on Infinity War. I didn’t go into Endgame wanting to like it; I went in just hoping I wouldn’t hate it as much as the previous movie. And by that standard, it was a success.
Judge that how you will.
** For D&D reasons, all rats have become Henry. It’s a long story.