This movie is amazing and compelling on so many levels. “Avengers: Endgame” manages to resolve the chaos from the preceding movie, tell a compelling story and pay homage to the vast array of films that came before it. It also delivers on action and pacing.
The story revolves around the Avengers, now decimated by The Snap. They are on a quest to undo Thanos’ universe-wide genocide. Motivated to save their friends and families the remaining Avengers team up for this final mission.
Endgame opens up with Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) on his farm enjoying a summer day with his family. He is teaching his daughter archery as his wife and sons look on. We can assume this is during his house arrest and that he is making the most of his time. Barton turns to retrieve an arrow that his daughter fired only to find that his family is gone. The camera shows us their wind-borne ashes floating away as Hawkeye begins to panic.
We then see that Iron Man and Nebula are stranded in space. Stark hasn’t eaten much for the last twenty plus days and the ship they’re in is running low on oxygen. Nebula, although portrayed previously as a ruthless assassin desperate for her father’s attention has moments of compassion and nurturing; she tends to Stark in his feeble state. The billionaire genius records a final message for his beloved Pepper Potts. Just before Tony closes his eyes for the last time the two are rescued by Captain Marvel (aka Carol Danvers) and brought back to Earth. The former Kree lands the jet meanwhile the collection of remaining Avengers rush to Stark’s side.
As Stark comes around we see that the Avengers compound is stirring about with stressed out and anxious superheroes. Captain America, War Machine, Bruce Banner (currently unable to turn into the Hulk), Black Widow, Rocket and now Captain Marvel and Nebula discuss the damage done by the Snap and how they could help. Stark mouths off at Captain America chiding him for his absence during the invasion of Earth. Iron Man is so sick at this point that he passes out after lecturing everyone, fainting as he clamors that he knew this would happen.
After a brief discussion, the heroes, including Thor (who was sulking in a corner), decide to track Thanos in space. Nebula tells the heroes where his planet is located and set course. Once there we see a scarecrow composed of Thanos’ armor hanging on a pike. His giant purple hand grasps a large berry-like fruit as his tall limping figure hobbles to a quaint hut. The mad Titan calmly gets ready to eat his repast before being ambushed. Bruce Banner in the Hulkbuster Armor bursts out of the ground, Captain Marvel grabs him by the throat and Thor slices his Gauntlet-wearing arm off as the Titan screams in pain. When questioned where the Infinity Stones are Thanos responds that he destroyed them and that they were a “temptation.” The Avengers react in anger and disbelief. Thanos boasts before Thor swings at his neck hacking his head clean off. Rocket, shocked, demands what Thor has done.
“I aimed for the head.” he replied in reference to the previous movie’s mistake.
We then see “Five Years Later” appear on the screen and the movie shows us how our heroes are doing: Captain America attends support groups where he counsels others to get over their pain, Black Widow runs intergalactic surveillance from Avengers HQ, Hawkeye has become a cold vigilante, Bruce Banner has merged with the Hulk to form a lesser powerful but vastly intelligent Hulk (Professor Hulk), Thor has retreated to a small town in Norway where he is a lowly hedonistic king of the few Asgardian survivors, and Iron Man is a proud husband and father living in a cabin in the woods.
By freak accident, a rat steps on Ant Man’s controls to the Quantum Realm, which releases the spunky hero into the present. Scott Lang immediately sets out to find his family and discovers that all his associates are gone minus his daughter, Cassie. Scott finds her and the two share a tender moment before he seeks out the Avengers. He is inspired with an idea thanks to his newfound knowledge of the Quantum Realm. With some convincing, Scott manages to explain that the heroes can enter the Quantum Realm and use it to navigate their way to the past where they can undo The Snap. Our heroes agree and regroup. Among their recruits the least willing to help is Iron Man, whose expertise is in dire need. The proud father declines to help, explaining that he has a family now and that is all he ever wanted.
Stark contemplates the plan and deep within his consciousness he feels guilt about not helping to undo the universe-wide massacre. He struggles between that and enjoying the life of solace and quiet that he feels he’s earned for the last five years. With the help of his now wife, Pepper, he finally agrees to help. Stark drives up to meet Captain America, returning his shield and improving Scott’s technology.
The team work together and confer multiple times in order to brainstorm the best way to use the device. This makes sense because there is a lot that can go wrong in time travel, but several minds brainstorming is better than one. The team also compiles their knowledge of the Infinity Stones and where and when they can be found. Thor, although drunken, informs them the Reality Stone is on Asgard in 2013, the Mind, Space and Time Stones are luckily in New York City in 2012 during the Chitauri invasion, while Nebula tells them the Soul Stone and Power Stone can be found in space in 2014.
With their conferring done the Avengers agree to a final consensus: the team will go to three different points in time to borrow the Infinity Stones in order to create their own Infinity Glove and thus engineer their own Snap. Once this is done the heroes will return the Stones to their points of origin. The Hulk explains that them changing history does not affect their own timeline. While this satisfies the tone and spirit of this story (no inconvenient and complicated plot threads) this makes absolutely no sense, especially after the results are further explained in 2012.
The heroes embark on three different time stamps: New York 2012 during the Chitauri Invasion of Earth, Asgard 2013 on the day of the Dark Elf Invasion, and Morag 2014 (even though two of them will fly from there to Vormir).
Various hi-jinks ensue and the team faces many odds both hilarious and grave; Captain America must fight himself, Iron Man and Ant Man must incapacitate Tony Stark in a crowded hallway, Hulk must convince the Ancient One to part with the Time Stone even though it will create branches in reality, Thor must sneak past his mother although he misses her deeply, Black Widow sacrifices herself and Nebula inadvertently gives away their plan and position to the Thanos of 2014.
In an incredible twist no one saw coming, Nebula’s “connection” glitches and footage from her cybernetic parts leaks over to the current Nebula in 2014 who is desperate to appease her stepfather Thanos. Thanos shocked and bewildered to learn that this is Nebula is from the future forces his daughter to keep transmitting. The bewildered tyrant observes in shock as he learns that he succeeds in halving the universe only to be killed and the heroes disappear to undo his work. This part of the film is fascinating because we don’t know what Thanos will do. He has already learned that he will win but now we see that his plans will be undone no matter what. He forces his loyal daughter to replace the future version of herself and sabotage the Avengers’ mission.
The team reappears in 2023 without Black Widow. Clint informs them of her sacrifice. Hulk is angered and the other heroes are heartbroken. Nonetheless, they press on and Hulk puts on the new Iron Man made Infinity Glove. The green genius snaps his fingers and suffers an agonizing stream of pain and heat, which severely damages his arm. We see a flash of light and then silence. Hawkeye turns to his phone and sees his wife calling. Clint nervously answers only to be overwhelmed with joy and elation as he is greeted by the voice of his beloved.
However, this tender moment is interrupted by tremendous exlposions that rock the Avengers HQ. Our heroes scream in shock and fear as Thanos’ ship bombards them from above. Ant-Man, Rocket, War Machine and Hulk are in danger of being killed when Hulk holds up the entire weight of the building.
Meanwhile Thor, Iron Man and Captain America spot Thanos eerily sitting still in the middle of the rubble. The mad Titan is calmly and patiently wearing his armor and wielding a massive double-bladed sabre. Thor summons a lightning storm and wields both Stormbreaker and Mjonlir (which he borrowed from himself in 2013). The three march forward. Thanos greets them with a boast: “You couldn’t live with your failure. Where did that bring you? Back to me.”
The three founding Avengers pummel the Titan with all they have: lightning blasts, repulsor rays, rubble, shield throws and massive punches. The giant despot shrugs them all off and is about to kill Thor with Stormbreaker until Mjolnir slams into the Titan with full force knocking him hundreds of yards back. To his surprise, Thor’s delight and the audience’s thrill Captain America fully wields Mjolnir and begins pounding on Thanos with it. He appears to be successful using newfound Asgardian powers with strategic hits until Thanos gets the upper hand and breaks his shield in half.
Captain America struggles to get to his feet and groans in pain but still buckles in his shield and gets to his feet. Wobbly or not the patriotic hero stares down the mad Titan with anger and determination, ready to give his life. He stares down this new Thanos who is so close to victory.
Thanos, as opposed to Infinity War, appears here as just a brutish tyrant bent on destroying the world. There is no creativity here, no ambiguity and no redeemable qualities. He boasts to Captain America that ‘it’s personal’ that he will destroy this ‘annoying planet.’ Before the mighty Titan can press on with his massive army multiple portals appear out of thin air. Falcon greets Cap on the earpiece and the vanished heroes return. Captain America rallies all the heroes and proudly utters the words “Avengers Assemble!” We get a climactic battle scene akin to Lord of the Rings before many meaningful meetings; Spiderman hugs Tony Stark, Pepper flies in wearing Iron Man armor, and Black Panther greets Hawkeye and claims the Glove before dashing for it. Thanos thwarts this attempt to get rid of the Infinity Stones by destroying Ant Man’s van (I hope it was insured). The mad Titan faces off with Scarlet Witch who begins to tear off his armor and parts of his flesh. Before he can suffer irreparable damage the despot calls a volley from his flagship. The massive cannons eviscerate the surface, killing heroes and enemies alike.
Thankfully, Captain Marvel shows up and destroys the ship like swiss cheese. She destroys the last weapon of Thanos and joins the fighting. Unbeknownst to her, however, Thanos is grabbing the new Infinity Glove. He boasts before getting ready to snap his fingers again.
Captain Marvel charges at the mad Titan and prevents him from snapping his fingers. Angered, the purple giant headbutts her to no effect. She begins to pull back his finger, about to break it. In a desperate attempt Thanos removes the Power Stone from the Glove with his other hand and punches Danvers with it. The mighty heroine winces in pain as she is knocked back, presumably unconscious. The villain, still determined, places the Stone back in the Glove before Iron Man grabs his fist and places a restraining device in it (much like in the previous film). Thanos breaks the device apart and dispatches our hero before smugly grinning. “I am…inevitable.” he boasted as he snapped his fingers.
Clunk! A dull metallic sound was heard but no effect. The confused villain looked at the Glove, which was empty and devoid of the Infinity Stones. He looked back at Tony shocked. “And I…am…Iron Man!” exclaimed Tony Stark as he snapped his fingers. His gloved hand contained the gleaming Stones. A burst of light flashed and Thanos’ minions began to fade to dust in droves. Amazed and yet calm the mad Titan simply sat down and exhaled softly as he too was reduced to dust. Thanos was finally no more.
The heroes looked on in shock and delight as all the villains were turned to dust before their eyes, thus nullifying the threat to the universe. However, their joy was turned to grief as they looked at Tony Stark sinking to his knees. Like a triumphant yet exhausted Olympic athlete Tony Stark breathed heavily as his body began to shut down from using the powerful Stones. His gaze was glazed over and his breaths began to cease. We get a touching moment when Rhodey says goodbye, followed by Peter Parker congratulating Stark for his victory this time he holds Stark and Pepper softly tells Tony “it’s ok. You can rest now.” This was amazing storytelling. This completes the arc that was begun in Iron Man and appeased his inner fear in Iron Man 3: the fear that he would not be able to save the ones he loved. In this brave and heroic act of sacrifice he finally does.
We then get a touching funeral attended by all the heroes of the Marvel Universe, even the boy from Iron Man 3 who helped Tony escape was present. The expressions of those present were sad, somber and contemplative. Hawkeye tells Scarlet Witch that he wishes that Black Widow knew that they won. Scarlet Witch reassures him that she does.
Finally, we get Captain America carrying a briefcase in one hand and Mjolnir in the other. He seems set for a mission and is flanked by Hulk, Flacon and Winter Soldier. The Hulk tells him that he can operate the time machine from his end as Rogers returns the Infinity Stones back to their point of origin. Cap agrees and tells him he’ll be back. With a sudden whirring sound the patriotic hero vanishes as his friends await. About a minute passes and the heroes (as well as the audience) froze in alarm. Finally, our heroes glance at an old figure on the bench. It is Steve Rogers who appears happy. His face is beaming with unspoken satisfaction. Falcon greets him and asks him if he completed the mission to which Rogers nods his head. Sam notices a ring on Rogers’ finger and smiles, asking him about the woman. With a satisfied grin Cap says he refuses to comment. Nonetheless, Steve leaves Falcon with a parting gift: his Shield. Falcon says he can’t accept it but Rogers reassures him that it is his. Sam reluctantly accepts and becomes the new Captain America.
I must say that I love this movie. This film is filled with twists and turns and manages to make the audience happy with a good ending while still telling a good story. Avengers: Endgame is very much about the Avengers themselves. It shows us their lives in times of crisis; how they handle it and how they band together. We get a sense of family from these characters who captured our imagination since 2008. I love the character-driven plot and the genuine fun this film is packed with. It pulls off its mission very well.
However, this film does have a few glaring flaws. Infinity War managed to tell a good story and take the franchise to unfamiliar territory: the heroes fail. That film told a cohesive plot with dozens of characters all vying for screen time (that is no easy task). Its premise was simple: the baddie wants the McGuffins that were introduced in previous movies to wreak havoc. We relate to him and we see a series of adventures where he succeeds. Simple. Endgame, on the other hand, is tasked with fixing Thanos’ actions and giving our heroes an unexpected end. The fact alone that Endgame has a task whereas Infinity War is simply telling a story from a creative point of view makes it less burdened by an agenda. This makes Endgame a weaker movie than its predecessor.
Also worth pointing out is the Time Heist plot. This plot is fun and inventive but also messy and confusing. Hulk explains that changing the past doesn’t affect the future but the Ancient One says it instead creates multiple realities. If this is so what happens next? Will these alternate timelines come into play in the future? Where is the confused 2014 Gamora? If changing the past creates alternate realities then how is old Steve Rogers still in the main timeline and not in an alternate timeline by changing the past? He stayed with Peggy which never happened before. Shouldn’t he just have vanished to an alternate timeline per the Ancient One’s comments? How is Loki on Asgard as a prisoner in 2013 when he now has escaped in 2012?
I hate these questions and the confusion it produces. There is a reason I hate time travel plots. It is rarely consistent with its own rules and it rarely leaves the plot in tact. I abhor this choice to go back in time when the Russo Brothers could have simply come up with another way to undo the Infinity Stones. This is especially true thanks to there being multiple powerful magical items in the Marvel Universe.
My final gripe with this film is that Thanos fights the heroes again but it is a different Thanos. While the idea of a younger more arrogant Thanos appearing is creative it feels far less impactful than his role in Infinity War. He seems too cocky and generic in this film. Also, the final fight feels hollow to me because the Thanos that caused all this to happen in the first place is dead and gone. I hate that. Why couldn’t they have used the same Thanos or introduced a new villain? For this reason I enjoyed the fight but felt a little cheated inside at the climax.
My final assessment of this film is an “A” grade at 8.7 out of 10. This film is amazing and manages to tell a successfully character driven story that is sure to engage and entertain. However, it’s the logical parts of this film that suffer because of the overused time travel trope.
Thanks for reading.