Avengers: Endgame had the mammoth task of resolving a decade’s worth of intricately woven super hero storylines spanning literal galaxies, but did it deliver? Fair warning – great, stonking SPOILERS lie ahead…
In a way, yes – character arcs were satisfyingly tied up amidst a litany of titanic movie sequences which were both visually pleasing and hit you right in the feelings. The final battle alone was a barrage of fist pump inducing moments: Captain America wields Mjolnir to give Thanos a major whomping; Hulk delivers an epic gauntlet snap courtesy of Iron Man’s customsizeable new glove; and Doctor Strange and the Masters of the Mystic Arts open dozens of portals over the battlefield, effectively (but not technically – see earlier snap) resurrecting all the heroes dusted at the end of Infinity War.
This is an undeniably impressive achievement where the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) pays its fan-service dues beautifully, however more than once the movie jarred in a way which, in the end, meant I left the cinema feeling a little underwhelmed…
1. Thor as an object of comic relief in the form of a fat suit and drunk cliché?
Thor is an Asgardian God who is characterized through his triumphs over repeated and tragic loss – Hammer; Asgard; Father; Mother; Brother; Father (again); Hammer (again); Asgard (again); Brother (again), and so on. During the Infinity Cycle his mental anguish is explored through extremely touching scenes where he is able to open up with candid and unselfconscious emotion – most recently evidenced in Infinity War during a tearful exchange with Rocket following the loss of Loki, Heimdall, and presumably half the population of Asgard. After each loss he perseveres with good humour – scratch that – great humour (the guy is hysterical) and god-like fortitude. So, for Thor to regress so severely in Endgame, and for him to be treated as an object of ridicule for much of the movie, feels like a real disservice.
2. The Banner/Hulk Quick Fix
From Age of Ultron through to the end of Infinity War the Hulk’s story arc was centred around Bruce Banner’s ever declining grasp over his grumpy green counterpart. Age of Ultron ends with the Hulk going AWOL, practically holding Banner prisoner on an alien planet for over 2 years and then in Infinity War, in a complete reversal, the Hulk flat out refuses to show up at all following his defeat to Thanos at the movie’s start. Endgame asks us to believe that in humanity’s most chaotic five years, with drastically limited resources, Banner and Hulk are able to put their traumatic past aside, call a truce, and fix a problem that has been hounding them since the Hulk’s incarnation (so much so that the entire plot of The Incredible Hulk movie centered around the search for a cure) – and all this takes place off screen and is only referred to in a few lines of dialogue?
3. A Funeral for Black Widow
Quite simply, where was it? In contrast to the Iron Man’s drawn out swan song (i.e. the entire movie) and austere viking-esque send off, Black Widow is side-lined and her fellow Avengers afforded mere moments of mourning. Of course the Infinity Cycle always has been about Iron Man at its core so it makes sense that he takes center stage, and yes in movie time their deaths were several scenes apart, but they actually died on the same day, fighting the same enemy! Did her picture (or ledger) not fit on the wreath or something??
4. Captain America – out of time
Endgame did time travel well, really well. They laid down the rules repeatedly and hilariously – you cannot change the future by changing the past, any changes result in an alternate time line – and left very little wiggle room. Then Captain America went off to the past and decided to stay there to get his dance with Peggy (all the warm fuzzies and totally worth breaking space and time for), but then “somehow” he came back to his original timeline… thus changing the future… which the rules say can’t be done… but still worth it.
5. Girl Fight!
When Captain Marvel relieves Spiderman of the gauntlet, he worries (in his unassuming, Spiderman way) that she may have trouble crossing the battlefield by herself – cue all the lady heroes lining up for a girl power action shot… yuck. Kudos to the MCU for its plethora of badass super women, but this scene is super patronising and ironically undermines its intended purpose. Presumably this was an opportunity for the MCU to flex its forward thinking gender credentials, but this unnatural centre staging of women who have spent the last ten years in supporting roles in a universe of super men (Captain Marvel being the lonely exception) just misses the mark. On the plus side, the completion of the Infinity Cycle opens up a universe of opportunity for MCU to develop it’s already diverse hero-scape – an opportunity it seems very willing to explore.