By Niki Taylor
This article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. Beware.
After 11 years of box office hits and a culmination of now 22 movies, Marvel Studios has hit another home-run with its latest release Avengers: Endgame. With a staggering 2.2 billion dollars in just the first week and a half of its release, Avengers: Endgame is already the second highest grossing movie of all time; the dethronement of Avatar no doubt near in the future. At the start of the film, Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo finally shed light on the location of Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton (AKA Hawkeye). We see Clint on his family’s farm with his wife and three children getting ready for a nice lunch outside. Clint turns his back for two seconds and his entire family turns to dust because of Thanos’s stupid little snap. Clint then goes on a five year serial killer spree, but that’s ok, he’s just grieving.
Audiences are then treated to a scene showing Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Karen Gillan’s Nebula playing paper football while stranded on a spaceship on the brink of death. Eventually, the two do get rescued by none other than Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and make it back to Earth in one piece. This is where the Russo Brothers begin to take my emotions on the best and worst rollercoaster ride I’ve ever been on. Once Tony and Nebula have made it back to Earth safely, the audience witnesses the fallout of Tony Stark and Chris Evans’s Steve Rogers (Captain America) after the events of Civil War. Tony gives Steve a piece of his mind while simultaneously going insane and ripping out his IV. This was a very important scene to include in the film because of the complicated history between Iron Man and Captain America that couldn’t just be skimmed over for the sake of saving time.
I would also like to point out that Robert Downey Jr.’s acting in this scene was nothing short of amazing. In fact, his whole performance in this movie was astonishing and unquestionably one of his best. His performance is even generating Oscar buzz; an award that RDJ is long overdue for. The Avengers decide that they want to bombard Thanos on his little farm planet and get the stones back. This includes them having to go to space, something many of them have yet to do. The scene with the Avengers (minus Tony) going to space includes one of the most gorgeous shots I’ve ever seen in a movie. The shot is a close up of Steve’s eyes from off to the side and in the reflection of his eyes are all the colors and stars in space, moving around them as they blast off for their mission, showing the beauty of space and Chris Evans all at once. This shot is an intentional parallel with a shot of Tony’s eyes from Avengers when he’s falling back to Earth after sending a nuke through an alien portal, ultimately saving New York.
Much to the surprise of Marvel fans everywhere, Thanos is killed within the first twenty minutes. I certainly was not expecting this; however, the movie obviously doesn’t just end there. The remaining Avengers went to Thanos in the first place to get the Infinity Stones back from him, but he destroyed them just days ago. At this point in the film, I was utterly baffled at how in the world this movie was going to last for two and half more hours with the main villain dead and no apparent way to bring back those who were dusted. My faith remained strong in my favorite superheroes. That is until I saw “Five Years Later” written across the screen. I’m sorry, but how do you just not do anything in FIVE years. That’s a little excessive, especially for the Avengers. In the five years that had passed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a lot had happened. Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang (Ant-Man) is finally rescued from the Quantum Realm (thanks to a rat) and plants the idea of time travel into the Avengers’ heads. A seemingly impossible idea is their only hope, and they need none other than Tony Stark to help them make it plausible.
While the other Avengers were sitting at home doing absolutely nothing, Tony Stark got married and had a kid. I repeat: Tony Stark got married and had a kid. I’m still not over it. I will never be over it. Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark has a wife and kid; and I’m utterly enthralled by them. Tony has a five year old daughter, Morgan, played by the very talented and very adorable Lexi Rabe, and is married to his long time on-again-off-again girlfriend Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Tony has finally found a sense of peace and happiness in his new beginning; that is, until the Avengers show up about their little time travel theory. One thing leads to another and the only reason Tony ends up agreeing to help them is after they’ve left and he sees a framed picture on the counter. Now, this isn’t any ordinary photo, this is a photo of Tony and Peter Parker (Spiderman), played by Tom Holland, holding a Stark Internship Certificate upside down. Someone needs to tell Peter Parker the only reason he’s alive is because Tony looked at a picture of him and got so sad he invented a time machine.
After inventing said time machine we get delivered one of the most iconic, saddest, and sweetest lines of the MCU by Morgan Stark. “I love you 3000”. This line was actually incorporated by RDJ himself because his children really do say that to him, which makes this moment all the more heartfelt and memorable. The Avengers are neck deep in the past when things start going south. Uh oh. Someone pass the tissues to Niki, she’s getting emotional again. First of all, I saw this moment coming from the moment I realized Clint and Natasha were assigned to retrieve the Soul Stone from Vormir. For those who are unaware of what this means, to get the Soul Stone you have to sacrifice something you love, and Clint and Natasha do in fact love each other, even if their relationship is strictly platonic. Thanos got the stone by pushing his “daughter” Gamora off of the cliff. I hope you can see where this is headed. Surprise surprise, my favorite little Russian spy decides to sacrifice herself and I’m left sobbing in the theater because of course my favorite female character is now dead. Thanks a lot, Marvel.
The other Avengers are off on their own adventures in time, unaware of the sacrifice Natasha just made. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner (Hulk/now Professor Hulk) gets the Time Stone. Nebula and Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes (Rhodey/War Machine) get the Power Stone. Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), who’s fat now by the way, and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon get the Reality Stone. Thor wasn’t much help for a while, but he does manage to bring back Mjölnir (his destroyed hammer) from the past, proving that he’s still worthy even if he’s suffering right now. Steve, Tony, and Scott are tasked with getting the Mind Stone and Space Stone in the form of Loki’s Scepter and the Tesseract. This brings the audiences all the way back to 2012, to the events of the first Avengers movie. Obviously, it doesn’t all go as planned.
It starts off with 2023 Steve, Tony and Scott hiding in Stark Tower while watching the 2012 Avengers handle the clean up after Loki. At this point in the movie I was unaware that the peak of cinema was about to happen in front of my own two eyes. 2023 Tony informs 2023 Steve that his outfit from 2012 did “nothing” for his ass. 2023 Steve is obviously embarrassed and says “No one asked you to look, Tony”, to which Ant-Man quips back “As far as I’m concerned, that’s America’s Ass.” No more than five minutes later we see 2023 Steve fighting 2012 Steve for control of Loki’s Scepter (in which 2023 Steve wins). 2023 Steve stands over his past self who’s knocked out on his stomach, checks out his ass, and says “That is America’s Ass”. This is when I knew I had experienced the peak in all of cinematic history, Marvel or otherwise. Steve Rogers checking out his own ass from 2012 and making sure that everyone knows that it is America’s Ass™. Peak cinema. Mark my words.
Anyway, once they’re all back in the present (sin one redheaded Russian spy), the Avengers create their own Infinity Gauntlet with the stones and have Professor Hulk be the one who snaps everyone back from dust. This proves successful when we see Clint get a phone call from his previously dusted wife. Hooray Avengers! All is well. Except it isn’t. 2014 Nebula switched herself out with 2023 Nebula and has brought 2014 Thanos and his army to the present. Thanos blows up the Avengers compound and our heroes are struggling to get back on their feet. Luckily, they do, and the fight begins.
At one point in the fight Thor, Cap, and Iron Man are all fighting Thanos; not very successfully I might add. Thanos is about to kill Thor with Stormbreaker (Thor’s axe) when we see Mjölnir start to lift off the ground. Who could possibly have control over Thor’s hammer? Who could possibly be worthy?? The hammer flies through the air, hits Thanos (ultimately saving Thor) and flies back into none other than Steve Rogers’ hand. I went absolutely berserk in the theater along with all of my other fellow Marvel fanatics. This was it. This was the moment we’ve all been waiting for since 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron when it’s shown that Cap can move the hammer slightly; something no other human has ever been able to do.
However, things take a turn for the worse when all of the Avengers seem to be down for the count. Cap’s shield is broken and Thor and Iron Man are nowhere to be seen. Thanos unleashes his entire army, consisting of the Chitauri, his followers, some weird “space dogs” (as seen in Infinity War), and some weird space gorilla creatures. There seems to be no hope left for the Avengers; until we see Steve stand up. The camera switches to a wide shot and it shows Steve, with his broken shield, standing alone against a massive, seemingly unbeatable army. But that’s just who he is. The kid from Brooklyn who never knew when to run away from a fight. He hasn’t changed one bit. He stands alone; until he doesn’t have to anymore.
Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (Falcon) starts to talk through Steve’s comm, “Steve? On your left”. Sam flies through one of Doctor Strange’s (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) portals over Steve’s head, back from the dead. Portals begin opening all around Steve, revealing hero after hero who were all dusted, but are now back to help save the world once again. At this point I was so overwhelmed and so unbelievably in love with this movie that I was bawling. I was crying tears of joy and excitement and disbelief that I was actually getting to experience something like this. It may seem a little over the top for “just a movie,” but it’s not just a movie.
The heroes fight. We get an all female team up (without Black Widow which I am still salty about), a long overdue hug between Peter Parker and Tony (in which Tony looks at Peter like he’s seeing the universe for the first time), and some amazing fight sequences and references to previous MCU films. It seems like things are starting to look up. I got my hopes up a little bit too high. Tony, with a slight of hand, takes the Infinity Stones from Thanos after he manages to get them back. Thanos tries to snap while saying, “I am Inevitable”, but he doesn’t have the stones. Tony does. Tony reveals the stones on his gauntlet and says, “And I am… Iron Man”, and snaps his fingers. Thanos and his army disappear. They did it. They beat Thanos. But not without a price. Tony Stark is propped up against a piece of debris. His face is pale and he looks on the verge of death. Knowing what was about to happen I began absolutely bawling. How was I supposed to deal with my hero dying. He’s surrounded by the Avengers and Pepper, who helped fight Thanos in the Rescue armour. Peter tells him that they won, and that Tony did it, he saved them. Tony dies. I die.
There’s a funeral for Tony attended by all of the remaining heroes. We see that Tony has left a message for Morgan and the other Avengers in which he says to her, “I love you 3000”. Nothing is okay anymore. After the funeral ends, Happy Hogan (Tony’s longtime friend and head of security, played by Jon Favreau) asks Morgan what she wants to eat to which she replies “Cheeseburger”. This is a direct reference to when Tony got back from being kidnapped in the first Iron Man movie and asked for a cheeseburger. The tears were still flowing.
The film ends with Steve going back to return the stones to where they originally took them. He says goodbye to Bucky Barnes ( AKA Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan), exchanges identical lines with him from the first Captain America movie, another reference that made my heart happy. When they try and bring Steve back from the past, he doesn’t return. Instead, he stays in the past, and lives the life that Tony told him to get, with Peggy. Bucky spots a figure on a bench not too far away, already knowing who it is and what has happened. Steve is old, 100-something, and he’s lived a life. Steve gives the shield to Sam, passing down the Captain America mantle, something that Sam undoubtedly deserves.
This movie took a lot out of me. It took away the heroes that I looked up to and will continue to look up to. It developed the characters that I’ve grown attached to over time and made them into people that I aspire to be like. But it also made me feel something that nothing has ever made me feel before. I don’t know how to describe it, but there is nothing, nor will there ever be something again, that has made me feel what I did while watching this film. For those who haven’t seen it yet: 3000/10. For those who haven’t seen any Marvel movie yet: your life must suck, because if you don’t love this universe and these heroes 3000, then your life must be very, very empty.