As popular movies go you’d be hard pressed to find something more of a pop cultural phenomenon than the MCU and wow did the box office explode when Avengers: Endgame came out.
After 11 years and 21 movies, Endgame had a lot riding on it and WOW did it deliver. As a fan of both the movies and comics, I was blown away with how fun, moving the whole thing was, all while culminating in a giant celebration of the past 11 years. The whole thing felt both like a satisfying ending to these characters as well as a very earned love letter to the fans.
The movie took bold narrative and character choices that even just a few years ago would have been deemed too comic-booky. Long gone are the days of putting superheroes in black leather jumpsuits, now we have a movie featuring a giant purple space-man obsessed with magic crystals and a talking raccoon flying a spaceship. And audiences can’t get enough.
Honestly, there’s so much packed into this movie it’s hard to find a place to start. Since it’s as dense as it is, I’m not going to go over a lot of individual plot points; I don’t have the time to write that, nor do you have the patience to read it. Instead, I’ll focus my review on three questions:
- Did the movie work as a direct sequel to Infinity War?
- Did it succeed in wrapping up a decade of films?
- And where can MCU go next?/Should it go anywhere?
DID ENDGAME WORK AS A SEQUEL?
Short answer: yes. There I saved you some reading (I’m kidding, please read the rest of my article, I’m desperate for the validation.)
Like I mentioned before, this movie had HUGE expectations riding on it. Infinity War blew audiences away with its surprisingly tight narrative that gave nearly everyone a coherent and emotional arc, expertly balancing multiple franchises and A list actors.
Endgame had the benefit of most of its predecessors being “dusted”, having an ensemble of only 9 rather than 20+ characters (and to think we were impressed when the first film balanced 6 Avengers, what a simpler time). This works in Endgame’s favour as it chooses to be a personal character picture rather than trying to outdo the spectacle of its space opera predecessor.
For at least the first hour of the film, there’s not even one big action set piece and it shockingly still works.
The opening scene of Hawkeye’s family getting dusted sets a great precedent for what this film is; a family that’s been ripped apart.
Crazy enough Infinity War and Endgame actually have the same opening, they both open with Thanos killing the families of an Avenger, but while Infinity War gave us space gods and hulks being bested by the Mad Titan, Endgame starts on a farm with a father and his daughter.
The illusion of movie sequels is we’re led to believe the next installment has to be “bigger and badder” than what came before when really diving deeper is what makes or breaks a sequel and Endgame does that very well.
Starting off with a bang, our heroes find Thanos two weeks after the devastating snap that erased half of creation. Our heroes quickly find out the Titan destroyed the stones and there’s no going back. In an act of rage, Thor beheads Thanos and just like that, we’re past the 20 min mark and the movie is forcing our heroes and the audience to really feel the devastation of their loss.
The character developments are nuanced and well thought out and by this point, most these actors have been playing their characters for around 10 years and it shows, they know these roles inside and out. The spectacle and action are all there, but this is first and foremost a character movie and I don’t know if there’s a better way to set off the sequel than that.
DOES IT SUCCEED IN WRAPPING UP THE MCU?
Like Tony says: “Part of the journey is the end.” In more than a few ways, Disney and Marvel struck gold when they found a way to crack the shared universe code. Comics are a never-ending story, Pick up an Avengers comic today and you don’t need to know 50+ years of history, but all those stories all happened in continuity.
Whether it was 1963’s Avengers #1, 1992’s The Infinity War or 2018’s Infinity Wars (yeah … there’s been at least 5 Infinity Wars over the past 30 years, you should definitely check out 2013’s Infinity by Jonathan Hickman, it’s incredible) it’s all happened. And whether it’s a Kree-Skrull War, a Civil War, or an Infinity War, things always revert to the way they were before.
The MCU had an easy out and could have easily had Tony snap his fingers and erase the past five years while keeping his daughter, but they decided to do something the comics can’t do and actually give us an ending.
Now, of course, there will be more Avengers movies down the line, after a few years there will be a new roster, but it’ll be a roster without Tony, Steve, and Nat, which is a pretty bold move.
Going into the movie most people were pretty sure this was going to be a swan song for most of the original six and I guess in true Thanos fashion we were half right. Losing three of the six was a tough blow, but the fact they had such an emotional impact even though we saw them kinda coming is pretty impressive. Not only that but to have the final shot of the movie be a romantic slow dance between Cap and Peggy might be my favourite thing about the film. It didn’t end with an explosion, but a love song.
The whole thing felt like a love letter to a devoted fan base, while still being a satisfying ending to the past 11 years.
WHERE CAN THE MCU GO NEXT?
So here’s a secret about us comic geeks who liked this stuff at our own risk before it was cool: for the past 11 years, we’ve had a bit of a superpower of our own. We’ve always been able to tell with a decent amount of certainty where the MCU was heading.
Way back in 2008 when I was watching Iron Man in theaters, one of the most exciting moments for me was when Coulson tells Tony “Just call us S.H.I.E.L.D” instantly I knew: “Oh they’re gonna make an Avengers movie.” Or when Bucky was about to fall off the train in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, my first thought was, “Oh I wonder if they’re going to do The Winter Soldier.”
Now? Well, now your guess is as good as mine. And I hate it. Right now it looks like Marvel’s stepping away from big interconnected events and focusing on more self-contained stories. So sure I can tell you that the new Scarlet Witch and Vision T.V. series (yes, that’s a thing) might be based on last years The Visions comic (another really good one, go read it). But I’ve lost my ability to tell you what’s going to happen next, and that kind of excites me.
As much as I’m annoyed at losing these powers I’ve had for over a decade, I think it’s a really good move on Marvel’s part to step away from the big events for a while. They only have a few franchises slated now and are very aware they’re going to need to give audiences breathing room if they don’t want to give us that dreaded “superhero fatigue” that everyone said would happen after 2012.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a very different type of Avengers team say five years down the line. Maybe they could pull a page from 2014’s book and make them a broke street level team now that there’s no more Stark funding?
Whatever happens in the future you can count me in, because I don’t think there’s a chance Marvel has any plans of stopping (just do the math Disney made over $4billion with just two movies). It’s a creative juggernaut and I think it’s fair to say that comic movies are here to stay.