The Avengers have well and truly assembled as Joe and Anthony Russo round off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga” and put the pieces in place for the next decade of spandex-clad superhero outings. After the box office behemoth that was Avengers: Infinity War, do the Russos succeed in raising the stakes (and our blood pressure) in Avengers: Endgame?
Well, it looks like we were right. Those various time travel theories came into play as the original six Avengers — and a few new additions — harnessed the power of the Quantum Realm and packed their bags for a trip down memory lane. From the Battle of New York to tragedy on Vormir, it’s all here. Amazingly, the Russos even manage to redeem the dismal Thor: The Dark World.
One of Endgame’s biggest cheers has to go to its dutiful fan service. Retracing some of the MCU’s most iconic moments, cameos from Frigga (Rene Russo), The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) make the MCU’s 22nd entry well worth the wait. Yes, it also looks like Natalie Portman could be coming back as Jane Foster, but you can’t win ‘em all.
Moving beyond the confines of what we’ve already seen, one of Endgame’s most moving arcs takes Chris Evans’ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark back to 1970. In search of some much-needed Pym Particles and the Tesseract, Endgame gives Tony Stark the relationship with his father that he never had. Cap also gets a fleeting glimpse of Peggy Carter — setting up his sweet swansong at the end of the movie. Given that this appears to be the end of the road for both Downey Jr. and Evans, it’s a triumph that Endgame ties up their arcs with such a poignant punch.
While we’d guessed Captain America would be putting down his shield before the credits rolled, he didn’t bow out in a blaze of glory like many expected. Sadly, it was Iron Man who bore the brunt of Endgame’s tragedy and had fans reaching for the tissues. Alongside the death of Black Widow to retrieve the Soul Stone, the ‘stark’ realisation that Tony’s death was the key to toppling Thanos means that the original Avengers have had their ranks decimated.
As it stands, Hulk (in his brilliant Professor Hulk form), Hawkeye, and Thor are the only ones who remain. By the looks of it, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor will continue his best Big Lebowski impression and add more comedy to the Guardians of the Galaxy. Although there was no tease of Adam Warlock for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3, we can expect the God of Thunder to join the hunt for 2014 Gamora in 2024 (are you keeping up?). Hemsworth’s role as Thor Odinson was peppered with a little too much comedy for some people’s liking, but for most, it trod just the right line between funny and farcical to place him alongside Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man as the jokers in the pack.
Gripes are few and far between, but if you ignore the Back to the Future-esque plot holes when it comes to time travel, there’s a slightly bigger problem when it comes to the female Avengers. While the likes of Okoye, Valkyrie, and Black Widow all made it out of Thanos’ big snap, all expect Scarlett Johansson’s PVC assassin are left in the shadows. This brings us neatly onto Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Weirdly the most under and overused character in the whole movie, it seems the Russos thought giving Carol Danvers a haircut as a nod to the comics could solve the character’s divisive reception. Instead, Captain Marvel is explained away by ‘helping’ other planets, only to turn up at the last minute as a supercharged saviour. You also have to think that Danvers putting on that golden glove could’ve saved Tony Stark’s poor insides from being fried like an egg.
However, there’s no escaping the grandeur of Endgame cementing itself as one of the best comic book movies of all time. As well as closing the book on most of the OG Avengers, the movie brilliantly keeps the wheels in motion for what comes next. There was a 50/50 chance that Bucky or Falcon would follow the comics and become the next Captain America. Opting to stick with the expanding diversity of the MCU, it’s Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson who is next to fly the flag as the star-spangled symbol of hope.
Cassie Lang was back (albeit a little older) and ready to take up the mantle of Stature for that planned New Avengers movie. Strangely, 13 Reason Why‘s Katherine Langford was MIA, meaning she isn’t playing Late Bishop, aka the ‘new’ Hawkeye. Who knows, maybe she’ll appear in the DVD extras. Finally, there was a HUGE signpost for how the MCU can introduce the X-Men further down the line. For those who didn’t pick up on the idea, Captain America returning the Infinity Stones to their rightful places with fear of creating alternate realities neatly opens to door for the idea of the Marvel Multiverse.
Trying to top Infinity War seemed like it was going to be a challenge that was bigger than Thanos’ chin, but thankfully, the Russos did in style. With new faces, old friends, and more action sequences than you can throw Titan’s moon at, Avengers: Endgame is rare proof that bigger really can be better. Now, it’s time for an emotional changing of the guard as we chart a new era of the world’s highest-grossing franchise. Here’s to the next 22 movies!
[Featured Image: Disney]