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At the End of the Game

Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2019


Avengers: Endgame was a movie alright!

My expectations were phenomenally high for this film. Lucky for me, it was a pretty phenomenal movie and definitely lived up to all the pre-hype that Marvel has been shoveling out over the past several months. I absolutely loved it...

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Needless to say I can't really talk about the film without spoiling some of the stuff that happens.


Trust me. If there's one film you do not want spoiled, it's this one. So absolutely do not proceed any further until you have seen Avengers: Endgame!

You've been warned.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

Spoiler Zone!

Alrighty then. Here's my spoiler-filled thoughts on Avengers: Endgame. Soooo much to unpack here, so I'm sorry it will be in random order.

I was surprised at how much I managed to guess right. I didn't always guess how stuff happened... but many of the critical beats I did. And here's how that panned out...

  • If there's one thing Marvel did not shy away from, it's the idea that this movie is the culmination of all the Marvel Studios movies that came before, and is an actual ending. Very quickly I put together that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born with Iron Man... and the current "Infinity Stones" chapter of the MCU was likely going to end with his death. It only makes sense. And, thanks to Tony Stark's narration at the end of endgame it actually does make sense. It was a very touching note to go out on.
  • The minute I heard that Black Widow's upcoming film was going to be set in the past, I knew it was likely that her number was up. Being right didn't make watching her go any easier. The character has been in So Many Movies and I'm sure that's why she was picked to go... her loss would be felt by fans of the movies. And it is. I wonder if Scarlett Johansson had any input into this decision. I would hope so. Marvel owes her that much.
  • In Ant-Man and The Wasp they beat you over the head with the fact that time works different in The Quantum Realm. Once Scott Lang became trapped there, I assumed that The Avengers would rescue him. I was wrong about that, but it was a no brainer to guess that time travel was going to be a primary element of the movie. I loved that he was such a big part of the film and really hope we get another Ant-Man and The Wasp movie. Perhaps it could be Giant Man and The Wasp?
  • With that in mind, I was 100% convinced that Captain America was going to be thought "dead" in the present, but actually be living in the past with his beloved Peggy Carter. And there is established story for this! In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Peggy says that the man she would marry would be among the men "Captain America saved" when he liberated the prisoners in the first film. Technically, Steve Rogers was there, so that's still true. Since Chris Evan's contract was up, I assumed he would have to sacrifice himself in some way, then get a jump to the past as a "reward" for all he gave up. What they came up with by having "Old Steve" appear was even better than that.
  • I was 50/50 on Thor surviving. My gut told me that he survives. But I accepted there was a very good possibility that he would be the one who would die wielding The Infinity Gauntlet to "un-snap" everybody back into existence. He is a "god" so that made sense since mere mortals would die if they tried. I'm glad it didn't go down like that. I am beyond glad that he's now going off with the "Asgardians of the Galaxy" at the end of the film. If there's any justice, he will make an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 before Taika Waititi comes back for Thor: 4 (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!).
  • And speaking of "Asgardians of the Galaxy"... how cool is it that we get Past Gamora taking the place of Gamora in the franchise? I mean, yeah, I know she's technically missing, but the possibility for humor between her and Peter Quill now are legion. Of all the characters (with the possible exception of The Hulk), I think Gamora's MCU arc has been the best. Her and Nebula's importance to the way things turned out is just so great. A real reward for fans of the Guardians movies.
  • I have to admit, I didn't guess anything to do with The Hulk. I thought perhaps the problems Banner was having turning into The Hulk in the first film would lead to him losing the ability altogether in the second. Then he would sacrifice himself in a gamma ray experiment to become The Hulk permanently. Bye bye Banner. Turns out that they came up with a solution to merge the two, which is really the best way to handle it. Some of the best and funniest moments in endgame were his. Very much want to see more of this character.
  • Hawkeye becoming Ronin like in the comics was the worst-kept secret of the movie. I didn't have to guess this because we already knew it was happening. What I could not have guessed was just how good he would be in the film. Likewise we knew that Hawkeye was going to survive because he has a Disney+ series in development.
  • From the end-credits scenes of Infinity War and Captain Marvel, we knew that Carol would be coming back to earth to help out in the battle with Thanos. What I love is that they gave her the short hair from the comics and didn't "depower" her so she overshadowed the rest of the characters. On the contrary, they made a point of making her as powerful as ever! Truly awesome, and I can't wait to see more of her in future films.
  • Pepper Potts becoming "Rescue" from the comics ("Lady Iron Man") was almost a forgone conclusion once you accepted that Iron Man was going to die. Though Gwyneth Paltrow has now stated that she's retiring from the MCU, so I guess that character isn't going anywhere. But does that mean that Rhodey becomes the new Iron Man? Time will tell. I like Don Cheadle a lot, so I would be happy to have him pick up the mantle of Iron Man.
  • We know that Vision is coming back for the Disney+ series WandaVision. What's surprising is that he didn't come back for Endgame. I thought for sure that Shuri would have made a "backup" (or whatever) of Vision's programming so he could be uploaded to a new body. Oh well. Guess they are saving that for the mini-series?
  • The elevator scene was brilliant is all the right ways... echoing the excellent moment from Captain America: Winter Soldier so beautifully... and going all "Hail Hydra" was one of my favorite moments in the entire film.
  • Seeing all the "Lady Avengers" assemble on film only makes me want to see an actual "Lady Avengers" movie. You would think that Marvel would be all over this. I hope they are.
  • Captain Marvel returning at just the right moment was the "OH HELL YEAH" moment in the movie for me. Watching her pound away on Thanos after utterly destroying The Dark Aster was epic.
  • Seeing Scarlet Witch in all her power was a glorious sight to behold. Her going toe-to-toe with Thanos was epic.
  • Captain America wielding Mjölnir (and Thor's reaction to it) so that he could go toe-to-toe with Thanos pretty much had to happen. There was no other way he could have done it. Also... nice to know that he is considered worthy.
  • Sam Wilson becoming the new Captain America makes more sense than Bucky (his past is just too dark)... but, man, was I really hoping it would be the other way around so Falcon could still be in the MCU! I love Falcon! That being said, I sure as hell hope that Sam Wilson as Cap gets his own movie. Soon.
  • I was actually happy that great characters like Black Panther, Shuri, Okoye, The Wasp, Winter Soldier, Wong, and all the rest had just a small part in the final battle. To give more time to all of them would be great, but then we'd have a 5-hour movie that lacked focus. This was the end of the Old MCU and it was their story. Now all the newer character get their time to shine in Phase Five.
  • I haven't seen the Game of Thrones battle with The Night King yet (Sunday!)... but... I have a hard time thinking that the final battle in Endgame will ever be matched. It was literally everybody alive in the Marvel Universe against everything. When the movie comes out on home video, I'm going to have to go through it frame-by-frame to try and absorb it all. There was just so much going on.
  • In the end, the thing I love most about how the Marvel Cinematic Universe works is the "interconnectivity" of it all (well, that and how amazing the movies are). Iron Man popping up in a Spider-Man film. Ant-Man and Black Panther popping up in a Captain America film before they even get their own film. Captain America popping up in a Thor film. Black Widow and Nick Fury popping up in oh so many films. It's what makes the MCU so fantastic and a true reflection of the comics. These characters don't live in isolated worlds. They are all connected in the same world. Avengers: Endgame took this to its most logical, most ambitious extreme. It could not have been cheap, so kudos to Marvel for spending the money to make it happen. It's a gift to the fans of their movies in every possible way, and the perfect note for two of their most important characters to go out on.
  • That being said... is anybody ever truly dead in a comic book movie?

Some things that didn't make sense for me...

  • I thought that only god-like beings could wield the Infinity Stones. We were told as much in Guardians of the Galaxy. So, technically, I was expecting that Thor would be the only one who could do so. Hulk and Iron Man both do, which feels inconsistent to me. Especially Iron Man. He's just a man! It's in his name!
  • As much as I loved Captain America being able to battle Thanos with Mjölnir, where is the lightning coming from? It's been made clear that Thor (being the God of Thunder) is where the lightning comes from. He just uses the hammer to focus it. So WTF?
  • There were no consequences for Nebula killing her younger self? I mean, I guess this just created a new branch in reality, but still... odd, right?
  • At least now we know how Loki will be alive to have his Disney+ series. Though I'm a bit confused as to which "branch of reality" he's alive. I'm assuming that they will make him alive in the "main reality"... but that's still a bit of a problem considering how The Ancient One explained things work... isn't it?
  • Tony snaps all traces of Thanos and his armies out of existence. But since this is Thanos from the past, how does THAT affect reality?
  • It was a bold move for Marvel to establish that, in the MCU at least, the past doesn't affect the future. This means that when The Hulk snapped everybody back into existence as they were five years ago into their future... well, there are bound to be serious consequences from that which we will never know. People come back whose spouse remarried and whatnot. This will probably be addressed in passing in various movies an Disney+ series... but... wow.
  • While I was absolutely thrilled to see Valkyrie return (and be made Queen of New Asgard!)... where in the heck did her winged horse, Aragorn, come from? Apparently pegasus are extremely long-lived like all Asgardians... but Asgard was destroyed and I didn't see any pegasus onboard the rescue ship. So was he on earth all this time? This makes zero sense. Cool to see him with Valkyrie, absolutely. But WTF?!?
  • I know that Doctor Strange had a pretty large part in Infinity War where he got dusted... but I am rather shocked that he didn't have a bigger part in Endgame. All they gave him was a flood of water to deal with? Lame. He's Master of the Mystic Arts! Drop Thanos into another dimension he has to fight back from or something!
  • Yes, I know that Steve Rogers had all the time in the world to return all the Infinity Stones (and Mjölnir!) to their rightful places in the past... but it still seems a pretty crazy idea for somebody with no powers whatsoever. How? I guess we'll never know. Maybe Cap is just that resourceful? Given the events that were in motion at the time some of the original stones were taken, he would have to be!

One thing I couldn't have possibly have foreseen was all the amazing cameo appearances from such a large number of MCU characters. And so many of them were epic! Here are the ones I can remember...

  • Stan Lee from All The Marvel Movies(!). His final cameo. It was the right moment in the right movie for that, which is kinda remarkable when you think about it.
  • The Ancient One from Doctor Strange was the biggest, most pleasant surprise... and I love what they did with her!
  • Happy Hogan, Howard Stark, and Harley (the kid from Iron Man 3!!) from Iron Man. All three of these were at moments that were emotional gut-punches, making Tony's death even more impactful.
  • Aunt May and Ned from Spider-Man. Just fleeting moments... but how cool is it that they were worked into the film at all?
  • Peggy Carter, Red Skull, Alexander Pearce, and an elevator filled with Hydra agents from Captain America. As I said above, I suspected Peggy would give Steve his "happily ever after"... and I had a feeling that Red Skull would be back (though not why). What shocked me was Robert Redford coming back for a small part. I just remain dumbfounded he would do it... but so glad that he did. I wonder how much money it took?
  • Young Hank Pym and Old Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne from Ant-Man. The Young Hank Pym moment from when he was working at SHIELD was more than brilliant.
  • Korg, Mick, Frigga, and Jane Foster from Thor. Jane was absolutely NOT expected since Natalie Portman infamously bolted from the MCU. That she would return for such a small part is a gift to fans of the character. And speaking of gifts... bless Rene Russo for making such an important appearance in the film. And I love that she understands time in the way she does so we didn't have to go through any stupidity and wasted moments and could just go to the emotional moment between a mother and her son when he's at his lowest point.
  • Queen Ramonda from Black Panther. ANY opportunity to see Angela Bassett on-screen is one I will take! Here's hoping we get more of her in future Marvel Studios movies... starting with Black Panther 2!
  • Nick Fury. As if they could have the movie without Nick showing up.

A few characters are kinda conspicuous by their absence...

  • The Collector and his brother The Grandmaster from Guardians of he Galaxy and Thor. Yeah, I know. Wouldn't make much sense. But to have Jeff Goldblum and Benicio Del Toro in the same scene together? Holy crap! How could you not make this happen? Hopefully in a future movie... because, damn.
  • Erik Selvig and Darcy from Thor. Given that they never went to Asgard with Jane, I get why they weren't in the movie. But surely they could have popped up somewhere in the film. They have been closer to an Infinity Stone than most people have been. Twice for Selvig.
  • Maria Hill from The Avengers. This is just plain odd. Was she at Tony's memorial and I just missed her?
  • Agent 13 (Sharon Carter) from Captain America. Since this was Cap's final(?) appearance, you'd think she would get a shout-out, but no. I do like the character (and Emily VanCamp who plays her) so I hope we're not done with her yet.
  • Monica Rambeau (and possibly Old Maria Rambeau) from Captain Marvel. Granted, it's much better if we save that for a future Captain Marvel movie, but still.
  • Nova Prime and the Nova Corps from Guardians of the Galaxy. Once the big battle began at the end of the movie, I really thought that they would show up to help in the fight. This would at least let us know the Nova Corps is still around after the "decimation" of Xandar. Bad enough that it happened off-screen in Infinity War, but to not give them a shout-out in Endgame? Boo.
  • Whiplash from Iron Man. I know most people hated him. I loved him. I loved Iron Man 2. How cool would it have been if a few VILLAINS had showed up for the final battle to lend a hand in the fight for all of earth? I would have loved Mickey Rourke popping out of one of those portals! Sure, technically he's dead... blew himself up at the end of Iron Man 2... OR DID HE?!?
  • General Thunderbolt Ross and Betty Ross from The Hulk. Betty I kinda get because Marvel has really tried to bury the Edward Norton infused The Incredible Hulk. But it's still a part of continuity, so... where is my Liv Tyler?!?
  • Odin from Thor. I mean, I know why (he had such a beautiful last moment in Thor: Ragnarok)... but couldn't they have had even a fleeting glimpse of him when Thor was in Asgard of the past? We get nothing? Lame.

And that's that. Though with a movie this dense, I'm sure I'll have to write an entirely new post once it gets released to home video and I can absorb all that happens a dozen more times. Until then? BRING ON PHASE FIVE...

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  1. Ren says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. Enjoyed it very much. Going again on Sunday.

    I think that all of the changes in the past are in alternate timelines. The only scene that appears to break this rule is Cap appearing on the bench. I’m tossing that up as directorial privilege for “better impact” rather than what should have happened: elderly Cap appears on the pad after the specified five seconds.

    I thought we did see Maria Hill at the memorial, just before Fury.

    Oh, and the one thing I didn’t see you mention is how stressful it must have been for Dr. Strange to know that the 1 in 14 million chance hinged on the behavior of a rat!

    • Dave2 says:

      Doctor Strange’s foreknowledge is something that was convenient when needed as a plot device in the first film… but laughably handled in the second. I guess since we don’t know exactly what he saw, there’s some play there, but it still seems utterly bizarre that his future-knowledge was dismissed so easily.

  2. martymankins says:

    Great write up. I loved this movie as well. Great ending to the 22 MCU movies over the last 11 years.

    One of my favorite pop culture references was Ant-Man mentioning Back To The Future multiple times. I mean, how could they not with time travel being the main plot of the movie getting the Infinity Stones back.

    I want to see this in the theater again.

  3. kapgar says:

    Yes, Maria Hill was, indeed, at the memorial. Was that kid standing alone at the memorial the one from Iron Man 3? I could not figure that one out. How did you? It was just such an unexpected reference.

    • Dave2 says:

      Weird. You’re the second person to tell me she was there. I was specifically looking for her and didn’t see her! And, YES… that tall lanky kid near the end of the pan was Harley. He I recognized immediately. I was very glad that they put that nod to IM3 in there, as Tony obviously had a huge impact on his life. I like the implication that they kept in touch after.

  4. Was a really good movie. And this was a great write up.

    Time travel makes my head asplode at the best of times. I’ve heard “the internet” explain that each time you go back in the past its a completely alternate timeline that in no way can alter the present. But then how does Cap end up back in the actual timeline on the bench?

    And so the entire team needs to be shrank to quantum particles via ant-man suits in order for the time travel to work. Except if you’re Thanos and then you can just do it without any practice. With your massive spaceships. And an army.

    Disappointed there wasn’t more screen time for Dr Strange and Captain Marvel.

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