After the trauma that was Avengers: Infinity War for Marvel fans, this massive Infinity Saga concluded with Avengers: Endgame. It was always going to be a challenge to wrap up 21 films in one go. If anyone was going to be up for the challenge, it was Marvel.
From the beginning, characters were left having to deal with aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War. Seeing the aftermath of Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapping half of all life in the Universe honestly hits different when watching it from the middle of a global pandemic. Having the invincible Avengers lose to Thanos a second time was heartbreaking.
The premise of time heist was interesting enough. Some fans complained that simply re-stating “That’s not how time travel works” isn’t really an explanation at all. This being a superhero movie, this was as good of an explanation as we could have expected in order to suspend a certain amount of disbelief to imagine the invention of time travel by a genius, billionaire philanthropist.
One of the strengths of Avengers: Endgame was the ability to wrap up previous stories that we’ve followed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) since Iron Man. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) deserved closure with his father. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) deserved a second chance to say goodbye to his mother.
Another story that got an entirely unsatisfactory conclusion was that of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). This character has been done so dirty over the years by Marvel, from being portrayed as incredibly over-sexualized to holding out for a solo movie that finally came in 2021. This character deserved so much better, and this really was the pinnacle of one of the MCU’s most disappointing arcs.
Another weak link in Avengers: Endgame was Thor’s storyline. It becomes more clear each and every time we see this character that Taika Waititi is among the only filmmakers capable of handling Thor and his stories, as was made clear in Thor: Ragnarok. Let me be clear: it was a great idea to explore the massive amount of trauma this character had experienced. But the fat suit and fat jokes weren’t the way to do it. Thor’s reunion with his hammer almost made up for it though, and was a powerful message that he still is and always will be worthy.
In spite of some weaker elements, the epic moments Avengers: Endgame gave us were fan service of the purest form. We always knew Captain America was worthy, and seeing him wield Thor’s hammer was the validation we needed. Marvel could have given fans the “Avengers, Assemble!” moment in the group shot of The Avengers, but it was far more satisfying to see it here, years in the making. And the resurrecting of all of the vanished heroes we knew was coming was played to absolute perfection.
Even after rewatching Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark’s death remains just as devastating. Fans have watched this character go from a playboy to a father with a heart of gold underneath all the bravado. Although it was a natural endpoint of this character’s story which has spanned three solo movies and multiple team-ups, it was no less heartbreaking for fans to have to say goodbye.
Many fans expressed problems with Captain America’s ending. I submit that this was always where this character was meant to end up. For those angry that his iconic shield should have been passed to Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), it’s clear that Bucky approved of the decision to pass it to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). It was a smart way to ensure this character’s continuity.
Ultimately, Avengers: Endgame was the wrap-up of part of what is already a colossal franchise. It was an effective way to hand the franchise off to the next generation, and a compelling case for the MCU’s Phase 4. It was bittersweet in so many ways, which just made it all the more heartbreaking to say goodbye. This was Marvel storytelling at its finest, and completely distilled everything that makes this franchise great.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream on Disney+.