Avengers: Endgame – “Part of the journey is the end”

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Have you seen the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise? This is more my random thoughts than it is the standard review. “Avengers: Endgame,” directed by the brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, premiered in these United States Friday, 26 April 2019. At the time of its release, the film was arguably the most anticipated instalment in the franchise. What would one expect? It brought to an end a narrative which can be traced back to the 2008 Jon Favreau directed “Iron Man.” That’s exciting!

“Avengers: Endgame” promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb

SPOILER WARNING: If you have yet to see the film, please feel free to stop reading at this point. There are spoilers in this article which will make you want to pull your hair out at the Groot!

How did “Avengers: Endgame” measure up to the hype? Was the production everything you hoped for? Was it too long? Inclusive of the 1996 Kenneth Branagh directed “Hamlet,” I have seen several films which have been longer this three hour superhero driven extravaganza.

Apparently, the best way to dispatch a supervillain is to go for the head. In “Avengers: Infinity War,” Thanos (Josh Brolin) told Thor (Chris Hemsworth) “You should have gone for the head.” Thor takes this advice to heart and does exactly that. When Rocket (Bradley Cooper) asks Thor about what he did, the G-d of Thunder responds, “I went for the head.” Consequently, there were more than a few giggles in the movie theater audience. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. The people that laughed probably remembered what it was Thanos said to Thor in the previous film.

The opening sequence to the film, like the trailers the Russo brothers put out to entice us loyal fans to the movie theaters, was a misdirect. We thought the film was going to go in a certain direction. We were all wrong. The brothers leaped us five years into the future. This is not the movie we were expecting.

I remember reading numerous articles about what we should and should not expect from this production. If you were expecting all the heroes to make it to the closing credits, that would have been a little too much to ask for. Like “Game of Thrones,” in this film, everyone is expendable. If you have seen “Avengers: Endgame,” you will know which characters do not make it to the end of the film. You will also know which one of the first Avengers gets to grow old with his one true sweetheart.

Did anyone ask for Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) or Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to sacrifice themselves for the greater good? Even though I was not under the illusion everyone would be safe from harm, I know I didn’t ask for these characters to die.

While it was a nice touch seeing both Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the suited-up Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), I would have liked to have seen Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel’s (Brie Larson) cat eat something … or should that be someone? A cat, even if that cat is a shapeshifting alien, must eat. Instead of giving some of us what we desired, we got a seriously *ugly Thor. From the way the G-d of Thunder looks in this film, Thor kind of reminds me of Hyacinth Bucket’s (Patricia Routledge) brother-in-law, Onslow (Geoffrey Hughes), from the British situation comedy “Keeping Up Appearances.”

As for the clothed Hulk, I am not entirely sure that works. Professor Hulk made his first appearance in the Marvel Comics publication The Incredible Hulk #377. Published in Jan. 1991, the first volume of the series was titled “Honey, I Shrunk the Hulk.”

Why does New Asgard look familiar? After doing a little research, I discovered the scenes for New Asgard were filmed in St. Abbs, Scotland. I should have known. I knew it looked familiar. Personal connections to a film or the locations in which scenes are filmed make productions less distant. St. Abbs was one of several places my parents and I would spend quality time together while I was growing up.

The time travel narrative was not completely unexpected, the suites Tony creates so that they can traverse the Quantum Realm safely were seen in the trailers. Unlike a lot of productions which utilise time travel as a storytelling tool, “Avengers: Endgame” did not devolve into trope driven farcical nonsense. There was serious thought that went into crafting this narrative. I must admit, when I realised the only way for the Avengers to truly defeat Thanos was time travel, I was more than a tad concerned writers would do a mess the ending up completely. If you are going to do a “Quantum Leap,” by “striving to put right what once went wrong,” you must make it interesting. That’s not easy. There were a few quantum physics exposition scenes where several characters bicker about screwing up the past.

When Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) tests the time travel machine, the sequence is reminiscent of “Doctor Who” when the TARDIS is seen traveling through time and space.

The elevator scene in Stark Tower is funny. It’s a nod to a similar scene in “Captain America: Winter Solider.” But instead of their being a fight between Rogers and the Hydra agents, he plays the “Hail Hydra” card. Rogers knows everyone with him on the elevator are undercover Hydra agents masquerading as SHIELD agents. He uses this to his advantage.

Since the Battle of New York, Hulk now finds smashing things “gratuitous.” Hulk is expecting to find Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in New York with the Time Stone. He is five years early. Strange is not yet the Sorcerer Supreme. He is still the talented egotistical surgeon he was before his car accident. The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) still has the stone the Hulk is seeking. In a nod to the “Doctor Strange” film, The Ancient One pushes the Banner’s spiritual body out of his physical one. She did this to Strange or at least will do in approximately five years. Until Banner tells The Ancient One Strange willingly gave the Time Stone to Thanos, she remained unwilling to part with it.

About half way through the film, when Tony and Steve are in the 1970s, Captain America sees Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). It’s a touching moment. The same is true for the scenes featuring Tony and his father.

By using the Tesseract, Loki escapes from Stark Tower. This makes me wonder if Loki is alive. Thanos kills Loki towards the beginning of “Avengers: Infinity War.” If Loki is alive, this could explain how Tom Hiddleston is reprising the character for a six episode mini-series. Meanwhile, on a different floor, Captain America is facing off against Captain America. “I can do this all day,” Captain America said to the individual he thinks is Loki veiled as him.

On Morgan, Nebula (Karen Gillan) and James Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle) are waiting for Peter Quill / Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) to show up. If you are wondering when they are, please cast your mind back to the beginning of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” If you can’t remember it, watch the opening sequence. That should tell you when Nebula and War Machine are in the timeline. Rhodes thinks of Quill as an idiot. Nebula agrees. Watching this made me wonder if the sequence was reshot for this film or did they just use footage from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” If you know, please leave a comment.

The Nebulas from both times exist in both minds. Consequently, the older Nebula realises Thanos knows. Thanos is coming.The Nebula from nine years earlier switches places the older Nebula and travels to the future.

An aspect of the time travel mission no one anticipated was the presence of two Nebulas. The consciousnesses of both Nebulas become entangled. With the Nebula having the memory files from the older Nebula, Thanos becomes aware of the Avengers activities in time and space. He realises he has succeeded with his plan but the Avengers are there to undo what has been done in the future. To quote the Eleventh Doctor from “Doctor Who,” it’s “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” stuff which doesn’t really make a lot of sense unless you have watched every instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Thanos accesses Nebula’s memories and uncovers what the Avengers are planning.

Clint is right. They are a long way from Budapest. When Nat and Clint journey to the planet Vormir to retrieve the Soul Stone, we should have known one of them was not going to make it back to the future. In “Avengers: Infinity War,” the only way Thanos could acquire the Soul Stone was to sacrifice someone he loved. He sacrifices his daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana). This is something Nat remembers. Both Nat and Clint want to be the one to sacrifice themselves for the stone. Clint almost succeeds. But it is ultimately Nat that falls to her death. The Black Widow film Scarlett Johansson is working on must therefore be set before events depicted in this film.

Thor and Rocket travel to Asgard during the same period “Thor: Dark World” is set. They arrive on Asgard the same day Thor’s mother dies. They are there for the Reality Stone. Even though he is trying to avoid his mother seeing him, Thor fails. Frigga (Rene Russo) knows he’s from the future. “The future has not been kind to you,” Frigga said to her son. He wants to save his mother but he knows he can’t. Thor gets his hammer back.

Ultimately, the plan to travel to the past works. They get all the Infinity Stones. They do not realise the Nebula that has travelled forwards in time with them is not their Nebula.

Tony has a new Iron man style Infinity Stone glove. Who will be the one to wear it? When the team is talking about the glove, Nebula opens the gateway so that Thanos’ ship can journey to the future. The background music should have told you something was coming. Banner uses the glove and gets everyone back that died in the Thanos snap. Thanos has arrived. No one realises his arrival until it’s too late. The Avengers Compound is bombed. It looks like a war zone.

I cannot help but wonder how this fill will impact “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.” Don’t forget, the Gamora that will appear in that film is not the same as she was when she appeared in the first two instalments. In this film, she travelled forwards in time with Thanos. She has yet to meet Quill.

Thanos is right that the Avengers “could not live with their own failure.” The battle sequences were bigger than anything else previously seen. Nebula faces off against Nebula just like Captain America did with Captain America earlier in the film. The only difference is that the one Nebula does not make it out of the film alive.

Captain America is worthy to carry Thor’s Hammer. The First Avenger was not able to do that until this point in the franchise. Thanos gathers his forces to fight against the Avengers. He does not see this is a huge mistake. Doctor Stephen Strange bring significant reinforcements. “Avengers Assemble,” Captain America said as they go forth into battle.

Captain Marvel took out Thanos’ ship live it was paper. All the heroes had a role in taking down Thanos’ army. Looking at Strange, Tony holds off attacking Thanos. For a moment, I was wondering how Tony was able to get the stones away from Thanos after he was able to get the new glove. I then realised the technology used for the glove is the same as that Tony uses for his suits. Its nanotech. “I am Iron Man,” Tony said. Thanos and his forces turn to dust.

Tony was right when he said “Part of the journey is the end.” This journey began with Tony and the creation of the Iron Man suits and it ends with his death. After Steve returns the Infinity Stones to their correct points in time, instead of coming back to the future, he returns to his one true love. He gets to live the life her wanted with Peggy. Steve passes the mantle of being Captain America to Falcon. Could we ask for a better ending?