Part Of The Journey Is The End

There was an idea…called The Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to fight the battles we never could. – Nick Fury The Avengers

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The MCU is in incredible piece of pop art. Unlike anything that came before it, and unlikely to ever be duplicated. (Many have tried and failed.) The brainchild of a genius producer, ushered in by some talented directors and held together for good or ill, by the charisma of that group of remarkable people.

Avengers: Endgame is the payoff. When Avengers: Infinity war ended, with Thanos “watching the sun rise over a grateful universe.” (Universe is actually less than grateful but he’s nuts.) breath was held and we waited. How would our team, our guys, all of whom were left behind after this rapture, handle this?

They fight, of course. They save the world. That’s what they do. And then they rest. As a critic, it’s hard to come at a movie that has this much to  get done, gets it done (mostly) and also manages to be a hell of a lot of fun, a showcase for the three men and one woman who were basically holding this whole endeavor on their good looking charismatic backs. (And a few other people who were backing them up.)

Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, are incredible performers who have given Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, Steve Rogers and Thor Odinson life and joy and heart, and here they get to pay off ten or so years of work. They are all excellent. (Especially Johansson, Nat’s had a journey y’all.)

Endgame is good. It’s very good. As close to perfect as it could be, from a critical standpoint. And from a fan standpoint, it is perfect.

Rankings:

  1. Avengers: Endgame

Trailers

Aladdin:
Kristi: It’s that soon?
Me: Meh, at least there’s no white people in it.
Aless: That is literally the only thing it has going for it though.

The Long Shot:
I will see it. I’m here for President Charlize.

Gemini Man:
Guys, Will Smith is back. I think we should all be happy about that.

Hobbs & Shaw:
Hot damn, I cannot wait for this. The only thing that upsets me is that it appears Shaw will not be brought to justice for Han’s death. Which is kind of a bummer. But the new trailer does have both Statham and Johnson saying “family” like sixteen times. So you know F&F….

Toy Story 4:
It really does look breathtaking doesn’t it? Even if it feels a little like the plot is a retread of 2. 

And from here on out, beyond that cut, we’re into spoiler land. I AM WARNING YOU.

I’M TOTALLY SERIOUS. SPOILERS HEREEEEEE

We knew that Endgame was the end of the road for some folks. It had to be, narratively, because arcs have been played to their natural conclusions. Logistically because contracts are ending and even The Mouse can only back up the money truck so many times. (It’s a lot of times, but you know…)

Most likely on the chopping block were Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, and indeed, they both get farewells. Both are emotional and difficult and kind of perfect. But we’ll get there.

Thanks to Scott Lang surviving in the quantum realm The Avengers go through a “time heist,” to get the Infinity Stones and as such we get a wonderful “greatest hits,” montage, remixed. There are moments of glory and hilarity. Cap stepping into an elevator with Crossbones and Sitwell, and getting them to hand over the mind stone by whispering “Hail Hydra,” to Sitwell. Beating himself in a fight by telling his 2012 equivalent that Bucky’s alive. (That is America’s ass.) Tony Stark making peace with his father, even though Howard isn’t aware of it, because it’s 1970 and Tony hasn’t been born yet. Thor getting a moment of wisdom with his mother before her death, (Rene Russo finally gets her due here. Bless her) and that first big ending.

Natasha and Clint go after the soul stone, as it dawns on them what has to happen for them to get it, Natasha Romanoff, sacrifices her life to save the world, and I wept like a baby. Clint’s sheer horror at realizing his partner and best friend is gone forever, is matched only by Banner’s (PS Smart Hulk is NOT a thing I’m a particular fan of, but he’s used well here.) letting go.

Banner gets the time stone, after a lenghthy explanation of time lines with The Ancient One. Tilda Swinton is a treasure.

There are so many emotional cruxes to this movie, but Nebula’s journey is a big one. As she literally has to kill her past self to move on and save the world. Karen Gillan is so good in this character and I routinely forget that she’s Karen Gillan.

And the final battle, after Hulk is able resnap everyone into existence, entrance after entrance of the characters we love, I was a blubbering mess, that was reduced to a puddle as Captain America stands an army at his back and fights Thanos, wielding Mjolnir.

And then there’s the shot, the glorious moment that I hadn’t even dreamed of, as Captain Marvel grabs the Infinity Gauntlet from Spider-Man and flanked by Valkyrie, The Wasp, Shuri, Okoye, Scarlet Witch and Pepper Potts as Rescue, they charge. We lost Black Widow in this movie, but the Women Of Marvel have made their mark, their stand. It’s our universe.

Tony Stark’s death is poignant and powerful, the guy who was always out for himself, for his, sacrifices his happy ending to save the world. And that final speech, a recorded goodbye to Pepper and their young daughter Morgan is a lovely capper for this character. Go back and look at my rewatch, you’ll see how in awe I am of what Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Joe and Anthony Russo, Jonathan Goldstein, John Frances Daly, Jon Watts and of course Kevin Feige have done here. Tony Stark is a masterclass in serial character work. And this was a hell of a curtain call. Well done sirs.

Thor’s goodbye isn’t quite a goodbye, he hand Asgard over to Valkyrie, and jets off with the Guardians, saying simply, “it’s time for me to become who I am, rather than who I was meant to be.” Which is super meta, and a nice way to recognize that the MCU should have let Chris Hemsworth be silly for a lot longer.

Steve gets his life. He takes the stones back to their timeline, and then he goes to Peggy. As old man Steve appears and hands his shield off to Sam Wilson, as Bucky approvingly nods on, I held my breath. First of all, I will always choose Sam!Cap over Bucky!Cap, I just like it better, but it’s a powerful moment.

I’m seeing the movie again tongiht, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say, but for now, I just want you all to know, this journey meant the world to me.

Assemble.

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