PG-13 for language and violence (I'M SAYING EVERYTHING IS A SPOILER, SO I'M STRETCHING THIS LINE OUT AS LONG AS I CAN SO IT DOESN'T SHOW UP IN THE PREVIEW) involving the deaths of childhood icons. I'm not saying which yet. I'm just saying that it might be traumatic to watch more of a kid's favorite characters die sad and brutal deaths. Call me modest, but I don't want to explain to my five year old that the character is dead, but that the movie is made up. Things traumatize kids. Besides, the movies play pretty fast and loose with the language sometimes.
DIRECTORS: Anthony and Joe Russo
I wrote 1000 words on Avengers: Endgame for Catholic News Agency where I didn't spoil anything. Do you understand how hard that was? THIS IS MY SPOILERY REVIEW! I'm going to talk about everything from this movie. I just recorded a podcast about Avengers: Endgame and I have so many thoughts. Just be aware, I'm straight up going to be talking spoilers throughout, so you have been warned. If you want no spoilers, read the Catholic News Agency one. I'm very proud of that piece. But I also want to actually break down the movie.
Can we finally agree that a movie pulled off what was thought to be impossible? I didn't think that the Russos could make one satisfying Avengers movie, let alone two back-to-back. Expectations for movies are always a bit much. I don't think people have been so hyped up for the final entry in a franchise as much as Avengers. Honestly, I think the hype was probably on Return of the Jedi levels. Listen, I'm a guy who absolutely adores Return of the Jedi. It's a warm blanket for me. But people fight, and perhaps rightly so, that it is the weakest of the franchise. Avengers: Endgame might be the perfect film to end the series. I know that we're not done with the MCU, but we are done with The Infinity Saga. It's pretty big, that Infinity Saga. This was an experiment that wasn't really supposed to work. Instead, for about a decade, people really understood what comic book fans were obsessed with. The scale and scope of these films actually reached a level that effectively communicated why comic book nerds loved these characters. Avengers: Endgame surely is a film that may not work in isolation. It is a film of culmination, as implied by its title. But the Russos made that movie with such conviction that it doesn't try to water down its formula. Instead, the movie embraces the fact that everyone who is coming into this movie has seen an unhealthy amount of film going into it. As such, we get actually satisfying conclusions to our characters narratives.
Sometimes, these ends are real bummers. The death of Tony Stark seemed inevitable. Robert Downey, Jr. has teased that he wanted to leave the franchise before he burned out on them. I never got the vibe that he hated Iron Man. Quite the opposite. I actually think that Iron Man is something special to him. But as an actor, I'm sure he's terrified that Iron Man is something that he would be stuck with for the rest of his career. But the Infinity Saga is really the tale of Tony Stark. As is almost culminated in Captain America: Civil War, it takes two very sympathetic, yet contrasting philosophies and pits them at odds. Tony Stark is a character who is about learning from mistakes. He consistently considers himself the smartest guy in the room almost because of his mistakes. His guiding personality trait is cockiness. Despite almost always being wrong on a major scale, he also knows what is coming next. The character in the comics is a futurist. He sees which way the wind is blowing and can adapt from those insights. But he's a character that fundamentally starts off not only as cocky, but as kind of selfish. The first movie ends with him announcing that "I am Iron Man." He does it because the lie is silly and doesn't allow him to be himself. He enjoys the spotlight that Iron Man brings him. He enjoys taking down bad guys and playing loud music. Look at Tony in Iron Man 2. He's insulting senators on national television and having a blast. Now compare that to Endgame Tony Stark. Iron Man is a necessary evil to him. He has found happiness, despite continual failures. He knows that Iron Man will lead to his death. He actually comes down to the choice between happiness and Iron Man and chooses Iron Man. Iron Man was his happiness in the first film. But choosing Iron Man leads Tony Stark to sacrificing himself for everyone. The new Infinity Gauntlet is made out of Stark Tech. It's this thing where Tony has now made the ultimate weapon. A redemption arc that started with him vowing not to make weapons makes the ultimate weapons and it kills him. Tony Stark's arc is such an interesting one because he rides the fine line of what justifies changing from his old life. Look at what he did at the end of Avengers. He goes out into space and is about self-sacrifice. That's kind of what I love about Iron Man 3. It is the shift in character for him. There's a real aftermath to the events of Avengers. It's so dark. It bums me out that he has a kid. He seems like a good dad and a good husband. I'm depressed for his daughter. Why would the Russos do that? Is it to give us the sense that Tony is supposed to survive? It's such a good story.
But the Captain America thing? Are you kidding? It's perfect. I didn't see it coming until Cap goes to the '70s. I was ready for Cap to die. I was ready to cry sad and ugly tears over Captain America dying on the field. Instead, he gets this perfect out for his character. First of all, he dominates the movie. I don't think I noticed how small a part that Captain America played in Infinity War until I started reading stuff about Endgame. I kind of understand that a movie with a billion characters kind of has to use screen time frugally. But Cap gets to be the Captain America that I didn't realize that I missed. He gets all of these moments that show that Captain America is the spiritual heart of the MCU. He gets Mjolnir. Guys, he gets Mjolnir. On the podcast, we debate whether he's always been able to do that or his life has made him worthy of carrying Mjolnir. I don't really care, but I'm leaning towards his events during Civil War and on have made him worthy. But there's this shot of him holding the cracked shield and Mjolnir at the same time and I honestly believed that he could take out a quarter of that army by himself. But the Peggy Carter reunion. I know that his throughline is that he's always been a man out of time. That's his origin story. But I'm so used to Marvel Comics continuing in stories that have had him planted in the present for so long that having him go back to World War II just escaped me. Cap was always someone who had that on his shoulders. If you told me that Bruce Wayne would get his parents back one day, I would probably scoff at you. It's what I do. I scoff. But Cap returning to Peggy as an out for the franchise is perfect. He's not allowed to mess with history because he knows what is at stake. It neuters him while giving him a happy ending. I want that for Tony. I want that more for Tony's daughter, just so her dad can give her all the cheeseburgers that she wants. But the Peggy story was such an open wound on the character that I stopped seeing. It just seemed beyond my comprehension that Cap could somehow heal that situation. But he does. He does heal and he actually gets a happy ending. I don't know why we assume the superhero needs to have the tragic ending. It's what makes a character compelling. It's so appropriate because I'm teaching the word "catharsis" to my junior classes in vocab. That. That there is catharsis. He keeps getting beaten down and getting back up. When he gets up for the last time, he is surprised to find history waiting for him. That's beautiful. I never really cried. I got close when Tony saw his dad, but that's all personal issues for me. But Cap getting Peggy back was everything that I wanted out of the movie. If the rest of the movie was terrible, I would still applaud the Peggy choice.
But the rest of the movie is rad. While I wish that there was a way for Thor to get magic abs again, I like the fat joke. Thor and Hulk, once the MCU realized that they were the funny characters, work so well as a means to just breathe out from time to time. Yeah, Avengers: Endgame was bleak. But it was also very funny. We were laughing in a movie where half of all life was wiped out of existence. People were living in the post apocalypse and we were laughing. Do you understand how difficult it would be to get people laughing genuinely when all of this stuff was going on? The movie STARTS with Hawkeye seeing his entire family dusted. That's pretty bananas. But the movie strikes such a solid tone that we're never removed from the gravity of the things going on and the fun tone of a superhero movie. Honestly, Avengers: Endgame is a masterclass of blockbuster cinema. It demands that you watch the other movies for FOMO, but also because you want to be part of the water cooler discussions. I live in a world where my comic book characters are wept over by people who have never read a comic book. This is fantastic. Thank you, Russo Brothers and Feige. Thanks for making one of the most epic rad series in cinema history. I honestly think that the MCU is something that has never happened in film and may never be repeated again. Well done, everyone.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.