I’ve already written a lengthy, rambling review of this movie, the 22nd in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 1st ever movie to conclude such a massive multiple movie, multiple franchise theatrical epic.
And I’ve also already written a equally lengthy and geeky consideration of the time travel approach that the movie takes.
And yet I still feel like there’s more to say. And why not? There’s just never been a film like this before. It’s the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the world’s most successful film franchise, and it’s the first movie ever (that I’m aware of) to offer:
- A follow up to a two part story (after Avengers Infinity War)
- A conclusion to a multi-movie series (the Avengers films)
- A conclusion to two other solo-character movie franchises (Iron Man and Captain America)
- A direct, major, follow-up to three other movie franchises (Ant-Man, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy)
- A general follow-up to three other solo movies (Spider-Man Homecoming, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel)
- A celebratory call-back to the previous 21 MCU movies
- A culmination of an overall meta-story that’s been presented in most of the 21 previous MCU films
Was it perfect? Of course not. No film is perfect. Not even Citizen Kane. OrThe Dark Knight. Or Mannequin 2: On the Movie (I assume).
But still, it was a really impressive narrative feat, with some cool action set pieces and a decent amount of characterization and genuine emotional journey thrown in to boot.
But hey, mini-review over…onto what was promised in the headline…
Thanos sewed the seeds of his own defeat right at the start, when he destroyed the Infinity Stones. Doing so 1) left him relatively defenseless against a lot of angry forces in the universe (including Captain Marvel and the Avengers) and 2) advertised his location to anyone technologically advanced to come and attack him.
It also left him unable to repeat his trick, once the universe’s population grew to unmanageable levels again. The 50% of survivors were surely going to start having babies again, right? How long would it take before his drastic actions would become “necessary” again? What’s he going to do then?!
A lot has been written about the Hulk’s character arc, or lack of it, over the course of his recent MCU appearances. Or more accurately, how that character arc was all accomplished off-screen—by showing that he had somehow integrated the two sides of his persona while we were not looking. This is legitimate, but also understandable. In the absence of solo Hulk movies (because of complex legalities), I think there’s only so much you can do. And it was a good way—maybe the best way—that the movie had to highlight how much things had changed in the five years.
I wouldn’t have minded something like a TV movie coming out in between Infinity War and Endgame, starting again with the opening sequence of Infinity War but from the point of the view of the Asgardians that escaped, and then jumping forward to showing Bruce Banner’s story. Of course, it’d have given away all sorts of minor spoilers from Endgame (like the fact there was a five year jump in the first place).
If the recent Marvel Movies were comic books, we’d have a lot more tie-in stories being published. There’d be like half a dozen one-shot specials showing life on earth after the Snap (like one for the Agents of SHIELD, one for Daredevil, one for the Inhumans, etc) and probably a Hulk miniseries, an Asgardians miniseries (like what I was just talking about), and a Hawkeye / Ronin one.
When sequels to Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther and Doctor Strange comes out (as we assume they will), they should definitely address how much things have changed over the five year jump. Like with Spider-Man, we’d have to assume that when Peter and Aunt May were unsnapped, they couldn’t just move back into their apartment, right? Presumably it’d have been sold, or acquired by someone, or at least wrecked. And over in Wakanda, there should be a new king, and presumably therefore a new Black Panther!
You know, we regularly call them Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, and Scarlet Witch, but I don’t think they ever use those names in the movies.
I think in the New Asgard scene, when Korg reappeared and does his typical introduction of his friend Miek, Miek should have been just a bowl with some dust in it. That would have been funny.
Wouldn’t it have been something if amongst the big reunion-funeral scene at the end, they’d somehow managed to convince Terrence Howard to do a cameo, just playing some guy?
The bit where Rhodey and Scott go on about not understanding time travel leads to a listing of a whole bunch of time travel movies and TV shows. They are listed specifically as examples of where they supposedly got time travel wrong because they showed people changing their own history. But actually, many of them don’t actually treat time travel this way. On the “change history” side are Back to the Future, most of Star Trek, Terminator after the first movie, Time Cop, Quantum Leap, and Hot Tub Time Machine. On the other hand, Time After Time, A Wrinkle in Time, Somewhere in Time, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (at least, the first one) never get into the idea that time can be changed. Indeed, A Wrinkle in Time doesn’t even involve time travel. Better examples would have been Doctor Who, Timeline, About Time, and The Butterfly Effect.
Shuri’s “dusting” was never depicted on screen, and indeed only initially revealed in some promotional posters for Endgame which focused on the dead characters. I don’t know why this was, but surely the main reason for Shuri to be dead at all is that if not, you’d expect the heroes to have called her to fix-up their whole time travel contraption, rather than depending on Tony Stark.
I get annoyed at the suggestion that Tony’s demand to not “roll-back” the last five years was somehow selfish. This is something I’ve read somewhere online. The decision may have been motivated by his own personal stakes with his family, but it would have been openly unethical if the Avengers had deliberately erased from existence everyone who’d been born in the previous five years. And I say this even considering what I’ve written in “The Big One” below.
I’ve also heard it said that the story decision to have Natasha the one to make the sacrifice for the Soul Stone was somehow and example of “fridging”–a trope where female characters are killed off as a plot device in order to be a motivating emotional presence in a male character’s lives. This is, of course, complete nonsense. Unless we’re expanding the definition of this trope to be “any time a female character dies” (and we’re not) then there’s no way that Black Widow’s death steals from agency as a character or serves primarily to simply motivate a more prominent male character.
Yes, there are scenes of male characters lamenting her loss, particularly Bruce Banner and Clint Barton. But this is not a situation where a woman’s death is being used to develop a male’s character. Rather, it’s more like the male characters are acting as stand-ins for the audience, giving voice to the sort of sadness they are feeling over her loss.
And by the way, the fact that Natasha doesn’t have a funeral scene doesn’t change any this. It would have been completely the wrong storytelling move to cut to a big Black Widow funeral either before or after Tony’s funeral. It was the right move, on the other hand, to include a few quiet moments of reflection about the other people who were been lost in the battle. Along with the earlier scene of everyone in shock and angry, that served as a fitting memorial.
Hey, those ending credits were amazing, and better then any mid- or end-credit scene could have been.
The Legion of Super-Heroes had a five year gap between titles, after Paul Levitz left the book and before Keith Giffen came on as the main plotter. Inferno, the third Robert Langdon movie starring Tom Hanks also had a villain who threatened to wipe out half of all life–albeit, just people, and just on earth (although, in the Robert Langdon-verse, earth is the only inhabited planet, as far as we know, so it could be considered half of all people in the galaxy too).
The Big One!
OK, this is my big comment about Endgame—a big thing that I haven’t addressed until this point. We all know that the Snap, with the death of half the life in all creation, would have been terrible. Aside from the actual Snap victims, is also the aftermath. Immediately, there’d have been planes crashing into one another (missing air traffic controllers) and falling out of the sky (missing pilots), cars crashing into things (as we saw), patients on operating tables whose surgeons would suddenly vanish, weightlifters whose spotters suddenly weren’t there, people stuck on ferris wheels, and so on.
Then there would have been a huge amount of orphans—presumably about 25% of all two-parent families would have lost both parents—so there’s probably a whole lot of babies and children who were abruptly abandoned. Maybe, depending on the Gauntlet’s definition of when life begins, even fetuses that would suddenly not have a mother. Then there’s the breakdown mankind’s infrastructure (again, we saw this hinted at)—depletion of food supplies, failure of communication and transportation systems, inability to sustain of manufacturing and agriculture demands, slowdown of scientific research, and so on. Demand for many of these things is also diminished, but I don’t think that would have balanced out the problem.
Plus there’s the psychological trauma for the survivors (as was hinted at, and shown lightly) who lost loved ones, saw people vanish, saw others die because of the people who vanished, nearly died themselves because of those who vanished, and so on. And plus again there’s the ecological implications—animals disappearing, ecosystems being disrupted, animals dying because their food is suddenly gone (depending on the geographic spread of the disaster), animals eating things they don’t normally eat.
So yeah, all that is bad, and for sure I understand the Avengers taking the opportunity that they had to rectify it.
But, have we considered that the “Snap Back”–where everyone returns–as depicted in Endgame would have been just as destructive?
Just imagine it for a moment…the world suddenly gains 3+ billion people. Even if they all came back in “safe” positions (ie, people who were on airplanes not arriving mid-air, and so on), the impact upon the earth’s physical and social infrastructure is going to be disastrous. Not to mention all those people who are going to be traumatized when they find out the person they were driving in their car died when their driver suddenly disappeared, or when they find out their younger sibling is suddenly older than them, or when they realize their wife is now married to someone else, or when they realize their husband turned into a murderous arrow-shooting rage machine while they were gone. Plus, there simply isn’t going to be enough food for all those people, as there have been less farmers, less livestock, less food industry overall, etc.
And the environmental implications are vast as well—billions of animals and something like 5 quintillion insects suddenly released back into the ecosystem, all at once. In Australia we are concerned if too many local hopping mice get eaten by cats—Australia’s ecosystem would have fallen completely apart with the Snap, and then whatever recovery had taken place would have been completely undone by the Snap Back.
Am I saying that the Avengers shouldn’t have done this? No, of course not. But it was the biggest unresolved idea that I left the theatre pondering, and in light of it, the overly “normal” view of society that we see in the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer (obviously, the movie is still an unknown quantity) seem especially shallow and cartoony.
Oh well. I don’t expect them to really address this in Far From Home, but I’m hoping the movie is good enough that it makes me forget about it.
Is that it? I think that’s it. At least until another year passes and I try to see how this movie holds up.