Whatever it Takes

Avengers: Endgame may be the greatest experience I’ve ever had in a movie theater. As the twenty-second installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame concluded the Infinity Saga. 22 films worth of storytelling was packed into an unprecedented 3 hour epic. Never in my wildest dreams as a Marvel comics fan did I think I’d live to see something so monumental. The MCU was a massive undertaking that was never a guaranteed success. Phase One needed to introduce the core members of the Avengers, Phase Two needed to take risks, and Phase Three made the Marvel Cinematic Universe even bigger than it already was. A perfect formula that only Marvel Studios has been able to accomplish. The impact of the MCU kept the series popular all throughout the 2010’s. The cast of legendary actors, rising stars, and lesser known celebrities only grew with each passing film. Producer Kevin Feige kept everyone on the right path with an 11 year plan in place.

Writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely continued to balance action with drama & humor. Directors Anthony & Joe Russo took on the workload of not one, but two massive crossovers in a row. Avengers: Infinity War was all anyone could talk about after its shocking ending. I continued to theorize a mostly correct idea of how the fourth installment would play out. My only curiosity was how Disney would handle marketing the movie without spoilers. Endgame has one of the most unique marketing campaigns of all time. Despite its length, only about 20% of footage was ever revealed. Most of which was heavily edited to omit characters, recolor hair, erase key objects, and occasionally include scenes that aren’t in the movie. Endgame was so secretive that LEGO sets were complete false advertising. I made sure to avoid spoilers whatever it takes. So that everything I saw in the movie theater was almost completely brand new. We may never see another movie like Avengers: Endgame again. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! if that’s even necessary for what was once the highest grossing movie of all time…

46. Avengers Endgame

“AVENGERS!… assemble”

Avengers: Endgame just might feature the largest cast in movie history. Unlike Infinity War, every major superhero makes an appearance regardless of how big their role is. Endgame reflects that by opening with the only missing Avenger from the last movie. Hawkeye made his theatrical debut in Thor. It was a bit part that established him as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. with bow & arrow expertise. The Avengers expanded his role as a founding member of the team, but most of his screen time was dedicated to mind control. His absence was never explained in The Winter Soldier despite being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who would’ve likely been around when it fell. Age of Ultron dedicated far more time than was necessary to Clint Barton’s secret wife and children. Along with establishing the mentor role he plays in Wanda & Pietro Maximoff’s redemption. Civil War brought Hawkeye onto Team Cap despite the problems it would’ve caused for his family. Which is why Infinity War used the same excuse they did for Scott Lang’s absence. Unlike Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Barton families quiet farm life isn’t exactly worthy of an entire film.

All we need is a less than 10 minute cold opening to explain where Hawkeye has been. Jeremy Renner has always played Barton as more of an everyman, but this was the first time I truly felt for his character. Clint is seen shooting arrows with his daughter Lila Barton played by the director’s daughter Ava Russo. Cooper Barton and Nathaniel Pietro Barton are also more grown up since the last time we saw them in Age of Ultron. Linda Cardellini returns as Clint’s wife Laura Barton to deliver the first of many jokes in the movie. Endgame may be more somber than most superhero movies, but humor has always been a mainstay of the franchise. *Snap* Until the heartbreak of Clint’s entire family being turned to dust. The Marvel Studios logo plays alongside “Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic. One thing you’ll notice about the opening is that every fallen Avenger has been erased. Trailers used a similar tactic of having everyone who was snapped away in black, white, and red clips from past movies.

Any self-respecting Marvel fan knew they would come back, but it was a clever way to market the characters without giving anything away. Thanos was very much the lead character of Infinity War, but Endgame reverts back to the original Avengers. Which is why all six of them survived the snap. Survivors include: Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Scott Lang, Pepper Potts, Carol Danvers, Okoye, Rocket, and Nebula. It’s an interesting collection of characters to keep alive, but they all serve a purpose. The most unexpected pairing was Stark & Nebula who were the only people left on Titan. Their dynamic is shown in a fun game of paper football, but their engineering expertise comes in handy when they try to pilot the Benatar. It’s been 23 days since Thanos snapped his fingers, so Tony is perpetually losing hope with CGI making Robert Downey Jr. look a lot more malnourished.

Tony Stark has come a long way since his debut in Iron Man. Stark has built over 50 Iron Man suits, unintentionally created several supervillains (sometimes literally), faced demons from his past, helped assemble the Avengers, fell in love with Pepper, fought Captain America, took Peter Parker under his wing, and always attempted to safeguard the planet with a suit of armor around the world. Tony records a bleak message to his true love on a broken Iron Man helmet before drifting off. Nebula has also come a long way since her debut in Guardians of the Galaxy. Going from a ruthless assassin for her father Thanos to a willing anti-hero for her sister Gamora. Given her role in The Infinity Gauntlet storyline, it was understandable that she would be kept alive. Karen Gillan gradually became more of an A-lister with Endgame being her biggest role to date. I was already emotional, but Nebula comforting a dying Stark is when I officially started to tear up.

Until he’s saved by a bright deus ex machina of Carol Danvers in space. Although I very much love Endgame, I can’t really hide my dislike of Brie Larson. Even in interviews with the rest of the Avengers cast it seemed like they didn’t get along with her. Ever since her one month debut in Captain Marvel I was nervous about just how big her role would be. There’s barely any time dedicated to her actually meeting the team. If you completely ignore the Infinity War after-credits scene where Nick Fury contacts her and the Captain Marvel mid-credits scene where she suddenly shows up at the Avengers Compound, then her appearance would seem a little out of nowhere. Carol flies the Benatar to safety where a living Pepper Potts is waiting alongside Natasha, Rhodey, Bruce, and a freshly shaved Steve. It’s a tearful reunion for Pepper and an awkward reunion for Steve since the last time he saw Tony was when they fought in Civil War.

Although they’ve never been friends, Rocket & Nebula do take time to comfort each other when none of the Guardians are brought back alive. Ever since Rocket’s debut in Guardians of the Galaxy, he’s been a reliable smartass with excellent range from Bradley Cooper. Apart from his technical expertise, I knew the main reason he was kept alive was for the more grounded Avengers to interact with a talking raccoon. Back at the Avengers Compound, the survivors view a consensus of all individuals who were snapped away. Aside from the ones we already knew, it does confirm Shuri and the forgotten Dr. Erik Selvig to be among the fallen. Steve & Natasha have very much assumed command of the Avengers as they come up with a strategy to find Thanos. No one has gone through more changes than Thor. Chris Hemsworth made an effort to reinvent Odinson every chance he got. Going from a stoic god to a more humorous three dimensional character.

Ever since his debut in Thor, the God of Thunder has denied himself the throne of Asgard, had a rocky relationship with his adoptive brother, and suffered more loss than any Avenger combined. Thor lost his mother Frigga, father Odin, sister Hela, Asgard, a majority of his Asgardian people, his best friend Heimdall, brother Loki, his hammer Mjolnir, his long blonde hair, his eye, and is partially responsible for failing to kill Thanos. So he’s understandably angry and doesn’t say a word. Tony is also pretty angry at Steve when he calls back to the scene in Age of Ultron where his vision correctly foretold the events of Endgame. The Avengers didn’t assemble after Civil War and that’s why they lost in Infinity War. This is easily Downey Jr’s best performance as the longrunning Tony Stark. There’s no time for jokes when the malnourished Stark gives up and collapses with his best friend Rhodey and fianceé Pepper by his side.

Danvers’ primary contribution to the team is offering to get Stark a Xorrian Elixir and vowing to kill Thanos. Larson actually shot her Endgame scenes before her solo movie. So it would explain why she wears more makeup and a black tank top that possibly references her Ms. Marvel costume. Rhodey finally points out the fact that Carol has been MIA for 23 years and everyone shrugs it off when she says it’s because she’s always on other planets. Endgame suffers from the same problem as Captain Marvel by giving her so much power, yet removing her from the equation until the last minute. All the while having other characters hyping her up. Thor only trusts Carol when he summons Stormbreaker without her flinching. Although Rhodey has been around since Iron Man, Don Cheadle didn’t make his debut until Iron Man 2. It was the first major MCU recasting, but not enough to keep War Machine from making an impact.

Rhodey has gone from dedicated Air Force Colonel to superhero with strong Military ties to wounded warrior after serving on Team Stark to a more full fledged member of the Avengers. Similar to Gillan, this is easily Cheadle’s biggest role so far that gives him more memorable and humorous moments. He’s very much the most realistic Avenger in a team of gods, aliens, and monsters. When Thanos uses the Stones again, Nebula helps the team by locating the planet he always intended to retire on. As Steve uses language to call the team to action, the Avengers: Endgame logo appears with the most dramatic score yet. Rocket offers some levity when everyone who hasn’t been to space raises their hand. I’ll bet a man who’s lived through the 1940’s never expected to travel to space, but Steve Rogers has definitely been through a lot.

Chris Evans blew everyone away ever since he made his debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve was once a skinny kid from Brooklyn, until he took the Super Soldier formula, fought in World War II as Captain America, got frozen in ice, helped assemble the Avengers, cracked the conspiracy around S.H.I.E.L.D, fought Iron Man to protect his friend Bucky, and gave up his shield to go on the run. All the while he’s kept the locket of his true love Peggy Carter. Steve wears his S.H.I.E.L.D. STRIKE team uniform, Natasha keeps her short blonde hair, Rhodey wears his Mark IV War Machine armor, Bruce continues operating the Hulkbuster armor, Thor’s look from the last movie stays the same, and Carol does recon while wearing the costume she wore in the Captain Marvel mid-credits scene.

Thanos’ garden planet is completely uninhabited. His CGI appearance is still very convincing, but he does have notable burns on his face. Thanos hangs up his armor and lives peacefully until the Avengers break into his hut, hold him down, and Thor chops off his hand wearing the damaged Infinity Gauntlet. It’s not a good look for the heroes, but they’re right to be furious. Everyone is taken off guard when Rocket discovers an empty Gauntlet. Turns out Thanos used the Stones to destroy the Stones since he sees his completed mission as “Inevitable.” He even manages to reconcile with his daughter Nebula before Thor goes for the head. I know Endgame is PG-13, but I never expected to see a brutal decapitation in a Disney movie. My theater applauded and even laughed, but the moment is far from humorous. One swift motion of Thor’s axe is enough to abruptly put an end to the main villain of Avengers: Infinity War with more than two and a half hours left to go…

47. Avengers Endgame

Thanos sends his troops

Avengers: Endgame continues to catch the audience off guard with a text that slowly reads “Five Years Later.” I knew Endgame would have a time jump, but this is the first time that’s ever happened in the MCU. Most Marvel Studios movies stick to the year in which they were released. Granted, the reveal only works the first time you see the movie. Rest assured my entire theater gasped. In the year 2023, the full ramifications of the Snap are shown in a barren New York. Are you sure this isn’t 2020? Each Avenger deals with the 5 year interval differently. Steve spends most of his time running a support group for grieving civilians. One of which is Thanos creator Jim Starlin. The other is Endgame co-director Joe Russo as the first gay character in the MCU. Even though it doesn’t affect the plot and can be easily edited out. Steve is a true hero who can relate to everyone’s struggle, but the real hero of Endgame is the rat that saved the universe. If not for a rat activating a sensor, Ant-Man would’ve never gotten out of the Quantum Realm.

Scott Lang has been a real breath of fresh air ever since his debut in Ant-Man. Scott took on the mantle of Ant-Man, was roped into the conflict in Civil War, grew into Giant-Man, ended up under house arrest, partnered up with the Wasp, and got stuck in the Quantum Realm when his team was snapped out of existence. Paul Rudd had hilarious comedic banter with the Avengers in Civil War, but now his role is appropriately increased with tons of scene stealing moments. Ken Jeong is one of two Community alumni who cameos as the security guard who lets Scott out of lock up. Luis’ ugly brown van with the quantum tunnel was just sitting there for 5 years. Scott is of course very confused when he wanders around a post-snap San Francisco. When he realizes what’s going on, a panicked Lang desperately searches for his daughter’s name on a series of monuments commemorating the people who are gone.

All he finds is his own name, since everyone assumed he was one of the victims. Making the reunion between Scott and his now grown up daughter Cassie all the more meaningful. Lesser known actress Emma Fuhrmann plays the 16 year old Cassie Lang. Although I know I’m gonna miss Abby Ryder Fortson, aging up Cassie was necessary for later films. The Avengers continue avenging thanks to Black Widow. Natasha Romanoff has gone through so much since her debut in Iron Man 2. First she was an undercover spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D, then she was a founding member of the Avengers, then she helped take down her own organization, then she sided with Team Stark, but defected to Team Cap, and finally, she went on the run for an indeterminate amount of time. Not to mention her difficult past as a former KGA agent. Nat has always been the heart of the Avengers. Which is why she works so hard to keep her family together.

This is very much Scarlett Johansson’s most emotionally resonant performance in the MCU. Her hairstyle has changed so many times, but her final look is her natural red hair mixed with the blonde highlights from when she was undercover. Later she ties it into a braid. While eating a peanut butter sandwich, Romanoff talks Avenger business through high tech monitors. Rocket and Nebula are present along with Rhodey, Okoye, and Danvers. Captain Marvel’s third look incorporates the short blonde hair she has in very recent comics. As well as a color swapped red & blue costume that looks a lot more like the original Captain Mar-Vell. As if on cue, Carol leaves for practically the entire movie to help aliens on other planets. The look she gives Rhodey is a possible reference to their equally recent relationship from the comics. Rocket makes fun of Carol’s haircut and now sports a blue uniform closer to the one he wears in the comics.

Never thought I’d see Nebula joining the Avengers, but here we are. It’s a welcomed redemption. Danai Gurira has made an impression ever since her debut in Black Panther, but the Dora Milaje aren’t superheroes. Okoye just checks in with news about an earthquake beneath the ocean. It was never confirmed, but I’m claiming that as a reference to Namor the Sub-Mariner. Rhodey stays behind a little longer to talk to Nat about a string of deaths linked to Barton. You really see her pain when she becomes desperate to help her best friend. When Rhodey leaves, Steve continues to console his close friend. Ever since teaming up in The Winter Soldier, Steve & Natasha have trusted each other through even the most dire of circumstances. Steve offers Nat optimism, but it’s clear to both of them that the fighting will never stop. A solution comes knocking in the form of Scott Lang showing up to the Avengers Compound. Lang wasn’t around for Infinity War, but now he’s a key figure who offers a game changing plan to help bring everyone back.

My theory was confirmed as soon as Scott suggested using the Quantum Realm as a time machine. Time travel has always been a major part of superhero universes, so it was only a matter of time before it would play a bigger part in the MCU. Doctor Strange only scratched the surface of what was possible. Scott regains his lost intellect, but quantum physics were Hank Pym’s department. So Steve, Natasha, and Scott need to track down someone a lot smarter than they are. Tony is finally able to retire and even start a family with Pepper at a remote cabin. More surprising is Tony & Pepper having an adorable 5 year old daughter named Morgan. The name Morgan Stark originates from a jealous cousin Tony had in the comics. Lexi Rabe is a precocious child who works off of Downey Jr. very well. It’s great to see Stark’s signature sarcasm as a parent. She’s first seen wearing a helmet that Tony made for his wife. Although all three of them never appear on-screen together, it’s still nice to see the Stark family living in peace.

Until Steve, Natasha, and Scott show up talking about time travel. Although a much more forgiving Tony is smart enough to figure it out, he’d much rather keep the life he’s made for himself. It’s only after washing the dishes and seeing a photo of himself with Peter that Tony casually tries to crack time travel. Kerry Condon deserves a special shout out even though F.R.I.D.A.Y. never had as much personality as J.A.R.V.I.S. Tony Stark has always been a genius, but now he really lives up to his futurist title when he invents time travel without even trying. He tucks Morgan in soon after and she says “I love you 3000.” Although part of Tony is telling him to throw away his discovery, Pepper convinces him not to. Pepper Potts will forever be the longest running love interest in the MCU. She went from personal secretary to CEO of Stark Industries with her concern over Tony’s well being present from the beginning.

Gwyneth Paltrow was the only actress to appear in The Avengers alongside her hero, and even though she nearly left after the Iron Man trilogy completed, it was important to bring her back in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The only thing that changed was Pepper’s comic accurate red hair becoming Paltrow’s natural blonde. Meanwhile, Steve, Natasha, and Scott search for a bigger brain. I was in complete shock when Banner was finally revealed 5 years later. No one has gone through more unusual changes in the MCU than Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner. Although Banner technically made his debut in The Incredible Hulk, Mark Ruffalo famously replaced Edward Norton in The Avengers. Making that the true first appearance of his version of the green rage monster. Banner was first dedicated to finding a cure, but he eventually accepted his place alongside the Avengers. Hulk fought with the team in Code: Green emergencies until he got so out of control that he left the planet. Sakaar accepted Hulk as a warrior, but Banner was suppressed for 2 years.

Although Hulk refusing to come out in Infinity War was frustrating, it was all part of Marvel’s plan to give him an arc. Since Universal Pictures made it difficult for them to make any more Hulk movies. I didn’t think it was leading to Professor Hulk. Turns out Bruce had been experimenting with gamma radiation off-screen and was somehow able to merge his brain with Hulk’s brawn. Hulk’s CGI appearance has changed drastically throughout the years. His more monstrous features eventually grew to resemble Ruffalo more and more until they decided to simply merge them together. Smart Hulk is far more optimistic, wears shirts, eats large amounts of food, and is a friend to all his adoring fans. One of the kids is Joe Russo’s other daughter Lia. It’s an especially funny bit when Scott tries to get a photo with the kids, but no one recognizes him as Ant-Man. Although quantum physics aren’t Bruce’s area of expertise, he does agree to help. They do a test run with Scott back at the Avengers Compound that goes hilariously wrong when he becomes a child, an old man, and a baby. “Time travel!”

Tony arrives just in time with a device that will allow them to travel through time instead of time traveling through them. Steve & Tony finally reconcile after their feud in Civil War with the latter bringing the formers shield. Cap went an entire movie without his mighty shield, so it’s just great to see him embrace it once again. Tony’s only condition is bringing everyone back without erasing the last 5 years and assembling the whole team. Rhodey, Nebula, and Rocket are easy since they’ve all remained close with the Avengers. Scott’s taco is blown away when the Benatar lands and War Machine refers to him as “Regular-sized man” when he lands. Hulk kindly offers Scott extra tacos as he sets off with Rocket to find Thor to the tune of “Supersonic Rocket Ship” by The Kinks. Just like the comics, the remaining Asgardians were able to live on Earth in a small fishing community in Tønsberg, Norway.

New Asgard doesn’t look like much, but at least they’ve managed to survive. Turns out Thor’s entire Ragnarok supporting cast survived the Snap. Tessa Thompson returns as Valkyrie to greet Hulk & Rocket as well as warn them that Thor isn’t in the best condition. I was thrilled to see the return of Thor’s long blonde hair, but very much wasn’t expecting him to let himself go. Fat Thor was equal parts shocking and humorous. Although Hemsworth had to deal with a wig on top of a thick beard and a realistic fat suit covering his muscles, he made the most of it by once again becoming one of the funniest characters in the movie. People deal with grief differently, so it’s not hard to believe Thor would become a heavy drinking party god with a beer belly who uses Stormbreaker as a bottle opener. At least Thor has his good friends Korg & Meik by his side. Taika Waititi was too much of hidden gem to let go after all. They play dated video games like Fortnite and Thor has gotten so low that he resorts to threatening NoobMaster69 over the internet.

Although he’s mostly comedic, Hemsworth really shows his range when Hulk mentions Thanos. Thor breaks down at the sound of his name and refuses to join the fight due to grief. Until Rocket tells him there’s beer on the ship. Romanoff manages to track Barton in Tokyo where he’s taken on the comic accurate moniker Ronin. Barton is in the darkest place out of all the Avengers since the loss of his family drove him to kill major crime syndicates. First it was the Cartel, now it’s the Yakuza led by Hiroyuki Sanada as Akihiko. Ronin is merciless while dressed in a dark brooding costume equipped with a sword. Underneath, Clint is sporting a mohawk and tattoos. Nat & Clint reconcile when she offers him hope to see his family again. As Rocket works on the quantum time machine, Stark appropriately refers to Thor as Lebowski.

Understandable considering Thor looks just like the Dude, but awkward when you remember Jeff Bridges was part of Iron Man. Since Hank is no longer around, the team only has so many Pym Particles to shrink them down in the Quantum Realm. Scott hilariously uses one up, but Clint offers to do the test run in his place. Nebula straps Clint into the quantum suit and Rhodey brings up the possibility of taking out baby Thanos. Pop culture references have always been a mainstay of the MCU, but they really go overboard when Scott & Rhodey list off every time travel movie ever made. Bruce clears things up with this movie’s confusing rules of time travel. In layman’s terms, affecting the past doesn’t affect the future. What it really does is open up an alternate reality that opens up the possibility of a Multiverse even more.

I love that the movie begins with Hawkeye and the hour mark comes when he travels back in time to his family farm. Clint is sadly unable to see his daughter in time, but it’s exactly the success the Avengers needed. The entire second hour of the movie is dedicated to Scott’s proposed “Time heist.” The Avengers come up with a clever plan to obtain all 6 Infinity Stones in the past. A past that almost every Avenger in the room has experienced. Although The Dark World isn’t a favorite amongst most MCU fans, it becomes extremely relevant thanks to the Reality Stone. Thor hilariously falls asleep and stumbles through an explanation of the movie’s plot. Most of the team is confused, but Scott is hanging on every word. Thor starts to get depressed when he remembers his mother dying and the fact that he and Jane Foster are no longer dating.

Rocket points out that the Power Stone was found by Peter Quill on Morag and pets an excited Scott for good measure. Nebula reveals the location of the Soul Stone to be a dominion of death where Thanos murdered her sister. As Hulk, Romanoff, and Stark ponder the location of Doctor Strange’s Time Stone, Nat comes to the realization that the Space Stone and Mind Stone are also in New York if they pick the right time. When everyone chooses a team and a destination, they stand together for one final civilian group shot. Then they suit up in matching quantum suits that combine Pym tech with Stark tech and a bit of Rocket’s futuristic technology as well. The special effects are so convincing that you don’t even realize the mostly white uniforms are 100% CGI. Their design was so last minute that the production never had time to create them. As the Avengers set out on their mission, Cap delivers another impressive speech about doing whatever it takes…

49. Avengers Endgame

Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor face Thanos

New York 2012 – The first team consists of Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, and Hulk. They return to simpler times when the Avengers first assembled in New York City. The Avengers is still my all time favorite superhero movie, so it was awesome to see the iconic circle shot again from a different perspective. Hulk’s primary goal is to obtain the Time Stone, but not before getting embarrassed at the sight of his former self smashing everything in sight. The massive 2012 Hulk is nothing like the leaner Banner infused 2023 Hulk. Hulk leaps onto the Sanctum Sanctorum rooftop where he encounters a very much alive Ancient One fending off the Chitauri with her magic. Since Stephen Strange is currently a neurosurgeon, the Ancient One wears the Eye of Agamotto. I wasn’t expecting to see Tilda Swinton again, but her presence offers an excellent battle of wits between magic and science. The Ancient One knocks Banner’s astral form out of Hulk’s body exactly the way she did in Doctor Strange.

She dumbs down time travel further with a visual aid showing the devastating effects of removing a Stone from the past. So Bruce promises to bring all 6 Stones back when they’re done. The Ancient One only hands over the Time Stone when Bruce reveals Strange’s decision to willingly give up the Stone. The rest of the Stones won’t be nearly this easy. Tony Stark comes full circle in his Mark LXXXV Iron Man armor. The suit finally resembles the classic Iron Man costume from the comics with gold sleeves and a red torso. The armor has nanotech features, but it’s mostly a traditional suit. Steve blends in with his colorful star-spangled Avengers uniform that Tony lampshades by saying it does nothing for his ass. A shrunken Ant-Man continues to be a fanboy by claiming it’s “America’s ass.” Marvel once again shows off with the subtle digital de-aging of all six 2012 Avengers, plus Loki. The Battle of New York’s direct aftermath is not at all how I imagined it.

Turns out Thor had a muzzle at the ready in case Loki wouldn’t shut up. Johansson & Renner aren’t given much screen time in the past, but everyone else manages to recapture their former personality. Downey Jr. hasn’t changed much, but Hemsworth is a little more no-nonsense and Evans is a lot more virtuous. Lou Ferrigno wasn’t a fan of the film’s Hulk portrayal, so Ruffalo voices the Hulk in a funny bit where he’s forced to take the stairs. Turns out Loki’s scepter containing the Mind Stone was immediately taken by the S.H.I.E.L.D. STRIKE team that was secretly Hydra at the time. Maximiliano Hernández, Frank Grillo, and Callan Mulvey all return as Jasper Sitwell, Brock Rumlow, and Jack Rollins respectively. They’re on their way to Dr. List, but the famous scene from The Winter Soldier is brilliantly subverted when 2023 Cap enters the elevator. He’s able to obtain the scepter with two simple words: “Hail Hydra.” It’s both hilarious and a clever jab at the controversial 2016 storyline. Things get complicated when 2023 Captain America accidentally runs into 2012 Captain America thinking he’s Loki in disguise.

The battle of the Caps is an awesome evenly matched fight that’s very welcome after more than an hour without action. They even manage to work in his catchphrase, “I can do this all day.” Both Caps trade shields and punches until 2023 Cap is able to incapacitate 2012 Cap after telling him Bucky is alive. Steve gains the Mind Stone and agrees that his butt is “America’s ass.” Tony & Scott aren’t so lucky in their attempt to obtain the Space Stone. 2012 Thor & Stark face minor resistance from Secretary Alexander Pierce played again by Robert Redford in his final on-screen performance. Thor also brings up lunch (shawarma) before setting off to Asgard with Loki. Ant-Man causes a distraction by tampering with Tony’s arc reactor that Thor is able to fix with his hammer. 2023 Tony is knocked out by the Hulk while carrying the case with the Tesseract. Loki seizes the opportunity by transporting himself to his Disney+ series. Despite Loki’s untimely death, it was great to know Tom Hiddleston wasn’t finished just yet. Since Scott only had enough Pym Particles for one round trip each, Tony & Steve figure out a way to obtain the Space Stone and extra Pym Particles at the same time.

Asgard 2013 – The second team consists of Thor & Rocket. Their unusual chemistry in Infinity War made the pairing a natural fit. It was just great to see Asgard in its prime after it was destroyed in Ragnarok. Despite the more grim tone of The Dark World, Thor is still able to bring a few laughs to his struggle. 2013 Loki sits in his cell as his 2023 brother sneaks past him. Jane Foster has been a less than reliable love interest, but it would’ve been impossible to exclude her from the mission. Natalie Portman very surprisingly returns to the MCU after a 6 year absence. Her only contribution was an off-screen line of dialogue, because the shot of her getting out of bed is actually a deleted scene from The Dark World. Thor tries to go drinking at the thought of seeing his ex once again. He’s miserable, but not nearly as bad as he could’ve been in a deleted scene.

Thor starts to have a panic attack when he sees his mother Frigga right before she was killed by Malekith. So Rocket becomes a lot more responsible by reminding him what they’re fighting for. Until Rocket is stuck draining the Aether out of Jane himself when Thor runs away. It’s not a total loss, because it gives Thor a chance to seek counsel from his soon to be deceased mother who instinctively knows he’s from the future. Rene Russo (no relation) is finally given a chance to be a loving, wise, and witty mother to her troubled son. It’s an emotional heart to heart that gives Thor the confidence to embrace who he needs to be. As well as drop a few pounds when he’s ready. As Rocket obtains the Reality Stone, Frigga bids farewell to her son without hearing about her impending future. Before they leave, Thor discovers he’s still worthy by finally regaining his unbroken hammer Mjolnir.

New Jersey 1970 – Tony & Steve get a do-over by traveling to the 1970 S.H.I.E.L.D. facility where Captain America was born. The scene opens with the bittersweet final cameo of Marvel comics creator Stan Lee digitally de-aged to look like he did in the 70’s. He says “Make love, not war” to the army base, drives a car with a ‘Nuff Said bumper sticker, and rides with a woman meant to resemble his late wife Joan Lee. Stan Lee will be sorely missed, but Endgame was definitely a high note to finish on. Steve & Tony disguise themselves as a soldier and a scientist respectively. Yvette Nicole Brown is the second Community alumni to cameo as a S.H.I.E.L.D. employee suspicious of Stark’s hippy beard. Michael Douglas is once again de-aged with a groovy head of hair. His primitive Ant-Man office even pays homage to his original helmet from the comics. Steve lures him away to obtain his Pym Particles, but gets sidetracked when he sees the love of his life for the first time in decades. They reunited when Peggy was much older, but Steve nearly started a relationship with her niece Sharon after her death.

Although Hayley Atwell’s biggest movie role was in The First Avenger, she really made a name for herself in the ABC series Agent Carter. Meanwhile, Tony manages to find the Tesseract in a not so secure safe. Unfortunately, he also runs into his father searching for Arnim Zola. Much like Thor, Tony is given a unique opportunity to receive closure from a deceased parent. Howard Stark has always been a complicated man with an equally complicated father-son relationship. John Slattery was de-aged without a film to reference. Although Slattery has been around since Iron Man 2, Civil War was the closest thing to having Tony share the screen with his father. He uses the name Howard Potts while discussing his mother and the child she’s expecting. Tony finally comes to terms with his father by imparting him with the same advice he taught him. They share an awkward goodbye hug and Howard relays his confusion to his butler Edwin Jarvis. Paul Bettany doesn’t play the original Jarvis, but the MCU does go the extra mile by having James D’Arcy be the very first TV actor to reprise a role from a TV show. Tony & Steve leave 1970 with the Space Stone successfully obtained.

Morag 2014 – The third team consists of War Machine & Nebula. They’re easily the most unusual pairing since one is a former Air Force Colonel and the other is a former intergalactic assassin. I never expected to see them interact, but both went through a lot of difficult changes in their past which resulted in them living with bionic attachments. As Barton & Romanoff drop off a space pod, Nebula warns Rhodey that they aren’t the only ones in 2014 looking for the Stones. 2014 Nebula is killing for her father on the planet Korbin. When she ends up cornered, 2014 Gamora makes her fierce entrance. Despite Gamora’s tragic death, it was just nice to see Zoe Saldana painted green once again. Even if this version of her was yet to betray her father. Thanos returns over 2 hours into the movie to become the villain the Avengers will have to face in the end. Although Guardians of the Galaxy depicted the Mad Titan sitting in his space chair letting Ronan do all the work, this 2014 Thanos is more ruthless. Thanos wields a double bladed sword and continues to wear his armor.

Thanos gains a devastating advantage when Nebula’s network gets crossed with her 2023 doppelganger. Ebony Maw examines her memories back on the Sanctuary II where Thanos learns all about his future. Including his success in finding all 6 Infinity Stones and inevitable death at the hands of the Avengers. Chris Pratt is given slightly more screen time since Peter Quill is the one who found the Orb on Morag. The fun “Come and Get Your Love” Guardians of the Galaxy opening is shown without credits, but Quill’s impromptu dance number is more embarrassing from Rhodey & Nebula’s perspective. War Machine knocks Star-Lord out and Nebula uses his tools and her robotic hand to obtain the Power Stone. Things go terribly wrong when Rhodey leaves, since Nebula’s network interference causes her to be abducted by Thanos. Nebula suddenly comes face to face with the woman she used to be. 2014 Nebula is so desperate to please her father that she disguises herself as the 2023 Nebula in order to infiltrate the Avengers Compound and send Thanos to the present using Pym Particles to shrink their ship.

Vormir 2014 – The final team consists of Black Widow & Hawkeye. Natasha’s latest black catsuit pays tribute to all her past uniforms and one of many she wears in the comics. Clint returns to his Hawkeye identity, but he continues to wear most of his Ronin suit. They fly to Vormir in a shrunken Benatar that would be totally cool if not for the mortal danger. Nat & Clint have come a long way since Budapest. Although most of their close friendship hasn’t been depicted on-screen, Johansson & Renner’s acting really makes their final scene difficult. We all know what’s gonna happen when two loving individuals seek the Soul Stone. The Red Skull returns as the stonekeeper after roughly one year.

His replacement actor Ross Marquand essentially does the exact same thing he did before. That doesn’t make the scene any less heart wrenching. Black Widow & Hawkeye literally fight over who gets to make the sacrifice. Clint wants to do it for the terrible things he’s done in the last 5 years. Nat wants Clint to see his family again and will do whatever it takes to get the rest of the world back. It’s a tense personal fight where Hawkeye uses his bow & arrows and Black Widow uses her Widow’s Bite one last time before she makes the heartbreaking decision to jump. The death of Natasha Romanoff took me completely off guard and made me cry just as much as Gamora. Clint obtains the Soul Stone, but at what cost?…

50. Avengers Endgame

The Avengers enter the portals

As the Avengers return to the present, they’re faced with the sad truth that Natasha isn’t coming back. The original team mourns her loss in a way that effectively represents some form of the 5 stages of grief. Denial: Thor refuses to believe Nat is permanently dead since they have the Stones to bring her back. Anger: Hulk is so mad that he throws a bench. Bargaining: Clint yells at Thor for not understanding how the Soul Stone works and tells everyone that it should’ve been him that died. Depression: All Steve can do is sit and cry silently to himself. Acceptance: Tony is the first to ask if Nat had any family, but everyone knows the Avengers were her family. So they have to make her sacrifice count. Unbeknownst to everyone that 2014 Nebula has secretly infiltrated the Avengers Compound to bring the Sanctuary II through the quantum tunnel. All 6 of the purple, blue, red, orange, green, and yellow Infinity Stones are loaded into a right handed Nano Gauntlet of Stark’s own design. Rocket lightens the mood by pretending it’s gonna blow up.

Thor thinks he’s strong enough to snap his fingers, but everyone agrees he’s in no condition to do it. The gamma radiation emitted from the Gauntlet convinces Bruce that he was made for it. Hulk traditionally wears a pair of tattered pants, but this is the first time he wears some variation of a comic accurate purple jumpsuit. Tony hunkers down the Avengers Compound as he suits up in his comic accurate Iron Man armor while protecting Hawkeye. Rhodey suits up as War Machine, Scott suits up as Ant-Man, and Thor protects Rocket. Steve suits up in his most comic accurate Captain America costume to date. His boots and gloves remain brown, but there’s plenty of red star-spangled accents and a dark blue color scheme that incorporates the scales he has in the comics. Unlike all the other movies, Cap actually keeps his helmet on during the entire climax. All the power of the Gauntlet is just as dangerous for Bruce as it was for Thanos, but only at the 2 hour mark does Hulk- *Snap*

Hulk collapses with an injured arm, but still asks if the snap worked. Clint’s wife calls him after 5 long years and Scott optimistically watches the sun set on a fully restored universe… Until Thanos blows the entire Avengers Compound to rubble. A truly shocking turn of events that every single Avenger miraculously survives. 2014 Thanos lands on Earth and patiently sits at the Avengers doorstep waiting for his enemies to arrive. 2014 Nebula is sent to retrieve the Stones, unaware that her 2023 doppelganger is getting through to their sister Gamora. Most of the team is stuck under sinking debris with barely any hope of getting out. Rhodey releases himself from his War Machine armor to help Rocket, Hulk lifts most of the rubble, and a shrunken Ant-Man comes to the rescue. Leaving Hawkeye with the Gauntlet in an underground pipeline with horrific Outriders chasing him. He unknowingly gives the Gauntlet to the 2014 Nebula, but Gamora arrives to stop her thanks to 2023 Nebula. Nebula completes her redemptive arc by symbolically shooting her former self. As Tony helps Steve recover from the blast, Thor watches the Mad Titan from a distance.

They all agree it’s a trap, so Thor finally goes full God of Thunder by suiting up himself. A determined Thor summons not just Mjolnir, but Stormbreaker as well. Although he’s still fat, Thor is a total badass when a mighty blaze of thunder gives him his trademark cape, chestplate, and a nifty Viking braid in his beard. This will forever be the final stand of the Marvel trinity as they face the Mad Titan together. I was beyond overjoyed to see Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor in a one on one fight with Thanos, but their battle doesn’t begin right away. Rather, Thanos delivers another memorable speech about the world being unable to accept the life he’s created. His new, far more evil plan is to rebuild the universe with no memory of the life they once had. I understand audiences thinking this version of Thanos isn’t quite as nuanced as the one in Infinity War, but I was just glad to see a truly villainous Thanos in full armor, fighting with his new double bladed weapon. Action returns in full force when Thor ignites his dual weapons, Captain America throws his mighty shield, and Iron Man fires his repulsor beams.

Stark calls back to The Avengers by having Thor charge up his armor with his lightning. Thanos deflects the attack by spinning his sword, but Thor using Stormbreaker as a baseball bat to hit Mjolnir is still a personal favorite of mine. Thanos unfortunately deflects the shot using Tony’s armor to take him out of the fight. Cap gets a few hits on Thanos, but he’s taken out of the fight too. Leaving Thor to do most of the work by dodging his sword and continually trying to go for the head. Thanos overpowers Thor, throws him around, and is even able to grab Stormbreaker since the axe isn’t enchanted like his hammer. With Thor’s axe dangerously close to his chest, my heart stopped as soon as Mjolnir started to move, hit Thanos, and return to Captain America! The entire theater erupted as soon as Cap was finally revealed to be worthy. A question that everybody wanted to know ever since Steve nearly lifted Thor’s hammer in Age of Ultron. A moment from the comics that was turned into one of the greatest scenes in superhero movie history. Thor knew his friend was worthy from the beginning.

As if I wasn’t screaming enough already, they give us the best one on one fight in the entire movie. Hammer wielding Cap vs. Thanos is an awesome sequence where the former possesses the power of Thor. Cap achieves god mode by swinging Mjolnir, throwing it at his shield to create a shockwave, launching his shield into Thanos, and summoning a lightning strike to bury the Mad Titan. It’s enough to damage his helmet, but Thanos won’t stop when he knocks Mjolnir out of Cap’s hand and swings his sword so hard it actually breaks his Vibranium shield. Before we have time to process any of what just happened, Thanos summons the biggest army imaginable. His forces include: the Black Order, the Chitauri & their Leviathans, the Outriders, and the Sakaarans. Thanos was never one to gloat, but he tells Cap that he’s very much going to enjoy destroying his planet. Cap proves why he’s worthy by doing one of the most heroic things I’ve ever seen in a movie. An exhausted Steve tightens his broken shield and stands alone against an army of thousands.

Until Cap hears a voice he hasn’t heard in 5 years. My theater gasped when it turned out to be Sam Wilson coming full circle with The Winter Soldier line, “On your left.” Nothing could stop our excitement when a portal magically appears on Cap’s left. It will forever be bittersweet to see Black Panther as the first to walk out alongside his sister Shuri and General Okoye. They bring with them the entire army of Wakanda as they continue to chant “Yibambe!” Falcon also flies out of the portal as hundreds more start to appear. I couldn’t stop applauding when a spellcasting Doctor Strange, knife wielding Drax the Destroyer, empathic Mantis, and blaster-toting Star-Lord all get into attack positions from the Titan portal. I cheered extra hard when Spider-Man comes swinging into the fight. Teenage Groot and the Winter Soldier walk out of the Wakanda portal. Valkyrie emerges on a pegasus along with Korg, Meik, and the entire army of New Asgard. They’re joined by Scarlet Witch making her magical entrance. Speaking of magic, Wong, Strange, and every sorcerer from across the planet is responsible for slinging the heroes to their destination.

As the sorcerers ready their mandalas, the Wasp joins the fight by resizing herself. The Ravagers can also be seen in the background along with Howard the Duck himself. A smiling Thor summons his axe and Tony watches in utter disbelief as Pepper drops in wearing her own armor. Although it seems like something made for the movie, Pepper does become Rescue in The Invincible Iron Man #10 comic. Her armor’s color scheme is just changed to purple & gold. Although this is the first time the Avengers have had an army on their side, Strange still asks Wong if that’s everyone. It would be everyone if Black Widow, Quicksilver, Vision, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the Punisher, the Inhumans, the Runaways, Cloak & Dagger, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four were there, but they get all the help they need when Ant-Man grows into Giant-Man carrying the Hulk and a gun-toting Rocket on top of Rhodey wearing his bulky red & blue Mark VII War Machine armor. As Alan Silvestri’s breathtaking score continues to swell, Captain America stands with his team in front of an increasingly perplexed Thanos. All of the heroes prepare for the Battle of Earth as Cap summons Mjolnir saying two words that I’ve been waiting to hear on the big screen for over 7 years, “Avengers Assemble!!!

This is the moment the MCU has been building to since the beginning. From Iron Man to Endgame, I’ve never been so happy to be a nerd. Seeing every major superhero charging into battle together is a once in a lifetime experience that will never be duplicated. It’s easy for comic books and animation to incorporate any character they want, but it’s not easy getting all of these celebrities in one place. Making it all the more impressive that Marvel Studios was able to pull this off. I do have minor nitpicks, but I know it would’ve been impossible to give everyone substantial screen time. It’s just great to have Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Anthony Mackie, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Dave Batista, Pom Klementieff, Sebastian Stan, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Olsen, and Evangeline Lilly back after all this time. As Thor & Black Panther let out a mighty battle cry, heroes run, fly, and swing into action. Thanos signals his troops and the epic forces of dark & light collide in the most incredible single take in the entire MCU.

Cap throws Mjolnir, Thor slams Stormbreaker, Wasp sneaks up on a Chitari, Valkyrie slashes a bigger Chitari, Hulk smashes a ship, M’Baku yells, Giant-Man punches a freaking Leviathan, Black Panther fights an Outrider, Okoye spears a Sakaaran, Shuri fires her wrist gauntlets, Drax humorously stabs Cull Obsidian the way he did in Vol. 2, Korg knocks Obsidian out, and Iron Man & Rescue blast enemies back to back. Even in a battle of this magnitude, Thor & Cap continue to chat with the both of them accidentally trading weapons. We even get another glimpse at Rocket & Bucky fighting together. Although Mantis seems like the most innocent combatant on the battlefield, her empathic abilities can be seen in the background putting larger enemies to sleep. Endgame originally had an alternate scene of all the key Avengers coming together to form a game plan. It would’ve been cool to see everyone on-screen at once, but it wouldn’t have made sense in the middle of an active war where all the lower grade soldiers are being killed. So instead, any important reunion or awesome callback happens as the battle plays out. After Iron Man gets knocked to the ground by Obsidian, Spider-Man webs him up, and Giant-Man steps on him.

For once, Tony is left speechless as Peter jabbers about himself being gone for 5 years. After being denied a hug in Homecoming, Tony finally embraces his young ally. A less than warm reunion comes when Star-Lord is fighting Sakaarans, only to be saved by none other than 2014 Gamora. Peter tries to embrace his lost love, but Gamora kicks him in the crotch similar to how they first met in Guardians of the Galaxy. Although Nebula makes a funny enough joke out of it, it is a little disappointing to have such a sincere romance made fun of like this. This scene, plus Rhodey calling Quill an idiot in the past almost seems like revenge for what he did in Infinity War. Hawkeye is still carrying the Gauntlet as he gets chased by a larger Chitari. Falcon helps him by using his wings as a weapon. Barton contacts Cap on his com to figure out a plan for the Stones. Hulk reminds them to return the Stones to the past, but Stark points out that the quantum tunnel was destroyed. Until Scott shrinks down to normal size and remembers they still have one time machine left. Valkyrie spots his ugly brown van with the miniature quantum tunnel and Hope joins Scott to come up with a plan.

Hope comes full circle by using Captain America’s nickname “Cap” as Ant-Man and the Wasp share loving glances for the first time in 5 years. They team up to fly to the van, but first they have to restart it. The team plays a game of pass the Gauntlet with T’Challa showing that he did care about Clint’s name after all. Hawkeye passes the Gauntlet to Black Panther, who proceeds to run through enemies with kinetic blasts. Thanos knocks him down, but a very one-sided fight occurs when a red-eyed Wanda flies in seeking vengeance for Vision. I love his response of “I don’t even know who you are,” but Wanda shows him exactly who she is. Wanda’s magic proves her capacity to be the strongest Avenger by coming extremely close to killing Thanos. When Wanda strips Thanos of his armor, he goes so far as to order Corvus Glaive to rain fire on their own troops. Wong and the rest of the sorcerer’s help by casting shields of protection around the battlefield. Black Panther continues to run, but Maw encases him in rocks. So Spider-Man webs up the Gauntlet and finally activates his Iron Spider suit’s “Instant kill” feature.

Doctor Strange manages to magically take out 7 Outriders at once, yet I can’t help but feel very disappointed at the writers for forcing someone as powerful as the Sorcerer Supreme to spend most of his time holding back a tidal wave. Stark drops in to ask Strange whether this is 1 of the 14,000,605 futures they win, but Strange gives a vague answer that will soon come to pass. When Spidey gets overwhelmed by Outriders, Cap refers to him as “Queens,” and creates the awesome image of Spider-Man webbing onto Thor’s hammer. Pepper catches him and so does Valkyrie on her pegasus, but they all get overwhelmed by the rain of fire. Rocket & Groot manage to have a quick reunion before Captain Marvel finally decides to enter the battle. The Sanctuary II diverts its attention to Danvers, but she destroys the ship in one fell swoop. I’ll give her props for that, but what follows is the most cringy part of the entire final battle. Carol first references her comic accurate friendship to Spider-Man by saying hi to Peter Parker before taking the Gauntlet. Then I’m taken out of the moment completely when every female Avenger shows up at the exact same spot at once.

Unlike the much more organic all-female team up in Infinity War, the “She’s got help” A-Force scene feels very unnatural. Especially when Black Widow isn’t even with them. As Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, Okoye, Rescue, Mantis, Shuri, Wasp, Gamora, and Nebula take down Thanos’ army, Captain Marvel flies the Gauntlet into the van. Until Thanos manages to destroy it. The final climax officially kicks in when the Mad Titan does whatever he can to grab the Gauntlet. Thanos faces the Trinity again when Tony tries to grab the Gauntlet. When he’s tossed aside, Thor uses Mjolnir and Stormbreaker to hold Thanos down. Cap does the same, but they’re both overpowered. Captain Marvel & Thanos have their expected fight scene that kept me on edge for two reasons. Although I didn’t want Thanos to snap his fingers, I also didn’t want a last minute newcomer to save the day. When a headbutt doesn’t even work against her Binary energy, Thanos out thinks Carol by using the Power Stone to blast her away. When even someone as powerful as Captain Marvel is unable to beat Thanos, Tony realizes what he has to do as Strange holds up 1 finger. A moment brilliantly improvised by Cumberbatch.

Stark heroically makes one final effort to retrieve the Gauntlet, but Thanos knocks him away once again. Thanos fulfills his destiny with the line “I am inevitable.” *Snap* When nothing happens, Thanos discovers the Gauntlet is empty, only to realize Stark pulled an Uno Reverse Card. Although he very nearly said nothing, what better moment is there then to have Tony come full circle by saying, “I… am… Iron Man.” *Snap* Although Tony was originally supposed to see a grown up Morgan Stark played by Katherine Langford in the same vision where Thanos saw child Gamora, the scene would’ve taken us out of the moment. As his entire army slowly turns to dust, Thanos quietly accepts defeat by sitting once more. Tony is left in critical condition with all of his loved ones nearby to say goodbye. Much like Logan, the death of a prolific legacy superhero like Iron Man was enough to make me cry. Rhodey quietly comforts his best friend, Peter breaks down by finally calling Mr. Stark Tony, and Pepper’s presence is earned by having her say goodbye to the man she loves. You know it’s real when Tony’s arc reactor goes dark. Although Stark’s death is controversial, a heroic sacrifice was the natural way to end his arc. The Avengers very nearly took a knee for their fallen ally, but his funeral is a better place for that.

Tony’s final heartfelt message is played as Clint reunites with his family, Scott watches fireworks with Hope & Cassie, Peter returns to Midtown High School embracing his best friend Ned (a quick cameo from Jacob Batalon), and T’Challa watches over Wakanda with his sister Shuri & mother Romanda (a quick cameo from Angela Bassett). The message was recorded on Tony’s Iron Man helmet right before they traveled through time. Jon Favreau, the man who started it all, is present as Happy Hogan to hear the message alongside Pepper, Morgan, Rhodey, Steve, and Thor. The final tearjerker is Tony telling his daughter, “I love you 3000.” The entire MCU comes full circle with the original “Proof that Tony Stark has a heart” arc reactor floating down the river. Endgame is the first movie to depict a genuine superhero funeral with an impressive long take of everyone Tony has affected throughout his life. Pepper, Morgan, Rhodey, and Happy are of course up front. Steve is close behind along with Peter Parker being comforted by Aunt May (a quick cameo from Marisa Tomei). Thor is close behind along with Bruce wearing a cast. Stephen Strange & Wong stand by his side.

Scott, Hope, Hank Pym, and Janet van Dyne are all together thanks to Ant-Man and the Wasp being filmed close together. Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer’s presence makes this the only Avengers movie to feature all 5 of the original comic book team members. Peter Quill, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Nebula, and Mantis all stand together in formal black leather. T’Challa represents Wakanda alongside Okoye & Shuri. Although the scene was filmed long before the release of Black Panther, this is sadly Boseman’s final on-screen appearance as the King of Wakanda. Clint stands with his wife and kids as all the leftover attendants are seen in the background. Wanda, Sam, and Bucky can be thought of as team Disney+, but most people didn’t even recognize the kid behind them. That kid is Ty Simpkins as a much older Harley Keener. Turns out Tony did keep in touch after helping him in Iron Man 3. William Hurt and Cobie Smulders quickly cameo as Secretary Ross & Maria Hill respectively. Carol Danvers stands on the doorstep along with Samuel L. Jackson making a much needed appearance as Nick Fury.

Much like The Return of the King, a series of endings are warranted to wrap up such an epic 3 hour journey. Clint & Wanda comfort each other over their respective loss of Natasha & Vision. Morgan asks Uncle Happy for cheeseburgers just like her dad did in Iron Man. Thor watches over New Asgard, but decides to turn his kingdom over to Valkyrie. A noble enough gesture since Thor’s journey is likely far from over. It will apparently continue with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Although Peter very much has Gamora on his mind, much needed levity arrives when Thor assumes control, calling the team the Asgardians of the Galaxy. Despite being major scene stealers in Infinity War, Drax & Mantis have only one line each. Rocket & Nebula suggest Thor & Quill fight to see who’s in charge and Groot chimes in with his only “I am Groot” in the movie. Thor humorously accepts Quill’s lead in the end.

The movie concludes with the unseen final mission of Captain America. I’d love to see Cap somehow return all 6 of the Infinity Stones, plus Thor’s hammer, but some things are better left to the imagination. Hulk operates an outdoor quantum tunnel while Sam & Bucky say goodbye to Steve. He calls Sam a good man and reverses the “Don’t do anything stupid” line from The First Avenger as he hugs Bucky. Cap misses his time stamp and I knew exactly what was coming when Bucky spots someone from the distance. Sam comes face to face with an elderly Steve Rogers played by a digitally aged Evans. Although I’m still not crazy about modern Marvel storylines, Steve passing his shield and Captain America mantle to Sam does make sense. Old man Steve doesn’t tell Sam about his wife, but we learn everything we need to know in the final sequence set in the 1940’s.

As “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” sung by Kitty Kallen plays in the background, Steve & Peggy finally get their first dance that they seal with a kiss. Endgame breaks tradition by omitting both a mid and post-credits scene. Which is just fine since the clips shown in the credits sequence are a perfect way to pay tribute to the enormous cast. The original 6 Avengers are given special treatment with a signature from Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, and Robert Downey Jr. The final sound of Tony Stark working on his first suit closes the book on the Infinity Saga. Endgame is so epic that I had to see it twice in theaters. If only to increase its chances of becoming the highest grossing film of all time. I was thrilled when it finally beat Avatar (then disappointed when it reverted back). Despite its impact, Endgame was only nominated for the usual Best Visual Effects. Regardless of accolades, personal opinion, or the current state of the film industry, Avengers: Endgame is something I will always love 3000.

48. Avengers Endgame

The Avengers charge

Preceded by: Avengers: Infinity War

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