‘Avengers: Endgame’ Is Poignant and Heartwarming Ending of an Era

“Avengers: Endgame” has some moments of disappointments–some beloved characters will not return and the full cast of Avengers friends that we’ve come to know and love will not survive to the ending.

One spoiler that is fair to give away is that this Marvel-verse movies does not feature any mid-credit or post credit scenes. There are no hints where the Marvel-verse movies will go from here.

Some questions brought up on social media will be answered such as why Natalie Portman was at the Monday evening Hollywood premiere. If you haven’t been keeping up on the Avengers saga which began in 2012, then let me give you a quick background. If you want to skip, just scroll down to “Avengers: Endgame.”

“The Avengers” (2012)

This was the with film in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, the movie began with my beloved Loki  (Tom Hiddleston) making a deal with the leader of the Chitauri (the Other): Loki gets the Tesseract from Earth. The Chitauri provide an army to conquer earth. Loki gets the Tesseract from SHIELD, but Nick Fury activates the Avengers Initiative and with the help of Agent Phil Coulson gathers Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes after Loki, but is convinced to join forces with the Avengers. The Avengers defeat the Chitauri in New York and Thor takes Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard.  The Other confers with his master on what to do next.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)

The Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye) raid a Hydra facility in the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia where Baron Wolfgang von Strucker has been experimenting on humans using that scepter that Loki has used in “The Avengers.” There they find twins Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) Maximoff, who have telekinetic abilities. Stark and Banner attempt to create Ultron (James Spader), a global defense system, but Ultron is a sentient being. Ultron recruits the Maximoffs (who blame Stark for their father’s death), but Wakandan vibranium from the shady Ulyssess Klaue in South Africa. A battle ensues, but Ultron and the Maximoffs escape. Ultron uses the scepter to enslave Dr. Helen Cho in Seoul and she crafts a synthetic body for Ultron. The Maximoffs realize Ultron’s plans to destroy humanity and switch sides.

Thor has a vision about an apocalyptic future that includes one of the Infinity stones that he gives so that Stark’s JARVIS (Paul Bettany) program can become a new superhero, Vision (also Bettany).  To defeat Ultron, besides the Maximoffs, they will add Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie)

In the end, a new Avengers home base is established and Captain America and Black Widow begin training new Avengers: Rhodes, Vision, Sam Wilson and Wanda. Hawkeye retires to be with his family. Stark leaves to run his business. Thor returns to Asgard, suspecting forces behind the scenes. The master is revealed as Thanos who puts on a gauntlet and vows to get the Infinity Stones for himself.

“Captain America: Civil War” (2015)

Beginning in a flashback to 1991, when the brainwashed super soldier, James “Bucky” Barnes, is sent by Hydra to stop an automobile carrying the super-soldier serum. How that fits in will become clearer at the end.

A year has passed since the Ultron battle. The world is becoming concerned about the death and destruction caused by the Avengers. The UN passes the Slovakia Accords which assigns a UN panel to control the Avengers. That splits the team into two camps. The Captain America camp want to make their own decisions, not fully trusting the government. The Captain Iron Man camp wants to follow the rule of international laws.

An explosion at an international Vienna conference kills the king of Wakanda and elevates his son to king and to become Black Panther. The bomber was brain-washed Bucky, Captain America’s childhood friend. Captain America is determined to save him. The Avengers split into two teams, some of Captain America’s team ends up imprisoned in the Raft.

Captain America’s team includes Hawkeye, Falcon, Bucky Barnes, Ant-Man, and Scarlet Witch.

Team Iron Man are War Machine, Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision, Spider-Man.

Both Iron Man and Black Panther want revenge against Bucky, but understand that he was brainwashed. After a battle between Iron Man, Black Panther, Bucky (the Winter Soldier) and Captain America, Captain America breaks his allies out of prison, Bucky is put into suspended animation until a cure for his brainwashing can be found and Stark uses his technology to help War Machine and Spider-Man.

“Avengers: Infinity War” (2018)

Thanos has the Power Stone and now acquires the Space Stone from the Tesseract after intercepting the spaceship with the Asgardians and defeating Thor and Hulk and killing Loki. Heimdall sends Hulk to Earth where he crashes down in New York City. He warns Dr. Strange and Tony Stark/Iron Man of Thanos’ plans. Dr. Strange is captured and taken because he is the guardian of the Time Stone.

Wanda and Vision have been living a normal life, but are attacked as Thanos’ forces attempt to get the Mind Stone from his forehead. Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon go to Wakanda to attempt to extract the Mind Stone from Vision without killing him.

The Guardians of the Galaxy rescue Thor and travel to Knowhere because Thor realizes that Thanos will want the Reality Stone which the Collector has. Thanos has beat them there and he, along with Gamora go to Vormir where Thanos sacrifices Gamora to gain the Soul Stone.

Nebula escapes and the Guardians of the Galaxy take her to Thanos’ home planet of Titan. Iron Man and Spider-Man have rescued Dr. Strange and they, too arrive on Titan. Strange uses the Time Stone to look at all the possible outcomes and tells Iron Man the Avengers have only one chance. Thanos is almost subdued until Quill realizes Thanos killed Gamora. By attacking him, he enables Thanos to break away from the others. Dr. Strange then surrenders the Time Stone to Thanos.

Thanos then invades Wakanda and successfully gets the Mind Stone, killing Vision. With all the jewels, Thanos then activates the Infinity Glove and half of the universe’s population disappears.

“Avengers: Endgame”

“Avengers: Endgame” begins in the warm sunlight on a large farm. Hawkeye is teaching his daughter how to shoot an arrow. His wife tells him the hotdogs are ready and just as he’s about to join his wife and two sons, he realizes that his daughter has disappeared. Then his wife and daughter are gone. He is the lucky surviving half and his family is not.

The screen goes black to the sound of thunder, but we’re not going to see Thor. Tony Stark is playing a game with Nebula who is learning to be a good sport and have fun. Stark is recording a last message to Pepper because the oxygen supply will soon be depleted but then in the distance a blazing light approaches and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) meets Iron Man. She returns Iron Man and Nebula to the Avengers home base where Captain America and a few of the remaining Avengers are there to meet him.

Stark/Iron Man is still angry with Captain America, and hurt that they “lost the kid” (Spider-Man). The remaining Avengers do find Thanos but he tells them he used the stones to destroy the stones. Thanos killed but the Avengers split up.

Five years later, a rat activates some controls on an old brown van, bringing back Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). He’s been gone five years, but time works differently in the dimension where he was (the Quantum Realm). For him, he was only gone five hours. After realizing what has happened, he drives to the Avengers home base and explains his theory of making a “time heist” although he admits this is “time travel.”

Of course, the Avengers will discuss “time travel” and the “time travel conundrum,” bringing up “Back to the Future” among other pop culture references. Since Scott Lang/Ant-Man wasn’t the main science guy behind this, they try both Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.

Catching up on the five years in the lives of both Stark and Banner is both touchingly sweet and funny, respectively. I won’t go into the delightful details. Stark has more to lose than either Banner or Steve Rogers/Captain America who are still single. Steve Rogers is seen attending a survivors group where they are supposed to be learning to move on, but we know that Rogers’ hasn’t moved on from when he met the love of his life before his deep freeze.

The five years haven’t been kind to Thor who is king of the New Asgard, but, as one character puts it, looks “like melted ice cream.” Rocket and Banner bring Thor back. Hawkeye has become a one-man vigilante team and is now an expert swordsman, cutting down a Japanese bad guy (Hiroyuki Sanada) before he’s brought back into the fold.

With “giddy optimism,” the remaining Avengers are split into teams to get six stones. “We lost friends; we lost family; we lost a part of ourselves.” So their mission is to “get the stones and get them back.”

Where do they go? Tony Stark/Iron Man and Steve Rogers/Captain America go back to New Jersey in 1970 to the base that was the “Birthplace of Captain America.” Nebula and James Rhodes/War Machine go into outer space. Hawkeye and Black Widow will go Vormir for the Soul Stone. Hulk and Ant-Man go to New York City in 2012. Thor and Rocket go to Asgard.

As one can expect in a time travel conundrum, the future selves meet with the past selves and some of our heroes meet with people who did not survive the tragedies of the last decade. We’re also only halfway through the movie so things do not go well and they have a mole in their midst. Remember, Dr. Strange knew there was only one successful option, but in this movie, we’ll know he couldn’t tell Tony Stark.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo balance the humorous with the sad and there’s plenty of emotion mined in this gem of a movie about Infinity Stones. As it was from the beginning, the emotional center of the Avengers movies is Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. That should come as no surprise, considering the poster. There will be proof that Tony Stark has a heart and sometimes, like the song “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” says, “but words can wait until some other day.”

 

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