Avengers: Endgame Thoughts Assembled

I dropped myself from the internet Wednesday night and now that I’ve finally seen the movie, it’s safe for me to return. With my return, I bring many opinions and feelings about this movie, and I’m going to take some time to talk about them.

Here are my thoughts in the order I’ll present them. I will avoid spoilers at the beginning. When I get to spoilers, I’ll flag those sections in the header.

  • Preparing to See the Avengers: Endgame
  • The Experience of Avengers: Endgame Part 1
  • The Experience of Avengers: Endgame Part 2 (Spoilers)
  • Plot Musings (Spoilers)

Preparing to See Avengers: Endgame

Several weeks ago, I opened Fandango on a whim to see if I could buy tickets. I hadn’t read anything that suggested tickets were available. It occurred to me that it might be possible and to my surprise, I was able to make the purchase.

I didn’t hesitate. I bought 4 tickets for the second available showing, which was 7:25PM. That would give Melissa and I time to arrive after work. I bought 4 tickets so that Chris and Bryanna could join us. I didn’t check to see if they worked those nights. They did have to work, so Melissa and I invited friends to join us.

We had a couple of weeks and about 20 movies to watch. We started with Iron Man and moved through the movies in the order they’d been released. When we got to Captain America: Civil War, I realized we still had about 10 movies left and only a couple of days before the show time. We had to make some cuts.

Here are the movies we skipped:

  • Ant-Man
  • Dr. Strange
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • Spider-Man
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp

On the last night before we were to see the movie, Melissa and I raced home so that we could watch Black Panther and Infinity War on the same night. That would set us up perfectly for the Endgame cinematic experience. We didn’t dawdle on Thursday night, going straight home and crawling into bed to watch the last two movies.

You may have already guessed where this story is going. We finished getting caught up on Thursday night, went to work, I threw myself into my programming to try and make the day go faster. In the afternoon, I sent a reminder text to Michael to make sure he had the correct theater and show time. I copy/pasted the information from Fandango into the message.

That’s when I saw it. The show time was indeed at 7:25PM. On Thursday, April 25th.

I’d missed it.

These tickets had reserve seating, right in the middle of the theater. Perfects seats. We had been aiming our entire week towards this viewing, and I’d blown it. About 80 bucks blown. I was nearly inconsolable.

Melissa went out Friday night with her friend, and Michael went to dinner with me and cheered me up. He’d gone to see the movie Thursday night because like me, he lives on the internet and didn’t want to have the movie spoiled. Michael did an amazing job of not talking about the movie at all. He didn’t even drop any sly hints. Instead, he helped me get over my abysmal blunder. Michael really helped me Friday night.

I hunted to find seats for a showtime that were comparable to what I’d missed out on, and I managed to get 4 tickets for Saturday at 10:25PM. Pretty late for a three hour movie, but it meant that Chris and Bryanna could join me and Melissa.

We saw the movie last night and I’ve been thinking about it all day today. Now I want to talk about it.

The Experience of Avengers: Endgame Part 1

As stated before, this section will contain no spoilers for the movie. For the next little bit, I’m going to talk about my thoughts and feelings of the film without going into any specifics.

Though I spent a fair amount of time enjoying the work of film critics on YouTube, I’m not a critic myself. I’m an unapologetic fan that goes into these movies looking to be entertained. I bring extra helpings of forgiveness for the movies I watch, so they have to be really, really bad for me to have a bad time.

In regards to Avengers: Endgame, I could have left all that forgiveness and benefit-of-the-doubt at the door. I didn’t need any of it. This movie is great!

As a writer, I often struggle with movies and stories because I can see between the cracks of the narrative to the weird and wiggly underpinnings underneath. I can usually tell how important a character, setting, or plot device is going to be to the overall narrative simply by feeling how much weight the writers place on the subject. For example, in Black Panther, when Suri is talking about the train carrying vibranium, I knew that technology and setting would be important later. They focused on that element just a little bit too hard.

I’d been initially disappointed with Captain Marvel because I wanted to be surprised. On subsequent viewings, I warmed to the movie because there was a perspective present in that movie that I’d missed while trying to look for something the movie makers never intended to put in that film.

Avengers: Endgame came full of what storytellers should strive for: surprising, but inevitable. Going into the movie, I didn’t try to make any predictions for how the story twist around, and it’s a good thing because I probably would have been wrong at every turn. It went places and showed me things that I didn’t know I wanted to see.

The movie ran for 3 hours, but it didn’t feel like it. The first part lingered when it needed to linger. I might describe the first part as a “slow burn.” It moved at a pace that I felt appropriate for the subject matter.

I’m not a film critic and I don’t have a scoring system. I can safely say that this is my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. Beyond that, it might be one of my favorite movies of all time. I have potentially one criticism, which I’ll talk about in the next section, when I get into the details of the movie and talk about spoilers.

The Experience of Avengers: Endgame Part 2 (Spoilers)

Beyond this point, there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

As I stated in the previous section, this movie takes its time at the beginning. It’s slower, but that’s because it’s dealing with the ramifications of The Snap from Infinity War.

I didn’t expect the story to move ahead five years. This gave The Snap weight and consequences. Some part of me going into the movie thought that by the end, they’d cheapen the stakes of Infinity War by undoing it. They do undo The Snap in the end, but there were still consequences. Take half of the population of the world and displace them by 5 years and you wind up with a world that is entirely changed.

That whole first act let us wallow with the characters and all that they had lost. The emotions of the characters felt real, and I appreciated that the movie gave us the time to feel it all and sit with the consequences of the first movie.

By the second act, we get into time travel, which is always a huge gamble. I think they did a pretty good job with it, right up until the end (which I’ll talk about in the next section).

I could probably write about 5 or 6 paragraphs all starting with the words “I didn’t expect.” Fat Thor. The 5 year jump, with Tony as a parent. Banner/Hulk no longer separate people, but a combined individual with both strength and intellect. Black Widow dying for the soul gem. All of the cameos of characters/actors that we’ve seen over the years. Maybe it helps that I go into these movies with as few spoilers as I can manage, even going to the point where I stop watching trailers. I want to be surprised, and this movie kept accomplishing it.

Two big surprises came in the form of Thor’s hammer. I didn’t expect Thor to grab it from the past and bring it with him. I didn’t expect to see Thor wielding two hammers at the same time. But the big one… I didn’t expect to see Steve Rogers wield Mjolnir. That got a huge reaction from Chris. He still can’t get over it. Every time he sees me, he says, “I knew it!”

The spectacle of the last big set piece is overwhelming and so satisfying. Captain America saying “Avengers, assemble!” and having the entire MCU behind him.

The look between Strange and Stark right before Tony makes his move and ultimately his sacrifice. “I am… Iron Man.” Oh man.

I could keep going on and on about this. It’s all I’ve been able to think about all day. I need to see it again, and maybe again after that.

Avengers: Endgame is a tremendously satisfying conclusion to so many stories. While I know there will be more movies, this one feels like the final chapter in an epic. This is a movie I wanted, a huge ambitious 22 movie cross-over event that’s making all the money and setting history.

I loved this movie. It made me smile. It made me tear up.

I loved this movie 3000.

Plot Musings (Spoilers)

Let’s spend a couple of moments going into time travel.

Bruce made it clear that you can’t go into the past and interfere with things that have already happen. The experience of your past, your timeline, is set. There are no paradoxes. The mechanism of time travel in Avengers: Endgame is not like what you see in movies like Back to the Future.

They way that Tony solves time travel is a subtle way of explaining how the rules work, too. It’s no coincidence that they mention a mobius strip in that scene. A mobius strip is an object with one side, so if you go in one direction long enough, you’ll return to where you began. That’s how their time travel works: when you go back in time and forward again through the quantum realm, you’ll return to the same timeline that you left.

The existence of multiple timelines is further clarified by The Ancient One when she knocks Bruce out of his body and they have a discussion. Taking the Time Stone from The Ancient One would lead to a branching timeline. Bruce’s timeline would still exist, but the one The Ancient One journeyed down would be new and dark, because they wouldn’t have the tools they need in order to defend reality.

This all makes sense to me. It means that Loki can escape with the tesseract, creating a new timeline where he is not imprisoned after the events of Avengers. Without Loki in prison, he can’t help his brother defeat the dark elves. The tesseract isn’t in Asgard when the events of Ragnarok unfold, so it can’t be picked up taken by Thanos… that entire timeline plays out differently.

Nebula shot and killed her past self. There is no Grandfather Paradox because the Nebula that shot and killed herself is not from the same timeline as the younger Nebula.

Thanos and the Chitauri move forward in time to invade Earth and fight for the stones. Thanos and all of his crew are killed, turned to dust, which means there is another timeline where Thanos disappeared from existence before he could go after the stones. In that timeline, the stones still exist, because Thanos couldn’t have used them to wipe out half the population, then destroy them.

All of that seems clear to me. I’m good with that. I like it.

Unfortunately, that means there is a potential flaw. When Steve Rogers goes back through the quantum realm to return the stones and Mjolnir, he did not come back to his own timeline via the quantum realm. No mobius strip involved. He went back in time and created an alternate timeline just by being there. If he continued forward chronologically, I don’t see how he could have caught up with his friends on their timeline.

It’s a powerful moment and gives us such a great closure on the character of Steve Rogers that I’m willing to overlook that flaw. I enjoyed the ending. It satisfied me. I wouldn’t trade it away for what would have happened, which is that Steve Rogers would simply have disappeared. That would have felt like a cliffhanger. The resolution they gave us is better.

Those are my thoughts and feelings on this movie. Let me know your thoughts. I can’t wait to go and see it again.