Day 20. 64 pages, 30,109 words.
Well here it is. The ending to the grand and sweeping saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and specifically the closure to the Avengers: Infinity War half of the adventure. There will be other movies but this, as they say, looks like it for the Original Band.
Here’s a little music.
There’s so much to talk about here, it’s hard to say how much of it is about this movie and how much is about the two-movie set, and how much is about the entire extended mythos. Hard to know where to start.
So I shall just start by saying God damn what a fun movie this was.
Here’s a (SPOILER-FILLED) review that I largely agree with. If you’re pining for video content Emergency Awesome has all you could want. I disagree with him on the minutiae of the post-Infinity War stuff, but … well, more details below.
Since there was really nothing about this movie I didn’t like, and basically every scene and line warrants recitation and accolades, I guess I could do that.
I could also mention some of the little things in the movie that bugged me, even though at the same time some of those very things were still plusses.
Like, Marvel definitely just straight-up lie in their trailers. Ryan George already told us this but now it’s confirmed.
The risk with the former approach is that it’s kind of mindless, and the risk with the latter is that the ‘bugged me’s will get blown up into perceived criticisms and in the absence of anything else it will look like I had a bunch of problems with the movie.
Well, I didn’t. I loved it. It’s going in my top five favourite movies of all time (actual list may not exist). So I’m going to walk a bit of a line here and just offer whatever review-adjacent excited babbling I can muster.
I will arrange it, I think, into a little series of vignettes entitled…
At First I… But Then I…:
An Avengers: Endgame review
At first I was concerned at how extended, depressing, and uneventful the first act was – although this was almost entirely because I thought Wump might not sit for it. But then I realised that this is perhaps the first, and absolutely the most faithful and comprehensive, look at what happens to a fictional world after The Bad Guy Wins. What the heroes do after they’ve failed. And it was incredible. Emergency Awesome remarked that some of this was a bit dragged out and he could have done without the Ant-Man extended wandering through the halved world? He could have popped out, gone straight to Cassie, then to the Avengers’ compound? Tish and pish I say! They played that exactly right. It was like a little snippet of The Stand right where it was needed, to show the human scale of this. Ant-Man has, at the character’s and movies’ core, been excellent at that.
Plus there was the false-start revenge arc in the middle of it to add a bit of action (and give us a satisfying-but-pointless insight into what simple blood vengeance would look like), and although Wump did fidget a little bit, she fidgets all the goddamn time so all in all this was fine.
Best of all, they stuck to it. We always knew the heroes were going to magically undo the finger-snap and save the characters that turned to ash. But my main concern was that it would just be (to borrow a phrase) super easy, barely an inconvenience, and the rest of the movie would be a bunch of ‘Avenging’ against Thanos somehow. Which would also have been fun to watch, but they did it better. It wasn’t easy. It was the main job of the movie, and they almost didn’t even start because they’d basically just plain gotten used to the idea that they’d lost.
And speaking of which, the sheer diversity in the ways each character reacted to the disaster … simply brilliant. Captain America reacted to it by Captain Americaing the shit out of it, support groups and all. Black Widow tried to wrap herself up in SHIELD, the only place that ever really treated her like a person. And there were more, of course. Which segues me nicely into the next vignettes.
At first I thought what the fuck have they done with Thor? But then I remembered that while yes, he was a lot of fun as a High Fantasy Straight Man in the Marvel Comedic Universe (the other MCU…), he was even more fun as the fish out of water Demigod we saw in Thor: Ragnarok. And it even held together in terms of character arc and motivation. Think about it: we first see Thor in Asgard, being a grand Norse badass. Then he arrives on Earth and is comically larger than life in almost every sense, due to his loss of powers. Then we see him back in his natural element(ish) in Avengers Assemble and Thor: The Dark World. Then he basically loses his powers and becomes the amusing trope out of water again in Thor: Ragnarok, paving the way for him to be the serious-yet-funny version of him we see in Infinity War. And finally, with his collapse into despair and drunkenness, we see him in this movie.
And if anyone is concerned at his (inevitable, by the direction of the other movies) ‘relegation’ to comic relief, or the cheapness of the fat jokes (oh no! Fat shaming in 2019!) that were aimed at him because doing nothing but sit around drinking beer will do that to your body and this is what giving up sometimes looks like … well, you can be concerned if you like. As a fat guy, I’m giving Marvel official permission to make fun. After all, it wasn’t out of character. Yes, if someone suffered a humiliating defeat, blamed themselves, lost almost everybody they loved and sank into depression, I would expect an awful lot of us to not make jokes about how said person also got a bit tubby. But Rhodey, Rocket, Stark … the people making the jokes were the sort of damaged people, heroic or not, who would make those jokes. And Thor took it, because he was in a bad place. It was actually pretty amazing.
And then there was Professor Hulk. At first I was worried that this was utterly unjustified and unsupported comic book readers’ fan service (to be clear I haven’t read any of this stuff but I have heard a lot about it from various sources and done a spot of research) that just sort of came out of nowhere, but then I remembered that this was coming full-force ever since Thor: Ragnarok – and even before that, with his glimmers of emergent … well, merging, in Age of Ultron. Yeah, it was a bit weird at first, and a bit jarring the way they told us what had happened rather than showing anything about the process … but no, the working was all there, and I’m willing to let them shortcut on this one a bit. I’m still not entirely clear on how this ties into Hulk’s refusal to emerge in Infinity War, but that’s okay. I can take it on faith.
So that was about it for Act 1. Act 2 takes us straight into the Time Heist. Best goddamn name for a plan ever, by the way. And the only thing it lacked was a big crayon-drawn plan sheet made by Deadpool. I mean, a man can dream, right?
At first I sighed and rolled my eyes a little bit when I heard Lang say “time travel”. I was dubious about how they were going to use the Quantum Realm anyway, and it seemed like ‘time travel’ and ‘travel inside the soul stone somehow’ were the only alternatives being thrown around and I didn’t know what that second one would look like. To be honest I wasn’t sure what the first one would look like either, but it wasn’t like this. And as soon as time travel becomes a thing in a movie franchise or fictional universe, things are about to get messy. But then I … just went with it, because fuck it, time travel, okay.
No, alright, I did sort of have some problems with the plan but I want to bookend them with the following disclaimer: I really, really liked the Time Heist despite all its issues, because it was fucking cool. I’m fine with it and totally satisfied.
So, what issues? Well, at first I thought okay, they’ve really clumsily lampshaded all the other time travel movies and explained how their time travel will be different, even though the characters have never done it before but okay, they’re smart so let’s just believe them, nothing they do will affect the past or any point between the past and the present, and so they will only be able to affect the present onwards, got it. But then I realised that they were going to use that premise to basically hand-wave every little away under the big rug o’ nonsense. But then I noticed that the sorcerers had made it clear that taking the Infinity Stones away from their times and carrying them to a locked present after their destruction would actually cause spin-off realities of horror to occur. But then I found out that apparently that would all be okay, as long as they put the old stones back exactly where they came from, negating the ‘it’s fine, we can take them and they’ll still be there in the past’ premise. But then I also found out that they could restore Gamora to the timeline by bringing a past version of her into the locked present, but apparently they’re not going to try to do that with any other character who died. But then I realised that okay, there are a few characters who could arguably be saved that way, but characters like Vision and Tony (just for example) sort of have a locked-down destiny that would severely mess things up if they were taken away and allowed to live on in the present-future … BUT THEN I realised that it shouldn’t matter because that’s not how time works and they could have been taken out of the past without affecting the past, and if they could do it then some Thanos loyalist could do it to Thanos.
And that was when I stopped thinking about it at all. It was time travel. We will never understand it and frankly we’re all lucky that time is not actually a thing that actually happens and the entire monstrously complicated simultaneous universe is filtered through our linear perception of duration and space anyway. So whatever. This is why Thor drinks.
Then again, at first I was disappointed in Thanos’s counterstrike. So, what, he finds out a) that he definitely gets all six Infinity Stones in the near future with all the certainty of predetermination; b) exactly how he dies after achieving his ultimate goal; c) that Gamora and Nebula will turn on him with all the certainty of the aforementioned predetermination; d) that he has eyes and ears inside the enemy camp and knows their plan; and e) how to do time travel … and this was what he came up with to do? Fly his spaceship into the middle of it all, blow it to fuck and then send extreme betrayal risk Nebula to get the fully-loaded Infinity Gauntlet and bring it to him?
Okay, but then I came to accept that most of the other stuff that he could potentially have done with the power of time travel would have been far less epically watchable and would probably have resulted in him winning again and hardly anyone in the audience would have tolerated that, but still.
Also, he’s super-powerful and retribution-oriented, and by the time Avengers start turning up from the future he’s taking their fuckery very personally, so his decision to smack them in the face and then destroy everything was fairly in-character. Especially given that he’s got a certain amount of tactical smarts but they mostly rely on massive firepower and bashing the fuck out of things, because he’s The Mad Titan. So yeah, it works. Just don’t think about time travel too much. This is another reason we needed Deadpool with his crayons.
Anyway, the Time Heist worked, and some of the references and nods and special effects and writing and cameo appearances in there were just … God, how amazing. The way they folded the old movie footage in, the way they bent the old storylines and plot points around the interfering Time Heistmeisters, the absolute stability and fully-realisedness of the Marvel mythology – perfect. No no no – perfect.
Anyone who wants to tell me it wasn’t perfect, just remember that Captain America whispered “hail Hydra” and walked the fuck away with Loki’s sceptre. Then hang your head in shame at how wrong you were. And no, don’t think about how flimsy and unbelievable that “hail Hydra” bluff is. Hang and walk, fucko. Hang and walk.
So then the final battle began, and lo, it was fucking incredible and epic on every level. And alright, at first I was concerned, very briefly, at the part where Spidey has to break through the lines and get the Infinity Gauntlet to Ant-Man’s Time Van. It seemed a little forced, in terms of who was where on the battlefield, to suddenly have a line-up of exclusively female characters to help. I worried, for a moment, that it was a bit on the nose. But then I saw it was such a great fucking line-up of characters, and Mrs. Hatboy and Wump were like “look! They’re all girls!”, and I decided it was great, and fuck you if you disagree, you’re wrong. So that was pretty much that.
At first I didn’t even realise who the additional woman in the Iron Man suit was, and when I realised it was Pepper Potts it was a little bit jarring because I kind of missed the part where she got the suit even though the helmet and “she never wears anything I get for her” was referenced earlier, it was just a bit abrupt. Also her face was difficult to recognise inside the helmet for some reason and I just didn’t make the connection. But then I figured that sure, fair enough, it was great that she stepped up. It would have been even cooler if she’d never had the Extremis virus deactivated at the end of Iron Man 3, or just reactivated it in order to be a somewhat different and more epic hero than just another butt-kicker in a metal suit. But it’s alright, it was cool.
Oh, and I’m upset that I missed Eitri and the other dwarves in the final battle scene if they were there. If they weren’t there, I’m upset about that. They should have been. But y’know, maybe Dinklage was busy.
At first I was baffled about how inconsistent the Infinity Gauntlet rules seemed to be. For a start, everyone seemed to uniformly end up with a charred arm and side of the face, regardless of what they were trying to do. But then I realised that it all checked out and was brilliant, because Thanos was a Titan, Hulk was a gamma-enhanced monstrosity, and Tony was just a dude. And, respectively, Thanos killed half of all life (and then destroyed the Infinity Stones which was what appeared to do him the most damage), Hulk brought half of all life back, and Tony was just wiping out Thanos and his army across a small segment of countryside.
It also makes perfect sense that Thanos and Hulk would blow out the Infinity Gauntlet doing their things, but Tony’s thing with the second Gauntlet (did they make too many Gauntlets too easily, after what we saw of Nidavellir in Infinity War? Maybe. Who cares? Not me, that’s who) perhaps wouldn’t. I kind of missed whether it did or not. Either way, I think it’s forgivable.
That’s it for the vignettes.
Captain Marvel was amazing, just over-powered enough and just utilised enough to make sense but not be an absolute floor-wiper.
The death of Tony Stark had Wump bawling in shock and sorrow, which covered my own manly sniffles quite nicely. And the showing at his funeral, Happy and the rest, the wreath … all of it. Just all of it. What an incredible scene. It’s really something when you can pan through a crowd of black-clad mourners at a funeral, and see Drax the Destroyer and Groot, and not miss a sad, sad beat.
Hats off, Marvel. You did it. You fucking nailed it.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.