Even though the film has only been out for a few weeks, by this time, it seems like everyone in the world has seen it. Avengers: Endgame is not just breaking box office records; it’s decimating them. (Get it? Decimate? Thanos and the Decimation? Moving on…) This won’t be a review, it’s too late for one of those. Besides, this is not a movie that really needs a review. It’s the culmination of an eleven year, 22 film journey that started back with the 2008 release of Iron Man. Marvel has been building to this point for over a decade and from our perspective, they have closed out this particular chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in spectacular fashion. The movie is an incredible climax: exciting, funny, and most of all, emotionally satisfying. It’s one giant blockbuster that is 100% worth the hype. Instead of writing a review, we’ve decided to have a couple of the REO staff write about their favorite scenes or moments in the film. We hope you enjoy our take on this historic film. And if you are one of the 6 people in the country to have not seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Side note: If you want to read a wonderful exploration of the film, from a deep theological framework, read this from the good folks over at The Rabbit Room. Oh, and if the title of the article didn’t make it clear, there will be spoilers throughout. You have been warned.
Family Matters by Phill Lytle
I love that the filmmakers gave the film room to breathe. What do I mean by that? They didn’t rush the quiet, introspective moments to get to the next big action sequence. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the action sequences. They are exciting and fun and a feast for the eyes. So many big blockbuster-type films, especially films like Endgame that are the climax of a series, go too big for their own good. They incorrectly believe that fans want bigger and more insane action scenes. I’m sure some fans want that. I think most want a complete conclusion, and that is impossible if there is not an emotional payoff.
I started crying from the very first scene. If you have paid any attention to the films, you knew what was coming. The moment you see Hawkeye (Clint Barton) and his family enjoying a picnic outside, you knew the film was about to punch you in the gut. And it did. Seeing the fear, confusion, and overwhelming panic on his face when his family vanishes (he didn’t actually see any of them turn to dust) was heartbreaking. As a father, that scene put me in the perfect emotional state for the rest of the film.
The payoff is perfect as well. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it type of scene but it’s played so perfectly by Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) that I had to force down a sob. The team gets all the stones, builds a new gauntlet, and Hulk performs the snap to hopefully bring everyone back. (If that sentence made no sense to you, you haven’t seen the film and shouldn’t be reading this anyway.) In the adjoining room, Hawkeye’s phone rings. He looks at it and you can see the competing emotions in his eyes. Hope and fear. He walks over to pick up the phone and he sees that it is his wife calling. The snap worked. It’s almost too much for him to handle. His family is back. His subtle yet impossible to miss reaction was too much for me to handle. I cried. Hard. And it made me so happy because it proved once again the filmmakers cared about these little moments. They cared about making this a complete experience and not just a lot of lights, explosions, and digital awesomeness. For this film to work as well as it did, they had to get to the very emotional core of these characters and this story. And they did.
Captain America Returns to His Lost One True Love by Ben Plunkett
Ever since the ending of the first Captain America movie, I have been heartbroken for the elderly yet still young superhero. (Well, I guess I wouldn’t say heartbroken, but I felt bad for the old fella). Forever would time separate him from his true love, Peggy Carter. This heartbrokenness was amped up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier after he spent a few last tearful moments with an elderly dying Peggy. In the years afterward he had ample opportunity to become romantic with other women, yet despite the separation of time, he remained true to Peggy. (Okay, there was obviously some romantic feelings going on between him and Sharon Carter, Peggy’s great-niece, in Captain America: Civil year, but it really didn’t go much further than a passionate kiss and some longing looks.).
Then we were to revisit the grief once again in Endgame after a time-traveling Captain America witnessed a middle-aged Peggy still working at a military base and the yearning returned. It was likely then that he formed his plan. In what I consider the most emotional moment in the movie, having finished helping save the universe, Captain America went back in time to spend life with Peggy. It makes his story arc so powerful that behind all of it is his undying love for her. Look at it: He meets and falls forever in love with her in Captain America: The First Avenger; after years of separation has a final heartfelt visit to a dying Peggy in Captain America: The Winter Soldier; is traumatized by her death in Captain America: Civil War; renews his longing to return to her after seeing her during his time-traveling adventures in Endgame; and ends up going back in time to join her at the end of the movie. In essence, the theme of Captain America’s entire superhero career is Peggy.
“Hug it out, bro!” by Phill Lytle
I realize that Tony Stark’s big moment – you know the one I am talking about – is getting the most attention. And it’s well deserved. Having Tony be the one who finally defeats Thanos, and doing it in a way that only Tony could – with style and attitude – is pretty much perfect filmmaking. That’s not the moment that stood out to me the most, though.
From the very beginning, Tony has been evolving. He began his journey a man who is only concerned about himself and ends as someone who is selfless and sacrificial. His relationship with Peter Parker (Spider-Man) has been a great example of that growth. He cares about the kid, but it took him all the way until the end of Endgame to really show just how much. Peter has been craving a father figure for much of his life, ever since his uncle died. He latches onto Tony in a way that only a young man in need of guidance and love would. And Tony is mostly up for the task, though he still holds back. Losing Peter at the end of Infinity War did something to Tony. It broke him. You can see it all over his face when he first gets back to earth and reconnects with Steve Rogers (Captain America). He “lost the kid.” But Tony is remade when he becomes a biological father. He finally has all of his selfishness, his ego, and his self-centeredness stripped away for good. He has his family, but when duty calls, and he realizes he is the only one who can make the plan work, he jumps back into the fray. This time, though, he does it as a new man. A man who will risk everything to save the universe.
On the battlefield, as the forces of good fight the forces of evil, Tony and Peter reconnect. Peter immediately does what Peter does best – he talks excitedly about all that has happened to him since they last saw each other. Tony sees Peter and reacts in a way the old Tony never could have: He hugs Peter. He embraces him like a father. Peter is shocked at first because Tony has made it clear in the past that hugging is not something he is interested in. When Peter realizes the hug is real, he calms. He rests. He is at peace because he finally has a man to be his mentor and father figure. “This is nice” doesn’t even begin to describe how emotionally pure and powerful that moment is for Peter, and for Tony. They both needed that hug at that moment. We all did.
Black Widow’s Arc by Ben Plunkett
I think most Avenger fans correctly guessed at least one major Avenger would die in Endgame. I guessed Iron Man correctly but would not have guessed Black Widow. If I had ranked the original six Avenger’s probability of dying in Endgame, she would have been last on my list. But now that I think of it, it was an inspired choice. She, more than any of the others, was close to several: She had a romantic history with the Hulk (with obvious lingering feelings); a long friendship with Stark before they even joined their superhero forces; and very close (and totally platonic) friendships with Hawkeye and Captain America. (Sorry, Thor. We’ll just assume the two got along just fine.)
Her friendship with Captain America is what has most interested me. It is one of the finest platonic friendship arcs that began in the Winter Soldier. It has been well chronicled since that time. Captain America acted as something more than just a good friend; he was almost like a mentor. He showed her how to be a superhero of integrity and selflessness. I’d like to think during his final time traveling mission to replace the infinity stones, he had more than one secret personal mission. I’d like to think that he stopped off to keep his dear friend who has always had his back from dying at the base of that cliff. I’m sure that is just a pipe dream and probably wouldn’t be feasible. But the thought makes me happy, so back off.
Side Note: This is not the last we’ve seen of Natasha since a Black Widow movie is currently in the works.
He is Worthy by Phill Lytle
I have to admit, the moment that caused my jaw to drop the most was one I should have seen coming but didn’t. If worthiness is the qualification for being able to wield Mjolnir, then who could possibly be more worthy than Steve Rogers? Avengers: Age of Ultron hinted at this possibility in one of my favorite scenes of that film as multiple characters take a shot at lifting Thor’s mighty hammer. None of them does, though Steve Rogers causes it to move almost imperceptibly. Thor notices, that’s for sure. I’ve always wondered if Steve realized he could lift it at that point and chose not to follow through. Whatever the reason, the idea was planted and I am thrilled the Russo brothers chose to pay it off during the climax of Endgame. Seeing Mjolnir fly back to Captain America and then watching him use it in such a spectacular fashion is definitely one of the highlights of the film for me. I don’t get giddy very often watching films anymore. I tell myself I’m too old for that sort of thing. But this, this made me giddy. I smiled like an idiot and soaked up the entire sequence.
What about you? What were some of your favorite moments or scenes? Post them in the comment section below.