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Breaking down Avengers: Endgame (spoilers)

Week 79.0 — 29th April '19

With Avengers: Endgame, Marvel gives us an ending to a franchise that spanned 22 films over 11 years. Having caught Captain Marvel this year and catching up with Ant-Man and the Wasp just in time, I went to see Avengers: Endgame on it's opening day, below you'll find context on how we got to Endgame, some thoughts and a few spoilers - clearly marked with a warning before I delve into them. If you haven't already, check out the trailer:

In the build up, Marvel put out a number of trailers and one released just a couple of weeks ago covers many of the events that take us up to Infinity War:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Overall, Marvel put together 22 films. No mean feat and having them culminate in Endgame worked very well. The Incredible Hulk is the odd one out, with Edward Norton being replaced by Mark Ruffalo for the Avengers movies. Here's a list of the movies in chronological order:

# Title Year released Phase
3 Captain America: The First Avenger 2011 1
21 Captain Marvel 2019 3
1 Iron Man 2008 1
2 The Incredible Hulk 2008 1
4 Iron Man 2 2010 1
5 Thor 2011 1
6 Marvel's The Avengers 2012 1
7 Iron Man 3 2013 2
8 Thor: The Dark World 2013 2
9 Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014 2
10 Guardians of the Galaxy 2014 2
11 Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 2
12 Ant-Man 2015 2
13 Captain America: Civil War 2016 3
14 Doctor Strange 2016 3
15 Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 2017 3
16 Spider-Man: Homecoming 2017 3
17 Thor: Ragnarok 2017 3
18 Black Panther 2018 3
19 Avengers: Infinity War 2018 3
20 Ant-Man and the Wasp 2018 3
22 Avengers: Endgame 2019 3

How many of these do you need to watch before Endgame? The list of ones you could miss is shorter:

  • Iron Man 2
  • Iron Man 3
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

You could also skip Ant-Man, but it gives him an introduction before Civil War. Black Panther is debatable but given Wakandan technology is important in Infinity War, I'd suggest it's worth watching as it's a good movie anyway. Captain Marvel is an odd one... It's an origin story so you understand why she's so powerful. Necessary to watch before hand? I'd say it's not necessary. So that's at least 15 movies you need to watch, including Avengers: Endgame!

I was tempted to rate the movies but I've only seen most of them once, and with the oldest one 11 years old, they definitely deserve repeat viewing before rating or ranking them.

If you do need a re-cap, I highly recommend the Avengers: Infinity War comedy recap by How It Should Have Ended. Having just rewatched Infinity War I can confirm that it covers it really well, just with a bit of a twist!

Now, to discuss what happens next I can't do so without spoiling it so that's your first warning... I'll update as I come across interesting reviews or breakdowns of the movie and now it's time to head into spoiler territory.

Spoilers ahead

Below are details that could spoil Avengers: Endgame for you if you haven't seen it yet. You've been warned...









Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame

Turns out Mark Ruffalo already spoiled the ending of Avengers: Endgame in an interview so I'm glad I never saw any promotional material with him or Tom Holland before I got to see the movie!

Firstly, I feel like the Captain Marvel end credits scene was just a complete lie. I need to see Endgame again as it's possible that I just misinterpreted her introduction to the Avengers. Perhaps she had already met them as she did bring the ship with Tony Stark and Nebula back to the Avengers' HQ. Did she meet them, then go looking for Tony Stark, or did she come across him and his ship by chance? Watching Endgame in real time, I interpreted as the later, but completely possible that I just got it wrong.

Time travel is an important part of the plot and while they take a lot of jabs at other movies, they also make an effort to explain why it's different in this movie. Fast Company cover everything Avengers: Endgame get's right and wrong about time travel pretty well.

The final battle was fun and not too drawn out. As with most battles we see on the big screen, there were multiple 'opportunities' to bring it to a close. With just one viewing behind me, I think the ending worked out really well (up until we see Cap having returned the stones to their original places in time). The cavalry arriving was really satisfying, and Spider-Man in particular got me.

I expected to see more of Quill/Star Lord than we did, for comic relief but instead we got fat Thor. And it all worked well and given how effective Thor and Stormbreaker were when trying to defeat Thanos in Infinity War, it probably would have shortened the whole film by 40 minutes. Drunk Thor was fun overall, but having a fully effective set of Avengers would have been great to see. He spent much of Infinity War getting to a point where he could join the battle and while he has some success at the start of Endgame, it's mostly downhill from there.

Being critical

My biggest criticisms would be that Thanos seems indestructible even without the stones, it would have been good to see him physically suffer more as a result of this epic battle. I think everyone get's a hit and not even a scratch. Captain Marvel's contribution was odd. Clearly very powerful and she plays her part but not as big a part as I would have thought.

At the end of Infinity War, we see Thanos turn back time to restore the Mind stone and pluck it from Vision's head. No one thought to try this with any of the heroes once Thanos is defeated? Very odd to me. I mean, Doctor Strange is there...

Post Avengers: Endgame content

YouTube channel Looper has put out a bunch of videos already:

Insider provided a look at 31 Details You Might Have Missed In 'Avengers: Endgame' while ScreenCrush put together a list of every easter egg in the movies. If you're eager for Marvel movies, Digital Spy have a good round up on phases 1, 2 & 3.

BGR covered 7 plot holes, Business Insider looked at 55 details you may have missed, Quartzy fact-checked time travel with scientists and ScreenCrush have a really good video about all of the easter eggs.

Time Travel

The time travel aspect is very confusing if you spend too much time thinking about it. It's mind bending. Back to the Future's take is simplistic. Here we have a concept that changes the popular notion that the butterfly effect may occur, but by creating an alternate universe rather than changing the current one.

click to view full size version of the time travel timelines in Avengers: Endgame
Time travel timelines in Avengers: Endgame

There are three timelines that will have been impacted more than others, although one was probably corrected by Captain America returning Thor's hammer. With Loki managing to escape his pending imprisonment as the Avengers' first attempt at finding the Time stone is botched, Marvel have set up Loki's spin-off series for the Disney+ service. The last timeline that caused some confusion for me was Captain America deciding not to return to the present and living the life he always wanted to. He appears as an elderly man but remaining should have created a new universe and left the current one unchanged. Not sure how that can be explained but if I find anything I'll update with the details.

TL;DR

Go see Avengers: Endgame if you haven't already. Despite its 3 hour run time, it's not boring. It gives each Avenger ample screen time and you really feel the peril, the desire to turn back time and their ultimate triumph was a fitting end.

Update

As I mentioned, I'm not sure how Cap's appearance at the end of Avengers: Endgame is ultimately going to be explained and the Russo brothers have pointed out that it's an unanswered question right now:

Those thinking this was it for Evans in the MCU, though, may be mistaken. Instead, the Russo brothers – in an interview with Entertainment Weekly – have pointed out that Rogers’ return should pose more questions than it answers.

If Cap were to go back into the past and live there, he would create a branched reality,“ Joe said, adding: ”The question then becomes, how is he back in this reality to give the shield away?”

Update

As well as HISHE's Endgame primer that I linked to above, they put together a really good review video too. Spoilers galore:

Update

My previous updated on the 1st of May talked about the directors' take on Captain America's aged appearance at the end of the film. Turns out the writers don't agree with them, they think that it's only the stones who's timeline would change. I don't buy that, the Ancient One only mentions the timelines in respect to the stones, surely Thanos destroying the stones would have ruined time for everyone then? You can see a video of the conversation here.

I also came across an interesting article that discusses Thanos' future in the MCU and also how they might have teed up the introduction of the Silver Surfer thanks to the Disney and Fox merger.

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Notable

Quick links and commentary on interesting articles, videos and more throughout the week.

  1. 79.1 – Monday
    1. Game of Thrones quotes, animated Nick Murray Willis on youtube.com
    2. The key to unlocking wind and solar: Making it last axios.com
  2. 79.2 – Tuesday
    1. How green is an electric car, really? Paul Horrell on topgear.com
    2. How does Venice work? kottke.org
    3. 'Sonic The Hedgehog' trailer Paramount Pictures on youtube.com
  3. 79.3 – Wednesday
    1. Adjusting a chair xkcd.com
  4. 79.5 – Friday
    1. The stories behind 10 of the world's earliest known photographs edition.cnn.com
    2. Tech review of the human body @vladsavov on mobile.twitter.com
    3. The Tube Map futuremaps.com
    4. 'Facebook Is Trying to Make the Word “Private” Meaningless' daringfireball.net
  5. 79.6 – Saturday
    1. A group of companies are trying to deploy deepfakes as a force for good axios.com
    2. How Amazon created Prime kottke.org
    3. Pondtrooper 'Glow In The Duck'   £10 locomocean.com
    4. Nixon x Star Wars   £25 - 440 nixon.com
  6. 79.7 – Sunday
    1. Norway's proposed passports are beautiful kottke.org

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