Eleven years of the billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise culminated on April 26 with the release of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios’ latest blockbuster which has dominated the box office and been the topic of conversations for weeks. True to its marketing, Avengers: Endgame truly transforms the MCU in exciting yet saddening ways which serve to wrap up eleven year old character arcs as Marvel Studios bids farewell to its original heroes.
Disclaimer: The following contains important spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
The film may largely be thought of as three intertwining yet distinguishable acts; in Act One, the characters recover from the Decimation. Act Two depicts the Avengers’ plan of action, and Act Three consists of the grand battle and aftermath.
Act One of Avengers: Endgame begins as soon as last year’s Avengers: Infinity War ends. It reinvites Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel to the screen while reuniting Tony Stark/Iron Man with the remaining Avengers on Earth, most notably Steve Rogers/Captain America, with whom he previously feuded in Captain America: Civil War. The remaining Avengers then pursue the villainous Thanos, who has retired to a peaceful planet after accomplishing his goal. Thanos reveals that he has destroyed the Infinity Stones as well as the Avengers’ hopes of reversing the Decimation.
The film jumps a shocking five years into the future, where the remaining Avengers and the world have not quite recovered from the events of Avengers: Infinity War, even Tony Stark, who still feels guilt about losing his protegee Peter Parker/Spiderman despite building a life with Pepper Potts, his wife, and his five year old daughter, Morgan Howard Stark. One day, Scott Lang/Ant-Man emerges from the Quantum Realm and reveals that the Quantum Realm has time-travelling properties. The Avengers plan to use the Quantum Realm to travel back in time to recover the Infinity Stones and reverse the Decimation.
Thus begins Act Two of Avengers: Endgame, which pays homage to several of past MCU movies, including the first Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), as the present-day Avengers travel to their pasts to recover the Infinity Stones embedded throughout the cinematic universe. In the process, however, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow sacrifices herself for the Soul Stone while Thanos in the past realizes the current Avengers’ plan. When Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk eventually reverses the Decimation, Thanos emerges from the past and bombs the Avengers headquarters.
Act Three is thus abruptly begun with Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, arguably the very original Avengers, battling Thanos. In a particularly thrilling scene, Captain America wields Thor’s Mjolnir, proving that he is undoubtedly worthy. The decimated characters of Avengers: Infinity War also re-emerge to engage in a long battle against Thanos and his army. As the beloved characters of T’Challa/Black Panther and Peter Parker/Spiderman return in addition to the debut of Pepper Potts in Iron Man armor, the theater is deafening with cheers and applause. The movie ultimately ends with Tony Stark snapping Thanos and his army, causing his own death from the pain of wielding the Infinity Stones. After Tony’s funeral, Steve Rogers returns the Infinity Stones but remains in the past, emerging in the current day as a much older, married version of himself.
Avengers: Endgame marks the end of the original six superheroes of the MCU, most notably Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, who began the MCU eleven years ago with Iron Man (2008). His elaborate farewell left the audience in tears and will have fans declaring “I love you 3000” for weeks after watching the movie. Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff follows closely behind as an original character, with her first appearance in Iron Man 2 (2010). While it does not necessarily bid a permanent farewell to Chris Evans’s Steve Rogers, the movie makes it clear that the mantle of Captain America will be passed to Sam Wilson as the MCU enters Phase 4 with new heroes.
Avengers: Endgame has also been a box office success, earning a record-breaking $1.22 billion globally in its opening weekend. Its popularity has even caused some theaters to be open for seventy-two hours, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The culmination of such a long franchise has been met with nostalgia and sadness from fans who have long been loyal to the enjoyable character of Iron Man. Sierra Lane (11), an avid fan of Marvel, comments, “Avengers: Endgame is by far my favorite movie even if it makes me incredibly sad. Throughout the movie, I laughed, applauded, and teared up within the three hours. It’s a film that I can watch again and again and again.”
A combination of humor and reminders of beloved past movies, Avengers: Endgame truly encompasses the past eleven years of Marvel Studios and sends its founding superheroes off in a way that is satisfying to long-lasting fans. It features cameos from past characters, including Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, while remaining focused on the original superheroes whose eleven-year-old character arcs are finally wrapped up. While the movie does not necessarily appeal to viewers who have not been dedicated fans to the MCU, it does not need to–its billion dollar fanbase is quite enough.
Marvel Studios’s Avengers: Endgame premiered on April 26 and is in theaters now.