The culmination of 10 years of storytelling on the big screen.
What. A. Ride.
It’s not the perfect movie; far from it. It’s not even my favourite or the best MCU film. But it’s a wonderful piece of craftsmanship to bring together all the films that preceded it into one gigantic finale for Phase 3.
Clearly, some MAJOR spoilers ahead.
So let’s start by talking about the less important things. The humour is on point as usual, and it’s great to see that despite the dark themes, the desperation of our heroes, they can still find the time to be human, to trade quips and crack jokes. It shows once and for all that hey, you don’t have to be depressed the WHOLE movie even though the overall feel of the story can be pretty dark.
Then there are the callbacks to past films. Tony’s final words echoing his final words in the very first Iron Man. Captain America picking up Mjolnir and absolutely wailing on Thanos solo for a while being a callback to Age of Ultron, where he may really have faked being unable to pick up Mjolnir as fans have theorised (also, when he manages to hold Stormbreaker…man, Cap is awesome).
“Hail Hydra,” being an obvious nod to the controversial run of Cap as a Hydra agent (also, screw you Russos for teasing me with the possibility of another elevator scene!). Hope calling Captain America as “Cap” after teasing Scott about it in Ant-Man and the Wasp (guess Cap just naturally garners respect…). “Avengers…assemble!” finally used in the film…it’s just a massive fanservice, nostalgia-filled trip for the ages.
(You can see how much I truly love Captain America from how many of his things I recall. The Russos made him my favourite MCU character bar none.)
And this is a film truly for the fans who have dedicated their time to watch every single MCU film, because we even had to revisit Thor: The Dark World. Geez. Nothing would make any sense without the context of the previous films, and Thanos would be the lousiest mega villain in MCU history.
Speaking of Thanos, this is a film that doesn’t focus on him. That was Infinity War. Rather, he is more of a prop for the final set-piece. The focus is almost all on the original Avengers roster. And boy have they knocked it out of the park, especially the three anchors.
Thor’s probably the easiest to talk about. He’s gone and gained a beer belly and poor physique, filled with depression and/or anxiety over Thanos, and had to get a pep talk from his mom to overcome his insecurities which he had suppressed with booze and gaming. Then he goes to fight Thanos…with his beer belly and all. It’s brilliant how they tried to subvert the genre without being too ridiculous like The Last Jedi, doing so in a believable yet funny way.
The whole ‘The Dude’ vibe carries on throughout most of the film, which really reinforces the comedic Thor that Ragnarok so generously granted us. And with him joining the ‘Asgardians of the Galaxy’, a team notorious for being off-the-cuff and HILARIOUS, it is going to be epic. I really hope he turns up in Guardians 3 to continue as a supporting character from now on.
On a side note, I hope Valkyrie gets some big roles in the future. Feels a bit wasted for her to just be Queen of New Asgard.
Tony Stark started the MCU, so it felt fitting that he ended the mega film that brought a close to so many arcs. It was inevitable that at least one of the original 3 would die, and Tony had the highest odds. To see him make the sacrifice play that Cap said he wouldn’t all the way back in the first Avengers was just satisfying and soul-crushing in the most beautiful way. You almost wanted him to carry on and love Morgan 3000, but his story had to come to an end, and what a fitting end it was.
The Captain America arc was good in the sense that as a Cap fan, I loved that he got a happily ever after. Going back in time to stay there with Peggy felt right for him. But for that to happen when Tony had to give up his life when he finally set up his family and settled down…it felt a bit wrong morally. Then again, the Russos have managed to paint Steve Rogers as not just a morally incorruptible superhero with no discernible flaws; they made him human, relatable, and you can’t deny that this Steve Rogers would absolutely take the opportunity to have his dance with Peggy. And with all the ass-kicking (and admiring…mmm, America’s ass!) he’s done, he deserves to have his happily ever after.
To be honest though, the happily-ever-after didn’t need to exist. Story-wise, it may have been better to avoid the blatant fanservice. But they needed to wrap Cap’s arc up anyway, and it was a clean way to end his story.
Of the rest, Hawkeye/Ronin may still turn up although his arc may have ended with the un-snapping of his family which I’m fine with. Black Widow’s sacrifice is a fitting end to her arc too; she was an assassin with no morals, and eventually became someone more than willing to throw herself off a cliff to save the universe. I wish she didn’t die because there’s so much potential in a Black Widow solo film, but at least there are a bunch more female superheroes waiting in the wings (ahem girl power standoff scene FTW!).
Speaking of replacements, quick note on Falcon. He’s definitely the best choice to replace Captain America, but he’s not juiced up on super serum, so I’m not sure how he’ll handle the shield. But it will be awesome for him to just be the next Captain America.
Of course, the acting is all incredible, particularly from the 3 leads. Nothing more can be said. And Tom Holland, despite his propensity for leaks, is amazing as Spider-Man. The depth of emotions he brings when he watches Tony dies (in a mirror of Tony watching him get dusted) was the point when I cracked and teared up.
And speaking of Spidey, that set-piece battle. Wow. Just wow. From the main trio standing up to Thanos (once again, ANOTHER call-out to Steve Rogers with shield and Mjolnir), to the breaking of the shield, to Dr. Strange bringing the army after Thanos calls his, to Giant Man smashing a Chitauri flying thing, to Captain Marvel’s arrival, to the dumb van singing its tune, to Spidey jumping around and then activating Kill Mode, to the women of the MCU facing the hordes…lords above it’s the best uninterrupted major set-piece I’ve ever watched. There’s so many things happening off screen, but you don’t care because the Russos keep you incredibly engaged with what they want you to focus on.
As a fan, I would have loved to watch every excruciating detail of the fights of every single character during that scene, but the movie would be more than four hours long and no bladder is built for that.
Finally, I love how they tried to explain time travel without being too ridiculous, and how the Russos forced even more character development during everyone’s time travel experience. Sure, we can nitpick about how old Steve Rogers came back to his original timeline, or that they screwed up the 2012 timeline when they let Loki get away with the Tessaract, but generally it’s well thought-out and makes sense if you suspend your disbelief enough, just as you have to with any film.
Quibbles? None really. It’s full of plotholes, sure, but as a closing story about these characters we’ve grown to love over so many years and films, it’s a brilliant ending. We are blessed to have the MCU come along and break away from the traditions of superhero films being campy blockbusters with poor character development. Why pick on the small details when the experience is almost spiritual? No film is perfect, but this pulls on all the right heartstrings.
My only question is how anyone can top this film, even Marvel themselves. How do they go about rebuilding another phase of the MCU, and end it so spectacularly? How do they find another RDJ, another Chris Evans to anchor the universe with such incredible acting?
Marvel hasn’t failed at casting yet, and their films have been growing more and more in sophistication and quality. Spider-Man: Far from Home already looks like a winner, but it’s the end of Phase 3, not the start of Phase 4 which is a fair bit away. If we ever reach Phase 6 and have another Avengers epic like Endgame, I hope I’ll be watching it with my kids and reminiscing about how it all started with Iron Man.
As much as I love Chris Evans and Captain America, RDJ and his Iron Man does come a close second. I may not love you 3000, but I certainly love you 2999.