Deus ex Marvela.
The Elevator Pitch: “Think: BACK TO THE FUTURE meets STAR TREK IV – the Avengers travel back in time, to retrieve these McGuffins in the past that will fix things in the present.” And producer Kevin Feige asked, “Can it be wacky, like in BACK TO THE FUTURE where they’re sneaking around their past selves and suddenly meeting their own young father or something?” Oh yes! nod the writers enthusiastically, aiming to plagiarize—I mean, please. Feige continues, “Will there be whales?” The writers look at each other, stutter, “Y-You mean like in STAR TREK IV?” Feige squints at them from above. They effuse, “Of course there’ll be whales! – but mechanical alien whales that swim around the skies of New York—“ Then Kevin Feige reached his floor, put his pants back on, and greenlit AVENGERS: ENDGAME.
Don’t worry, Millennial Marvelites, it might blatantly rip off two classic comedy movies, but it’s still all about the punching. And we still get that idiotic tableau of two technological factions running at each other like they’re warring tribes in BRAVEHEART (even though half of them are magic, half of them can fly, and both sides have firepower that can burn down continents – no, let’s run toward each other and punch dance so we can look legit in posters). For the SJW Millennials, there’s the emasculation of the two “strongest Avengers” – Hulk and Thor. And for the woman-empowering Millennials, you get the cringey scene of all the Estrogen Avengers banding together to transport one McGuffin to another McGuffin. And leave us not forget all the magic who cares fuck you…
But Poffy, you say: Why then does AVENGERS: ENDGAME score 7/10 Cukees? Pretty high for a film that takes us for idiots.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME is sold on its performances alone. If it weren’t for the filmmakers (directors Anthony and Joe Russo, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) concentrating on the people at the heart of this CGI-glutted, magic-filled, sprawling epic, the film would die a horrible death. Marvel banked on its stars being good enough actors to elevate what is essentially a kiddie’s superhero movie into a poignant adult movie about loss, family and redemption. And the gamble pays off. These actors are more than able to convey the gravitas, trauma and sacrifice that goes with being a super, giving your blood and bone for the population of a planet. And grounding the movie around the performances is the best thing Marvel could have done. (Because, let’s face it, the rest of it makes zero sense.)
While ENDGAME retains the tone of the series, it is not a standalone movie. You cannot possibly understand the plot if you haven’t watched at least 10 other movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last decade. Marvel Studios’ tactic is stupid and canny at the same time – stupid because this film will lose its referential clout and won’t make sense when viewed over time, and canny because Marvel actually conned everyone on Earth into thinking we needed to see all 22 MCU films (starting with IRON MAN in 2008) to not miss out on being a part of world culture.
If you are not up to speed on where the MCU left our heroes, then the first thing you need to do is write a letter to Marvel and apologize.
ENDGAME opens with archer Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner, never once called by his super name, Hawkeye, in all four AVENGERS movies) sharing a day with his family. They disappear. We figure: Oh, this is the moment Thanos snapped—but hang on! So while half the Avengers were in Wakanda and half the Avengers were on planet Gloomypants trying to smell the glove, this rube was having a family barbecue?! Even with his “house arrest,” did no one call and say, Hey we can sure use your nominal input here, anything, even some gay archery would help! Marvel thinks no one is paying attention. And the way everyone keeps lauding these plothole-ridden movies as the greatest movies ever made, it seems like Marvel is right.
Next, we see Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) lost in space with Nebula (Karen Gillan). What are they doing there? Playing tiddlywinks, of course, while their air runs out. Yes, but what are they DOING there? Oh, you never watched the last movie? Well, you see, he was on the ship when—doesn’t matter, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) saves them. Thank You, deus ex Marvela!
Before anyone can say, “What the actual hell is going on?” Captain Marvel is at Avengers HQ, telling the Avengers, “Let’s kill Thanos.” They say okay. (Because no criminals deserve a fair trial in Avengers World. Just go straight to the execution. I mean, they’re not called the Justicers, are they?)
In the previous movie, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, the Chinballian Thanos (Josh Brolin) had collected six Infinity Stones which gave him power to wipe out half the life in the universe with one snap of his fingers. He did it for the resources, for the love, for the Boys… Well, many superheroes died (as well as half the life in the universe – but we don’t care about what we can’t see), precipitating fanboys crying themselves to sleep and burning their Spider-Man bed sheets in sympathy, not realizing that Marvel would never keep its properties dead for long, or the dolls would stop selling. Early in this first act, the Avengers find Thanos and try to make him restore Life, but Thanos had destroyed the only means of doing so – the Stones – so Thor (Chris Hemsworth) does what social media was whining for him to do from the beginning – behead Thanos.
FIVE YEARS LATER…
The Earth is a garbage dump, stadiums silent, streets bare, people haggard from their losses (though they don’t show the benefits of life halved – freeways unjammed, closer seats to your favorite band, less morons in customer service to deal with, basically – a better world).
Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is running a support group, and Tony Stark has settled down with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) with a cute-as-hell little daughter (Lexi Rabe), who “loves him 3000.”
Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), trapped in the quantum realm (since the movie ANT-MAN & THE WASP), is brought back by a rat. Thank You, deus ex Marvela! He tells Cap and Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) that they can use quantum mechanics to go back to a time Before The Snap, bring the Infinity Stones back to the Present, and restore all Life. Cap: “You’re not talking time travel, are you?” Scott: “Oh, no no no no no no, yes.” Thank You, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. (Note to Millennials: not only is the plot unoriginal – so are the jokes.)
So they get the band back together.
Rocket (Bradley Cooper) has been hanging here on Earth, since his intergalactic pals all turned to dust. Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is now Professor Hulk (that’s a thing in the comics: he’s big and green yet peachy keen). Not-Hawkeye is found killing Japanese gangsters under his new epithet, Not-Ronin. Thor is rooming with his brahs from RAGNAROK, Korg (Taika Waititi) and Meek, as King of New Asgard (some coastal town on Earth – because that’s a thing in the comics), and suffering PTSD, playing videogames and pigging on pizza and beer, hair grown long and dreadlocked, and wearing a fat-suit almost as bad as the fat-suit in THINNER.
The Avengers lay out the “time-heist” idea to Tony, but Tony is still having a lover’s tiff with Cap for, uh… y’know, even *I* don’t remember what his grudge is about, and I’ve seen all the live-action-cartoons-for-kids— ahem, I mean, MCU movies. Tony vetoes the idea, explaining how time travel is impossible, mentioning all the movies they’re about to rip off.
Then he works out time travel after dinner. Thank You, deus ex Marvela! And everyone dresses in matching pajamas and goes flying into the quantum realm to re-enact BACK TO THE FUTURE II. Meanwhile, Captain Marvel – who was teased in two films as the One Most Likely To Bitchslap Thanos – has buggered off somewhere…
As Marvel Studios used magic in the last film, now that all-purpose device is replaced with time travel. Thus, the Avengers’ time-travel suits (why must they wear those pajamas? It’s time travel who cares fuck you) are housed in nano-bracelets (how do the bracelets link to the present date? It’s time travel who cares fuck you) that use Pym particles (how? It’s time travel who cares fuck you) to travel to various times in history and steal all the Stones before Thanos acquires them, woiking that quantum dimension until someone’s lying on the floor, face-down ass-up.
Of all the heroes
and subsidiaries who return for cameos in this movie, there is noticeably no Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), even when they go back to 2012 and sneak around the original AVENGERS film. Guess he shouldn’t have made that crack on JIMMY KIMMEL to the original six, about guesting on his TV series, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D (2:50): “Just wondered if any of you had ever considered working on the small screen?,” to be met with AWK-ward silence. Sure they’ll take the pay-cut, Clark, and the demotion in Q-rating. I bet he cries himself to sleep in shame every night over that gag gone awry. By inviting them to the small screen, he effectively disinvited himself back to the big screen…
The time-travel element is funny and interesting, and the conundrums played well, with Tony being the Straight Man, Bruce his comic foil and Ant-Man the patsy, however, its introduction to the MC Universe is a copout, because it ruins everyone’s previous redemptions and sacrifices (from their respective standalone movies). For example, though Thor is doubting himself as a man and hero (with Hemsworth doing a truly remarkable job as a guilt-ridden, regretful slob), he need sulk no more – as traveling back in time will nullify all those regrets, negating their worth in his growth as a character. Apply this device across the board to each character’s regrets, and you realize that if plots can be un-done by the very company that wrote them in the first place, it’s no better than George Lucas re-jiggering STAR WARS to make Greedo shoot first.
Cap will actually use this device to cancel out his regrets, in a poignant final scene – that will mean all the emotion we invested in Cap trying to get back to his lost love in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER was for nought. Because time travel who cares fuck you.
ON THE OTHER HAND, this movie can be construed as the final chapter in one continuous biblical epic spanning 22 films (like Peter Jackson’s three LORD OF THE RINGS films are actually one story split into three films), and if that be the case, then Marvel and all its worker bees have wrought a jewel more potent than The One Ring To Rule Them All. And the payoffs are monumental! But then, the fact that the payoffs had to be achieved through time travel is still a cop out, because time travel per se is utilized by fictions as another kind of magic who cares fuck you…
ENDGAME trips and hits its head on fan service when the Avengers start Marty-McFlying through time. Ant-Man and Iron Man land in 2012 New York, and we see THE AVENGERS movie play out from other angles. (Marvel started doing this, in an exceptional manner, in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, where we saw Spidey’s private footage of the airport battle.) It’s very cool, but treading awfully close to that movie with the DeLorean. And Tony runs into Howard Stark – his dad as a young man! (What are the odds?! So did Marty!) It’s very touching, with Howard (John Slattery de-aged) speaking of his soon-to-be born son (Tony, of course): “He’s not even born yet, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.” *I* leaked. How about you?
Captain America re-lives that scene of entering an elevator full of Hydra agents (including Frank Grillo), and the filmmakers artfully dodge what we think will be another gangbang, with Cap softly saying, “Hail Hydra” (which is a thing in comics, in another context – where writer Nick Spencer upended the Captain America universe in 2016 by making him a double-agent!), and walking away from the bukkake… until he meets his taut-buttocked past self…
Cap would have to McGuffin further back in time to 1944, where he sees his lost love, Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell, who still looks like Bill Hader); it’s foreshadowing that will pay off in spades for Marvel, meaning audiences will weep inconsolably when Cap is eventually reunited with Peggy, and Marvel will sell more Captain America dolls.
War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Nebula land in the opening scene of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, where Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is amusing himself singing into that small animal Come And Get Your Love, while stealing that original orb. Our hearts leap for joy. That movie, more than any other Marvel bombastadon, touched such a freewheeling, innocent spirit in our breasts. I like it when they touch my breasts.
Rocket and Thor head to Asgard (in THE DARK WORLD period), and the filmmakers do an artful thing: they tease us that Thor’s ex-squeeze Jane (Natalie Portman) is important to the plot, but instead of reuniting Thor with Jane, Thor meets his mother Frigga (regal Rene Russo), and they share a heartfelt moment that pulls Thor away from the edge of bathos and renews his faith in himself. (This meeting, poignant though it is, seems like a workaround, as Portman obviously wants nothing to do with her silly role as a god’s boo, so Rocket acquires Jane’s Aether/Stone offscreen, while Thor finds his ‘nads with his mother instead of his lover.) On the strength of Hemsworth’s fragility and redemption here, I’m leaking again.
Thor also summons his hammer Mjolnir, from this era, preciously smiling, “I’m still worthy…” Now he’s armed with Stormbreaker and Mjolnir, while the actual Thor from this era is probably wondering why his hammer won’t return to him. How did he get by without—how did he fly or command his legions, or— It’s time travel who cares fuck you.
Hulk visits The Ancient One (from DOCTOR STRANGE) for the Time Stone, and is emasculated further when he is bested by a woman (Tilda Swinton, whom many consider to be a man—I mean, woman). She explains time-streams for the few people who have not seen BACK TO THE FUTURE, and how the Stone is so woven into the fabric of her existence that she would never ever EVER give it to Hulk. Then she gives it to Hulk. Thank you, deus ex Marvela!
Not-Ronin and Widow travel to Vormir (a planet from INFINITY WAR). Remember that dismal dimension, warded by Red Skull (Ross Marquand), where you had to sacrifice a loved one to get the Stone? Did the Avengers know this already? Is that why they specifically sent these two mewling quims? So even though Barton and Natasha seem surprised when Skull tells them the rules, it’s a gosh-darn good thing they love each other – or we’d never get the stone [in a Seinfeld voice, with canned laughter]. Thank You, deus ex Marvela! On the ride there, Barton says to Natasha, “This is a long way from Budapest!” Oh, for fun – not that running gag! I can’t wait for the Hawkeye/Widow prequel that shows us what went down in Budapest, that will rival the SOLO movie for its Irrelevance Quotient.
Before we can say, “Just fuck and get it over with,” Natasha and Barton grapple (not in that good way) for the right to die for all their past indecencies… and Barton returns to Avengers HQ with the Stone probably heaviest in price. Again, I must commend the writing and performances: it would have been so easy for the writers to simply make the characters mouth, “I love you” to each other with maudlin ease – but that is studiously avoided in lieu of deflective argument and tough love gestures. And Jeremy Renner, who never had much to do in these AVENGERS films, ups his screentime, poignancy and his gravitas (not to mention his mating potential, laydayz: that sleeve-tatt and Mohawk – oh, he’s a bad boy now!). But don’t weep, Millennial Marvelites; there’s a BLACK WIDOW film slated for release in 2021. So, dead, yeh, but starring in upcoming film, with dolls on the assembly line ready for shipping. It’s time travel who cares fuck you.
thanos’s infinity gauntlet
is LEFT-HANDED (because us Lefties are evil, ‘member?), and when Tony makes a gauntlet to house the Infinity Stones – it is RIGHT-HANDED. And when he snaps, the Stones all gather – on his RIGHT glove.
So in ENDGAME, the women get their moment (Captain Marvel, Wasp, Gamora), and no more disrespect for minorities (War Machine, Panther, Mantis), and the gays have their day (Korg, Meek, Ebony Maw). But when is someone going to give us Lefties the respect we deserve?… See? It’s always something with this superstitious, ignorant, racist, misogynistic, small-minded, xenophobic dung heap we call humanity.
Remember when Thanos killed Loki (Tom Hiddleston) at the beginning of INFINITY WAR? “No resurrections this time.” Marvel say, “Ha! Just kidding!” (Here, Loki appears in the 2012 sequence, so – laydayz…)
Hulk snaps. Life restored. Screams as his arm is destroyed by the Stones. Question: Why didn’t Thor – who can withstand the power of a star – do the snapping? Answer: because Thor is fat, and fat people are not powerful. And Hulk only got burned because he is now a girlyman intellectual (a she-hulk?). In this world where men can’t be Men anymore, see how the writers insidiously play off human prejudices to usurp these men’s potency, not through the malice of a villain, but through the power of whining SJWs, the greatest villains of all – to MAN-kind. Comics Hulk and comics Thor have performed deeds the likes of which qualifies them to take on Thanos alone, but there are so many powered beings here, the filmmakers can afford to heed the whining of social media and de-power these two literal strongest Avengers.
Birds may be chirping, and Hawkeye’s wife may be calling, but Nebula’s WiFi has alerted Thanos From Before to the time-heist – and the big blue ballsac teleports from 2012 to the present! Now there was a time twist no one saw coming! As Tony says, “We screwed with time – now time’s hitting back!” Thanos literally goes Back To The Future!
And this time, Thanos wants to “shred every atom of this universe, and build it back from scratch with the Stones.” And the Avengers punch him for that. Although Brolin still retains a majestic quietude with Thanos, underplaying magnificently, he isn’t the discerning philanthropist of the past (i.e. his future, i.e. our present, i.e. who cares); now he’s that one-dimensional villain who’s only missing the evil Bwohahaha laugh. “It was never personal – but what I’m about to do to your stubborn, annoying little planet, I’m gonna enjoy it very, very much.” And the Avengers punch him for that as well.
In three-hour movie, can we really afford 45-minute battle scene in third act? Producer say “Whatever it takes.” Director ask, “Which supers you want in final fight?” Producer say to director, like Gary Oldman in LEON: “Benny, bring me everyone.” Benny ask, “What do you mean ‘everyone’? Gary scream: “EVERYONE!”
Fanboys lose their shit.
Scampering out of time-holes come the whole catalogue of Marvel merchandising properties, including Falcon, Panther, Okoye, Strange, Wong, Quill, Drax, Bucky, Wasp, and baby-faced Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who disturbed so many with his pre-dust comment, “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good.” All alive again. Thankfully, say Marvel. Doll sales were flagging.
Captain Marvel is back and has cut her hair like a lesbian. Because of course. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is on her flying cow. Suddenly – Pepper in an Iron Woman suit—really?! It’s the lamest shark jump ever – and I’m not even wondering how she had the time to gain the expertise to wield it as well as Tony, with a five-year-old baby at home, no, what I’m wondering is: How the hell did she get a babysitter at such short notice?!
Gawd, the lack of imagination in these fight scenes is more astounding than seeing every Marvel property onscreen at the same time. Super-powered beings, that can utilize magic and super-speed and tactical firepower – just punching like knobs. And Thanos seems just as powerful with or without the Gauntlet, so what are the rules? Captain Marvel is supposedly the most powerful being in the MCU and all she does is punch harder. She brings down Thanos’s ship by flying through its hull, disintegrating it. Thor could’ve done that. She gets Thanos in a headlock. Any one of 20 supers could’ve done that. Wanda/Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) almost does Thanos in by herself, just by pushing her breasts together… Oh, and Cap wields Mjolnir (because that’s a thing in the comics)….
As the X-MEN movie series was the story of Wolverine, THE AVENGERS movie series is the story of Tony Stark, who comes full circle spiritually. Way back in the first movie, Cap chided Tony that he would never lay down his life for anyone, and Tony ends up laying down his life for… dare I?… EVERYONE. (Well, half of everyone.) And who turns up at Tony’s funeral? Oh, yes please, Gary… EVERYONE. Fan service orgasm. And Tony gives a final monologue via hologram, something about loving Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Falcon is bequeathed Cap’s shield, to become the new Captain America (because that’s a thing in the comics), however the issue is not whether Falcon SHOULD be Captain America, but whether he CAN. Because he is not imbued with super soldier serum; a more logical choice would be super soldier Bucky (because that’s a thing in comics too), but I think the filmmakers are trying to comply with the Sokovia Accords – with Bucky a fugitive defined by those statutes. Speaking of which, General Ross (William Hurt) was at Tony’s funeral – shouldn’t he be arresting half the Avengers for being on active duty without the correct paperwork?
Old Cap sits on a bench, having lived a full life. (We can only assume Bill Hader was barren, as there are no Baby Caps running around.) And we must ask: If Old Cap is the Cap from THIS time, then what happened to the Cap from THAT time, who was frozen in the ice? I presume THIS Cap went back to a time after THAT Cap was frozen, so he could move in on THAT Cap’s girl without himself being around to cockblock himself. So this means THAT Cap will be unfrozen after the war and still make it to the present as a young man. Right? But isn’t THAT Cap (the one who gets unfrozen) THIS Cap (the one who went back in time)? So that would make THIS Cap THAT Cap. Which doesn’t make any sense at all. I contacted Marvel for a comment on this time anomaly and they were kind enough to reply with the explanation:
“It’s time travel who cares fuck you.”