Infinity War ended with half of all the life in the universe disintegrated with the snap of Thanos’ fingers. We watched many of our favorite superheroes vanish before we could even realize they’d gone. Endgame begins with a reminder of just how devastating a loss that truly was, as we see Hawkeye watch his entire family simply disappear.
Major Spoilers Ahead...
We then cut to Iron Man and Nebula hopelessly floating through space and quickly running out of oxygen, a feeling the audience can well identify with. All seems lost, until the arrival of Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel). (Side note: I love Brie Larsen’s shimmering suit and wavy hair. Clearly this is her true superpower.) Danvers brings our heroes home for a grim reunion. The remaining Avengers locate Thanos on an isolated planet and apprehend him with the help of Danvers. It’s then that our heroes realize that “The Snap” cannot be undone, as Thanos has destroyed the Stones having achieved his goal of decimating the population by 50%. (I’m still not exactly sure why Thanos thought that would help anything- “50% die and the remaining thrive?” What kind of logic is that?) Thor angrily beheads him, leaving me unable to receive an answer.
The film then jumps forward five years, shown by the chyron on the screen and the fact that everyone has new haircuts. Ant-man returns from being trapped in the Quantam Realm by sheer luck, and is shocked to discover five years have passed as he’s only been gone for five hours. He realizes that that time paradox could allow them to travel back and save their friends. Stark is reluctant to get involved due to the birth of his daughter, which may be undone if they’re successful. Convinced by Pepper Potts, he eventually agrees to help. All that’s left is to swoop up a fat alcoholic Thor and a vigilante Hawkeye and it’s back to business, baby.
The movie then splits into three teams, with the Avengers traveling back in time to three separate time periods in order to (re-)capture in advance the six different Infinity Stones. The Hulk, Captain America, Ant-man, and Iron Man all travel to New York in 2012 to pre-capture three of the stones. The Hulk haggles with Tilda Swinton for the Time Stone (definitely on my bucket list), Captain America fights himself for the Mind Stone, and Ant-man and Iron Man fail miserably at getting the Space Stone; this allows Loki to escape with it and hopefully survive in some alternate timeline (fingers crossed, Tom Hiddleston). Not to worry, though, as Rogers and Stark travel to 1970 to steal an earlier Time Stone and a couple of extra Pym Particles so they don’t run out of gas before zooming back to the present.
Meanwhile, fat Thor travels with Rocket to Asgard in 2013 only to have a panic attack. He ends up being calmed by his mother while Rocket retrieves the Reality Stone from Jane Foster (in a surprise cameo of Natalie Portman, who was apparently lying about being “done” with Marvel movies. I of course forgive her.) In 2014, Nebula and Rhodes steal the Power Stone before Peter Quill can, but apparently Nebula left her Wi-Fi on and accidentally transmits her signal to 2014 Thanos (they should have left her on airplane mode). 2014 Thanos learns of his future self’s success and their attempts to undo it, and discreetly swaps out the past and present Nebula.
The first real death of the film comes when Black Widow and Hawkeye travel to Vormir in 2014 and realize the price of the Soul Stone (do your research, guys). After arguing over who gets to sacrifice whom, Black Widow ends up taking the plunge in a shocking twist. The heroes all travel back to the present, successful in their mission but grieving the loss of Black Widow (who can’t be saved, even though time travel is possible and so is undoing the past with a snap of your fingers. Sorry guys, those are the rules).
After arguing who gets to wear the shiny glove and snap their fingers, they decide that The Hulk is probably a better choice than a drunk Thor, and The Hulk successfully undoes “The Snap”. However, 2014 Nebula brings back the past Thanos and his army and they attack the compound. This time Thanos decides to destroy the universe and rebuild it in his image (a much better plan than the whole “50%” thing). A resurrected Doctor Strange arrives with all of the restored heroes, as well as every other character that’s ever been in a Marvel film ever.
The rest of the film is a series of gifts to the fans, as Captain America fights with Thor’s hammer (I knew he could lift it) and everyone is back to life and kicking ass. Thanos gets the gauntlet and tries for “The Snap: Part Two” but Iron Man has stolen the Stones, decimating Thanos’ army and dying in the process. His arc comes to an end, as does Steve Rogers’, who decides after returning the Stones back to their places in time to live out the rest of his life with Peggy Carter in the past. An old Steve Rogers passes the shield onto Falcon, and Valkyrie is appointed Queen of Asgard while Thor decides to become a Guardian of The Galaxy.
Avengers: Endgame was less of a film and more of a three-hour curtain call, but it is sure to please any longtime Marvel fans. No matter who your favorite character is, they made an appearance (I know my favorite part of the film was the six seconds of Angela Basset’s character at the end wearing that amazing hat). While the chapter is closed on this phase of the MCU, a new phase will inevitably begin with the introduction of new characters stepping into familiar roles. Because while the universe survives, it will always need people to avenge it.