Avengers Endgame

The Fight of Our Lives

As soon as the surviving team members are rounded up, there’s a little pep in the step of our heroes. They have something to fight for again. They’re making playful jabs at each other while delivering exposition about time travel. It’s all due to the hope they have. Some of the tangents border on being a little too goofy, such as the first test failures that result in time being pushed through Scott Lang instead of pushing Scott Lang through time. Then there’s his struggle to understand the rules of time travel that are basically the opposite of what he learned from movies like Back to the Future, Terminator, Star Trek and more.

But seeing The Avengers together again trying to figure out how to pull of this time heist really shifts this movie into gear. It’s not that the first act was boring, but this is an Avengers movie we’re talking about here, and it’s time for this team to get back into action.

The time travel chatter is all a little confusing, but it’s explained as simply as possible, especially when Tony Stark finally shows back up to make things go much smoother. Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely move briskly through the proceedings in a way that doesn’t disregard establishing these new time travel rules, but doesn’t dwell on the prospective questions that will inevitably come with repeat viewings and extensive thought on the matter. They’re the kind of paradoxical questions everyone has when dealing with something as delicate and complicated as time travel, so it comes with the territory.

The mission becomes a more clear when the team figures out where they need to go in order to retrieve the stones without going back in time to a bunch of different places. The result is a second act that simultaneously feels like a greatest hits style stroll down memory lane and a special edition of certain chapters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that fills in gaps, closes arcs for some of our characters from the present day, and gives them new challenges that we never thought we’d see. It’s a mix of payoffs, fan service, plot progression, and a good old fashioned heist.

Avengers Endgame

New York, 2012

The jump back to the battle of New York in 2012 feels like the most self-indulgent part of the time heist. If you need anymore evidence of that, the sequence begins with the trademark shot of all six of the original Avengers assembling on the city streets for the first-time with that shot that pans around them all standing in a circle, ready to take on the alien threat surrounding them.

But the rest of the sequence isn’t just replaying the finer moments of The Avengers. Instead, Captain America, Tony Stark, and Hulk have to sneak around themselves (along with a shrunken Ant-Man) as they try to receive the yellow Mind Stone from within the scepter being wielded by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the blue Space Stone from the Tesseract, and the green Time Stone from the Eye of Agamotto at the Sanctum Santorum in New York, long before Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) became the Sorcerer Supreme.

This sequence is the most like your typical heist where the plan gets executed, everyone has their part to play, things go wrong, our heroes adapt and try to fix their mistakes in order to pull off the job. There’s a lot of comedy to be found from this sequence as we relive the end of the Battle of New York following the apprehension of Loki. We get to see the team as they wind down and wrap things up by handing the Tesseract and scepter off to SHIELD, which they didn’t know was Hydra yet, and all these elements allow for some hilariously entertaining moments.

There’s a fight between Captain America from the present and Captain America in 2012 when the latter (complete with America’s ass) mistakes the former for an escaped Loki in disguise. There’s an upset Hulk who hates being forced to take the stairs to the main floor of Stark Tower instead of the elevator. There’s a faked heart attack from Tony Stark that results in the shocking moment of Loki making a getaway with the Tesseract. It’s executed in such an entertaining and fast-paced way.

Meanwhile, we get some time to breathe with Bruce Banner trying to convince The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) to give him the Time Stone. Here we get some more exposition about time travel to help clear things up for people who maybe don’t understand how this plan will work within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline without changing the past and/or creating a new timeline.

However, this part of the heist doesn’t really offer any heavy lessons to be learned or arcs to be enhanced. This is all in service of getting three of the six Infinity Stones and creating a new problem when Tony Stark and Ant-Man end up losing the Tesseract when Loki uses it to disappear from Thor’s custody. Speaking of Thor…

Asgard, 2013

Thor gets one of the most meaningful arcs in Avengers: Endgame, and it also ends up being one of the most significant arcs in the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For so long, Thor has been trying to be the king that he believed he was meant to be. But thanks to being sent back to the day his mother Frigga (Rene Russo) was killed by dark elves in Thor: The Dark World in 2013, he realizes that he need only be true to himself. It’s a bit of a hokey lesson to learn, but it’s an important one for a man who has been reduced to shambles after failing to kill Thanos before he could snap away half the universe.

This sequence is effectively balanced out by some comedic relief offered by Rocket Raccoon and Thor’s more humorous emotional breakdowns when he realizes he can’t hide his fear and feelings. It’s probably also the least like a heist since Thor isn’t required to work in tandem with Rocket in order for him to retrieve the red Reality Stone that is then-currently residing in the body of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

But there’s still fan service to be found here as before Thor returns to present day with their mission complete, he reaches for Mjolnir, which has not yet been destroyed at this point in time. Immediately applause worthy on its own, this action will bring us one of the most satisfying moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But we’ll get to that later.

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