Warning: This post contains spoilers from Avengers: Endgame, which opened last Friday. Read at your own risk! Seriously!
When Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) donned the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers: Endgame and snapped his fingers to resurrect everyone who died, he also revived EW’s Marvel Movie Club series, which revisited every Marvel movie in the lead-up to 2017’s Avengers: Infinity War. Each week, EW’s Chancellor Agard re-examined one Marvel movie a week, every week, to reassess its powers and hopefully answer important questions like “What was The Incredible Hulk?” “Does Nick Fury wash his eyepatch?” and “Is there a point to Hawkeye?” along the way. In this special edition of the series, we dive into Avengers: Endgame.
The series finale-like Avengers: Endgame brought the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 22-movie story about glowing cosmic stones to fitting and emotional conclusion. In the wake of their devastating loss, the Avengers launched one last ditch attempt to fix what went wrong in Avengers: Infinity War, which involved
an epic clip show time travel and of course, a bombastic final battle that saw almost every single hero that’s ever appeared movie band together to assemble and avenge the Earth (read: kick Thanos’ purple butt).
The best thing about the Russo brothers’ second Avengers film, though, is how it found time to honor the road so far and featured many small moments that reminded us why we loved these characters. Below, EW’s Chancellor Agard and Christian Holub run through some of the most memorable moments from this grand finale.
Steve and Peggy’s reunion
It’s been eight years, but Captain America: The First Avenger finally got the ending it deserved. The best romance in the MCU belonged to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), not least because of the element of star-crossed tragedy. When Steve woke up in 2011 after decades in the Arctic ice, his first thought was, “I had a date.” Now, thanks to the magic of the Quantum Realm and the Infinity Stones, he finally got to have that dance with Peggy. This writer, for one, couldn’t be more ecstatic about their well-deserved happy ending. —Christian Holub
Pepper in the Iron Man suit
In the Iron Man-suit destroying climax of Iron Man 3, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts throws on one of the last remaining suits and saves Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) from dying. It’s one of the most exciting moments of the entire movie, but it’s also rather fleeting. Thankfully, Endgame gave us the payoff we were craving in its heroes-assembling final battle, which sees Pepper enter the fray and kick some major ass alongside the rest of the Avengers — Chancellor Agard
How it makes Thor: The Dark World relevant
Thor: The Dark World is either the worst movie in the MCU or the second-worst — depends who you ask. So it’s unlikely that fans walked into Endgame expecting to hear the phrase “dark elves” again. The MCU’s grand finale couldn’t make Malekith cooler, but the scenes with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Frigga (Rene Russo) were surprisingly touching, and made clear that the thunder god’s unprecedented string of losses really kicked off with her death in the most-maligned Thor movie. —C.H.
Black Panther running with the Infinity Gauntlet
A few years ago, I was reading Secret Wars — Jonathan Hickman’s 2015 comic book crossover event that’s basically Marvel’s version of DC Comics Crisis — on the subway and when I got to the panel where Black Panther actually wields the Infinity Gauntlet, an elderly black man stopped me and asked, “Is that Black Panther actually wearing the Infinity Gauntlet? When did comics get interesting again?” It was clear the mere visual of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) using such an important piece of Marvel’s mythology was exciting and meant something, and that encounter has stuck with me ever since. In fact, I was reminded of it and felt an exhilarating rush when T’Challa took off running with the cosmic McGuffin in Endgame‘s finale battle. Sure, we didn’t actually get to see him use it, but that allusion to Secret Wars gives me hope that one day we’ll see him do it. —C.A.
The Lebowski-fication of Thor
Viewers had a lot of expectations going into Endgame. After all, this was a movie that had to pay off the last decade’s worth of superhero cinema and give closure to beloved characters while also pointing to the future. One thing most attendees probably didn’t expect was a loving homage to The Big Lebowski. Having failed to stop Thanos from snapping his fingers, Thor withdrew from superheroism and over the course of the film’s five-year time-skip slowly changed his physical appearance to resemble the Dude (so much so that Tony even calls him “Lebowski” at one point). But as in The Big Lebowski, Thor’s affectations aren’t just a joke here; they also parallel the relatable struggle of finding yourself completely overwhelmed by a world you no longer understand. The Dude abides, and it looks like Thor will too… in space! —C.H.
Tony’s first goodbye message
At the beginning of Endgame, a hungry and dehydrated Tony records a goodbye message for Pepper as he and Nebula (Karen Gillan) drift off into space. “If you find this recording, don’t post it on social media,” Tony says, which felt like a callback to his “I don’t want to see this on your MySpace page” line from Iron Man‘s very first scene. Even though it’s a throwaway line, I’ve always loved it because even in 2008, when Iron Man opened, it felt dated, which was part of its charm. Of all the allusions to past movies, this one was probably my favorite. —C.A.
Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One cameo
When the Avengers travel back to New York (a.k.a. the climactic battle of The Avengers), we see Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One swatting the Chitauri hoard back with her magic. In addition to being a fun cameo, it’s also an acknowledgment that the Avengers weren’t the only ones defending Earth during the Battle of New York. Furthermore, it’s reminiscent of how Netflix’s Jessica Jones revealed that Krysten Ritter’s hard-drinking heroine took to the streets to fight on that day, too (R.I.P. Jessica Jones/the tangential Marvel-Netflix universe). —C.A.
The real Jarvis!
Speaking of TV, I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled when Agent Carter’s James D’Arcy appeared on screen as Stark manservant Edwin Jarvis. If someone had told me a Marvel TV actor/character was going to make the jump to the big screen in Endgame, my first guess would’ve been like Ming-Na Wen’s Agent May and/or Chloe Bennet’s Daisy/Quake from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (in a scene that included Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, natch). While I’m disappointed that S.H.I.E.L.D. (the constantly improving show, not the fascistic governmental organization) didn’t receive any love in Endgame, I’m glad that the movie found a way to honor the dearly missed Agent Carter. —C.A.
Samuel L. Jackson’s cameo as Nick Fury
In Endgame, Samuel L. Jackson makes a very brief appearance at Tony’s funeral, but he doesn’t say a word. That’s crazy, right? After the original trinity (Cap, Iron Man, and Thor), Jackson’s Nick Fury is probably the next most important character in the Marvel universe, at least in terms of the role he played in bringing all of this together. For a movie that’s all about honoring the journey so far, it feels weird to not have Jackson say something or interact with anyone. —C.A.
Cap and Mjolnir
The last act of Endgame involves a lot of cheers, and it really kicks off with the pure exhilarating comic book fun of watching Captain America pick up Thor’s hammer. After two straight movies of Thanos getting away with everything, few people deserved a beatdown more than the MCU’s uber-villain — which makes it ridiculously satisfying when Cap starts using Thanos’ head to bounce both his shield and Mjolnir off of. On top of everything else, it served as payoff to the best scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Cap came close to moving Mjolnir at the Avengers’ party. —C.H.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now.