An era has ended — and a new one has begun — as Marvel Studios brought AVENGERS: ENDGAME to theatres on April 26. The film is more than just the conclusion to a story begun in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. It is the culmination of everything Marvel has worked toward since the release of IRON MAN in 2008. Yes, the story explores the consequences of the horrific universal genocide committed by Thanos, and in doing so, ENDGAME also gives the heroes room to feel a lot more than we usually see in superhero movies.
As expected, AVENGERS: ENDGAME was the swan song for several heroes. Several original Avengers were at the end of their contracts with Marvel, and this fourth Avengers film brings a few stories to a close in moving ways. The stakes were higher than ever before, for both the heroes and for Marvel, and all involved rose to the challenge in a spectacular way.
Here’s everything you should know about AVENGERS: ENDGAME. Some of these details may be considered spoilers, so close out now if you want to avoid them.
The Business of Endgame
With global interest in ENDGAME higher than for any film we’ve seen before, and with AMC running 24-hour marathons of the new release in some markets, it’s no surprise that Marvel’s latest outing is a box office juggernaut.
That said, the numbers are still astonishing. ENDGAME became the first movie to cross the $1 billion mark in a single weekend, with an estimated global take of $1.21 billion. The film earned $350 million in the U.S. alone. Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said, “Though ENDGAME is far from an end for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, these first 22 films constitute a sprawling achievement, and this weekend’s monumental success is a testament to the world they’ve envisioned, the talent involved and their collective passion, matched by the irrepressible enthusiasm of fans around the world.” Interest in ENDGAME also pushed CAPTAIN MARVEL back to the top of the charts, as it was No. 2 at the domestic box office this weekend.
The Plot of Avengers: Endgame
AVENGERS: ENDGAME begins with a plan. The first idea, to track down Thanos, works — but only creates more problems, especially for Thor. The second, time travel, does come together.
A little splashing about in the time stream explains how characters can return even though they were killed off long ago. Time travel is the ultimate reset … or is it?
The cool thing about ENDGAME is how it integrates the ANT-MAN movies so tightly into the main MCU storyline. The two films featuring Paul Rudd as a size-shifting hero have been easy to see as Marvel asides — fun breaks from the serious action. This movie changes everything by factoring Ant-Man and the Quantum Realm as key aspects of the plan to defeat Thanos.
Introduced in ANT-MAN, the Quantum Realm is a plane of reality where the normal laws of time and space break down. It’s the best way to try to beat Thanos to the Infinity Stones, even though he already has them.
How Does Endgame’s Time Travel Work, Anyway?
ENDGAME breezes through a lot of time travel stuff pretty quickly. The short version is that there is really no changing the past or the future. It’s not like in the movie LOOPER, where a young version of a character can cut themselves, and the older version of that character will suddenly have a scar. In ENDGAME, the past has happened, period — but someone could still go back to the past and take something (like an Infinity Stone) or return it (like, again, an Infinity Stone). If something is taken away, the timeline branches off, but does not erase the previously existing one.
In other words, Marvel’s version of time travel makes a whole lot of things possible without destroying what came before. So, Steve Rogers can go back in time, create a branched path and live a different life, without wiping out all of the stuff he did as Captain America.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the second ENDGAME trailer was a sequence featuring Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, training a young woman in archery. Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh, that’s cute. The world is basically ending, but he’s still being a good dad.” That’s a good guess, more or less — and the sequence is the very first in the film, which sets up the loss experienced by Hawkeye, even though he doesn’t engage in the first fight against Thanos.
But there was a point when many people — us included — thought it was possible that the young woman could be Kate Bishop. In the comics, she’s part of the Young Avengers lineup and eventually becomes the new Hawkeye. That was a great way to tease hardcore fans and something directors Joe and Anthony Russo did very much on purpose. Joe Russo’s daughter, Ava Russo, even plays Hawkeye’s daughter in the scene.
The Role of Thanos in Avengers: Endgame
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ended with Thanos triumphant, settling down to live as a farmer, satisfied with the chaos he had wrought. He paid a hefty price to achieve his goal, even sacrificing his daughter Gamora in order to gain the Soul Stone. As far as Thanos is concerned, however, the sacrifice was worthwhile.
His role in AVENGERS: ENDGAME is far more complex. Through Thanos, we see how terrible power can be — and he is the lens that focuses all of the grief of several characters after the snap. But he also gets to be an active, even devious villain. INFINITY WAR was about a mad plan born of an idea that might have a kernel of validity, but in ENDGAME, the big purple guy shows off other sides of his personality.
What’s Next for Spider-Man?
The young hero has a new movie on the way, SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, opening on July 5. We haven’t known exactly when the story takes place, and frankly we still don’t! But ENDGAME leaves big questions, especially since we see Peter Parker (Tom Holland) back at school with other students. Did any of his friends survive the snap? If so, they would be five years older, which is an eternity for high school students.
For that matter, how does, well, everyone who came back deal with the fact that the world has moved on for five years without them? That can’t be easy. There’s a lot of drama to deal with right there.
Is Thor Really a Guardian of the Galaxy?
Sure seems that way! ENDGAME concludes with Thor handing leadership over the remaining Asgardians to Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and flying off with the Guardians team, minus the 2014 version of Gamora. The Asgardian of the Galaxy has a pretty good ring to it — but how will this affect GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3? At this point, we don’t know.
Endgame Transforms the MCU
As the dust settles from AVENGERS: ENDGAME, the MCU is very different. Part of that has to do with the characters who died and at least one who chooses a life away from superhero activities.
But there’s also the fact of branching timelines and more than a few relationships that are reset. And how do characters reconcile returning to a world that has, in some ways, moved on? There are many potential ramifications and so many story avenues to explore.
Marvel has been quiet about the post-ENDGAME MCU, however. The studio didn’t want anyone to have a clue what would happen in AVENGERS 4, so it hasn’t confirmed more than the imminent arrival of SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME and the development of sequels for characters like Black Panther and Doctor Strange. We’re only just beginning to understand how Marvel’s world will evolve.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME is in theatres now!