Avengers: Endgame – Death, Spoilers & Permanence
Endgame brings Era 1 of Marvel Cinema to a spoiler-filled conclusion.
The Avengers have finally met an enemy that puts them in their place. That foe is audience expectations. After decades of life in Marvel Comics, the Avengers have to provide a conclusion before the movie-going populace moves on from them.
As a comics reader who grew up in a time where War Machine replaced Tony, then Tony became a time displaced teen and then finally Tony Stark morphed into Robert Downey Jr…you learn to roll with changes. But, that’s asking a lot of the casually invested movie fan.
Instilling death in your comic heroes, when the books won’t.
Captain America is the perpetual Christ figure of the Marvel Universe. Always put on, always sacrificing and moving forward out of love for his fellow man. In the books, he can’t ever have a happy ending. Why? That’ll be the end of the need for the character.
Captain America (Steve Rogers) exists to reflect his times and to suffer. He also keeps weird relationships with the Carter women, but let’s leave that alone. Anyways, Cap is a great character, but he’s not necessary beyond a certain point. When not reflecting on current political issues, he serves as a point of suffering. Whether it’s the Secret Empire, fighting Scourge or being on ice…Cap is a punching bag.
Professor Hulk is the flip side of that. More than anybody, Endgame actually sees Banner improve the Hulk into something that he can better control. Cap is in therapy, Tony Stark has shut superheroics and everyone else has scattered to the wind. But, Hulk is talking like a genius and wearing clothes. It’s pretty amazing and reflective of where I first discovered the character.
Yet, much like I read the old Peter David Hulk books, so many new kids are discovering these characters via the MCU. Unlike these kids, I eventually got to grow out of certain runs. If Hulk sucked, I dropped the book and went on with my life. However, Endgame is slamming a sense of finality on a new generation.
After Endgame, they can still read the comic books.
That’s true, but they need to get eased into the material. Plus, there’s not always a comic shop near every kid. That being said, how are they supposed to follow an alien interpretation of a character after they watch a beloved favorite get decimated onscreen? Text is important, but visuals have a way of just punching your emotions in the guts. That’s why I’m still listening to 40 year olds moan about Optimus Prime dying in Transformers: The Movie.
The MCU and the Marvel Comics have reached a point where both have become alien to each other. While the comics incorporate everything from Agent Phil Coulson to actor likeness, how do you move a kid over from the movies to the source material that spawned them? Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening in the comics. Specific focus on key MCU fan favorite characters.
What your MCU Heroes are doing in the Marvel Comics Universe right now
- Groot speaks in the third person, has a wooden punk hairdo and commands his Grootlings
- Gamora tried to kill Star-Lord. Star-Lord has PTSD and has taken command of his new ship, The Ryder.
- Drax was wiped from existence by the Infinity Stones.
- Captain America may or may not have murdered General Thunderbolt Ross.
- Loki was eaten alive by his true father, Laufey the Frost Giant.
- Valkyrie was killed by Malekith’s forces in the War of the Realms.
- Black Panther has taken leadership of the Avengers and currently resides in the corpse of a Celestial entrenched in the North Pole.
- Captain Marvel has basically been turned into older Brie Larson.
- Nick Fury might look like Samuel L. Jackson, but that’s because the classic Nick Fury is now imprisoned on the moon as the new Watcher.
- The Hulk has practically become a gamma powered Jason Voorhees. He turns into the Hulk every night and will never die due to the radiation having made him immortal. Nuke him, dice him up, put him in a jar. He is the Immortal Hulk now.
See, what I mean? The comics are free to tell their own stories, but it’s not a one-to-one translation. Something gives and that’s younger cinema goers interest in following Stark and Cap off screen. The level of synergy featured in their other pop culture favorites is missing here.
Why? Well, because other forms of pop culture including the MCU got to those kids first. There is always a kid or two that will seek out the comics first, but that initial attraction comes from discovery. In creating an eventful finale fixated on being a point of termination, Marvel is indirectly cutting these kids loose. So, what’s next?
Peter Parker Has Risen
Spider-Man is the heart of Marvel. Not the Marvel Universe, but the comic book experience that Lee, Ditko, Kirby, Wood, Buscema, Severin, Romita, Heck, Tuska and so many others gave their lives to creating. While the Fantastic Four kicked off the Marvel Age that birthed the MCU among other things, the Marvel experience is defined by Spider-Man. Everything before were slight knock-offs of DC properties. Hell, the Uncanny X-Men began life as a paper thin knock-off of the Doom Patrol.
But, Marvel found its strength when focusing on characters like Peter Parker. The augmented average kid that was a tourist in a world of Marvels much like the readership and later viewers. When Peter gets dusted in Infinity War, it remains the only scene that has stuck with me. Sure, it’s built on Stark and Peter’s early relationship in Civil War and Homecoming. But, we now have had time to identify with the first 100% accurate take on the soul of Peter Parker onscreen.
When Parker returns in Endgame (spoiler), it’s meant to feel like many things. Joyous reunion, a goofy kid trying to help out and the student living long enough to see his master go where he can’t venture just yet. In that sense, I feel that going forward…Marvel will be just fine if they rely on the Peter Parkers, Kamala Khans and Viv Visions of their world. Don’t know who those last two might be? I have a feeling that you’ll discover them soon enough.
Lady Avengers/A-Force for Marvel Phase TBD
The lady Avengers sequence is why the film doesn’t completely work for me. I love all of the Marvel characters, even the terrible ones. But, I hate when fan service exists without a point. Conveniently bringing together the MCU’s most powerful heroines at that point in the battlefield doesn’t make sense in any sort of logical positioning. You get the semi-cool visual, but it kinda shoots the art of film grammar in the foot.
They bail out Peter Parker, as he tries to save the day. But, when they attack…it would have made way more sense to go in sequence instead of bulk hit. Quick builds can tell the story of a team reassembled and how they can grow even with new parts. When you splash page it, you’re forcing a viewer to keep their eyes on everything and ignore all the details.
Captain Marvel continues to irk me. Largely ignored by most comic fans after years of neglect, Kevin Feige wants to redeem her onscreen. Sometimes you can shoehorn characters into established films and make them work. Other times, they turn into the pouty blonde actress equivalent of Will Crusher or Cousin Oliver Brady.
What’s worse than a misused character is one that becomes a boiler plate for agendas. Old Murphy Brown episodes now sound like WAPO editorials line fed to Candice Bergen from off-screen. Archie Bunker is regarded as a classic figure, but it’s yet another fat white old man bitching about things he can’t control. What’s the point? Who wants to watch someone talk smack and generally be unpleasant?
There are too many other female heroes in the MCU to give screen time to someone that exists as a cosmically powered Jezebel article. Develop personalities, ideas and focus on what they contribute to this shared universe. I want an A-Force film more than suffering through Captain Marvel 2: Carol Wants Fill-in-the-Blank NOW!
When Endgame ended, my brain leapt to the next logical point. What happens to the Avengers now? If AndersonVision is to believe what disgruntled ex-Fox employees tell us, then the future is the slow insertion of mutants into the MCU. That’s why our eyes are carefully placed upon Black Panther 2 and Dr. Strange 2. No particular reason, as I hate dealing with the rumor mill.
The decision to remove the post credits is double-edged. It’s important to have a sense of conclusion to this epic saga. However, it leaves your audience guessing after a decade of investment. A wandering mind is a terrible thing. That’s how all of those Star Wars speculation sites get started.
Avengers 5: The Search for Profits
The aftermath of Endgame places everything in uncharted territory. Who will lead the Avengers? What will happen next with the FOX characters brought back into the fold? Hell, what becomes of the Marvel Universe in a post Stark world? In their universe, it’s the equivalent of knowing than an alien warlord murdered Elon Musk. How do you comprehend that as someone existing in the first world?
While not quite as good as Infinity War, the film offers something that I never expected from way back when I saw Iron Man. The heart of the Marvel Comics has been brought to the masses. Now, let’s see if Kevin Feige can keep it going.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now!