Apr 30, 2019

MCU Roundtable: Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame came out this past weekend and made history. And we were gonna do this roundtable next week, at our regularly scheduled time of Mondays, 8AM EST. But we had so much discussion already over the weekend about the movie, that it's possible that by Monday 8AM EST, we can have a whole second installment of this. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen...

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame came out on April 24 worldwide, April 26 in the United States, and, over the weekend, made $357,115,007 domestic and $1,223,641,414 worldwide. 1.2 billion dollars.

And there's a lot of stuff going on in this movie, so we divvied it up into sections.


SAMANTHA: I loved this movie! All the warnings of it being a tearjerker didn't sufficiently prepare me for the onslaught of feelings. I spent the entire movie with either my hands over heart or my mouth.

MICHAEL: I want to preface this following opinion with the fact that I liked this film a lot, but I enjoyed Infinity War more. There's a lot about Endgame that I've been processing since I saw it, and I think that's the problem. there's a lot going on, possibly even leaving the film a little overstuffed, while Infinity War by comparison just feels a lot more tighter and focused. I think Endgame easily could have been trimmed down, but it'd have been at the expense of fun if not superfluous character moments. Of which, I totally get the "fan service" critique bandied around by a few professional reviews, but I don't think it's an inherently bad thing. In this case, it's like a celebration. A good cause for celebration, in fact.

DUY: I actually agree, I think Infinity War is the objectively, technically better movie, but that's not what this movie was going for. It was a celebration. If they were RPGs, Infinity War would be Final Fantasy, a tight, well-told RPG; Endgame is Kingdom Hearts, still great, but perhaps contrived and bloated in some points for the sake of the fan service. But that's the point. In terms of comics, it reminds me of something like JLA/Avengers, a comic with a fairly contrived plot, but again, not the point; it was a vehicle to get all the JLA and the Avengers, and all their different versions throughout time to show up.

BEN: People use fan service like it’s an insult, when every sequel is technically fan service. I’ve been describing it just like you did, a celebration of the first 10 years of movies.

MICHAEL: When you've had such an unprecedented run of success, you can't really fault Marvel Studios for doing a bit of a victory lap while giving everything including the kitchen sink to the fans. I think Kevin Feige has used an ice cream analogy in an interview when talking about MCU films taking on elements of different genres. Forget a scoop of one flavour each, this was a birthday sundae with hot fudge dressing with lit sparklers planted in it.

SAMANTHA: The person I went to the movie with said the same thing, but I was being very protective of the movie and wasn't ready to be very critical. I'll have to watch them both again to really hold the two against each other.

JD: I've never seen an audience applaud after a 10:30am Monday show until today. So many feels. I've never had a movie give me everything i wanted, and things I didn't know I wanted.

RICH: It was... good. Not perfect. Not my favorite. But good. In truth, it was a bit anticlimactic for me. Other than Widow's death, nothing in the movie was unexpected.

MIGUEL:This has become my most favorite Marvel movie ever. It made me laugh, made me cry a few times, and got me excited. I watched it on opening day and up to now I still can't get over the movie.

JEFF: I'm not sure where to begin. The movie was everything I could have hoped for, great performances, great story and memorable scenes. Its a movie I want to watch multiple times like the first Avengers movie. I loved them bringing in the smart Banner Hulk and really would like to see a Ruffalo Hulk solo movie, Pepper suiting up and joining the fight seemed overdue since her Extremis exposure in Iron Man 3 and seeing a pissed off Wanda taking it to Thanos was awesome.

DUY: I feel most of the more successful Marvel movies are the ones that have, whether overt or subtle, more sociocultural commentary riding along their waves. Iron Man was the perfect superhero for 2008, a weapons manufacturer having second thoughts in a post-9/11 world; a technological genius at a time when technology was moving faster than ever. Captain America: Winter Soldier was about freedom vs. security; Civil War, really, about the same thing. Thor: Ragnarok was about imperialism, and Black Panther was about a lot of sociocultural issues. Infinity War was the trolley problem brought to life full force, and Thanos was kind of an avatar for a lot of the reactionary politics going on today. Captain Marvel was an allegory for abuse. I could be wrong, but I don't feel there is any of that type of commentary in Endgame. Rather, the entirety of the movie is a big metacommentary on the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. Marvel itself is the sociocultural event.


SAMANTHA: Can we talk about RDJ's phenomenal performance in the first... ten minutes of the movie? From accepting death in space to ripping off the arc reactor and shoving it into Steve's hand. It tore me up!

DUY: I agree. It's often said that he plays Tony Stark as himself, and while that may be true for the charming, charismatic moments, I think it's often overlooked and underrated how he can so easily, seamlessly shift the tone of a scene. The first ten minutes of the movie are a perfect example of that. And his chemistry with Chris Evans' Captain America. Good Lord, I am going to miss them both individually, and I'm also going to miss their lightning-in-a-bottle, magical chemistry. So much.

SAMANTHA: Chris did an amazing job of helping deliver Tony's breakdown, as did the rest of the cast. And I agree, Chris and RDJ's chemistry — not just here, but in all the other movies — couldn't be more real. Between Cap and Tony's individual "endgames," it hit me as really being over and now it's like "Okay so what the hell is ever going to be an awesome as this?"

BEN: The teenage girl sitting next to us was legitimately distraught after, at one point she even said "What am I going to do now?"

KATHERINE: All the interactions between Cap and Tony at the beginning really broke my heart. When Cap was the first to greet him at the ship and help him out, Tony was so emotional and vulnerable telling him he lost the kid. But then when they talked inside, all that anger and frustration bubbling over was so raw and painful. When he got in Cap’s face and called him a liar, even Cap looked like he was about to break down a little and it made me cry.

DUY: This was very much a Steve and Tony movie to me, at the heart of it all. And one thing that I distinctly remembered when all was said and done was their first confrontation in the first Avengers, where they try to read each other and get it completely, totally wrong. Tony tells Steve "Everything special about you came out of a bottle," and if Cap lifting Mjolnir wasn't enough to prove hm wrong, just the visual of Steve marching alone to face Thanos' army is enough. But Steve is wrong too, when he says Stark isn't a hero, that he would never make the sacrifice play. Obviously they've proven each other wrong a billion times since, but this was both of them doing so, one to begin a fight and one to end it.

BEN: Can you remember how worried we were back then that Iron Man would get all the “Avengers Assemble” type moments?

DUY: We were worried that they would take the standard Hollywood studio approach where the big star would get all the big moments that it would make the entire team irrelevant, but RDJ must have known that stepping aside and letting everyone shine was the way to go. Also, I'm well aware this might be recency talking, but I'm firmly convinced that RDJ and Evans are the two best superhero castings of all time. I know I adhered to Christopher Reeve for a long time, since I think Reeve held his movies on his shoulders, but I think in terms of portraying the goodhearted inspirational hero, Evans has surpassed him.

BEN: It’s so hard to pull that off and he absolutely nailed it. You could argue Cap is wrong in nearly every argument of the series, and instead of thinking he’s a naive sucker, we’re almost always on his side

DUY: The "Trust me?" "I do." Exchange really hits hard. The resolution of their entire arc.


PAUL: In 2008, it was Tony's time. The world was ready for a tech/science, capitalist/free market superhero. We got to see this character's story told over 11 films. Even some of the films in which he doesn't feature serve to flesh out and contextualize his personality and his world. And now in 2019, we all hate Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, and everybody's moved on from the white guy redemption story. Tony's story has come to an end at the exact right time. Tony is as much a man of his time as his father was. The question now is, if Tony perfectly embodied the two-thousand-and-teens, which character will capture the spirit of the next decade? Carol? T'Challa?

DUY: That's the thing, RDJ as Tony was so much lightning in a bottle, there's no way to really tell.

MICHAEL: Being the one to snap Thanos and his army out of existence, having one last "and I am Iron Man" — if you're going to go out like a rock star, that's the way to do it. But his actual death was confronting, for lack of a better word. No final words or quips to either Pepper or Peter, barely responsive... just half blackened from scarring and burns, practically in a vegetative state. It made his death all the more sad, even haunting in a way.

KATHERINE: I think this is a movie that will retroactively make past movies better, the way Winter Soldier made the First Avenger better. I’m watching Iron Man 2 now for the first time since it came out and it’s amazing to see how far Tony has come. He starts this one very selfish, showy and reckless, a borderline alcoholic with an actual death wish — it’s no wonder that Cap couldn’t imagine him being the hero type when they first meet... what, a few weeks later? Comparing this guy to who he evolves into in Endgame is very satisfying.

DUY: I agree, I think so much of Age of Ultron was redeemed for me in this movie. Pepper also got to don her armor for the final battle. It was nice, a good touch, even if it does call into question if it was a wise parenting decision...

LaMAR: I think Infinity War prophesied Tony's death, in his first encounter with Thanos' team. When he's walking toward them he takes off his glasses and holds his head up in a way that's similar to people accepting their fate and choosing to meet it head on. What looked like a cool scene with his nanotech armor being showcased seemed to be a lot more to me because of this.

DUY: Tony was able to get the stones because he definitely built in a fail safe into the glove so he could get it right? When he shows the glove to Thanos, it's still sliding up his arm.

KATHERINE: I think it was the nanotechnology he first showed in Infinity War. I don’t really know anything about that beyond what I learned in Big Hero 6, but it seems like his latest suit is able to transform and transfer materials.

CHRISTOPHER: More than anything I love how Tony pretty much did the sacrifice play and laid his life down the wire, something cap said he cant ever possibly do because its all about style to him. Well, only Iron Man can do the sacrifice play with that much flair and style.

MATT: Good callback to the first Avengers movie.


SAMANTHA: Oh, Cap. This was an incredible goodbye (though, let's be honest, none of us want it to be over for Chris!). Everything choked me up, from the emotional moments to the final battle to his goddamn Happily Ever After with Peggy (so, SO well deserved). It breaks my heart to think that he had to deal with Peggy's death twice and that, somewhere off screen, Cap passed away peacefully with Bucky and Sam at his side.

MICHAEL: I'm still trying to decide whether it was irresponsible or not of Cap to stay in the past. Not that he didn't deserve it, but still.

DUY: I think it's actually one of the least problematic aspects of the time travel stuff, since the "husband" that Peggy spoke of in Winter Soldier could have been Steve all along. Like Peggy might have already known, talking to Steve in that hospital bed, that he goes back in time and marries her.

MICHAEL: Apparently Agent Carter takes place in 1946, so if Cap went back before that point, I'd say he's now forged an alternate reality.

DUY: Edwin Jarvis appearance aside, I'm willing to bet they're not treating that series (and SHIELD, and Netflix) as part of the movie continuity. Or if they were, they no longer are.

MICHAEL: In Agent Carter's case specifically, it's either that a lot of it has now been 'overwritten' with an alternate reality, or that this is what has always happened. The writers of Endgame (plus Infinity War and every Captain America film) Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely were also the creators of the Agent Carter show, so I'm sure they know exactly what they're doing. Also probably how they got Jarvis in the film. Speaking of, first character exclusively created in Marvel TV to make the jump to big screen.

PAUL: Personally I loved Steve's ending, but a lot of people have criticised it for copping out on everything Steve's had to learn about the importance of moving on with life. They've also argued that it undermines the fact that until now it seemed that Peggy did move on and lived a fulfilling life without Steve. I don't agree with these arguments myself but what do you guys think? I will say though that I hope Steve jumped back to after the Agent Carter series, maybe even to 1970 again. Not just because I like that series but also because at least that way Peggy still got the chance to accomplish a bunch of stuff without Steve's help.

KATHERINE: I thought they established that Steve was trying to help people with the idea that we need to move on, and he tried to be the optimist for other people, but he could never really get himself to believe it personally. Him and Black Widow kept hanging on. I think through all the movies Steve has always personally felt like there was nowhere he belonged, but he would stick it out anyway and do his duty as he’s always done and resign himself to the fact that there was no real, normal life possible for him. So if he found a place where he belonged somewhere else, of course he’d want to stay if he could. I felt like it was partially also an echo of Thor’s arc — it’s not about who you should be, embrace who you are. Steve was always such a good man who put others first and he’s already saved the world a lot and inspired millions... he should also be allowed to rest and have a happy ending.

PAUL: I was struggling to bring my thoughts together and form a counter argument to the arguments I mentioned above, but you've summed it up perfectly, I completely agree.

KATHERINE: I don’t know if he’s living with Peggy in an alternate reality or not... it could be the same reality if he had known not to interfere with reality prime events. There was some explanation from The Ancient One that the removal of the infinity stones are what causes the splits into alternate realities, so it was important to return the infinity stones... but maybe a mere human’s presence wasn’t enough to create a splinter reality? I don’t know. And I get it, if it’s an alternate reality, he shouldn’t be able to see Sam and Bucky at the end, but 100% honestly, I do not care. It was such a beautiful and emotional ending, and it would not have made the same impact if Old Man Rogers hadn’t been there himself sitting on that bench. I loved it so much and would not change a thing.

PAUL: You're right. I've kinda been avoiding thinking too deeply about the logic of the time travel. The time travel stuff that happens all works from a dramatic point of view so I'm more than happy to put any time-physics inconsistencies down to "wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey" stuff, to quote Doctor Who.

MATTHEW: Cap has been stealing the show in this franchise from day one, and this movie is no exception. Even when it's predictable (picking up Thor's hammer), it's still unbelievable when it happens. The bit with him standing there by himself, beat to shit, with his shield basically destroyed, staring down Thanos and his army...

KATHERINE: I hope Steve has some hot grandkids that can eventually join the team though..... not to go too Back to the Future but maybe one of them can bear a striking resemblance to him and be played by Chris Evans.


DUY: Thor is my favorite character, and has been for the last nine years. But I think this movie has cemented Chris Hemsworth as my favorite actor. I can't even fathom how self-confident someone must be in his natural ability and charisma to know he's going to be able to retain and engage everyone watching when every single bit of his trademark — being a hot, muscular badass — is just completely taken away from him. Even the way he shifts from being comically pathetic to truly tragic to still a badass when he needs to be is remarkable.

KATHERINE: Early Endgame Thor is very much like the brash young warrior at the beginning of this movie charging into Jotunheim without a plan. When he felt most like a frustrated failure, he slipped and reverted back to the reckless boy he was for most of his life.

DUY: It's actually similar to Tony Stark prior to being in the cave. Early Endgame Tony also tries avoiding responsibility as he did in Iron Man 1, because the new world had left him something of a position of privilege.

RICH: I didn't think the Thor characterization worked. In fact, for me it was the weakest aspect of the film. He's suffering from severe PTSD, yet it becomes a source of humor, nothing more. I found that kind of jarring and mean-spirited.

DUY: I won't try to change your mind, but I thought Thor's arc was really powerful, especially in the context of the rest of his arc in the last decade. I don't even think it's played for laughs as much as it's made out to be - Rocket and Tony made fun of it, but they would. Some of the most touching moments to me were when people reached out to him out of concern. To see Thor brought this low and have him accept the person he is rather than who he's supposed to be is, for me, the most poignant individual arc in the movie.

MICHAEL: It's hard to imagine any big name studio going with a gag like beer gut Thor and actually committing to it for an entire film. Anyone else might have it as a throwaway gag, but here they use it as just another way to evoke as much pathos out of the character as possible, to great effect.

DUY: Also, in much the same way Iron Man's growth arc (I hesitate to say that Steve Rogers "grew") culminated in this movie, it seemed Thor's did too. I watched a video made prior to Endgame that brought up a good point: every single one of Thor's movies has been about him losing something and then learning humility, over and over again. Infinity War seemed to be the last stop for that: he'd lost everything! But ultimately, the reason he fails in Infinity War is because he has to give in to his godly arrogance one last time ("I told you. You die for that."). In this movie everything is truly taken away from him, and I'm not even mad or sad that he didn't deliver a killing blow at the end, or that he was the one in need of saving this time around. It felt right, for his character, for this part of his arc, to end this way.

PAUL: They could have so easily magicked his fat away as soon as he got Mjolnir, but he had that body for almost every scene. Yeah, that body got laughs, but he still had it during all the battle scenes and all the heroic scenes. He had that body during the already iconic moment where the Big Three walk up to Thanos. He had that body when he spoke to his mother. That's what made it more than a cheap joke.

KATHERINE: I didn’t see it as bodyshaming fat people. The humor is in the absolute bizarreness of seeing Thor of all people that way. It’s character-specific. If Cap had gotten depressed and gained a ton of weight I think it would be much more serious and wouldn’t be played for laughs, it’s funny because it’s Thor. And he rocked that DadBod in the final battle. When he had both his weapons and they revealed his full-armored look with his braided beard he looked amazing. He turned into Volstagg!! That’s body pride!

SAMANTHA: The cosplay that comes out of this is going to be epic.

PAUL: For the first time in my life I could believably cosplay Hemsworth-Thor.

KATHERINE: Haha! I wonder if that was intended, but that’s kind of an amazing side effect of it! People want to say oh it’s funny silly tubby Thor, but by the end it’s like actually no, that’s freakin badass, dual-weapon wielding Avenger/Asguardian of the Galaxy Thor and he don’t give a fuck. Go ahead and make fun of his weight, he doesn’t give a shit and he will still kick your ass.

SAMANTHA: Thor was both all powerful and more in touch with his feelings than ever before. Dad-bod and all, I'm pretty sure Thor was his absolute best self by the end of the film.

CHRISTOPHER: Thor’s entire arc is pretty consistent throughout his entire movie run. He is a god who always gets in trouble when his hubris gets the better off him, so I thought it was a very fitting way to finish his arc, where he just officially relinquished all his godly duties to someone he feels much more suited to the job.

DUY: Yeah, this is the ultimate blow to his ego. The last step on the road to humility. And you can cosplay him now.

CHRISTOPHER: Totally did it. Wife is happy and all is good with the world.

JD:  Thor decapitated a defenseless man and remained worthy. I didn’t like that. To be fair I have no idea if Stormbreaker works the same way.

BEN: A defenseless man that murdered half the galaxy.

KATHERINE: Asgardian justice is swift and brutal. I doubt they have lawyers.

JD: I’ll just go with what Katherine said. I’ll leave the capital punishment debate alone.

KATHERINE: An actual real world ethics debate could be had, but I definitely get the feeling that the warring Asgardians have no problem with capital punishment. I feel like Mjolnir would be like "I guess it's murder.... buuuut it's also this guy. Eh." haha

JD: People watching the DCEU- why is Batman killing!?!? People watching the MCU- yeah cut his head off!

KATHERINE: I think historically I've had much less of a problem with Thor or even Cap killing some people because they're soldiers/warriors. Sometimes, that's part of what they have to do for the mission. Batman is a vigilante operating outside of the law who does this because his parents were murdered, so his whole thing was supposed to be not to kill anyone else. Him and Superman are supposed to have some kind of code. I don't think Thor or Cap were ever established with that kind of code. That being said, I actually don't think we're supposed to cheer when Thor does it. The theater I was in gasped. It's not a victory, it's literally Thor's lowest point and he spends the next five years wallowing because he failed the first time, and actually killing Thanos accomplished nothing and just made him feel emptier.

JD: I can't disagree. Maybe if Thor wasn't such a comedy act for most of the film it may have sat better with me.

KATHERINE: I get it, but I feel like Thor straddles that comedy/drama line a lot, and Hemsworth is great at it. His halting delivery of "I... went for the head" felt like even he was shocked at what he had done and suddenly wasn't sure if it had been the right thing.
It's been mentioned previously in this thread, but the way he goes from Funny Beer-Gut Thor to freezing in his tracks and almost crying when Banner says Thanos' name hit me pretty hard. I think we all know the type that will cover up their pain by being funny and lighthearted, but you can see their suffering and how it manifests in different ways even if they don't want to talk about it (for Thor, it was hiding himself away and letting himself go). I understand the criticism that Thor was played for comedy, but personally I also felt the pain underneath.

DUY: Thor killing Thanos didn't feel gratuitous to me; it's not the same thing as Batman killing criminals without due process. And really, what would due process for Thanos be? Who would even hold him accountable?

JD: I wasn't talking about due process, just that killing a defenseless person doesn't seem very heroic. I get that that is Thor's story in Endgame. it just seemed out of place in the moment.

DUY: I think a lot of it is him trying to redeem himself for his failure. In that moment, with the stones destroyed, it's all he has left. And Stormbreaker does not work the same way. Thanos is able to wield it. It's mentioned in Infinity War that what's needed is "power." Even then, I think Thor stays worthy because he's now a man who questions his self-worth, which is how he got worthy the first time too.

ZHA: Fat Thor is the best thing that happened since Korg!

DUY: There are gonna be so many Fat Thor cosplayers now.

LaMAR: Already do, but these'll be intentional.


PAUL: I loved every second Mark Ruffalo was on the screen, but it's also frustrating to watch him because there's at least two Hulk films worth of story potential locked up in this guy. The way Banner said "Please take your hand off me" to Thor spoke volumes about how Banner's changed and what's going on in his head. It was really unnerving because it happened in the middle of a relatively comic moment and it's said in a tone that Banner never would have used up until this point. Gentle yet eerily firm.

MICHAEL: I've been waiting for the Professor Hulk incarnation to hit the screen for a long time. That's the first real version of the Hulk I got to know in the comic books, and I feel they've done Savage Hulk backwards and forwards on screen by now. Excited to see where he goes as a character from here, honestly.

DUY: I think we can all agree that Tony and Steve were at the top of the hierarchy in the MCU, followed by Thor. But when I try to think of who the next one is, I actually weirdly think it's the Hulk, despite the fact that he's only had one movie and it's never even referenced. Thoughts?

MICHAEL: I don't think it's so weird, Banner/Hulk has always been positioned as an integral and long standing member of the team. It's helped by the fact the studio consciously plots out a film's worth of story arc for the character through his guest stints, since getting another solo film seems to be next to impossible for them.

ZHA: This is like another fat Thor transformation. I was never really that big a fan of Hulk. I like Banner more, but having this new character just makes him so much more useful. And not being the scared, stubborn baby that didn't want to come out and fight Thanos. He pretty much has the best of both worlds now. My favorite scene was when they traveled back to the past and he was pretending to be like old Hulk with his very calm Hulk smash!

DUY: I think we also need to take the time to acknowledge the work Ruffalo has done with this character, whether it's as Banner or the Hulk or Professor Hulk. I didn't think Ed Norton sucked at this back in 2008, but Ruffalo is really just perfect for the role. His tics, his small mannerisms, they've all been so useful in conveying the feeling of anxiety. And as Paul said, the fact that this version of the Hulk can let more of Ruffalo in there, while actually being the Hulk is a smart decision. The whole scene with Thor, "Please take your hand off my sweater", is very powerful. I hope he doesn't go away. On the contrary, I hope we see even more of him.

JD: Do you think Hulk is near or far sighted?

BEN: No lenses. He’s a hipster


MICHAEL: They made such a big deal about the Ronin persona, but it felt like as soon as Natasha recruited him back, that was the end of it. Starting the film off with him experiencing the dusting/happening was a great tone setter though, even if the film would divert away from that somber mood after the first act. I'd love to have seen more Leftovers-esque drama in a MCU setting, but there's only so many hours you can have people sit down for a film before people think Thanos snapped away their asses. Regardless, Renner gets some nice dramatic and heartfelt moments throughout the film, in relation to both his family/absence thereof and Natasha. They're still horribly underplaying Hawkeyes's powerset, but I don't feel he was done dirty by the story at all.

DUY: I'm so glad you said something because I'm not sure anyone else has thoughts on Hawkeye.

MICHAEL: He's the heart of the Avengers!

DUY: I.... sure, why not.

MICHAEL: In Age of Ultron he's almost the audience surrogate, as the "non-powered" Avenger. He's also the one revealed to have an actual family, which positions him as one of Avengers that has both the most to fight for, and the most to lose. I disliked the whole "Hawkeye has a secret family" thing in Age of Ultronat the time, but it's played to great use here. When he's the first one to test the time machine, I found it really touching when he hears his family again. A really nice role for the character, if not a little understated compared to people swinging around Mjolnir.

DUY: Yeah, I disliked it too at the time, and I think I still dislike a lot of Age of Ultron, but I think this movie redeems a lot of it for me.

MICHAEL: I also really liked his pairing with Widow. You could really feel their friendship/bond, which made what happened a lot more sad.

DUY: Also one of the less talked about pieces of representation there: a guy and a girl who are best friends, and no more.

MICHAEL: Very true, though that doesn't stop shippers. You could see the love between them, especially at that quiet moment just before the suicide scramble for the soul stone. Credit to both the actors.

DUY: I mean, they can ship all they want, there's just nothing in the entire actual story to support it. Clint's wife is even friends with Nat, and his kids treat her as their aunt.

MICHAEL: Hey, who knows what they got up to years ago in Budapest. Shippers gon' ship.

PAUL: There was very much an "is that it" feeling about Natasha's death. It seemed to serve Hawkeye's story more than her own. I hope she comes back to continue her story. I hope if there's a Black Widow film it's not set in the past.

DUY: I feel the same. Black Widow's death is the one thing this movie did blatantly wrong, I feel. It felt criminal, to me, to remove her from the board so early, to not have her be in that one big all-female group shot at the end. But... and I know this is going to sound more apologetic than sincere, and maybe it is... maybe it's also a microcosm for her entire meta-arc. For the longest time, Widow was the only female. She didn't even get a movie. She paved the way. Trailblazers don't always get to the end, but they make it possible for others, in greater number, to get there.

KATHERINE: It’s hard for me to explain because obviously I don’t like the idea of killing the only woman, but at the same time it also felt kind of felt right emotionally. She is so much more the heart that connects all these main characters than Hawkeye was, so I feel like if it had been Hawkeye instead it would’ve been “aw that’s sad” but it wouldn’t have been the same gut punch to the team. Also, as a character who spent her entire arc trying to find out who or what she could be beyond a weapon, what she believed and what she stood for, it was a heroic way to go out taking a stand for humanity. I think we all speculated that this was a choice that Captain America and Iron Man would have to face and that Cap would’ve sacrificed himself for the soul stone without hesitation, so it’s a pretty high compliment to Natasha that she was in that place and made the same choice Cap would make.

BEN: On the second viewing, I do think Natasha was the death that would hit everyone on the team the most. She’s been close partners with Steve and Clint, made her MCU debut in Iron Man 2, was in love with Bruce.

RICH: I was surprised by it, but it didn't really impact me as much as pretty much everyone who knows me probably would expect it. The fact that a Black Widow movie is coming confuses me, but I'm sure they have a plan. I feel like the moment lacked gravitas. It's just there —and it's weakened by the fact that her sacrifice is done to save the least interesting member of the Avengers. This movie wanted us to feel so much emotion, to the point that for me, a lot of the hoped-for emotion was missing.

DUY: The best most justifiable explanation I've seen is it's a culmination of her arc, removing the red from her ledger. In truth, she's already done it a million times over, but maybe this time she'll believe it.

MICHAEL: Her sacrifice saves Hawkeye immediately, sure, but it also saves half of the whole universe on top of that. I've seen complaints that Black Widow doesn't get a send-off on the level of Stark, but I think a thing to remember is that they were still in the middle of their mission when she died, so unfortunately there was no time for a proper funeral, 21-gun salute, etc. That said, she deserved more of a coda after all was said and done than just Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch thinking about her.

BEN: I feel like any questions we had about the soul stone sacrifice were answered here. It’s clear Natasha wasn’t the person Clint loved most, but he did care about her.

KATHERINE: Also I can’t help but feel that there’s some meaning to ending the movie with Quill running a search for Gamora and Bruce mentioning that he misses Nat and he really tried to bring her back when he snapped. I feel like some future movie is gonna be learning more about the soul stone and whether those deaths can be reversed.

DUY: I feel like they're definitely gonna bring Gamora back, and if they can bring her back, they can bring Widow back.

MICHAEL: Gamora is "back" though, in her past form which is now in the present. Black Widow is just dead. Unless Hulk really did bring her back with the gauntlet and she's marooned on Vormir

KATHERINE: Right? Somehow I feel like him saying he really tried feels significant. Not sure how though.

DUY: I would have assumed Gamora returned to her 2014. The moment at the end before Thor boards the ship, Quill is looking at a picture of Gamora and the computer is "Searching..." for her. Since she didn't join the Guardians, I assumed she went back.

KATHERINE: I actually wasn’t sure what happened to Gamora’s 2014 self. She just disappeared after the battle, is she wandering around somewhere in the present? My sister thought she would’ve disappeared with Thanos’ army cuz does Tony’s snap really know exactly who’s on his side and who isn’t? But I think they would’ve showed that if she did.

MATT: I figured they’d be marooned on Vormir. I suspect Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will start there to nip that theory in the bud though.

DUY: Honestly, I think all these deaths are still pretty easy to reverse if you really wanted to. Soul stone shenanigans, Loki always dies, Shuri finished backing up Vision....

KATHERINE: Tony’s death and Steve’s retirement are the only things that are not reversible.

DUY: If 2014 Gamora jumped to the present because of Nebula, why wouldn't she stay with Nebula? Or, more accurately, even if she wanted to split off from the Guardians, why would Nebula not stay with her?

MICHAEL: Gamora is definitely marooned in 2023. The time machine was broken, so there's no way to quantum realm it back; and Iron Man's final snap didn't send the enemies back to their timeline, it just full stop eradicated them. I'm pretty sure Gamora pulled a Hulk and stole a ship or a quinjet, likely because she just went through a whole lot of emotional hell: realising her father is evil, that he actually killed her in the future, and that he's now dead. That's a lot to process.

DUY: Can't we just have Gamora travel back to 2014 the way Steve did at the end? (Also, I presume he put Mjolnir back in 2012?)

KATHERINE: Dark World 2013 Mjolnir!

MICHAEL: You want Cap to go back and find her so he can place her back in a timeline that results in her death? Good luck.

DUY: That's a different timeline now though because that Thanos is gone.

MICHAEL: No timeline has been eradicated, there's still a universe where Thanos snapped half of everyone out of existence.

DUY: But this is still that universe; they didn't undo the snap, they just brought everyone back five years later. If 2014 Gamora were to return to her particular timeline, it's a timeline where 2014 Thanos is dead. That diverges into its own separate timeline where Thanos doesn't kill her.

MICHAEL: I'm not sure if it is: if we consider Gamora's continued existence in 2023, Loki having the tesseract in 2012, and Steve going back to live out his life in 1945... by the rules presented, if we were originally in the MCU's version of the 616, we're now in something like a 617. The reason why Bruce wanted to return the stones (and Mjolnir) back to their exact points is so he could theoretically clip off potential destructive alternate realities that would spawn from tampering. So if you were putting Gamora back exactly at the point where she came from, time for that reality would flow as it had before. If you dropped her off at a point after his death, it would be at a time she wasn't chronologically alive in the first place, so you'd still diverting the timeline as much as Gamora being in 2023. 2014 Gamora in 2023 may as well be a new Gamora living a new present, IMO.

KATHERINE: Gamora’s new post-Thanos 2014 timeline would be pretty sweet and peaceful. But she would also probably never join the Guardians.

DUY: In my mind, those are alternate realities (A 2014 where Thanos is dead, a 2012 where Loki has the Tesseract). The current timeline is still the same.


BEN: I thought the Ancient One said you’ve created an alternate timeline that’s now unprotected without an infinity stone. It wasn’t about clipping timelines as much as keeping them protected. I could be wrong.

MICHAEL:  The conversation between The Ancient One and Bruce in 2012 goes as follows:
Ancient One: "The infinity stones create what you experience as the flow of time - remove one of the stones, and that flow splits. Now this may benefit your reality, but my new one, not so much. In this new branch reality, without our new chief weapon against the forces of darkness, our world will be overrun, millions will suffer. Tell me doctor, can your science prevent all that?"
Banner: "No, but we can erase it - because once we're done with the stones, we can return each one to it's own timeline at the moment it was taken, so, chronologically in that reality it never left." (showing the branching reality of chaos is extinguished) 
At the end when they're putting the stones back, Banner and Cap have the following exchange: 
Bruce: "You have to return the stones to exact moment you got them or you're gonna open up a bunch of nasty alternate realities."
Cap: "Don't worry Bruce, I'll clip all the branches."

PAUL: So I guess that means Loki with the Tesseract is an unclipped alternate reality.

MICHAEL: Yup, The other big question is, is the universe that the Avengers are in bigger trouble now that they don't have stones of their own going forward? Or do they still count if they've existed in the past?

BEN: Yeah, we just watched it again, they definitely clipped off those possible timelines.

MICHAEL:  turned my brain off while watching the film, so it took me a short while afterwards to sort the rules of time travel out and how they applied to certain characters and objects. I've seen quite a few comments though from people still confounded and talking about "plot holes". Credit to the script, I feel the rules of time travel outlined by both Banner and the Ancient One set the rules well, if not conveniently eliminate the potential of paradoxes all together. I don't think that's stopped our heroes from fudging things up however, both Steve and Loki got a some splainin' to do.

BEN: If I’m remembering it right, they said you can’t change the past because if you travel back in time, your future is already your past. Basically they said, just go with it please.

MICHAEL: War Machine brought up the notion of killing infant Thanos so future Thanos would never exist, ala the baby Hitler conundrum, which Hulk shot down because as per the rules he describes, you can't change the past because you've existed in that future. The Ancient One expands on it later, showing that rather than time flowing in one singular loop, affecting change (by messing with the stones specifically) only creates alternate diverging realities. She even states to Banner "if I give up the time stone to help your reality, I'm dooming my own". The problem is that the Avengers didn't pull off the time heist perfectly at all, so what's been affected by the events of the film is still up in the air, but for now I think it's safe to just think of 2014/2023 Thanos and 2018 Thanos as two separate entities. Endgame specifically seems to follow the many world's interpretation of quantum mechanics. Basically, multiverse theory.

PAUL: I've kinda been avoiding thinking too deeply about the logic of the time travel. The time travel stuff that happens all works from a dramatic point of view so I'm more than happy to put any time-physics inconsistencies down to "wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey" stuff, to quote Doctor Who.

KATHERINE: Once they explained away the Back to the Future understanding of time travel, that basically meant that time paradoxes don’t happen, there will just be alternate universes created along the timeline.

MICHAEL: Yeah, the "grandfather paradox" (killing your own grandfather before the conception of your parents prevents your own existence) doesn't exist. Different versions of each character can exist in the one space in this film because they're quantum duplicates.

BEN: If they don’t use this as the basis of the What-If? series I’ll be disappointed in them.

SAMANTHA: "So, Back to the Future was a bunch of bullshit?!"

DUY: The biggest movie probably of all time referenced Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and that makes me happy.

SAMANTHA: It seemed like a direct conversation with the gatekeepers who like telling people "That's not how it works because of this movie and that movie, blah blah!" — it was such a great spot in the movie for me.

BEN: I do love whenever a sequel returns to a previous movie and they’re off-screen from their previous selves. It’s why Back to the Future 2 has always been my favorite of the series.

KATHERINE: Agreed!! As a huge Back to the Future fan I was fully nerding out at that stuff, I was so happy to get to see Battle of New York from another angle. I could’ve spent another half hour hanging out there but I guess they didn’t want to go with my idea of a four hour movie. Also a huge cheer when they went to 2012 New York and started with that iconic spin around our team together for the first time. Such a great acknowledgment that “yes, we know you guys all love this moment — here it is again.”

BEN: I was in love with Scream when it came out, and wished they would do a sequel from the perspective of the killers.

PAUL: Seeing the opening credits of GOTG from a non-Quill perspective was hilarious.

DUY: Peter Quill, from a different angle, is really an idiot.

BEN: Peter Quill, from all angles, is really an idiot.

DUY: I I think it's very similar to how the comic Marvel timeline works — changing the past doesn't change the future, it just creates an alternate timeline. Which is how come it makes sense that the dusted were brought back in the present time, and it wasn't a strict undo-at-the-same-moment. But that's another can of worms on its own, because basically is Peter Parker's senior class now half people his age and then half people who were in 7th grade when he got dusted?

MICHAEL: I think we'll find that most of the junior Homecoming cast very conveniently all got dusted.

KATHERINE: He was a loner to begin with and we really only know like three of his classmates anyway: Flash, MJ, Ned? Whether they’re in a class of 20-100, probability is high they were all snapped and returned together.

MICHAEL: Ant-Man had Hope and her parents all snapped away at once, Hawkeye lost all of his family, Rocket lost all of the Guardians save Nebula — there's a precedence that some people got snapped in clusters, at least.

KATHERINE: I don’t know math but a 50/50 probability just ends up being cruel that way sometimes. I’m sure some families were probably left basically intact while some people lost everything.

DUY: I wouldn't even mind it if that was the case. The entire world knows what Thanos did, so it's just a thing that happened in this universe. But it would be really, really weird if it's never mentioned.

MICHAEL: I think it'd be impossible not to mention, at least for a while. I hope it gets treated with the same almost reverence in-universe as "The incident"/"Battle of New York".

DUY: I love how unapologetic the MCU is when it comes to their movies. Thor: The Dark World, probably the most panned movie in the franchise, is a key part of this movie. Ant-Man is an integral, irremovable part of this movie. There are heavy callbacks to Age of Ultron, also one of the most panned of the MCU movies. It seems the only movie they ever do any apologizing for is the Incredible Hulk.

BEN: It’s also pretty clear that Thanos was wrong, because Earth is a shithole after the snap.

KIMBERLY: Sure Thanos was wrong but I’m not sure just bring everyone back with a snap was the best idea either. The world was a shithole...now it’s still a shithole with twice the population.

DUY: I thought the same thing but I think I actually like that it isn't a perfect solution. The whole "I wish for everything to be exactly as it was before this all started" resolution of the Infinity Gauntlet comic always felt weak to me, kind of like the time reversal resolution of the first Superman movie. This is like, okay, we did what we could, but it still happened and we still screwed up and we still have to live with it. (This is all of course dependent on whether or not they ever do address it. )

MATT: So, technically, all the dusted folks are 5 years older. Does that mean someone who was 13/16 can now vote or buy alcohol in the US? Important questions for the next Spidey movie.

BEN: They’re going to have to put adjusted ages on drivers licenses now. I feel bad for gas station attendants having to do that math.

DUY: I think anyone who gets dusted resumes their original age. Sorry, them's the breaks!

BEN: But their birthdate didn’t change

DUY: You have to add a line that says they were gone 5 years.


JD: I loved Nebula. She was one of my MVPs. If you go back to Infinity War roundtable, I said I really wanted to see her and Tony hanging together, and I got it!

BEN: We rewatched Guardians of the Galaxy last night and I think Nebula might be in my top 5 MCU characters.

MICHAEL: I like Nebula way more than I like Gamora, to be honest.

BEN: MCU Gamora is okay, she’s just so different from the comics version that I love way more.

DUY: MCU Nebula is definitely way more interesting than MCU Gamora. I'm still waiting for the "Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy" to come out.

PAUL: I found Nebula to be one of my least favourite aspects of Guardians. But thanks to Guardians 2, Infinity War, and Endgame I'm completely won over, she's a great character. It was such a small bit, but the scene where Tony offers her food and she pushes it back to him was beautiful. It highlighted how much her character has changed in just a few films.


DUY: Okay, so I didn't think anything could top the Infinity War segment with Thor opening the forge, creating Stormbreaker, and landing in Wakanda for me.... but the Mjolnir scene all the way to "Avengers Assemble" completely, totally won it. When Mjolnir started moving, I moved forward in my seat, all giddy — the fact that Steve was unable to lift it in Ultron was one of the things that really irked me as a fan, so it surprised me that they went in this direction. Then soon after, as he was alone, face to face with Thanos' army, he just tightens the strap on his broken shield and starts walking forward. I was convinced he was going to die, and then he gets some garbled comms, then "On your left", then a portal opens up, and out comes Black Panther, flanked by Okoye and Shuri (and this is the moment that cements, for me, that Panther should be the central guy moving forward), as the heroes come through, one by one, culminating in Cap screaming "Avengers Assemble." With the main exception that it was missing the Black Widow, it was perfect. I wouldn't change a thing.

PAUL: Favourite moment and favourite line are the same for me: "I am Iron Man". The culmination of one man's story over the course of 11 years and the most satisfying death ever for a truly nasty bad guy.

MIGUEL: That Avengers Assemble scene is waaaayy to awesome. I shed man tears even if it's a fight scene!

BEN: Captain America wielding Mjolnir was the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd, even beating Infinity War. They went nuts for it. It narrowly beat the rising crescendo of cheers for all the heroes returning, culminating with Spider-Man getting the biggest pop/

SAMANTHA: Cap wielding Mjolnir was absolutely the moment for me, but since someone already took it, Cap, looking down at his defeated self laying face first on the ground: "That really is America's ass."

KATHERINE: This movie gave us so many gifts!!! Ben, my audience reacted the same way. Cheers and clapping throughout the movie, but the three biggest explosive reactions were Cap with Mjolnir, "Avengers Assemble." and Spidey’s return. Oh and “Hail Hydra.” But forget favorite moments from the movie, my all-time favorite MCU moment is now Cap with Mjolnir. I was crying actual tears of joy.

BEN: I do think that’s now the best comic book movie moment ever.

SAMANTHA: I was so overwhelmingly into the final battle... did I completely imagine a moment where Cap and Thor were side by side trading off Mjolnir and Stormbreaker while that were fighting, similar to Cap and Bucky in Civil War?

BEN: You did not imagine it.

SAMANTHA:  I yelled "Fucking yeeesss!" so much.

KATHERINE: Cap had Stormbreaker and Thor traded him for Mjolnir, calling it "the little one."

JEFF: From the moment Sam called Steve to say "On your left" to Cap saying "Avengers Assemble" was the moment of this film. My eyes got watery there.

ZHA: All fat Thor scenes, comedic to pathetic to tragic up to the end when he joins the Guardians. And when Wanda, Okoye, Valkyrie, basically every female character, stood off against the aliens. A sweet call back to the Infinity War scene with Okoye, Wanda and Black Widow, minus Black Widow.  And when Cap got Mjolnir and used it to beat up Thanos!

JEFF: I nerdgasmed when Cap summoned Mjolnir.

SAMANTHA: I had no idea how much I cared about Nat until she and Hawkeye were battling on the cliff for who was going to get to die. For a blind moment, I wanted Nat and Bruce more than I wanted Hawkeye to get back to his family, and I felt so bad about it! Then I cried for Nat more than I thought I would, so... well done, ScarJo.

MICHAEL: So many great character beats, so many cheer out loud moments, so many fun sequences.

KATHERINE: Come on guys, who cried a few man tears? I cried probably around eight to nine times.

DUY: There still remains only one MCU movie that has made me cry (multiple times, even on unlimited repeats), so this isn't it. Adrenaline-driven fistpumping, though....

PAUL: When Happy and Morgan talked about cheeseburgers I was in bits. Not just welling up but tears streaming down my face.

BEN: I always cry.

JD: I think mine is the "Women Assemble" moment.

BEN: I can’t imagine how many whiny losers are complaining about the “women of Marvel” sequence

DUY: I've already seen people complaining about how powerful Captain Marvel is, despite the fact that that was basically just Thor in the last movie.

BEN: To be fair, that is going to be an interesting “problem” narratively.

DUY: I agree, at this point in time she's really the only character who hasn't expressed even a tinge of self-doubt, which is a great message for women but would be challenging creatively.

BEN: The same problem Superman has had for 70 years.

DUY: Self-doubt seems to be a huge factor in the success of many of these characters. Tony, Steve, Thor, and T'Challa, especially.

JEFF: My first thought when all the female characters were together for that scene was this is a big middle finger from Marvel to the comicsgaters.

DUY: I choose to see it as a sign of how far we've come, that they know to keep up with the times, and they can read the zeitgeist. But yes, if the gaters see it as a middle finger, that's on them.

SAMANTHA: I was absolutely screaming in the theater for that moment. A guy behind me huffed and muttered, "Jesus Christ, whatever." when Carol carried the entire ship (with Tony and Nebula inside) and set it down on the ground. What is so intimidating, or threatening, or offensive about women displaying this kind of strength? I feel like this wouldn't have been a reaction if it were (comparatively speaking) Superman doing the same.

DUY: ....Well yeah, if it were Superman doing the saving, Tony and Nebula would be dead by the time it got to Earth.

KATHERINE: Ohhh I would’ve been so tempted to turn around and start a fight if that had been in my theater (or more realistically for me, at least give that guy the dirtiest look). Honestly, Iron Man or Thor could also carry a spaceship if they wanted to, but of course it’s only unrealistic when it’s Carol. The women team up also had me screaming. The power, the confidence, the swagger — I was just overwhelmed with emotion. It was sad that Widow wasn’t there, but remembering that she led the “she’s not alone” charge last time, it felt like she inspired it this time as well.

MICHAEL: One other criticism I have with this film is that in terms of set pieces, nothing really stands out; rather it's more of a film about cool isolated moments rather than strung together pieces of action. The final battle is great and all as pure spectacle and has a lot of nice 'fan service' moments, but other than that I feel there's nothing that differentiates it from the battle at Wakanda in Infinity War, other than there being 50% more heroes. When I think of great set pieces in the MCU, I think of the "one-shot" in Avengers that follows each member of the team around the Battle of New York. And I know the Russos can plot really great sequences themselves: the elevator fight in Winter Soldier (lampshaded in this film), the chase after Winter Soldier in Civil War, the airport scene in Civil War, and the fight on Titan with team Stark vs. Thanos in Infinity War — I just didn't feel there just wasn't anything on that level here. It's like once you add a larger scope to fights, things just get a bit muddied.

DUY: I love chaos in my big events. And we just have to agree to disagree, because whenever I rewatch Infinity War, I skip the attack on Titan.

BEN: I’m fine with it being big and chaotic. This is the double page splash in a comic. This is their last chance. If they lose again, it’s over for good.


KIMBERLY: "Avengers Assemble!"

MICHAEL: "That is America's ass."

DUY: They saved "Avengers Assemble" for this movie, and it was worth every bit of the wait.

MICHAEL: "You gotta be shitting me" coming from Captain "language" America, is gold. Followed by a great exchange: "I can do this all day-" "Yeah, I know."

DUY: Thor saying "I knew it" really rounds out the Mjolnir moment, for me. It made a great moment perfect.

MIGUEL: "I love you 3000."

KATHERINE: Everyone is responding to all of Robert Downey Jr’s posts with just “I love you 3000” and it makes me a little weepy.

ZHA: "I love you 3000." RDJ made that line stick in one movie. I hate him. He's such a great actor and my favorite part of this universe. I will miss him so much!

KATHERINE: For a movie with so much great fan service, I felt like “that is America’s ass” was such a fun shoutout specifically to the female fans and all the butt memes out there. I’ve never felt so seen / called out. It was hilarious and also made me nervous like “ohshit how embarrassing... they know about all that??” Hahaha

DUY: They're moviemakers, Katherine, not cavemen.

KATHERINE: There was some press tour where Downey was calling Chris Evans “dorito” and all the fans were like "OHNO they see all the memes!!"

MICHAEL: "Scott, I get emails from a raccoon, so nothing sounds crazy anymore." and "Take the stairs, hate the stairs!" then followed by "Arrgh, so many stairs!"

KATHERINE: Frigga: The future has not been kind to you... Thor: Whaaaat (deny deny deny - 5 seconds later bursts into tears) I’m totally from the future!!

ZHA: After second viewing I just loved Hulk even more. Never thought he could be adorable. "Say green!" and "Shut the front door!"

JD: ”On your left.”


BEN: Also, another possible nitpick. Steve ages slower due to the serum, so if he stayed with Peggy her entire life, he still probably wouldn’t look that old

KATHERINE: I was trying to do the math... born in 1918, frozen in 1945, woke up in 2011, lives through 2023 (five years after 2018, right??). So if he went back in time to like 1950 and lived all the way back to 2023 he would be about 112. How much is the serum supposed to slow his aging? I think you could argue that he still felt like a spry 80-something year old.

BEN: Could be, it’s explainable. Logan is hundreds of years old by comparison.

KATHERINE: I think the serum is the only way he could be alive at that point! Peggy died when she was 95 in 2016, and that was without the whole extra decade where Cap spent his 30s in the 2010s.

BEN: I did forget he’s been unfrozen for 10 years, plus the 5-year jump in Endgame.

MICHAEL: I came to around the same conclusion when I did the math. Cap's gotta be close to his second teens. He's not doing too badly, all things considered.

SAMANTHA: So, based on the whole "going back in time would make the past your future", I'm choosing to believe now that Peggy's moment with Steve when she started crying "You came back" wasn't a lucid moment, but instead a regression of the time Steve came back to her. Because (a) it was always meant to go down that way and (b) I'm an emotional masochist.

BEN: My Cap wouldn’t stand by and let atrocities happen just so he could be with his girlfriend. #notmyCap

SAMANTHA: Cap knew he was leaving the shield in capable hands. He deserved his happily ever after, damn it!

KATHERINE: Hayley Atwell shared this image on Instagram today and reminded me what an absolute queen she is and how happy I am that they ended up together:

KATHERINE: Also my perpetual reminder of how much I love her:

PAUL: Duy and I were discussing how Sam was the right choice to get the shield. Sam has more in common with Steve — he's a good man doing his best. Bucky's a good guy but even before Winter Soldier he was very different from Steve. Steve was leading a counselling group in Endgame, just like Sam in Winter Soldier.

KATHERINE: Totally agree. I have an emotional soft spot for Bucky, but objectively Sam is the better choice. I’m so happy for him to take the shield (and bring Bucky along as his muscle/new best friend).

BEN: Sam is the right choice in the MCU but I enjoyed Bucky as Cap more in the comics.

KATHERINE: At first I was sad that we didn’t get more Cap/Bucky moments, but when I was thinking about it (and was confirmed by my second viewing), I got the sense that there was a lot that happened offscreen. When they were saying goodbye before Cap does his timejump, Bucky looked especially sad and said how much he would miss him. Since Cap was supposed to only be gone for five seconds, it must mean that they had talked about this a lot beforehand and Bucky was the only one who knew what he was about to do. And his knowing smile when he saw Cap on the bench and he told Sam to go ahead and talk to him. Even when he gave Sam the shield and Bucky nodded back at him, it looked like something they had already discussed and agreed would be best.

DUY: I noticed the knowing smile the second time. Zha and I both went "Ahh, Bucky knew."

SAMANTHA: I was in happy tears for Sam, but also thrilled for Anthony Mackie as an actor. I'm just like, "Remember when he was the kid in 8-Mile??"  I'm imagining a world where they didn't tell Mackie either way who was going to get the shield. Then he got the surprise of his life while tape was rolling, and he had to hold character and pretend he didn't want to drop to his knees with the shield like a wrestler who just won the championship belt. I'm so happy Mackie got this push.

KATHERINE: If I was excited for the upcoming Falcon/Winter Soldier series on Disney+ before, I’m even more excited now! I can’t wait for all the banter about how now Sam’s the boss (Captain’s orders!!).

DUY: I liked Bucky as Cap more than Falcon as Cap in the comics, and always thought Bucky would be the one to get the shield as a result, but yeah, Sam is the right choice in the MCU. It's also worth noting that even in the comics, when Cap gets old and has to choose a replacement, he picks Sam and not Bucky. Bucky is the reluctant volunteer in the event of Steve's death. So if they had switched the fates of Iron Man and Captain America, then Bucky would have been the right choice. But also, let's not pretend, commercially speaking, that Bucky needs the shield more than Sam. Bucky's already more famous. And I've also been advocating for the last two years to give Anthony Mackie more of a spotlight, since I love him in interviews. So I can't really complain.

KATHERINE: I think some people could also argue that after the events of Civil War and Tony Stark’s death, it might’ve been insensitive to give the shield to Bucky just because he’s his best friend, when some might still consider him to be a divisive figure. Like Steve, Sam’s a good soldier and a good man, and his record is unimpeachable. I also wanted Bucky to be next to Steve during the funeral, but recognized that it was probably out of respect and sensitivity that he stayed back, considering how they left things the last time they... uhh... "talked."

DUY: Oh yeah, I didn't even consider that. You'd basically be giving Howard Stark's invention to the guy that killed him.

KATHERINE: ’d also be curious what direction the actors were given here, because the directors previously said in interviews that they specifically told Evans and Sebastian Stan that when they reunite in Wakanda in Infinity War, this was not the first time Cap and Bucky were seeing each other, so that’s how they played it.

DUY: Either they talked or he just really knows his best friend too well.

KATHERINE: I saw a theory that Bucky already knew that Steve traveled back because he had seen him around sometime in the past. That's interesting too, but I'm not sure if that messes things up too much.

BEN: I don’t know that Steve would plan ahead of time to stay. So I believe Bucky just knows his friend won’t be able to resist when he sees Peggy again. I believe I would know that about my friend. If I had a friend. A friend with human feelings. But conversation or intuition, Bucky knew.

KATHERINE: In the fanfic in my head, Bucky and Steve had a whole long convo about everything that happened while he was gone, what they did to bring everyone back and their adventures through time. Steve tells him that he's gonna have to go back to return the stones, Bucky asks what happens if he sees Peggy again. Steve doesn't know how to answer, but Bucky smirks 'cuz he knows what will happen.

BEN: Take that to the bosses. Get it made.

KATHERINE: Yes, good YES I love this explanation:
What if this entire time, Steve was meant to go back to Peggy and his future in the MCU all along was to return to her? Steve's story has truly come full circle.  -The Hollywood Reporter

DUY: Yeah, that's what I think. It doesn't break time because he's always supposed to go back in time and marry Peggy.


KATHERINE: I always used to think that when Mjolnir budged just a little bit for Cap in Age of Ultron. it was a hint that he had the potential to wield it, but only at the right time, when it was truly necessary. I rewatched it and now I think he could’ve lifted it the whole time and he knew it, but he faked that he couldn’t so Thor wouldn’t be embarrassed.  Also rewatching it I feel like it moved more than I remembered, and Cap’s exaggerated straining and quick shrug when he gives up is totally fake humility.

JEFF: I think the ability of lifting Mjolnir is connected to the reason. In Ultron, Steve's reason for lifting the hammer wasn't worthy. It was a game and it was for vanity, but here he was fighting to protect and the enchantment judged him worthy.

BEN: I’ve seen a theory that Steve needed to unburden his soul with the knowledge that Bucky killed Tony’s parents. Once he did they, he was worthy.

KATHERINE: That all totally makes sense and it’s a very noble explanation, but it’s funnier to imagine that he was faking it.

BEN: I thought even in that moment he could have if he wanted.

KATHERINE: Look how he raises his hands in mock surrender after! “Yeah yeah don’t worry, you still the man Thor... I’ll bide my time until we’re in a situation where it’ll be really dramatic.” Haha

JEFF: What really makes that scene is the little look Thor has when Mjolnir nudges a bit in Steve's hand.

KATHERINE: I’d be curious how they were directed in that scene in Endgame... cuz when I dreamed about it happening, I kind of imagined that Cap would accidentally/unconsciously pick it up just out of necessity and be surprised at his own ability to lift it. But he was totally confident and assured with it (which was the right way to go since it felt cooler and more badass). As if he knew all along but was just waiting for the right moment. Honestly, I don’t know which way is right, it’s just fun to think about it. And it doesn’t bother me either way, the moment was perfect and mindblowing regardless.

DUY: Thor saying "I knew it" perfected it.

KATHERINE: what do you think Thor “knew?” That Cap has always been capable or that he was faking at the party?

DUY: Either, but I'm gonna go with faking Worth noting: in JLA/Avengers, Superman is able to lift Mjolnir in the heat of battle. When the battle was over, he was no longer able to lift it. So there is precedent to what Jeff said about circumstances.

LaMAR: I'm with Katherine on this one. Remember he took it with him when he returned the stones. If he was worthy by circumstance he'd have to have taken another weapon (the shield Tony gave him must have been made from the same stuff as his suit). I don't see Odin's judgement on it lasting that long otherwise.

MATTHEW: I think Cap was worthy in Age of Ultron. He moved the hammer, he didn't feel the need to prove anything so he didn't go any further with it. I think he just wanted to know that he could use it if needed, and that was enough for him.

DUY: So he took it with him to return it, right?

LaMAR: I thought he took it to have a weapon if he needed it, but I don't know now that I think about it.

BEN: I initially thought Mjolnir was just his now too, but I believe he was taking it back to clip off an alternate timeline.

KATHERINE: I agree, if they return the Aether, they gotta give 2013 Thor his hammer back so he can still fight them off. I think otherwise Thor would’ve kept it so he could keep up his dual-wielding.

BEN: But I don’t know. They didn’t return Thanos to 2014 either. So why one and not the other. It’s almost like this is all made up!

KATHERINE: Cuz fuck Thanos, that’s why!

DUY: After a second viewing, I much prefer if they didn't completely clip the branches.

KATHERINE: I don’t want Thanos to thrive in any dimension! But I want Thor to survive and live his best life in every possible dimension haha

DUY: I mean if they did, then Cap basically shows up immediately after Rocket gets the Aether from Jane, right?

KATHERINE: I think they’re trying to be responsible and fulfill Bruce’s promise to The Ancient One by returning what they took as much as they can... but I think there will likely still be unintended consequences, which is fun. 2012 Loki being the most fun!

BEN: A more evil Loki.

MATTHEW: So Cap obviously put Mjolnir somewhere. Who picks it up?

JEFF: I'm guessing he put it back in the past so Thor would have in The Dark World.

DUY: I also assume he put it back in 2013 where it belonged. Of course, Jane is there...

MATTHEW: You're being too logical. Don't destroy my head cannon where Eric Masterson is in the MCU.

DUY: Big fat no.


BEN: Carol was way less integral than everyone thought (or in some cases feared).

ZHA: I didn't like that she's like a cheat code the way she fought Thanos. If she'd been there the first time half the universe dying would not have even happened.

DUY: I think it's pretty cool that there are only three characters who were really able to hurt Thanos: Thor, Carol, and Wanda. It doesn't even really look like Carol hurt him, as it seems that brute strength is not the key to beating Thanos; she just also didn't get hurt by him either. I do think they're going to have the Superman trouble of how to fit her in moving forward, since she is too strong. A possible solution is to treat her like Thor, where yeah, he's too strong, but his villains are arguably stronger.

MICHAEL: It was a good way to handle it, in my opinion. She was integral to the opening assault on original recipe Thanos, and then took a back seat for most of the rest of the film so the original group could have their last moment in the sun. She pulled her weight in the last battle but wasn't positioned as a great deciding factor (other than blowing out the Sanctuary II's ass). Any more than that and you'd have people complaining about her being a deus ex machina, or, ugh, a "Mary Sue."

KATHERINE: Thor in Infinity War was also a cheat code. He just failed because of his arrogance.

DUY: Seriously, if he didn't take the time to gloat, they'd have won. Now half of everyone is five years older, thanks Thor! Butnow that I think about it, I think it's still pretty established that Thor is the most powerful, all things considered. He came close to killing Thanos in Infinity War, and actually did kill him here. You could argue that if he'd been at 100%, Thanos wouldn't have had a chance. Whereas Captain Marvel, it seemed, was able to take out Thanos' army (as Thor did in Infinity War) and was able to take Thanos' hits, but it seemed like she wasn't able to hurt him either, and that's after Thanos had been through the wringer with Mjolnir-wielding Cap and Wanda. I think anything about Carol's arrival feeling like a deus is because she's a new arrival to the universe, and also because she was only in the movie for five minutes prior, while Thor's arrival in Infinity War as the culmination of an arc.

KATHERINE: I wouldn’t think of Carol as a deus ex machina because she doesn’t actually save the day and fix everything for them, she’s there to give an assist, as she should in a movie about the original six Avengers. And I think there’s something to her powers coming from an infinity stone, so she can’t quite hurt him sufficiently when he has all the stones. Same with Wanda since her powers also come from a stone. She’s a badass and she can hold him off, but not quite enough to beat him.

DUY: I really like that all three of the new big 3 had big moments here. Carol brought the ship down and led the all-women charge and was able to basically establish herself as the new Thor, Strange obviously brought everyone back (and can we just take a moment to just — no pun intended — marvel at the sheer amount of talent on the screen as he brings everyone back? Jeez), and Panther had his turn running with the gauntlet as well, taking out many enemies along the way. And as I said in the other threads, there's just something about Panther's entrance that felt so right. He's the new Steve Rogers to me in the MCU. Which I guess by default makes Strange the new Tony, and I think that works.

BEN: That reminds me, Carol and Peter meeting was a fun little scene, and it reminded me of how they briefly dated in the comics. That definitely doesn’t work in the MCU, because it would be a crime.

BEN: It was absolutely phase one’s movie, and phase three got their moments but it’s not fully their turn yet.

ZHA: I want to see more of Wanda!!

DUY: After a second viewing, I think Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, is a huge factor and an underrated member of this cast. I'm glad she's getting her own show, but I wouldn't mind seeing her more front and center for the future.

ZHA: I've always liked her!  She's my favorite female Avenger!


MICHAEL: Not much talk about Ant-Man, which is funny because I'd argue he's very integral to the plot.

DUY: This is what's always been great about Marvel, even in their big events. They've always found ways to highlight their more obscure characters.

MICHAEL: He really does get a great showing, but somehow not a great impact. Despite being the catalyst for the thrust of the film, coming up with and coining the "time heist", and being the character most closely associated with the quantum realm. Stark casts a long shadow.

DUY: Also, I think once the time heist starts, he doesn't get to do much. He even is part of the failed mission, and then Steve just hands him the scepter and that's about it for Ant-Man.

KATHERINE: Hey hey don’t blame Ant-Man for the failed mission, that was all Stark! (Both Starks cuz 2012 Stark told Hulk to take the stairs) I am not here for people sleeping on the awesomeness of Ant-Man and his entire plan!! He saved half the avengers that were drowning in the basement! His Giant-Man appearance capping the entrance of all the returned characters!! He punched one of the big flying worm monsters! He was a pretty amazing part of the battle sequence. He just didn’t have a huge franchise-changing arc, but I still loved him. Plus he got to deliver the line about America’s ass. Truly iconic.

MICHAEL: I love his unfettered fanboying.

KATHERINE: When he’s with the Avengers I feel like he’s the audience stand-in. Starstruck and excited, and his understanding of time travel is basically like ours. Rules are don’t interact with your past self and don’t bet on sporting events. Basing a plan on Back to the Future is exactly what I would’ve done. “Are you telling me Back to the Future is a bunch of bullshit?!”

DUY: Watching Civil War again, and it definitely looks like Spider-Man and Ant-Man are the fanboys. Kind of fitting too that one is in one movie and the other one is in the other.

BEN: Scott is 100% the audience avatar.

MATT: Paul Rudd is ageless, like fans being evergreen/renewing.

SAMANTHA: No one would have ever delivered that line about America's ass the way Paul Rudd did. Also, his rambling as he was essentially piecing together the puzzle that Tony and Bruce would ultimately pick up and rearrange into the master plan only speaks to how integral he was to the story. Also, real kudos to Paul Rudd as he's panicking and running through the tribute to the vanished, and then finally finding Cassie. If anyone thinks Paul Rudd isn't a fantastic actor, they're full of shit.


KATHERINE: Obviously the middle section is one giant callback, but there were lots of other little ones too. Any favorites?

DUY: "Hail Hydra" and "I can do this all day— I know" are the best ones, I think, but a small one for me is when T'Challa calls Hawkeye "Clint." They've interacted all of once on screen, in Civil War. "We haven't met. I'm Clint." "I don't care."

KATHERINE: One of my faves was the little interaction between Happy and Tony’s daughter where he said he’d get her all the cheeseburgers she wanted, especially considering how Jon Favreau was the original Iron Man steward. When Tony came back from being trapped in the desert, he told Happy that the number one thing he wanted was an American cheeseburger. “Hogan, drive. Cheeseburger first.”

DUY: Finding out that the one character I didn't recognize from the funeral is Harley from Iron Man 3 was like a punch in the gut.

SAMANTHA: You didn't recognize Harley? I slumped from the weight of the gut punch when I saw him!

DUY: I am living proof that Clark Kent's glasses will fool some people, so no, I didn't recognize Harley.

KATHERINE: Including Harley in the funeral was such a great touch!!

SAMANTHA: The camera work and direction on that scene was insane. No one was gonna miss how many people loved him and how many lives he affected as Iron Man. Also, Katherine I'm so with you on that Uncle Happy moment. So many goddamn levels of feels, plus I just love Jon Favreau anyway.

KATHERINE: Also, the giddy look Scott gives Hope when she talks to Steve and refers to him as “Cap.” From Ant-Man and the Wasp:
Scott: They said it was a matter of national security, that Cap needed help.
Hope: (as a scoff) Cap?
Scott: ...tain America. Captain... Cap. It's what we call him. If you're a friend. I think I'm a friend, a little. I know him. He's nice. Whatever.

DUY: Is Clint calling his daughter Hawkeye the first time anyone has actually said "Hawkeye"?

KATHERINE: Huh. I never noticed that they don’t call him that. I know Selvig called him “the hawk” and his wife sarcastically called him Hawkeye once in Ultron.

MICHAEL: I think in Avengers there's a screen showing details on both Clint and Natasha and both of their codenames are present on screen.

DUY: One of the first things Tony ever says in the MCU is "I don't want to see this on MySpace," and one of the first things he says here is "Don't post this on social media." And oh, every single time the First Avenger theme played.

KATHERINE: Ugh yes so powerful.

DUY: Oh, when Hulk says, "The radiation is mostly gamma." In the first Avengers, Selvig notes that the Tesseract gives out low levels of gamma radiation. And a callback to Bucky and Steve's first onscreen goodbye: "Don't do anything stupid until I get back." "How can I? You're taking all the stupid with you."

MICHAEL: I swear the "Bucky... is... alive" moment between the two Caps is a subtle dig at Batman v Superman's "Save Martha." Punctuated by Cap using it as an opportunity to catch his doppelganger off guard with an elbow.

KATHERINE: I thought it was so funny that he knew immediately what would make his lonely, barely unfrozen 2012 self crap his pants. And I'm not sure if this was meant to be intentional but it felt reminiscent in the moment and in the execution... when Bruce puts on the gauntlet with the stones, everyone freaks out when he starts screaming, but then he tells them he’s okay and wants to keep going. It felt like skinny Steve being transformed in the chamber.

DUY: I wouldn't put anything past this movie putting in any callbacks they can.

KATHERINE: Not an MCU Easter egg, but it felt like a little Back to the Future 2 nod — near the end of the movie Marty is right about to get away with the almanac when a door from a stairwell suddenly opens and smacks him in the face, knocking him down and allowing Biff to snatch the almanac back. Same thing happens with Stark when Hulk comes down the stairs and bursts into the lobby.

DUY: So in the 14,000,000+ scenarios Strange saw, this is the only one where the rat opened up the gate to the quantum realm, right?

PAUL: Poor old Abomination is presumably sitting in his reinforced cell, missing out on all the shenanigans Justin Hammer also gets to watch it all from a cell.

DUY: Other unaccounted for characters: Betty Ross, Samuel Sterns (who as Paul pointed out to me is just walking around in the MCU somewhere with a giant head), Lady Sif, Baron Mordo, Helmut Zemo...

KATHERINE: Thor’s old roommate Daryl and his new roommate the Grandmaster. I wish they would do a sequel to "All Hail the King" with all the villains in their cells watching half of them disappear and being like "fucking Avengers."

DUY: I feel like the last three movies have given us the best Stan Lee cameos. Spider-Verse had the most positive Stan Lee cameo, saying the Spider-suit "always fits... eventually" before saying "No refunds," a true microcosm of The Man himself. Captain Marvel's Stan Lee cameo had the best in-joke, with him reading the script for Mallrats. And if his last ever cameo is him saying "Make love, not war," riding in a car with the license plate "Nuff said"? I'll take it.

KATHERINE: I’m watching Winter Soldier right now — the music that’s playing in Steve’s apartment when Fury shows up is the same song Steve and Peggy dance to in the last shot of Endgame. Also these lyrics are so beautifully perfect for them that I’m gonna cry all over again:
Never thought that you would be
standing here so close to me
there's so much I feel that I should say
but words can wait until some other day
Kiss me once, then kiss me twice
Then kiss me once again
It's been a long, long time
Haven't felt like this, my dear
Since I can't remember when
It's been a long, long time
You'll never know how many dreams
I've dreamed about you
Or just how empty they all seemed without you
So kiss me once, then kiss me twice
Then kiss me once again
It's been a long, long time


DUY: I need your best leading role actor here. Your choices are RDJ, Evans, and Hemsworth.

JD: RDJ. He had a lot more acting to do and killed it.

PAUL: RDJ. So very much more than "just playing himself".

JD: He had a father/daughter moment, father/son moment, the scared moment, the triumphant moment, and a death.

BEN: Hemsworth.

JD: Hemsworth is more deserving of the Kilmer Award.

DUY: Yes, but I placed him here because I knew he would win the other one.

JD: He's not getting mine.

DUY: Plus, he's a lead. The second lead, yeah, but a lead.

JD: Third lead. Actually fourth. Banner had more to do.

DUY: RDJ is 1a. Evans is 1b. That makes Hemsworth 2.

JD: That's still 3. But I get it.

DUY: He definitely took a step back in this movie, and I'm really cool with it. I loved his arc. Every individual moment that had emotional resonance for me had to do with Thor. The others that resonated had to do with the interaction of Tony and Steve. So yeah, I know I'm super biased, but I'm gonna give this one to Hemsworth.

JD: I won't say you're wrong. Everyone stepped up in this.

BEN: From We Got This Covered: "Captain America comes out top, having featured in 1 hour and 6 minutes of the movie. It certainly makes up for his relative lack of presence in Infinity War, though Iron Man isn’t far behind at 1 hour and 2 minutes. Thor, meanwhile, takes third place with 45 minutes."

DUY: I just think Thor stepped back because compared to his role in Infinity War, there's no more up to step to.

KATHERINE: I want to give it to Evans for the Mjolnir moment and the way he growled “Avengers... assemble.” Goosebumps just thinking about it. Even though he wasn’t the one who saved the day at the end, I think he ended up being the most badass in the battle.
But I also think RDJ has to get it. It was his story to finish. He went through so much emotionally, and truly came full circle.


DUY: And here I need your Kilmer Award winner. Your choices are everyone else in the movie.

PAUL: What's the Kilmer Award?

DUY: The Val Kilmer in Tombstone Award is given to the non-lead who most stole the show.

BEN: Change this to the Nebula award now.

PAUL: Oh yeah, my nomination's for Karen Gillan.

JD: I'm going with Karen Gillan.


DUY: ... that is not an option, Katherine.  Anyway, Banner for me, which is kinda cheating because he's basically a lead, but I just really loved Ruffalo's performance.

JEFF: Paul Rudd for no other reason then delivering the line "Thats America's ass"

LaMAR: Would've been Howard the Duck if they actually gave him a close up, but I'd say either Nebula or Ant-Man.


DUY: I Just realized that the Avengers lineup from the time when the Avengers was my favorite comic on the stands has basically all appeared in the movies. Never all on the same screen at once, but man, I don't think I'd have ever thought it was gonna happen.
(Ignore Justice and Firestar in the pic; they're reserve members only at this point.)

By Kurt Busiek and George Perez

JD: I've decided to see it again tomorrow.

KATHERINE: I actually cried more the second time!

JD: Im gonna "bring extra napkins" this time.

LaMAR: Tears of a hustler.

MICHAEL: It really was more emotional the second time.

KATHERINE: Michael, I think because the second time we’re past the shock and we’re just basking in all the emotion of these last journeys.

MICHAEL: Hold me.

DUY: You know what's weird? We're already this far in, and I still feel there's a lot we haven't talked about.

JD: its a very dense movie.

MICHAEL: It's three hours worth of callbacks and easter eggs. I think that's why it's so rewatchable already, there's always a new line or interaction to pick up on.

DUY: I tried so long to get people into these characters, and the MCU did a better job than I ever thought possible.

BEN: In a perfect world they’d read the comics too, but at least we get this. I may get cynical or take the MCU for granted from time to time, but every time I actually watch any of the movies again, all I can think is how good they are. The MCU is exactly one day younger than my firstborn child, and without it I doubt either of my kids would know or love any of these characters. They’ve grown up with them. The fact that I can take my kids to these movies and they can be excited about Thor or Spider-Man is something really special for me. And speaking of our kids, we’re about to take them to go see it and We’re hoping this isn’t their “Optimus Prime dies” moment.

DUY: At the same time, if they were going to have an "Optimus Prime dies" moment, this is a damn good one.

BEN: He picked an Iron Man shirt to wear, Duy.

DUY: Oh Christ, you'd better be prepared.

BEN (hours later) : He took it like a champ.

Click here for part 2 of our Avengers: Endgame Roundtable.