What is really the end game?

After several days of tediously avoiding spoilers and threatening the members of my whatsapp groups with enthusiastic friends from school and university, I managed to finally see Avengers: End Game. Not once but twice for good measure.

I enjoyed the movie and think that it gave a fitting end to a well thought-out saga that took the MCU to places I never thought would have been possible when the first movies came out. Unless I am much mistaken (always a possibility), the first MCU movies to come out were the Iron Man and at that time we had already seen a couple of X-men movies and the first two Spider-Man flicks (let’s not discuss Daredevil and Elecktra) – – none of which indicated that movies based on comics could conquer the public’s attention and become blockbusters generating revenues enough to build refineries or pave the roads for many third-world countries.

Even more amazing is that nowadays it is possible to have a discussion with almost anybody from the street about fictional characters, going deep into the lore that less than a decade ago were reserved only for people that actually read the comics! I am guessing that the word “Mjolnir” would not have rang a bell for most people outside Scandinavia before the Thor movies; and I can only guess that today there are many more pets called Loki.

One character even seems to have achieved the dark dream of yesteryore alchemists, transforming itself from fake into an almost palpable real life person that struck gold: Tony Stark. This feat was possible partly due to how well written the character was and partly by an inspired actor casting. If you watch most of Robert Downey Jr’s YouTube interviews, you have to wonder if he is still in character or if we are just witnessing RDJ being himself. One way or the other, I think this gentleman alone provided enough support to the movies to keep people interested during the lull periods. Case in point: Tony showing off his watch collection (side note: Seiko is, in my opinion, on the top 5 of watch makers that makes outstanding watches at all price points completely in-house. RDJ’s dismissive comment about the brand indicates to me that he is not really into horology. My particular holy grail watch is a Snowflake Grand Seiko. I will one day own one bought directly in the factory in Japan).

One thing that keeps coming up whenever I am discussing the movie is the new female characters. Most of the time, people think that it is cool that the new female characters are just as powerful and strong as the rest of the Avengers. In my circles, the favorites are the Wasp and the Black Widow who I sincerely hope gets a solo movie. I really enjoyed the Pepper Potts character and think Gwyneth Paltrow did a great job at bringing her into life, but I seem to be alone on this one. I personally think it is because most people dislike the actress.

Cpt Marvel is not terribly interesting in the End Game movie where she was reduced mainly to act as a joker card to resolve certain sticky situations with brute force. I did enjoy a bit too much when Thanos hits her with the power stone so damn hard. E. Q. U. A. L. I. T. Y.

Talking about equality, it was funny to see the disappointed faces of the women and girls in the cinema when they first saw fat Thor. Some laughed but many actually let go a sad sigh. Many of my friends are actually angered about it! Double standard galore.

I must say that the use (or should I say misuse?) of female characters is one of the few let-downs from the movie. Before you knife me, let me just state that I am all in for strong powerful female characters and, as a matter of fact, I think the MCU needs more of them if they want to continue smashing the office – but please – give them a storyline and some time to develop. It seems to me that the female characters (aside from Blackwidow) were only included in End Game to fill a requirement and provide some message to the world. And, of course, the ultra-cool shot during the final battle where all of the ladies stand together just looking epic.

E.g., Tony Stark spends the initial part of the movie pondering and brooding over whether he should act to save the past while putting at risk the family he has gained today. What did Peper think about before she decided to put on the suit and save the day? Did she get a nanny for the kid and decided on a suitable tutor in case she died? And why didn’t Wasp even have a dialogue line in the movie? Don’t get me started with Cpt Marvel and her inexplicable absence and reduction to being an interstellar tow-truck and one good-looking missile. I think we are past the point where it is “obligatory” to have strong female characters. I insist, people want and desire female superheroes and they deserve to get them fully fledged-out with background and clear story.

As I have now started my rant section, did we really need to see another epic battle? It detracts from the story and falls in the category of “let’s give everybody a little screen-time”. My feeble brain can’t really seem to make sense of all the things going on with so many explosions, sounds and people running away. Personally I would have preferred to see a battle between the Avengers and Thanos without the distraction and story-dilution of having short cameo appearances of past characters. If it wasn’t for the Cpt America vs Cpt America fight scene there would be really no good fighting scenes.

Let’s discuss Cpt America’s end story. Must admit that as soon as I saw old Steve sitting in the park bench I knew what had happened, and this is not to dis the scene as predictable. On the contrary, the character is so strong that the simple symbolic act of being an old-man wearing a wedding ring can transmit so much emotion and information to the audience. I think most people immediately connected the dots but gave the capt a pass for such a blasse act of time-meddling. Nobody deserved more a happy ending that this chap and it was at this point, and not Tony’s demise, that emotions almost got the best of me. Hats off to Chris Evans for bringing into life one of the most nuanced characters Marvel has to offer, one that is incredibly violent and traumatized while at the same time embued with an unrelenting sense of justice, duty and honor. Easily he could have been the most boring character falling into clichéd acting but that never happened, not even once.

And then, as to the real end game, it seems Marvel has nicely set the stage for the future generation of superheroes. One can only expect that the box-office will once again be dominated by uniform-cladded heroes using ever more realistic CGI. I just hope that the studios will give the public a breathing room and don’t fall into the temptation of chasing always the PG13 rating, tackling instead difficult stories with the violence and lewdness required by the original source material. Hopefully during that interspace some good-old fashioned movies with original stories will be able to get some attention.

Do I miss the days when I could feel a pinge of superiority for being the only person in a group that knew who Iron Man was and his background story? No, not at all.