I want to label this more of a discussion than a review, because, well… I want this to be a bit more informal, structure wise. Needless to say, this is filled with HEAVY spoilers and plot, so proceed only if you’ve seen the movie (Or don’t care about knowing what’ll happen in it).
Ok, now that the obligatory spoiler warning’s been given, let’s get into it.
This movie is pretty unexpected in some ways. We start off with the obligatory ‘Oh yeah, Hawkeye’s a thing’, but then move into the world starting to deal with the fallout of the Thanos snap. The events unfold more or less like you go in expecting: They rescue everyone out in space, they find out where the Big Friendly Giant’s retirement home is, and go to get the magic undo button that is the Infinity Stones Gauntlet. But they, ah… Find out that Thanos kind of destroyed them. Legitimately got rid of them. And then Thor decapitates him with an axe. And I think it’s after that the title splash occurs, if I’m not mistaken.
So, uh, yeah. You go into this wondering how they’ll fight Thanos and fix things and, surprise, they don’t. At least, not right away. It’s pretty neat, and the sort of unexpectedness I’ve come to associate with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for the most part. How unusual for a mega franchise to have some slight creativity and guts!
We then shift to 5 *years* later. The title takes a moment to drop, because they want you to go ‘Oh, 5 months’ and then be surprised. At any rate, we learn that the remnants of the Avengers, lead by Black Widow, have been trying to help places recover – Nebula, Rocket, and Captain Marvel have left Earth to help out other worlds deal with the crisis, War Machine is helping out on Earth, and Captain America is heading a counselling support group (Which has what others have called the ‘MCU’s first openly gay character’ – A brief cameo from the director which actually means jack and shit). It’s obvious the last five years has affected everyone; only Cap looks pristine in 2019. Makeup and costume did a good job here.
Meanwhile, in a storage space, Hank Pym’s old van sits in lockup (And you have to question who made that call, and what happened to everyone else’s stuff who disappeared and had no heirs). Soon, Scott Lang – aka Ant-Man – launches out the back of its size changing apparatus, and learns that he’s been gone for 5 years – which, for him, has only been 5 hours. He runs off to the Avengers to tell them about this situation, where he learns about Thanos and what actually happened. You do kind of wonder how he got into that van though – At the end of Ant-Man and Wasp, he was shrunk with a different device, on top of a building; how would micro-Ant make it THAT sort of distance..?
At any rate, they consider the idea that maybe they can use Quantum Physics to Quantum Time Travel, like you Quantum Do. They approach Stark about it – who has retired from Stark Industries and living a family life with Pepper and new daughter, Morgan, so you 100% know he is definitely dying in this movie – who laughs at the idea because what happened with Lang was a fluke. They then catch up with Bruce Banner, who we learn has… Fused with the Hulk, permanently. That aspect is kind of interesting, to be honest, but let down a bit by the meshing of their two personalities having resulted in this new Hulk ending up like a less likeable Johnny Cage, personality wise. I’ll say this now: Really not a fan of new Hulk, and his weird face just looked so punchable to me. Anyway, he tells them to fuck off, and then Tony ends up solving Quatum Time Travel anyway because if you’re a genius weapons engineer that just means you know everything there is to, I guess.
They then pick up Thor from Norway, who has become fat and depressed from the trauma of being unable to protect everyone. We also learn that somehow half the people on the ship he was on in Infinity War survived and founded this little Norwegian town they’re all in, which soooooort of makes sense with Thanos’ schtick, but kind of doesn’t as that ship gets blown up, so… Escape pods I guess? Fat, sad Thor is played for laughs, disappointingly – The previous Marvel movies never treated PTSD as a joke, so making it here is a bit unexpected. Ha ha, yes, he’s fat now? *shrugs*
Then the genius that is the Time Heist begins – They realise that they can’t stop what Thanos did from happening, but they can undo it if they get the Stones. Specifically, the Infinity Stones from the past; they’ll also ensure they don’t doom that reality by returning the stones just after they were snatched, so events can still unfold more or less like they would have. The plan to go back in time – essentially, to movies past – is, in my opinion, fucking amazing. I really can’t understate that; it’s a love letter to the franchise, allows dead and written out characters to come back into play, and it’s just so good!
They form several teams after picking points in time to go back to: Captain, Tony, Banner, and Ant-Man will go to New York, 2012, just at the tail end of the first Avengers movie – That way they can get the Mind Stone from Loki’s Scepter, the Tesseract’s Space Stone, and the Time Stone from the Ancient One. Rocket and Thor will head to Asgard circa 2013 (Thor: The Dark World), where the Reality Stone is embedded in Jane Foster. Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nebula and War Machine will take on the planets of Vormir (Soul Stone) and Morag (Power Stone) in 2014 – Just at the start of the events of Guardians of the Galaxy.
New York is great – A good call back to Avengers. It’s also where we first see how dedicated the film crew are to realising the old settings; they did a great job making every set look appropriate. It’s neat that Cap is able to use the foreknowledge that S.H.I.E.L.D. is mostly corrupted by HYDRA agents in order to grab the Scepter off them by pretending to be a sleeper agent, though Stark losing the Tessaract was a little… Disappointing. But Loki using it to vanish does give that character a way to re-enter the Marvel universe – He was curious of Stark trying to get it, so who’s to say he didn’t catch a ride to see what that was all about? That would mean we’d get pre-character development Loki, though.
Also, if you think about it, they really fucked this timeline: Not only did Loki get away with the Space Stone, but in the Cap battle (A neat addition), he just tells other Cap that Bucky is alive. Things are going to unfold a little differently in this reality, me thinks! Good thing the Ancient One didn’t know any of that, or she may not have eventually given the Hulk the Time Stone.
Refusing to concede that the Tessaract is lost, Tony and Cap tell Ant-Man to return with the Mind Stone and head back to 1970 – To the old S.H.I.E.L.D. facility that had it before, where Dr. Hank Pym’s lab was also located so they can snatch more Pym Particles to time travel with. They go back in time and invade the base; Cap successfully steals Pym particles from the professor’s lab, and Stark successfully gets the Tessaract… Only to bump into his dad, and have a nice heart-to-heart, giving Tony some closure over that thin plot thread left over from Civil War. They time jump away soon after being discovered as infiltrators.
Meanwhile, in 2013, Thor and Rocket have successfully travelled to Asgard during the time of Dark World. Thor – seeing his ex and his mother (Who is set to die on this day) – finds himself too emotionally distraught to go ahead with confronting Jane, and ditches Rocket in favour for the ale cellar. Rocket proceeds to sneak into Jane’s room, and catch her unaware with his creepy extraction tool. One nice touch about this is that, although they really could have easily used clips from Dark World for Jane’s scenes, they instead called back Natalie Portman to reprise the role – It’s a nice bit of effort on the director’s part, and shows the film the proper care it deserves. Anyway, Thor stumbles out of the cellar and bumps right into his mother, Frigga – Who very quickly realises that he is her son from the future, due to her heritage of witches. The two talk, and Thor gets a much-needed pep talk, but Frigga refuses to let her son warn her of her impending fate, so as to not mess up her own timeline. Rocket and Thor reunite – And Thor decides to ‘borrow’ this timeline’s Mjolnir as they head back to the present. Honestly, whilst this part of the movie feels the quickest, it’s a nice little turn around for Thor, and takes full advantage of the ‘revisit old movies’ aspect.
Nebula and War Machine arrive in Morag circa 2014, and stalk Peter Quill, who is happily dancing to the Power Stone during the opening credits of Guardians of the Galaxy. They knock him out before he can steal it, and take it in his stead. But Nebula’s presence in this timeline has unforeseen consequences – Her technology begins to malfunction, and share her memories with the 2014 Nebula. Thanos quickly learns of his impending victory with the Infinity Stones, and quickly captures future Nebula – He plots to send his Nebula in future Nebula’s place in order to foil the Avenger’s attempt at undoing his work. Ah, no joke, but I absolutely do not recall what War Machine is doing all this, or why he doesn’t question Nebula being gone for a few hours randomly, though.
Elsewhere in 2014, Hawkeye and Black Widow land on Vormir in a stolen Peter Quill ship, and learn from the Red Skull about the requirements of getting the Soul Stone – Sacrifice of someone loved. Interestingly, although both would have good cause to know who he is due to history and that, none of them openly make the connection between the Nazi and the strange, red-skull spirit that speaks German. I like this scene as it is very obviously set up for Hawkeye to exit – Whilst they’re certainly both candidates due to being old colleagues and friends, he’s certainly been forgotten in the franchise, and Black Widow is (Supposedly) getting her own movie soon. And yet, they fight eachother for the right to die, and just barely Black Widow *wins*, granting Hawkeye the Soul Stone. I have something to comment about this situation later.
Everyone returns to 2023, or so they think. Everyone mourns the passing of Black Widow, and she gets a very quiet send off with Hulk only throwing furniture around in grief (Very subdued). They go about setting the stones in an Infinity Gauntlet replica that Stark’s made, and whilst they decide who should ‘snap’ the vanished life back, Nebula quietly sneaks off to use the time machine to bring 2014 Thanos and his fleet to the present. Hulk argues that he would be most likley to survive the situation, so he snaps everything back into existence – A happy scene that doesn’t last too long due to the arrival of Thanos’ fleet, who quickly bomb the Avengers building.
Everyone survives, but the Gauntlet is dislodged in the chaos – War Machine begins the longest game of ‘keep away’ with it when he finds it. Future Nebula manages to convince Past Gamora to betray Thanos, and they kill Past Nebula. Thanos and his henchmen beam down to take on the Avengers with his army, but things even out when Dr. Strange emerges, having opened portals for the various armies and heroes associated with the franchise – Everyone who vanished being back, they are quite pissed. And so the epic showdown begins.
The scene is quite amazing, and fully feels worthy of the build up of over a dozen movies and 10 years of cinematic history. You have Iron Man, Pepper, and his suits zipping around; Valkerie on a Pegasus; Rocket with a machine gun; Scarlet Witch and her reality magic… You have EVERYONE here doing EVERYTHING, and it’s great. Slowly the gauntlet gets passed around the battlefield, and it’s great, My only critique about this action-packed scene is that they do a strong women thing with the major female heroes banding together at one point, but most of them have never even spoken to eachother before so it feels really unearned and cash-in-y as a result. And poor Peter Quill – He briefly reunites with Gamora, only to be slapped off by her because she doesn’t know him.
At any rate, Thanos does eventually get the new Gauntlet, and is poised to snap – Dr, Strange reveals to Stark that HE is the one-shot hope to prevent this. So he runs at Thanos, swipes the gems, but leaves the Gauntlet – And snaps them out of existence, as the Mad Tyrant learns that he is, infact, not as inevitable as he thought.
Tony dies in a touching scene (Freeing an anxious Robert Downey Jr. from the role), and he gets a nice funeral. And the reason I’m betting Black Widow got a shitty send off is because she’ll be back – Although Bruce states that he ‘tried and tried’ to bring her back but couldn’t, I’m going to bet she has to be. Like… They plan on returning the stones to like, a moment after they take them, right? And the only way they could return the Soul Stone is to swap it for Black Widow, even though that’s supposed to be impossible. At any rate, they send Cap back in time to return the stones, and he doesn’t return – Because it’s revealed he decided to stay in the past and live his life with Maggie. Which is sweet at first, but then you remember all the shit he could have stopped and chose not to and go ‘yikes’.
This movie was ultimately good, if having a few problematic moments here and there. It’s a time travel movie – It’s never going to work out 100%… But honestly? I really enjoyed it. I’m just curious where they’re going to go with the franchise now – Everything was leading up to this movie. They haven’t set up anything else… Have they?
…Watch this space…