Nebula Prime tries desperately to warn…
Nebula Prime tries desperately to warn Clint and Natasha but Thanos’ ship appears overhead and just scoops her up.
On Earth 2012, Scott is freaking out because they’ve lost the Tesseract and only have enough Pym particles for one more journey each. But Steve and Tony remember that Camp Lehigh (where Cap spent many an idyllic summer day knocking down flagpoles and throwing himself on grenades) held both the Tesseract and all the Pym particles they can eat. They send Scott back home with the sceptre and Steve and Tony head to their most dangerous and terrifying destination yet.
While Steve goes looking to score some Pym Particle (also known by its street names: P-Dust, Shrink-a-Dink, Tom Cruise…) Tony goes looking for the Tesseract. Fortunately, the seventies were a simpler, more trusting time where people left their doors unlocked and their children near BBC presenters and the Tesseract is just stashed in a big iron box without even an alarm or anything. I’ve known packed lunches with better security. Tony runs into his father Howard and the two men talk about parenthood.
Meanwhile, Steve distracts a young Hank Pym who the movie helpfully shows was already awful in the seventies. Steve grabs a couple of test tubes of quality Smoll (as it’s sometimes called on the mean streets of the quantum realm) but has to duck into another office to avoid base security. There, he sees Peggy Carter, the lady that he abandoned for a common iceberg, the cad.
So one of the things that really impressed me about this movie is that, while it definitely has spectacle to burn, it’s actually the quiet little scenes that I love the most.
The reveal that time and fatherhood has allowed Tony to see Howard in a new light and to finally make peace with him isn’t treated as this big, melodramatic climax. But it’s a really nicely played scene and I find it immensely satisfying and touching. And it feels real. It’s just one of those moments in a life when you realise that the pain has stopped and you’re okay now.
Tony gives Howard hug and he and Steve head back home, leaving an Earth 1970 that is pretty durn fucked. On the one hand, the theft of the Tesseract and the Pym particles might cause a security sweep of the base which might just result in SHIELD discovering the Nazi scientist in their basement building a computer version of himself out of eight track tapes. But none of that really matters because once Pym discovers the particles are missing he’s obviously going to assume that SHIELD stole it for some nefarious purpose (as if they would!) and leave the organisation, meaning he never meets Janet, meaning she never becomes the Wasp, meaning she never saves America from nuclear annihilation in the eighties.
Back in the 2014 universe, Nebula 2014 disguises herself as Nebula Prime and gives Thanos the Pym Particles her future self was carrying.
On Vormir 2014, Natasha and Clint meet the Red Skull and learn that the Soul Stone might as well be called The All is Lost Moment Stone. In order get the stone, one of them has to die, which leads to possibly the first fight scene in history where both participants are trying to die first.
I know the death of Natasha is a tad…controversial…but I gotta say I think it was the right choice. Natasha’s defining trait is that she is the good soldier, the one who always puts the mission first. Natasha’s the one who, more than any other Avenger, will do whatever it takes, whether that’s pushing her boyfriend into a bottomless pit, throwing herself into a bottomless pit or doing something that doesn’t involve bottomless pits. Whatever it takes. I like the symmetry of her saving Hawkeye when their friendship began with him saving her, and I don’t think the other option of Clint dying would work as well. Firstly, the ending with Morgan Stark at her Dad’s funeral is bad enough without the three Barton children also having to come back only to lear their Dad is dead. And secondly, that would mean having to believe that Natasha could lose a suicide-off to this putz:
Lastly. Guys, if you believe she’s really dead, I have a bridge to sell you.
With all six stones assembled, the surviving Avengers return home leaving a surprisingly un-fucked Universe 2014. I mean, sure, in this timeline an unconscious Peter Quill was almost certainly killed or captured by Korath the Pursuer, meaning there’s no Guardians of the Galaxy to stop Ronan from destroying Xandar. But, now Ego won’t be able to complete his plan to…do the…thing with the flowers he was doing. Plus, this universe won’t have to worry about Thanos or his entire army by the time this is over so all in all things are looking pretty sweet.
Back on Earth Prime, the Avengers build their own off-brand infinity gauntlet and then have to decide who’s going to use it. Hulk says that he should be the one to do the snap because the radiation from the stones is “mostly gamma” which means that every dude in this room is now sterile and is about to start sprouting some tumours.
Hulk puts the gauntlet on and does a reverse snap (or “pans” if you will) which cooks his arm like a green pig at a mediaeval banquet. While they treat Banner, Clint gets a phone call from his wife and our heroes realise that it actually worked and they’ve saved the day and everything’s going to be…
Turns out that the Nebula that came back with War Machine was Nebula 2014 who left the door to the universe open for Thanos 2014 to just stroll through. Thanos’ ship bombards the Avengers compound from the air. Thanos 2014 (herafter just “Thanos”) beams down and tells Nebula 2014 to find the stones while he waits for the Avengers to put all their joints back in their sockets. Back on his ship, Gamora 2014 asks Nebula Prime about their future and Nebula tells her that after a few homocidal false starts they came to love each other as sisters. Gamora decides that enough is enough and springs Nebula Prime so they can stop Thanos together.
Back on the ground; Cap, Thor and Iron Man are the first to pull themselves out of the debris and find Thanos waiting for them.
Thor summons both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker and says “Let’s kill him properly this time” and Jesus dude, you cut his head off with an axe, what does “properly” look like?!
Thanos tells them his new plan, which is just to reboot the entire universe from scratch and they throw down. Meanwhile, Hawkeye has the infinity gauntlet and is being chased through the wreckage of the compound by Outriders. He gets jumped by Nebula 2014 who takes the gauntlet but is stopped by Gamora 2014 and Nebula Prime who try to convince her to betray Thanos. But Nebula 2014 tries to shoot Gamora and so Nebula Prime has to shoot her past self who was unable to break free of the control of her abusive step-father. And while that is tragic, it is also the kind of breakthrough that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars in therapy. Outside, Thor is almost killed by Thanos until he gets Mjolnir in the face and turns to see…
Yes, like a majestic elevator of legend, Cap is worthy.
But it’s all for nothing. Thanos beats Steve, breaks his shield and leaves him a broken, bleeding mess on the ground. Thanos tells him that he’s going to enjoy destroying Earth, and Steve watches as the entirety of Thanos’ army arrives.
And with all hope lost, hopelessly outnumbered, and Armageddon itself bearing down on him, Steve Rogers gets back up.
But suddenly, he hears a voice telling him to look to his left, and he turns to see a thousand golden portals opening in the sky and almost every hero in the MCU step through to come to his aid. The Falcon. Spider-Man. The Wasp. Black Panther. Okoye. Shuri. Winter Soldier. Groot. Mantis. Drax. Star Lord…
So what we got here is an all out, Playground rules superhero battle; the whole toybox, no backsies, and no infinite forcefield bullshit. And yeah, it is just a string of CGI augmented “fuck yeah!” moments strung together, building on climax after climax until your knees give out and what pray tell is wrong with that?
So many awesome moments here. Scott punching out a leviathan, Carol no-selling a headbutt from Thanos, Scarlet Witch just straight wrecking shit. But at the last moment, it looks like Thanos has finally wrestled the gauntlet off Tony. “I am inevitable” he sneers. He snaps his fingers. Nothing happens. He turns to see Tony Stark with all six infinity gems.
I really enjoyed this movie when it first came out. But now I actually love it. I feel a deep connection to it, and I’m fully aware that that’s as much due to recent events as the fact that it is probably the best version of itself, about as good a version of this type of movie that it’s possible to to be. After Thanos and his army have been tossed on the ash heap of history (both figuratively and literally) we cut to Tony’s friends and family watching his last will and testament:
“I’m hoping if you play this back, it’s in celebration. I hope families are reunited, I hope we get it back and something like a normal version of the planet has been restored, if there ever was such a thing.”
My son is six months old and he hasn’t been held by his grandparents for around half his life. So yeah. This line gets me.
So after a funeral (that I think may break some kind of record for most Oscar winners/nominees in a single scene?) it’s time to wrap up, Thor leaves Valkyrie in charge as the new ruler of Asgard and joins the Guardians, who are going to look for Gamora 2014. Peter instantly gets really insecure because the other guardians are not so subtly hinting that Thor should murder him and become their new leader and who can blame them? Seriously. There is an entire dog pound’s worth of screwed pooch left in this man’s wake and putting him down is the most humane option.
One last bit of tidying up, Steve prepares to return all the infinity gems (plus Mjolnir) to their respective timelines meaning that the only thing messing up those alternate realities will be everything else he and his friends did while they were there. Bruce, Sam and Bucky wait for Steve to come back and he does. But it’s clear that he took the long way round.
Steve tells Sam that after he replaced the stones, he decided to finally take some Steve-time. He gives Sam the shield, passing on the legacy of Captain America. And, in flashback, we see where he went.
So Earth 1945 is completely unfucked. Call me a hopeless optimist but I’m just going to say that a world where Steve Rogers returns from the war knowing everything about McCarthyism, Civil Rights, the Kennedy Assasinations, HYDRA’s infiltration of SHIELD, the Cold War and 9/11 will have a far, far easier time of it. Which would be a good, happy note to end things on if it weren’t for the fact that Earth Prime is completely and utterly fucked.
Let’s recap. Earth Prime lost half of all human and animal life, the biggest catastrophe in human history by orders of magnitude. Governments have fallen, most of the world is in anarchy, there have mostly likely been nuclear meltdowns and religious wars and total economic collapse. The global food supply chain is most likely snapped and there are famines and food shortages everywhere. We hardly see anything of the world post-snap but rest assured it is an absolute shit-show. If global civilization even still exists it’s in its death throes. And it’s this world that suddenly has to feed and house an additional four billion people. Forget it. Show’s over. End of the world.
Not really an adaptation of a specific story, more an adaptation of the whole concept of the massive superhero crossover, done about as good as it can be.
Our Heroic Heroes: 25/25
Steve finally gets his dance with Peggy. Nat saw the mission through to the end. Thor sets off to find his own path from out of his father’s shadow, Tony Stark completes his journey from selfish man-child to a loving father selfless enough to save the world. It’s a finale without a bum note.
Our Nefarious Villain: 22/25
By necessity, Thanos is less of a presence this time around. Brolin is still doing good work, and the script does a good job of showing just how dangerous Thanos is. Literally stepping into the same universe as him is risky.
Our Plucky Sidekicks: 24/25
Apart from this series’ continuing insistence to shit on Star Lord, all the supporting players get their moment to shine.
There is no stinger. It’s over. There is nothing left to sting.
And the audience went…
Hey, was that Stan Lee?
FINAL SCORE: 95%
NEXT UPDATE: 15 June 2020
NEXT TIME: Sigh. Faith and begob to be sure to be sure etc.