I broke the glass and hit the "Emergency Avengers Movie" button. After a year of never quite getting around to it, I finally watched all three hours of Avengers: Endgame from the comfort of my designated spot on the couch in my family home. That's probably not the way it was meant to be seen, but it's definitely the best way to fully immerse yourself in a post-Blip world.
After all, what else if Avengers: Endgame but a movie about coping with a worldwide tragedy?
[Read Part 1 of this essay: I love Marvel movies, but I refuse to watch Avengers: Endgame]
Infinity War feels like forever ago, but February feels forever ago too. Thankfully, my brother was there to remind me where we left off: Iron Man and Nebula adrift in space. But before he could finish a sentence, Captain Marvel had arrived to rescue them. It was a bit of a cop-out, but I didn't care. I just wanted everyone in one room, hashing things out. Endgame offers a bit of that once Tony returns to Earth, but it doesn't really happen until after the movie's brutal "5 Years Later" title card.
An Avengers team meeting via holograms establishes the new status quo in a post-Thanos's death world. In a world where work meetings and parties happen over Zoom, this feels eerily prescient.
Knowing how things would end up (eventually) I was also curious how people lived in the in-between, in the weird period of limbo. What was school like? What were people doing to fill the loss? Are we currently living in our own version of Endgame's five-year time jump?
After the Avengers wrap up their holographic Zoom meeting, Steve checks in on Natasha. He tries to comfort her.
"I spotted a pod of whales coming over the bridge," Cap says, always looking for the silver lining. "Fewer ships, cleaner water. Just saying, there's a world out there."
That line knocked the air from my lungs. An entire year ago, Captain America tried to comfort Black Widow by basically saying "Nature is returning, we are the virus." Natasha is just as dismissive. She doesn't need someone to look on the bright side. She needs a plan of action.
That plan of action comes in the form of Scott Lang (Ant-Man), thought to be blipped, but instead only stranded in the Quantum Universe for five years. Thank goodness, because the movie needed an audience surrogate, someone who could have the entire Blip explained to them. He also introduces the main conceit of the movie: That's right, we're doing time travel.
Endgame's second act — the majority of the Time Heist shenanigans — checks every box of good, clean, Avengers fun. I will be the first to admit fight scenes aren't my cup of tea, but when you throw time travel into play and show a fight scene between 2012 Cap and 2023 Cap, that's when I'll get interested.
As a lifelong Doctor Who fanatic, my main criticism was the Time Heist stole quite a bit from the Seasons 4-6 Doctor Who playbook, including having multiple versions of Karen Gillan's character. I don't hold that against it. It's difficult to make a compelling time travel story without borrowing something from a show that's done time travel for nearly 60 years.
At this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I wasn't expecting a faultless scientific explanation for time travel. This is Marvel taking a tour of its greatest hits. It needs no explanation. There's a level of self-awareness, like those moments in series finales of a TV show where everyone breaks character for a second to be sad.
I was 100% sucked into the story. For two and half glorious hours I wasn't worried about whether my sister would be able to make a speech for her high school graduation or when I would next see my partner. It was just me rooting for superheroes.
Then Iron Man died.
I knew I was going to cry, that's part of the reason I didn't watch the movie in the first place. I knew he was going to say "I Love You 3000," I knew meeting Tony Stark's daughter was going to break my heart. What I didn't know was what he was going to say just before that:
"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."
But Iron Man is wrong. There was never a normal version of our planet. Our normal is whatever version we're in now because we'll get through anything, bounce back and go from the catastrophe — be it Thanos or Covid-19 — to continuing high school, saving the world, living life, or whatever it is we do.
Until then, just like Black Widow with her sweet quarantine hairdo in Avengers: Endgame, we'll carry on.
ALL WEEK LONG, INVERSE IS CELEBRATING THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF AVENGERS: ENDGAME, THE EPIC CONCLUSION OF 22 MARVEL FILMS AND THE BIGGEST BOX OFFICE MOVIE OF ALL TIME.