Avengers: Endgame thoughts
When I sat down to write this, it was going to be a review. But I hadn't gotten too far into it before I realized that it was something else.
(Also maybe important - there are some spoiler-like substances in this post. If you haven't seen the movie yet, proceed with caution.)
A review implies some intellectual distance on the part of the reviewer, some impartiality that lets the reviewer critically weigh the merits of the object of the review. But I'm not sure I'm in a position to do anything like that. At one point in Endgame, Tony explains that Scott has not been able to travel in time because they weren't sending Scott through time, they were sending time through Scott. And I kind of felt like that coming out of the theater: that this movie had been sent through me.
Somehow Endgame managed to be take the consequences of the galactic genocide at the end of Infinity War seriously while at the same time hand-waving them away with a lighthearted caper. Somehow, it managed to jump between dozens of characters in multiple timelines and multiple locations without being confusing. Somehow, it managed to do exactly what I expected it to do while staying one step ahead of me.
Somehow, it made three hours go by in a snap.
And, maybe most amazing of all, it managed to take a story that's basically fan service about silly characters with preposterous costumes and still give weight to their decisions.
So, fantastic movie. But for the rest of the day after seeing it, I experienced, as the kids say these days, all the feels. And I couldn't figure out why a movie so unabashedly silly could provoke such a profoundly un-silly reaction.
But when I explain a little bit about the circumstances in which I saw Endgame, you'll probably wonder why it took me so long to figure it out.
Iron Man came out in 2008, when my daughter was 7 years old. She was a little young for the MCU at the very beginning, but she got more and more into it as the years and the sequels went by, to the point where she now knows these movies as well as I knew Star Wars when I was a kid. And, considering there are like six times as many MCU movies as there were Star Wars movies back then, that's pretty impressive.
A little quick math will quickly reveal that she's now a decade older. This fall, she leaves the nest to attend college. These movies have been a through-line of her childhood. And given that Endgame contains not just one or two, but three separate father-daughter relationships, well, it was basically aimed with Hawkeye-like precision directly at my heart. The scene where Scott finds Cassie and sees that she's grown five years older in the blink of an eye... I don't need any quantum time effects to know how that feels.
These movies, on their own, are entertaining but essentially weightless fluff. But we've given them substance by watching them, and rewatching them, and arguing about them, and laughing at them, together. That's the superpower, the sorcery, the glowing red stone* that gives us the power to take corny one-liners and computer graphics and form them into something real.
So I'm grateful that Endgame came along to provide closure exactly when it did. It wrapped up arcs for most of its characters in satisfying ways, ending the stories that needed to end, leaving open doors for more chapters of stories that aren't finished yet. Some of those endings, some of those stories, some of those doors were in the fictional universe of the movie.
And some were sitting right next to me in the theater.
* Yes, I know which one of the Infinity Stones is the Reality Stone. I told you, we've rewatched these movies a lot.