The End of Endgame

Avengers: Endgame was released a month ago and has since become one of the top grossing films worldwide. People cannot stop talking about this movie, or, more specifically, the ending.




Since before Avengers: Infinity War (2018) was released last year, I was predicting that Steve Rogers would not make it out of the Infinity War (note the original titles of Avengers 3 and 4 were “Infinity War Part I” and “Infinity War Part II” and all the films that have been released are collectively known as “The Infinity Saga”) alive because he is a man living in a foreign time and has nothing in his life outside of the Avengers/fighting the good fight in his life. Meanwhile, I was certain that Tony Stark, who has a life, a woman he loves, and a hugely successful family business, would survive to become support staff, not unlike what he does in the comics from time to time.

I was so wrong.

At first, I was so mad! People around me are sobbing (I always cry at movies– previews make me teary eyed) and I am just sitting there in shock. I left the theater salty as hell and it took sleeping on it for me to process and come to some conclusions.

First, let me start by saying that, in hindsight, I’m glad I was wrong. Being so surprised actually improved my experience. While I adore being right, I think it would’ve been a little anti-climatic for me had it ended the way I anticipated– at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Now, the ending itself is this: Tony Stark/Iron Man sacrifices his life using his own Infinity Gauntlet to– snap!— destroy Thanos and his forces. He cannot handle the strain on his body and after a tearful farewell– particularly to Pepper Potts and Peter Parker/Spider-Man– he dies. In Captain America: Civil War (2016), Tony talks about how he can’t stop being Iron Man, because deep down he doesn’t want to stop. The general premise of Iron Man 3 (2013) is that he cannot bring himself to stop. Therefore, narratively, it makes sense that the only way for him to stop is to be stopped; he’s not going to stop while he’s still alive.

It’s also important to note that while there is no end credit scene, the last thing you see after the credits is the Marvel Studios logo with the sound of Tony Stark building his first Iron Man suit in the desert playing in the background. In many ways, the series has been his journey, specifically, and now it has come to an end.

Steve Rogers never wields the Infinity Gauntlet, but does gain possession and control of Mjolnir. Proving himself worthy, Steve survives the final battle and is the one to return the Infinity Stones and Mjolnir to where they belong in the timelines. However, Steve doesn’t just return those borrowed items. Instead of coming back to the present, he decides to find Peggy Carter in the past and they finally get that dance they talked about all those years ago and– it is implied– build a life together. In the present, Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier turn from watching Steve disappear to see an elderly Steve sitting on a bench waiting for them. He then passes on the shield and Captain America mantle to Sam.

So, there’s a couple things to unpack here. One thing I’ve always noticed was that you never see any pictures of Peggy Carter’s husband in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I looked. Now, this could be in part due to Marvel’s Agent Carter (2015-2016). Not knowing who she ended up with allowed for showrunners to play with different romantic options, since there was no set conclusion canonically. OR, they could’ve been super clever (directors Anthony and Joe Russo worked on Winter Soldier, Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame) and already knew where Steve’s story was heading.

I contend that Steve was in love with both Bucky and Peggy. He chose to have a life with Peggy because he could travel to a time not long after World War II and build a life with her in a world that is more familiar to him, one that would be peaceful, especially if he has to remain hidden from the public and his past self. Okay, but why not Bucky from the Russians/Hydra before he becomes the Winter Solider? I think that would have a greater impact on the timeline (as far as Steve’s awareness and the MCU narrative go).

Sam Wilson is Captain America in the comic books, but so is Bucky Barnes. So, why go with Sam and not Bucky? While I will forever maintain that the story of Steve and Bucky is an unfulfilled love story, they are often foils for each other. Sam, however, is consistently depicted as a parallel to Steve, from his first introduction in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). They’ve been through similar experiences (losing a ‘wingman’) and are both natural leaders (Sam leads the charge when the cavalry arrives in Endgame: “On your left” indeed). Also, I think it’s much more meaningful for Sam. Bucky is still bogged down by guilt and seventy years of brainwashing and torture. He does not want to be Captain America, and probably assumes he doesn’t deserve it. Sam has looked up to Captain America his whole life. To be a part of that legacy is a hugely touching gesture for Sam.

Now, while we don’t see it for sure, we know that Steve gets married, presumably to Peggy (who also never changed her maiden name– perhaps to keep her husband safe/secret?) while Tony is given a touching funeral. Pepper and Tony had five years together building a life outside of all the superhero stuff, had a daughter. So, in the end, I believe that Steve chooses to live a life for Tony, who can no longer do so. Tony was ready to hang up the suit– and did for a time– before being dragged back in by Steve. As a tribute– and perhaps out of guilt– Steve decides to do what Tony can’t and gets a life away from it. I think that it makes a lot of sense for Steve to live a peaceful incognito life to honor Tony and his memory, which conveniently explains why old man Steve Rogers wasn’t out fighting while his past self was frozen in the Valkyrie.

For years, producer Kevin Feige has said that everything changes after the Infinity War. That what comes next will be very different from what we’ve seen. Well, of the original Avengers (Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor) only Hulk and Thor are still alive/not clearly retired, but it’s clear that Hulk has found a new life as “Professor Hulk” while The Dude Thor is traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy. We know that there are already a number of movies and canonical TV shows on their way, including Spider-Man: Far From Home which is set to wrap up Phase 3 this July, and should give us a better sense of what this new world looks like. After 11 years and 22 movies, I think it’s safe to say Feige delivered on his promise. As I’ve said in many previous posts, I look forward to seeing what gets announced next.

“Way too many Spider-Man movies”?

“The Good Place”, property of Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment, and Universal Television

Spider-Man has been a constant in media for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I watched Spider-Man (1994-1998) and (to a lesser degree) Spider-Man Unlimited (1999-2001), the Raimi series starring Tobey Maguire (2002, 2004, 2007) and the semi-related Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003) which starred Neil Patrick Harris (BRILLIANT casting, btw). Since then, there’s been a semi constant stream of animated series and live action films: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008-2009), Ultimate Spider-Man (2012-2017), Spider-Man (2017-present), Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Tom Holland’s appearances in the MCU (Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and the anticipated Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)) and, of course, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018).

Tl;dr: Spider-Man has been on TV or in theaters consistently since 1994. My brother will tell you that’s almost 25 years

And that’s not even talking syndication or getting into the media produced prior to 1994.

So, what about the Spider-Man property makes it appeal to so many? What has made the Spider-Man character such a fixture in pop culture, often listed as the archetypal superhero beside Batman and Superman?

The original Spider-Man is Peter Parker, a high school student from Queens, New York. He’s an avid photographer who is also considered a science nerd and is often bullied as a result. After being bitten by a ‘radioactive’ spider, he gains spider powers, including the ability to walk on walls and increased strength, agility, and senses. After taking up the mantle of Spider-Man, he must balance being a normal teenager with being a superhero.

I think that Spider-Man’s continued popularity comes from his continued cross-generational relate-ability. 

Being a teenager is something we can all relate to. Humans biologically go through a change from childhood to adulthood and during this time, teenagers feel like they are different, isolated, all while struggling between the joyous irresponsibility of childhood and the desire to be seen as an adult. Peter Parker and Spider-Man have long been able to tap into and/or recapture these feelings.

For example, let’s start with the name Spider-Man. When Spider-Man was created, teenage superheroes were typically given names that ended with ‘Boy’. While Stan Lee had his own reasons for choosing Spider-Man over Spider-Boy, I think the name resonates now for different reasons. It’s a demonstration of Peter Parker’s desire to be seen as an adult and given responsibilities. That he is not an adult comes into play in a number of different ways, but that he wants to be treated like a grown up is something all teenagers experience. 

The other thing about being a teenager is that everything feels very urgent and very dramatic and very important. This is due to different reasons, the changing brain chemistry, the new/increased responsibilities, etc. The point is, it tends to be memorable period of time as a result. During the struggle for increased independence and the quest to find an identity, it’s easy to feel isolated, like no one else feels the way you do, or could possibly understand. The strong desire for more new responsibilities and freedoms results in feelings of helplessness and a desire for control that teenagers think adults possess. (We don’t, btw. We just learn to live with it.) Spider-Man’s decision to present himself as an adult reflects this desire, as well as his attempts to take control using the powers he now possess– something every teenager wishes they could do as they come to realize the amount of control their parents have over their life.

Peter Parker is an outsider at school who has the ability to take control of his circumstances and how he is seen by others when he becomes Spider-Man. I can guarantee that it doesn’t matter how ‘popular’ you were in high school, you absolutely felt like no one understood you, that you were weird and different from everyone else, that you wished you could take control and make changes. 

While Batman and Superman were adults with additional freedoms and powers, teenage Peter Parker/Spider-Man has some strong limitations. Because of his age, there are people constantly watching out for him including teachers, friends, and family. He can’t just call in sick or not come home when there are rules and expectations in place. Spider-Man has to find a way to balance his normal life and his superhero life with more variables than the adults. In recent years, this has become increasingly relatable as high school students wishing to go to college are expected to have a laundry list of extracurriculars and special skills, all while trying to connect socially and do well academically. 

In recent years, this has become increasingly relatable as high school students wishing to go to college are expected to have a laundry list of extracurriculars and special skills, all while trying to connect socially and do well academically. But, even older generations can relate to that feeling of having to constantly report back to someone.

Essentially, Spider-Man is the ultimate teenage fantasy– what we all wish we could be. He is free and powerful all in between schoolwork and other responsibilities. This is why the character never seems to leave our screens for long. And, with castings such as Tom Holland and new takes such as Spider-Verse, it’s easy to want more.

“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, property of Netflix and NBCUniversal Television Distribution