It has happened – we reached the twenty-second movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! At this point in the MCU, we are still reeling from the end of last year’s Infinity War where Thanos (the Mad Titan) collected all six of the infinity stones (space, power, time, soul, mind, and reality), inserted them into his Infinity Gauntlet, and snapped his fingers to eliminate half the living beings in the universe. It’s his way of solving overpopulation and a lack of resources. I guess he didn’t think about just snapping more resources into existence while he was working on this plan for his entire life. That movie ended with the shocking disintegration of most of our heroes, and this movie picks up with the remaining heroes stunned and confused.
Slight spoilers from here down – it’s tough to say anything else about this movie without discussing at least a little bit of plot!
The post credits scene from Captain Marvel was Danvers showing up on earth as War Machine, Banner (not Hulk), Black Widow, and Captain America had found and were using Fury’s Marvel pager. She demands to know where Fury is, and we can assume they ask her to go get Tony. This movie begins with a quick flashback to Hawkeye on his farm as his entire family gets dusted (Thanos’s ‘half’ can unfairly affect some folks disproportionately). We jump to Tony and Nebula in the remains of the Milano in space, killing time while their air runs out. Danvers rescues them, and brings them back to earth, after 21 days up there. Tony is frustrated, guilty, and takes it all out on Cap as anger. Rocket has noticed a power surge on a distant planet similar to the one that caused the dusting, so they head out after Thanos to get the stones and undo the snap. The issues is that when they get to him, he has just used the stones to destroy the stones, and there is nothing left: no plan, no options, and no hope. This is literally only the first ten to fifteen minutes of a three hour movie.
Major spoilers from here down –
From that point on, there’s a five year time jump, and the characters are attempting to move on. Ant-Man gets pulled from the quantum realm, and from there, they plan a time heist. I won’t say anything else - just that you really do need to see this. Similarly to Infinity War, this movie rewards fans. If you have seen and loved the others in the MCU, you will love this. If you go into this cold, there are parts you will enjoy, but you will mostly be confused and overwhelmed. Each character gets some love, but the stars here are the original six Avengers. It’s a beautiful sign-off for them as they shift into semi-retirement, and let new heroes set up for the future.
Directed once again by the Russo Brothers (Joe and Anthony) and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the movie is exceptional. It manages to honor all the movies that came before it – especially the Avengers team-ups. Yes, it has a definite ending, and it is perfect and satisfying – in my opinion. Yes, I cried multiple times, but I needed a handful of tissues, not the entire box. Mostly I was cheering with absolute joy. The cast seems to love and appreciate this opportunity, doing their best for the fans. Every Avenger is there (apparently there’s a Howard the Duck appearance, but I missed it), but again, the six originals really get to shine.
- Jeremy Renner as Clint “Hawkeye” Barton gets to do some emotional heavy lifting all the way through this. He starts with the dusting of his family, and then shifts into Ronin anger-killing, then has to go after the Soul Stone with a friend, and you know how that goes, because you know what it takes to get the Soul Stone.
- Scarlet Johansson plays Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff. She’s keeping it together, running what’s left of the Avengers in the post-snap world. When an opportunity arises, she doesn’t hesitate to do what needs to be done. Black Widow has never been one of my favorite characters, but Johansson shines here, and I am definitely looking forward to her rumored stand-alone origin movie.
- Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner and the Hulk, and in this movie, they are closer than ever before. Ruffalo is just so charming and fun, he really makes Banner relatable and genuine. Thank goodness for his big brain when Scott comes back out of the quantum realm.
- Chris Hemsworth plays Thor, and while I thought he was at his lowest in the last movie, he somehow goes even lower here. After Thanos told him he should have gone for the head, he is undone by guilt and a level of trauma where he seems to be blaming himself for everything that went wrong. He gets some absolutely hilarious scenes, and some even more appreciated lovely scenes as he attempts to prove his own worth to himself.
- Chris Evans as Steve Rogers – Captain America – is once again the heart and soul of the team and the movie. He is doing what he can post-snap, helping others attempt to move on, and checking in with his friends, trying to make sure everyone is okay. His pep talk when they head out on mission is just so Cap, to the point that Scott and Rocket mention it. There is a scene where he goes out alone to face Thanos, the Black Order, and their entire army without any hesitation. It’s epically beautiful. And yes, the scene I have wanted for a year is in this movie - *sniffle*.
- Robert Downey Jr., who at this point is indistinguishable from Tony Stark, is exceptional in this movie. He starts off angry, then settled and resolved, and then hopeful and determined. His performance is fantastic, and his support of the team is epic. His interaction with Pepper is beautiful and lovely. And yes, I thought this movie was a fitting ‘retirement’ for his character.
Everyone does an amazing job, and the giant action battle set piece at the end is everything you want it to be. Yes, it’s moving and sad in parts, but it is also really hilarious and fun in parts. There are plenty of moments that elicited loud cheering from my audience – definitely see it in a full theater if possible. For a three hour movie, I didn’t feel the length, and I can’t really think of anything I would have removed.
12 out of 10 – yes, I know that’s not how math works. I don’t care. I really loved it.
There’s a moment where all the female heroes lined up to help Captain Marvel, and I ugly cried in the theater. I never thought I would ever see an entire movie screen filled with female superheroes. It’s a bit of an acknowledgement that they dropped the ball slightly on that front in the beginning, that they are taking steps to rectify it, and a promise that the future will be fantastic.
What a close to the first few phases of the MCU - I can’t wait for what’s next.