Note: This review contains spoilers for the movie “Avengers: Endgame.”
Yep, I went to see “Avengers: Endgame,” despite my feigned disdain whenever my friends — some of them film-school movie buffs, like me — express their love for Marvel movies. “Why would you like Marvel movies? They’re not real cinema!”
But I knew why. Just like any other franchise, Marvel serves as a witness of a generation’s memories, with its superheroes acting as guardians of dreams, fantasies, first kisses and secrets of teenage summer nights. When I let go of my artistic arrogance and allow myself to be vulnerable, I find escape and comfort in the adventures of heroes who always seem capable and indestructible — just like anyone else who has grown weary of reality.
Except I’ve become old enough to learn that superheroes are not that super. In “Endgame,” Black Widow sacrifices herself for the Soul Stone, Tony Stark dies for the survival of humanity and Captain America decides to live a normal life with Peggy Carter, effectively quitting the superhero life. My three favorite Avengers, gone.
The young and aspiring Peter Parker, whose standalone movie as Spider-Man is scheduled to be released on July 2 and will officially close Phase Three, will likely take on the responsibility of appealing to the next generation of millennials and become their Iron Man, as Stark mentored the young Avenger. Parker will apparently gain his first love interest in the upcoming film.
As for Steve Rogers? He passed his signature shield onto Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, who will likely become a more central character in Phase Four — though it is unclear yet how Marvel Studios will play this one off. As speculation goes, there could be a show called “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” that will feature Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, but we cannot be sure whether the show will be set before or after the timeline of “Endgame.”
My friend group used to only go to the cinema for Marvel movies, because they were basically all we knew about movies from the posters and billboards that bombarded our streets. We were no indie teens or art kids, but we knew that our bucks would be worth something if we could gain five seconds in a conversation at school the following week when everyone started talking about the characters and plot lines.
I remember that I was the sole Captain America fan among my friends, back in the days when most high school girls found capitalist genius playboys more attractive than moral self-sacrificing gentlemen (or perhaps they still do). But I would fight for Rogers’ honor and boast his performance in every Avengers movie that we walked out of, until my friends conceded that he did play a major role in the mission. “But not as major as Tony’s, of course,” they would always add. In the end, to wrap up, we would all praise Black Widow for her skills and bravery and wish that her standalone movie would be coming soon.
Natasha Romanoff was my female role model for a long time, and she still is. Usually, she is in an all-black, quite unflattering outfit that does not overly sexualize her. As Marvel’s first female hero, she is extremely skilled, intelligent, courageous and tough — an equal to any of the male superheroes. She has also consistently been in the center of Avengers squad, though she would never be the focus like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. To be honest, her death in “Endgame” is rather odd and unnecessary, and only serves for a cheap shock effect. Or, for many viewers, her absence from the remaining Avengers does not even stir up much emotion and is completely overshadowed by the departure of Stark and Rogers. The fact that Marvel Studios would rather create a talking raccoon than invest in a standalone Black Widow movie that fans have been waiting for the past decade is deeply disappointing. The character deserves better.
However, now that Romanoff is dead, it seems that Marvel Studios is finally considering a Black Widow movie on its slate. There are too many threads about her past to ignore: a Russian spy working for KGB, the red in her ledger, Budapest. Besides Black Widow, Marvel fans can also expect sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy in the coming years.
Marvel Studios also plan to create a new team of superheroes called “The Eternals,” super-powered beings created by the Celestials on Earth millions of years before humans. The first installment will be directed by Chloe Zhao, and Angelina Jolie is reportedly in negotiation to star in it. Another potential Marvel newcomer is Shang-Chi, a martial arts hero. Once confirmed, this project will likely feature many Asian American talents.
But still, it’s the end of an era. Sitting beside me in the dark movie theatre was only one of my friends back home. The others were scattered all over the world, chasing different summer internships. We’ve outgrown arguing over whether Iron Man or Captain America is better.
Get The Dirt
Subscribe to our weekly email about what's trending at Duke
Walking out of “Endgame,” my friend and I were both silent for a while. Then:
“Oh my God, I still can’t believe Tony died!”
“And Cap! Why did he have to retire?”
“Honestly I don’t really care about Captain America. But why Tony? Why?”
“What? I don’t care about Iron Man either! I knew he would die even in the beginning!”
“BUT BLACK WIDOW, THOUGH ...”