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A Profound Waste of Time
Avengers: Endgame

[1]2,018 words

The final installment of the massively profitable Avengers movie franchise, Endgame, offers three hours of superhero soap opera within a coherent, twisting, and surprisingly entertaining plot. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely remain focused on leading us to a grand climax throughout the story while keeping the edge between wondering what will happen next and knowing what will happen next reasonably sharp. They also develop characters in unexpected ways, an admirable accomplishment given how late in the game these developments are occurring. Meanwhile, directors Anthony and Joe Russo sprinkle the story with just enough action, violence, and humor to keep the audience interested (but probably not enthralled) regardless of what happens.

Thankfully, the performances by Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), and the remainder of the majority-white cast remain consistent with their earlier excellent work in the franchise. Still, Endgame seems to wallow in its drama, sucking up many minutes with tears, hugs, and heartfelt dialogue. Given the parameters set by the previous, apocalyptic movie, Infinity War, there was little else the filmmakers could do. To their credit, they do it pretty well. Endgame may not be the best movie in the Marvel Cinema Universe (MCU), but it’s certainly not the worst.

That is, until Endgame falls on its pasty white face in the end and shamefully cucks. It’s so bad it undoes all the good work put into the movie prior to that. For anyone with a white racial consciousness, the ending of Avengers: Endgame amounts not just to a waste of time, but a profound waste of time: one that can be instructive and meaningful, but certainly not worth the three-hour, fourteen-dollar investment that the filmmakers are asking you to make.

Hence this spoiler-rama of a review.

The main conceit of Endgame amounts to using time travel to convert what was a devastating defeat at the end of Infinity War to a complete victory at the end of Endgame. Given how soundly villain Thanos and his minions trounced the good guys the first time around (while wiping out fifty percent of life in the universe), there’s really no other way for the surviving heroes to get satisfaction. They basically go back to various points in time prior to the climax of Infinity War and fix what needs to be fixed in order to change the course of history and save half the universe. Lame, yes. Imagine Gollum kicking Frodo into the lava pit of Mount Doom and sidling away with the Ring of Power only to have Gandalf find a spell that amounts to hitting the “Back” button on the whole mess. Where’s the fun in that? The whole point of being a hero is stopping the villain before he executes his nefarious plan, not after.

Despite this, the screenwriters introduce enough complication into the time travel scenario to make it interesting. Basically, the Avengers acquire all six infinity stones from the past despite a few hiccups and make it back to the present minus only one Avenger. So far so good (especially considering that the one Avenger who buys the farm at that point is the weak and utterly expendable Black Widow, who should have been bumped off four movies ago). But back in the past, Thanos figures out what the future Avengers are up to and comes up with a pretty clever counter-measure. He captures the present version of Nebula (who hates him) and replaces her with the past version of Nebula (who loves him). Then, when the Thanos-loving Nebula returns with the Avengers back to the future (I know, I know), she opens up a time portal through which the past version of Thanos crashes to get his. And he brings his entire army with him.

So now the Avengers’ goose seems to be cooked, except that their time travel scheme actually worked. Iron Man had put all the stones in a homemade infinity gauntlet and resurrected all the superheroes who died at the end of Infinity War. They are now all ready to fight. Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Wakandans, Asgardians, Guardians – all of them. So now the filmmakers get to stage the greatest superhero battle of all time, with the late entry of the never-tedious feminist icon Captain Marvel to help tip the scale for the good guys.

Still, Thanos is formidable and manages to defeat Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man in combat. The Avengers’ goal here, however, is not so much to defeat Thanos but to keep him from getting the stones in Iron Man’s infinity gauntlet. Of course, they fail. Of course, Thanos gets the gauntlet. Of course, he snaps his fingers to murder half the universe. And of course, it doesn’t work. Iron Man had anticipated this eventuality and rigged his infinity gauntlet to be able to transfer the stones to his body armor at his command. Then Iron Man snaps his fingers, and Thanos and his minions crumble into dust.

Cle-ver.

Marvel comics always held a peculiar fascination for me when I was young. Like many American boys at the time, I collected comics and cared much about the superhero world. At some point, however, I seemed to “graduate” from DC to Marvel. To distill the reason to a crude rule of thumb, it seemed that DC heroes were more gods than men, whereas Marvel heroes were men playacting as gods while living normal lives as best they could. I found this lent greater humor and dynamism to the Marvel universe.

One thing I have always admired about the Avengers series, and other movies in the MCU, is how they seem to understand this playacting-as-gods thing. Despite moments of pathos and danger, much of what’s done in the MCU comes with a wink. This is why the banter is so funny. This is why the characters are so endearing and the scenarios they find themselves in are so entertaining. Yet in Endgame, much of this had to be sacrificed, since the story begins only five years after the trauma of Infinity War. No one should be expected to get over something like that in fifty years, let alone five.

Still, the melodrama gets a little heavy at times (the interlude with Tony Stark meeting his own father in the early 1970s being a good example). The banter also isn’t always as clever as the filmmakers thought. For example, when contemplating time travel, the heroes (of course) bring up every 1980s-1990s time travel movie they can think of (Back to the Future, Terminator, etc.), including (wait for it . . .) Die Hard – which, as we all know, is not a time travel movie.

Other disappointments include not allowing the Hulk his revenge on Thanos. In Infinity War, Thanos clobbers the Hulk so badly that the monster refuses to reappear from Bruce Banner’s psyche for the rest of the movie. Endgame begins promisingly with Banner having discovered how to convert himself to the Hulk while keeping his normal personality and intelligence. Interesting, until the filmmakers decided to keep him out of a return slobberknocker with Thanos. When I see Hulk, I want to see him smash. Even if Hulk is also a brainiac, I still want to see Hulk brainiac smash. And for no reason that I could see, the filmmakers decided to deprive their audience of this spectacle. Meanwhile, allowing Captain America to wield Thor’s hammer with no build-up at all indicates that they were just making up the rules as they went along. Then there’s the cringey feminist moment in which Captain Marvel leads all the female stars in an assault on Thanos – the less said about this regrettable episode, the better.

What I liked about Endgame includes fat Thor. Yes, the God of Thunder indulges in self-pity after having lost so many Asgardians in Infinity War to the point of becoming a beer-swilling, videogame-playing recluse in Norway. He doesn’t exactly grow man-boobs, but his newly-acquired beer gut certainly makes his character, um, pregnant with narrative possibilities. The Russos’ deft handling of how Hawkeye loses and later regains his family lingers nicely after the movie’s conclusion, and Paul Rudd keeps his Ant-Man as witty as ever. Most poignant was the death of Iron Man. Wielding the infinity gauntlet with all six stones kills him in the end. Sad, but worth it. It’s always bittersweet when the superhero world recognizes the mortality of one of its stars, which is a nod to our mortality as well.

From a Dissident Right perspective, not all is as it is cucked up to be in Endgame. That there are no non-whites aside from War Machine for ninety percent of the movie is certainly a welcome change. The people who do the most to achieve the victorious ending are all white, with Iron Man administering the coup de grace and rendering his play-acting forever tragic. Further, all the characters who have children and families are white, namely Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and Iron Man, who had a daughter with Pepper Potts in the period between the last movie and this one. Finally, I seem to remember something about Tom Holland’s Spider-Man having a black love interest in one of his own movies. Thankfully, she does not make an appearance here.

But the cucking. The cucking.

The movie begins to drag after Iron Man’s funeral, and we soon learn why: the Avengers will now purge their white members to become mostly black. With Iron Man gone, War Machine presumably will take his place. By showing them snuggling up to their reunited families, it’s safe to assume that Hawkeye and Ant-Man will remain retired and out of the picture. Hulk seems to be permanently green now. The Scarlet Witch’s future as an Avenger remains inconclusive. Thor, in a wholly selfish and uncharacteristic move, decides to abandon the Asgardian diaspora in Norway and travel the galaxy with the Guardians. And whom does he appoint as the new Asgardian leader? The black (and female) Valkyrie, of course. Most offensively, Captain America, who is charged with going back in time to dispose of the infinity stones, decides to live out his life with his Second World War-era girlfriend Peggy Carter rather than rejoin the Avengers. That, in itself, isn’t so bad. It begins to stink only when he returns to the present as an old man to offer his shield to the one person who should replace him as the next Captain America . . . his former sidekick Bucky Barnes (aka Winter Soldier), whom he loves dearly and has known most of his life, and for whose sake he once nearly killed Iron Man in a fight.

Just kidding. He hands his shield to the black superhero Falcon.

Okay, we get it. Hollywood hates white people. After making billions on some of the most famous white characters in popular culture, the power players in Hollywood are now nudging them gently into that good night so their black counterparts can take their place. This is beyond lame, of course. Nothing in the classic comics could have predicted something like this. The black characters and the actors who play them are nowhere near as compelling as the white ones. It’s not like there’s a popular demand for Falcon, Valkyrie, or War Machine. There’s also no narrative demand for them. Had Iron Man found some ingenious way to survive, no one would have questioned it. Had Thor remained on Earth to rebuild Asgard, no one would have questioned it. Had Captain America bequeathed his shield to Winter Soldier, no one would have questioned it. No one except for Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and the Russo brothers, who apparently feel that unrequited virtue-signaling to blacks is of higher importance than telling great superhero stories and remaining true to their original vision in the comics.

In the future, when whites as a group figure all this out and begin acting according to their racial interests, the first thing we should do is invent a time machine so we can go back in time and fix the stupid ending of Avengers: Endgame. Either that, or prevent it from ever being made.

Spencer J. Quinn is a frequent contributor to Counter-Currents and the author of the novel White Like You [2].