I got a little cocky after correctly predicting that Spider-Man would finally leave New York City and that Justice League would follow the same format as every other Superman movie. One year ago, I predicted that Avengers: Endgame would begin with Thanos snapping his fingers, which would give us a new perspective on that devastating moment. And I was totally wrong. What happened instead was a pleasant surprise because it ensured I would have no idea what was coming the rest of the film. It’s quite a treat to not know where a story is going and to be delighted by the direction it takes. When it comes to Marvel movies, I don’t have a clue what will happen, so I’ll avoid speculating on them in the future.
Avengers: Endgame turned out to be less of an epic battle movie like Avengers: Infinity War was and more of a feast of character-driven stories. I’m sure it could be compared to many other movies from Back to the Future Part II to Ocean’s Eleven. But the two things it reminded me of the most were the final two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the 1992 Mel Gibson film Forever Young.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
I’ve heard “All Good Things” described as a love letter to the fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s not meant to be a deep story but to simply give its characters one last hurrah to go out on. It rewards longtime viewers of the show by reminding them of what made them get hooked on it in the first place and giving them deeper insights into the possible fates of the characters they care about. That’s exactly how I feel about Avengers: Endgame. It’s a highlight reel of some of the more memorable parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Neither one of these pieces of entertainment would make sense to a casual viewer who hadn’t seen “Encounter at Farpoint” or Ant-Man and the Wasp, Thor: Ragnarok, or the first Avengers. They depend on people’s familiarity with the characters and stories leading up to their events to give them meaning.
Here are some of the specific ways Avengers: Endgame resembles “All Good Things.”
Time Travel – Captain Jean-Luc Picard travels through time to interact with past, present, and future versions of his crewmembers and prevent a catastrophe from wiping out pretty much all life in the Alpha Quadrant of the galaxy. The surviving Avengers and a few other superheroes travel back in time to borrow the Infinity Stones from their younger selves. Their plan is to undo the damage Thanos did when he got the Infinity Stones and used them to wipe out half of all life in the universe.
Past Unchanged – The past is unaffected by things Picard does differently than he originally did in the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Likewise, the past MCU films remain unchanged, even though the heroes really make a mess of things in several cases. Something about alternate timelines and the fact that the Infinity Stones get returned to their proper places in the end.
Old Friends Reconcile – Will Riker and Worf had a falling-out over the death of the woman they both loved, Deanna Troi. But they’re able to put that behind them and restore their friendship in the end. In fact, Picard and Q also end on relatively friendly terms after their adversarial beginning. This came to mind when Steve Rogers and Tony Stark managed to patch up their relationship after facing a seemingly insurmountable hurdle in Captain America: Civil War. It’s beautifully symbolized by Tony giving Steve his shield back.
Hero Sacrifices Himself – Picard realizes that he’s responsible for destroying all life on Earth and elsewhere, so he sacrifices himself to repair the damage he had done. Tony realizes that he’s the only one who can stand up to Thanos and save the universe from utter destruction, so he uses the Infinity Gauntlet to put an end to the nightmare at the cost of his own life.
Old and New Join Forces – The climax of the episode comes when all three timelines converge and the three Enterprises see each other get destroyed one by one to seal the rift in time and space. The climax of Avengers: Endgame comes when all of the superheroes who had died at the end of the last film come back to life and join the battle against Thanos. Thankfully, none of them die except for Iron Man, but then again, Picard and his crew emerge unscathed even after they are blown to bits.
I would hardly call these an exact matchup, but they give me a similar feeling of nostalgia tinged with a bittersweet ending. Which reminds me.
Who Wants to Live Forever?
Forever Young tells the story of a pilot (a.k.a. captain) in 1939 who is cryogenically frozen and gets forgotten for 53 years until he wakes up and has to deal with the modern world. He spends the rest of the film trying to reunite with the woman he loved years ago. Sound like anyone? Captain America gets a fitting end to his character arc in this film. The first Captain America film ended with him saying he missed a dance with the woman he loved. Avengers: Endgame ends with him finally getting to enjoy that dance and grow old with Peggy. It’s wonderful.
Ending on a High Note
Avengers: Endgame is a satisfying end to the MCU. I would prefer that they not continue at all because the ramifications of this film are so complicated and crazy. The people who were dead for five years will have to reenter society and deal with the fact that they’re behind the times. The economies and governments of the world will still be in tatters. Captain Marvel proved to be a redundant addition to the roster. Thor could have just as easily used the Bifrost to rescue Gamora and Tony. And there were plenty of other superheroes who could have taken down Thanos’s ship. That doesn’t bode well for future sequels.
Everything has come to a head with this film. There’s a reason that Star Trek: The Next Generation ended on a high note and there was no sequel to Forever Young. The stakes have been raised to such an absurdly high degree that there’s really nowhere to go but downhill.
Of course, I could be proven wrong by the MCU. It wouldn’t be the first time.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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