Avengers: Endgame Falls Short With Captain America’s Ending

This post will contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2019)

Avengers: Endgame has been called a worthy conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ten-year saga. The film is a critical and financial success, but it has its issues. One of which is the ultimate fate of Captain America.

After the film’s main conflict is over, Captain America is given the task of delivering the  Infinity Stones back to their original timelines to set things right. He stands on the time machine. The Hulk says he’ll bring back Captain America in five seconds. It does not happen. Instead Bucky looks at a bench in front of them. There’s an elderly Captain America sitting on it. It turns out he stayed in the past and lived out his life with Peggy. He give his shield to Sam to pass on his legacy to his sidekick.

The scene worked on one level. Captain America tragically missed out on the love of his life by being a hero. He gets what he always wanted in this ending. It’s emotionally satisfying to see him dance with Peggy and hand off his legacy to someone else.

Yet he had started a relationship with Sharon Carter in Captain America: Civil War. He had made friends in the present. His best pal, Bucky, had finally come back after he lost him again. Why was he going back to the past to retire with Peggy? It’s as if his character  lost any development he’d gained since coming out of the ice.

To add on to that, Falcon is his own man.  He was Captain America in the comics, but the MCU doesn’t have to follow that example. He should build a legacy of his own.

When I first watched the scene, I wondered why Cap didn’t stop the atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries. I didn’t understand how time worked in the MCU. I thought Captain America had always traveled back to the past to live with Peggy. He was stuck in a time-loop. Now I have come to understand that the MCU operates on a multiverse theory. This means that there are no time loops. The past can’t be changed so Cap can’t stop those atrocities. Every time a character travel back in time, it creates a new timeline.  The Russo brothers confirmed this in an interview.

Even taking into account this clarification on time travel, this ending for Captain America still has three major problems.

Problem #1: The Cap in the Ice

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The Russo Brothers confirmed that Captain America travels to another timeline to live with Peggy. The problem with this is there is already a Captain America in that timeline. He’s trapped in the ice. The MCU Captain America would have a moral obligation to save this other Captain. (Our Captain America will be referred to as MCU Cap and the other Captain America shall be refer from here on out) He understands the pain of not getting to be with Peggy. Why would he allow his past self to go through that pain when he’s unfrozen in seventy years? He couldn’t unless he was a jerk.

How would MCU Cap explain himself to Peggy? We’re not told if he tells her the truth about who he is. If he does, how can she be okay with him leaving his timeline to chase her? Wouldn’t she want him to go back to his friends and family in the future?  Wouldn’t she want her real Steve and not the MCU Cap who is essentially a doppelganger? If MCU Cap lies to Peggy and pretends to be her Steve, that is highly immoral.

Problem #2:  Unhealthy Escapism

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My favorite episode of Batman the Animated Series is Perchance to Dream. In the episode, Bruce Wayne ends up in another reality where his parents are alive and he’s engaged to Selina Kyle. He’s not Batman. It’s a dream come true. Eventually, Bruce figures out that it’s just a dream and he’s living a life of delusion. He refuses the world of dreams, because no matter how attractive it is, it’s not reality.

In this ending, Captain America chooses to live in a dream world. The Peggy that MCU Cap knows and loves is long dead. In the year 2023 (which Endgame takes place in), she’s been dead for almost ten years. Rather than move past her death and create a new relationship with Sharon, he’s heading to another reality where things are more comfortable for him. He’d rather live in the past than continue on in the future. The messages that this scene is sending are dangerous. Don’t move on, linger on the past forever. Don’t embrace reality, be delusional.

Problem #3: Not the Time for Retirement

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After Endgame, the world is in chaos. 3.5 billion people have reappeared after five years. This could create many problems for the world. Iron Man and Black Widow are dead. During this time of chaos, Captain America who is in the prime of his life, decides it’s time to retire to the past. Why now? The world still needs him. Why would Captain America even want to retire? He’s the man who says he could do this all day. There comes a time to rest but Cap is still able bodied. He was willing to stand against Thanos’s army by himself in Endgame. How is he a man who is ready for retirement? It doesn’t fit his character.

Final Thoughts

This ending sought to wrap up Captain America’s arc with a heart-warming callback to the origins of the character. In doing so, they undid everything that Captain America has learned during his journey through the MCU and turned him into a man who can’t let go of the past. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely referred to the conclusion of his arc as him moving toward “enlightened self-interest”. That’s a very sophisticated way of saying he becomes a selfish asshole. This is not the ending that such a great character deserves.

 

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I am Jack’s Smirking Revenge

Ah. Fight Club.

The movie Roger Ebert didn’t quite get. He gave Fight Club two and a half stars. I know he’s dead and you have to respect the dead, but he was off about this one.

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This was a movie that appealed to the generation that came after rather than the one before. Fight Club intitally struggled to find an audience.The book was lining up warehouses until David Fincher decided he wanted to make a movie out of it. Marketers had trouble advertising this satirical film. They couldn’t figure out how to entice audiences to check it out. Its box office numbers reflected that. Dark comedies are one of the harder genres to make trailers for. But after the home release, it gained its own almost Project Mayhem-esque cult following.

This movie is fucking hilarious and revels in absurdity. It’s about a guy so bored with his life that beats himself up and starts a cult, and then shoots himself in the head. The humor is lost on some audiences that focus on Tyler Durden’s philosophy or get turned off by the violence. If you listen to his words and nothing else, the movie comes off as propaganda for the destruction of capitalism and modern civilization. This movie gets much better with rewatches after the twist is out of the way. You can focus on Tyler as a malevolent force rather than his own person. His nihilistic philosophy is extreme and not to be imitated. Which of course had led to people seeing him as a wise man

The contemporary erosion of the masculine identity is a theme this movie examines. There’s the scenes with the protagonist at the testicular cancer help group. Here we have this man, Bob, with giant bitch tits hugging and crying. By the end of the movie, he’s dead. And his name was Robert Paulsen. In life he had lost everything because of his cancer. In death, he was to be remembered. He was a name repeated by the members of Project Mayhem. Just an interesting arc I noticed this time around.

The men in the film are these lost souls doing mindless work. What are they supposed to be? What are they as men supposed to do? They go back to the basics. They beat the living shit out of each other. And through this violence they bond. The violence is a way to express their rage at the world that’s told them they were special when they were not. It’s almost an after thought to everything else going on in this film. As I think about it, it’s more about how isolation, repetition, and lack of direction can drive a person insane

The writing is so strong in this film. The movies does commit a huge screenwriting no-no. It’s narrated by the protagonist. But like most writing rules, that one is meant to be broken. To take the narration out of this would be akin to ripping out a person’s spinal cord.

Below I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes.

“When people think you’re dying, they really really listen instead of waiting for their turn to speak.”

“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I wonder if another woman is really the answer we need.”

“The condom is the glass slipper of our generation.”

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything.”

“Working jobs we hate to buy shit we don’t need.

I have not read the book by Chuck Palahniuk. I’ll get to it one of these days.

Palahniuk is writing Fight Club 2 now. It will be a graphic novel. I’ll definitely pick that one up. I want to see where he takes the characters as the story was mostly focus on young men in their 20s and 30s. Palahniuk is now 53. What more does he have to say about masculinity with these characters? Will Tyler Durden return? Will we find out the Narrator’s name?

Good luck to you, Mr. Palahniuk. I look forward to Fight Club 2.

Vertigo

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I’ve been trying to increase my cinema I.Q. by watching one hundred of the greatest movies ever. I’m about forty movies in. I took a break after Thanksgiving as I became very busy. I settled back in with Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

I’ve seen this movie called the greatest movie of all time. It’s consistently in top 10 lists that I find online. This is the only movie of the forty or so I’ve seen thus far that I was disappointed by. That’s not to say that this was a poor movie, but I saw nothing meriting it to celebrated above films such as Tootsie, Godfather, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia or, Some Like It Hot. The movie kept my attention for the duration.

I expected a detective mystery from the opening scene so I paid more attention to the details of the plot. It wasn’t until around the halfway point that I realized it was a tragic love story. From what I gather, it’s a movie that is more appreciated with subsequent viewings after you know the ultimate outcome. I’m hoping to see what those top critics across the world see when they view this film.

I could also attribute my lack of amazement to the non-conventional nature of the plot. I stop movies every 30 minutes and take note of all the plot information that was delivered in that time. I try to keep a mental idea of scene length and frequency. This movie is too different for a standard breakdown.

I want to see something more modern so I’m deciding between watching Raging Bull and Annie Hall. I’m leaning towards Annie Hall as I have not seen anything of Woody Allen’s yet.

Five Things I Want To See on TV, In a Book, or In a Movie Theater

In his book The Anatomy of Story, John Truby talks about the path to becoming a master storyteller. His first step is about developing the premise of your story. Truby states that nine of ten writers fail at this stage. I’d like to not be a part of those nine so I’m going to try out this exercise he suggests to do.

“Write down your wish list, a list of everything you would like to see up on the screen, in a book, or at the theater.” I’ll just do five. Otherwise this blog entry would go on and on and on.

An animated movie that removes the stigma from animation in the West

Animation can go to so many places that life action can’t. If you look at an animation like Miyazaki’s Spirited Away or Looney Tunes, these are worlds that wouldn’t work with live action at all or not nearly as well. Animation can exaggerate the rules of real life and get away with it. It’s another art form.

However it is limited because of the stigma that it appeals to children or can only be used for comedy. Pixar films are the closest to meeting this desire. but they are still seen as children’s films. I would love to see an animated movie that is not a comedy nor a family film. It’s possible that I haven’t looked hard enough and this movie does exist. If not, I would love to see this on the big screen.

A pedophile protagonist

This is a weird one but ever since I watched Hard Candy, a film with pedophile protagonist who is tortured and humilated, I’ve been wanting to see that sort of protagonist taken a different way. Can you get the audience to get behind a pedophile? They have to be the hardest people to have empathy for. You would have to be a great writer to make the audience feel sorry for a pedophile. It’s also very taboo in nearly every culture. It seems like an impossible task. I’d like to see this done in a book, or in a movie theater.

Decay/Evolution of Superhero’s morals

Batman doesn’t kill. Spider-man doesn’t. What would it take to push these guys over the edge? I know there have been plenty of Batman stories about this sort of thing, but I don’t think he ever actually snaps (Killing Joke is ambiguous). Whenever a hero finds themselves in a situation that would require them compromise their morals to solve their problem, they always find another way out. I’d like to read a story where they have no choice but to kill someone and they have to deal with it.  Whenever someone asks, “Why doesn’t Batman just kill the Joker?”, a person always brings up the slippery slope argument that Batman will then start killing all his villains. I’d like to see a story about this slippery slope.

The thing that really prompted this was the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang spends the episode contemplating killing the Fire Lord. He is opposed to it because of his morals, but he has to do it to bring balance back to the world. Then he finds a lion turtle that gives him the special power to not have to deal with that dilemma.

Mike Haggar as a protagonist

Mike Haggar is a former professional wrestler who becomes the mayor of his city. He then decides to beat up crime with his own fists. His fighting style is over the top. I’d love to watch a show about him just breaking people.

The Other Side of the Prophecy

Countless stories have been told involving prophecies and chosen ones. It sure would suck to be on the other side of a prophecy. Imagine being a ruthless tyrant and you find out that some 14 year old kid is going to kill you. Or what if you weren’t a ruthless tyrant and you found that out? What if you’re just a regular king who’s good at his job and don’t deserve one of these things? What would you do? Try to kill the kid? Find another way? Can you talk your way out of a prophecy? That would be a fun story to read. Or better yet write.

Achieving the Impossible

Marvel has done the impossible. 2008 was the beginning. Iron Man managed to capture the spirit of the character and be a pretty good movie. Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark and gave a great performance. Marvel surprised me with the movie and then the after-credits scene.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury showed up after the credits. I got giddy seeing the Ultimate Version of Nick Fury come to life. I’ve dabbled in comic books here and there so I recognized what they were trying to do. I could tell that this could be the start of something incredible if it ended up right. This was a real ambitious project. Never before were comic book characters weaved together into one movie, one coherent continuity. For years whenever someone would bring up the idea in a discussion forum, they were laughed at or told that it could never happen.

The Avengers was seemingly impossible project. Marvel needed all their movies to be successful financially. None of them could bomb critically either. One failure could ruin everything.

With each movie, I feared that they would screw up and then the project would end up dead in the water. The Incredible Hulk came out later in 2008. It wasn’t the best film, but it wasn’t awful. The after credits scene with Tony Stark kept the dream alive. Marvel proved that they could make two movies that weren’t horrible about two of their properties. I kept up hope. I wanted to see them succeed.

Then Iron Man 2 came and it was pretty bad. I feel asleep while watching it in the theater. It felt jumbled and tried to do too many things at once. It was an Iron Man sequel and an Avengers prequel. The villain was also lame. It was making money so it seemed that the Avengers would happen, but I worried about the quality now. If they couldn’t handle just Iron Man, how could they handle Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and others?

The impossible mission stayed impossible. I couldn’t see how they could make both a good movie and a critical success. Hollywood is known for ruining projects. Many good scripts are ruined by the time they make it to the screen. After Iron Man 2, I thought it was over.

Thor brought me back.Tom Hiddleston was amazing as Loki. The film was better than Iron Man 2. I came out of theater interested in both a Thor sequel and the Avengers. Captain America’s quality was also above average. Now everything was in place. They had the money. They brought back nearly all the actors. But could they do it?

 

 

 

 

OH HELL YEAH!!! THEY DID IT! THE AVENGERS KICKED ASS! WHEN HULK AND THOR WERE GOING AT IT, I LOST MY MIND! I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE THAT ON THE BIG SCREEN! LOKI TAKING ON CAP! LOKI MANIPULATING! HOLY SHIT! IT WAS AMAZING!  AND THEN WHEN CAPTAIN AMERICA JUMPED IN AND COMMANDED! HAWKYE SHOOTING THOSE ARROWS! IRON MAN VS. THOR!!!

BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE EVER! GOOD LUCK THE DARK KNIGHT RISES! THE BAR HAS BEEN RAISED! I’m so glad that during my lifetime Marvel achieved the impossible.

Thank you Marvel. I haven’t had that much fun at the movies in a while.