Avengers: Endgame Triumphantly Shuts the Game Down

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Avengers: Endgame decidedly makes up for its predecessor, Infinity War, and it does so with the help of everyone from the Marvel franchise. Seriously, even Natalie Portman is back.

The film’s opening brings on the tears immediately. We finally learn where Hawkeye was when the battle in Wakanda went down, and we heartbreakingly watch as he sees his family disintegrate before him. The scene is made even more heart-wrenching when his daughter drifts away amid an archery lesson with him. She had just hit a bulls-eye, following in her father's footsteps.

Hawkeye’s opening reminds us of what happened in the previous film, and we’re suddenly thrown back into the continuing arc of its plot. The Avengers have found a way to travel back in time and retrieve the six infinity stones before Thanos has a chance to, and it’s all thanks to Ant Man. In true Marvel fashion, Scott Lang makes his return in the most laughable way: a rat is responsible for accidentally hitting the button that spits Lang out of the quantum realm. After the sadness created by the film’s opening, this was the perfect way to get people amped about what’s to come.

What's not so perfect? Thor. He’s taken on a whole new persona in this film: insecure, beer belly, greasy hair, and prone to crying. The opposite of the Thor we know and love. Though it’s funny at first (and the first sight of his belly is definitely a memorable scene), it does become a bit tiresome after a while. When it comes time for him to cut the act and help the team, his schtick just drags on.

Perhaps because of that, Thor ends up sharing his hammer with Captain America in the final battle. Of course, Thor cheekily refuses to give up Stormbreaker, but it doesn’t take away from how awesome it is to see Captain America come into his potential, one that I never imagined for him.

In all honesty, Captain America has the best storyline in this film. Not only does he come into his own, he finally gets his happy ending with Peggy Carter. In the final scene, they dance cheek-to-cheek, tears welling in their eyes. He also gets to brag about his butt, which was a long time coming.

Black Widow, on the other hand, has a much shorter story. She sacrifices herself for the soul stone, and her death does not have the reverberations that it should. Though she is remembered by Hawk Eye at the end, it’s not enough compared to Stark’s dedication.

Tony Stark’s death, though it is a tearjerker, is the right way to honor his character development. In the end, he is the one to destroy Thanos, and he gets to declare, “I am Iron Man” before snapping his fingers. If people forgot who the OG Avenger was, they sure are reminded of it now.

His tribute is very touching—every key character from the previous Marvel films, including Michelle Pfeiffer, attended his funeral and got their moment on camera. Though it is a sad occasion for a reunion, the movie wouldn’t be final without one.

And final does the film feel. After all, there can be no Avengers without Black Widow, Iron Man and Captain America, who’s not dead yet, but old age indicates he will be soon enough, so there is no mistaking that this is the end.

But, the movie doesn’t end before finally giving the series what it had been missing: a strong group of women. Captain Marvel is joined by every female character of the franchise—who powerfully assure Spiderman that they have her back—when she grabs the infinity stone glove in the final battle. This is, perhaps, the most poignant scene in the film, because the glass ceiling of the Marvel universe has finally been shattered by Captain Marvel’s fist (literally).

Avengers: Endgame more than made up for Infinity War, and it brought with it all the nostalgia, laughs, and tears that endings tend to. Fans of the previous films will appreciate the flashbacks to some iconic scenes, like the opening scene of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, but those who aren't in invested in the series will still tear up when Hawkeye is reunited with his family. The movie comes full circle, while pushing each character to reach their happiness. The Hulk finally learns how to embrace both sides of himself, and Nebula confidently overcomes her past. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have chills the entire time.

(Image Credit: Cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)