Opinion: What legacy will you leave? – Ashley reacts to Avengers: Endgame

The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – reacting to “Avengers: Endgame.” Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!

11 years.

21 movies.

All leading up to this moment — “Avengers: Endgame.”

We’ve never seen a film project quite like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bringing multiple characters and plotlines to one conclusion after a decade of superhero storytelling.

I’ve already written a review of the film, but even after 1,200+ words I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. You could probably dedicate a full article to each character’s journey in this film.

Are there some things I would have tweaked about the film? Does the time travel stuff get a little convoluted and open up a few plot holes? Yes. But in the end, this movie gets it right where it counts: the emotional moments between the characters, which is what made us fall in love with the MCU in the first place.

It’s tough to summarize my thoughts about the movie in one article, but here are the three main themes that stood out to me after a few days of mulling it over. Also, fair warning — there are plenty of spoilers ahead.

1. Loss

While I loved “Infinity War,” one of my main concerns about the film was that “the snap” would be undone too quickly/easily in the next movie. As a conclusion to this stage of the MCU, “Endgame” needed to challenge our heroes and delve into some darker material than we had perhaps seen previously.

On that front, “Endgame” definitely delivers. The film takes advantage of its three hour runtime to show how the characters are coping with the crushing loss they experienced in “Infinity War.” They even try to confront Thanos — and do end up killing him — in the first few minutes of the movie.

Yet because Thanos has already destroyed the Infinity Stones, there’s seemingly nothing our heroes can do to reverse the snap. They have to live in a world tinged with hopelessness and grief, moving forward as best they can.

When Ant-Man shows up unexpectedly after getting lost in the Quantum Realm, the Avengers dare to hope again. However, there is still a high price to pay to stop Thanos, and even though the snap is undone, some other characters are called to make the greatest sacrifice.

As much as we don’t want to see our favorite characters die, the deaths in this film drive home the point that sometimes great risk is involved in doing the right thing and standing up to evil. Yet as long as we are still willing to fight, there is always hope.

2. Love

The Avengers haven’t always gotten along well as a team (see: “Civil War”).

But when they reach their darkest moment, they band together and support each other. Friendship and family are powerful motivators in this movie, giving the characters the courage they need to face the threat posed by Thanos.

Nebula finds redemption and a restored relationship with her sister. Cap and Tony make peace with each other and fight side by side. Natasha and Clint fight over who will be the one to make a sacrifice to gain the Soul Stone; neither one wants to their best friend to die. Thor’s mother inspires him to keep fighting.

There are so many lovely character moments in this film, and seeing these relationships keeps the film from becoming too dark. As I watched the movie, I was reminded of Rose’s line from “The Last Jedi”: “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.”

The Avengers are willing to risk everything to build a better future for the people they care about.

3. Legacy

For much of the MCU, Tony Stark has been struggling over what kind of legacy he wants to leave. He has complicated feelings regarding his father’s own legacy, and despite the fact Tony doesn’t have any superpowers, he feels pressured to use his intelligence and access to technology to protect the Earth from increasingly serious threats.

Then, in “Infinity War,” he fails. Thanos wins, and half the universe disappears. Tony eventually comes to a place of acceptance, and he builds a life with Pepper and their young daughter.

I would not have blamed Tony if he ultimately decided that he couldn’t risk all that in order to help Captain America and the rest of the Avengers steal the Infinity Stones from the past. But because of who Tony has become, he takes that risk anyway.

I loved Jay’s write-up for the Story Geeks on this subject, and while Tony’s death was the most difficult scene for me to watch in this movie, I am glad the MCU gave him such a powerful, meaningful ending.

Tony gets to be the hero who saves the universe, even though he doesn’t have Cap’s strength or Thor’s supernatural powers. He saves the day for his daughter, and for countless other families across the galaxy. Tony can be proud and satisfied with the legacy he left.

Cap can also be proud of his legacy. After fighting for so many years, he deserves to lay down the shield and find a happy ending with Peggy. Yes, this ending does create a bunch of timeline continuity issues and potential paradoxes, but watching him dance with Peggy was the perfect wrap-up to his story.

Now, Falcon gets to carry on the legacy of Captain America, fighting for the same ideals that Steve did.

Moving forward

It’s possible that with “Endgame,” we’ve seen the peak of the MCU. Maybe we’ll never get another film like this one in the franchise.

And you know what? Maybe that’s okay. “Endgame” feels like the perfect payoff for all these character journeys, and I’m looking forward to someday revisiting all these movies now that I know how everything ends. What an amazing ride!

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