Roundtable Discussion on Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame”

After what feels like an eternity, Avengers: Endgame is finally here. The jam-packed 3 hour film is the perfect culmination of this iconic phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My fellow writers Allie, Charlie, Stephen, Shadia and Shawn joined me for a discussion of our expectations going into the movie, whether or not Thanos was a good villain, our favorite moments from the movie and so much more! We hope you enjoy reading our thoughts and invite you to share yours in the comment section below!

Spoilers ahead, obviously.

Did you have any expectations or predictions going into the movie?

Allie: I tried to go into the movie without too many expectations. I knew the people who were dusted would come back somehow. I mean the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer played before Endgame for gosh sakes, but how they came back was really they mystery. I also went into the movie thinking that an original Avenger was going to die. As a Captain America fan, I just hoped it wasn’t going to be him.

Charlie: After Infinity War, everything was out of the window. I expected everyone to come back. The atmosphere was electric in the cinema, however 9:25 is definitely the optimum time to go.

Stephen: Yes! My expectations going into the movie were to stay in my seat for the full movie! Seriously, I didn’t leave once. Going in, I knew some characters were going to die; it is titled “Endgame” after all. And of course, I also expected some epic battles.

Shadia: I knew I had to brace myself for more death! I went in thinking we were going to lose Cap FOR SURE. I tried to stay away from everything that circled around the movie just so that I could go in with as little predictions and guesses as I could; I wanted to take in the whole movie with fresh eyes. I know they wanted to end it with a bang and have it be some sort of love letter to Marvel fans for sticking through this whole 10-year journey. I was READY.

Shawn: Given the slate of new Marvel films in the works, I knew they had to figure out a way to rescue at least a handful of the dusted. We couldn’t very well leave Black Panther and Star Lord out there with their impending sequels coming up. I also figured that when Ant Man didn’t come back out of the van at the end of Ant Man and the Wasp that he would have a hand in the rescue. But as soon as I figured out that there had to be a time travel element, I knew we were going to get some Peggy Carter (well, I knew as soon as I heard her voice on the trailer)! So my only predictions or expectations were time travel and Agent Carter.

Bryna: I knew that the people who turned to dust in Infinity War would come back somehow. I also had myself pretty convinced that Captain America was going to die, and tried to prepare myself for that as much as possible (although that death would have broken me to my core).

What was your initial reaction after you left the theater?

Allie: I definitely had to sit there for a minute and process. The movie was so much of an emotional roller coaster. I was sad, but content. 

Charlie: Betrayed. I went early enough that the lack of an end scene hadn’t been broadcast but also stunned. This was the end of an era. It felt like we had just gone over the edge of a cliff – we’re in freefall now. Who knows what will happen next?

Stephen: My reaction after leaving the theater was “HOLY MOLY”. That was nearly three hours of greatness presented in film. As a communications major, I literally enjoyed and dissected every part of that movie. I’ve also watched it twice. It’s that good, y’all!

Shadia: So emotional. I felt satisfied in a way I don’t usually get with most movie franchises. It pieced a lot together, the storytelling and pacing were great. I was just slammed with just a lot of feelings and a lot of love for the MCU.

Shawn: I was basically an emotional wreck. I’m one of those people that wants to cheer and clap for the good stuff and my theater was super boring so I had all that happiness bottled up inside me. Then that ending just made me weep. It truly was a perfect walk down memory lane and the ending I wanted (for Cap anyway).

Bryna: Oh man, I was a blubbering baby by the end, but I also felt completely satisfied as a longtime MCU fan. I felt like no minute was wasted, which resulted in a well-told story with perfect pacing. I was also slightly relieved because I could finally get up and go to the bathroom (3 hours is a lot longer than I thought!).

In our roundtable for Infinity War, we asked whether or not Thanos was a good villain. Now that his story is complete, was he a good villain?

Allie: Oh gosh. I don’t think I can say he was good. I understand his motives, but killing people is never the answer.

Charlie: Infinity War was Thanos’ origin story, his coming of age. He was better in Infinity War. Endgame wasn’t focused on him like Infinity War was; it was focused on what was left of the Avengers as they tried to make sense of what happened and how they could fix everything. Thanos, in Endgame, was the typical big bad villain who would be beaten by the end of the film. His death was particularly fitting. 

Stephen: Thanos is a very complex and interesting character for sure. In Infinity War, I would not have classified him as a good villain. But after Endgame, the jury is still out for me. His story has come full circle and I left the theater thinking he was not as bad as I first thought.

Shadia: I get his ideology in wanting to make the world better but wiping out trillions of people is A LOT! I mean, if he had a way to wipe out all the bad people in the world — which there are many many among us — I wouldn’t be so opposed to it. But he did what he planned and yet he was left unhappy. He was a very complex villain, that’s for sure.

Shawn: I didn’t get to answer this last time but was he a good villain? I’ll go with no. I understand his motivation and his intention was in the right place. But as we learned, you can’t expect a civilization that knows what they’ve lost to come back from something like that. I suppose the counter-arguement is that he didn’t collect the stones to abuse the power for self-gain but instead collected them for the betterment of the world. Noble maybe, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say good.

Bryna: Thanos was a fine villain; not my least favorite, but also not my favorite. I didn’t really feel like this movie was about him, unlike the first one. However, I do think he was the perfect villain to cap off this decade-long story arc as he’s the only enemy that could have brought all of these heroes together. 

So many cameos from so many beloved MCU characters of the past. Was there one you weren’t expecting? What was your favorite one?

Allie: SO many good cameos! I definitely was not expecting to see Jarvis. I absolutely loved his character in Agent Carter and it was so nice to see again. Honestly that whole scene where Tony gets to say goodbye to his dad was a gift. 

Charlie: Howard Stark was the red heron for me, and it was a joyous scene to watch. It continued the humanization of him that began in Iron Man 2. It was a much needed scene for Tony, and considering the ending of the film, was quite cathartic.

Stephen: My favorite MCU character returning was Valkyrie, for no particular reason. But I also enjoyed seeing some of the once-dead characters return like Spiderman and Falcon.

Shadia: Not expecting: Howard Stark! I think that was a beautiful send off for Tony’s overall arc. There were many unexpected ones too — too many to name! My favorite one was without a doubt STAN LEE! I watched the film opening night and my theater cheered when we saw him one last time. Ah, he will be missed.

Shawn: I was expecting/hoping for more of Agent Carter. To have her in the movie but not give her a line or two was a little sad but I’ll take what we got. My favorite surprises were Jane (Natalie Portman) and Thor’s mom (Renee Russo), which were both fantastic. Then of course the Tony and Howard Stark encounter was so great. But the biggest surprise was JARVIS!

Bryna: Even though it was later revealed that she only provided some voiceover and the “new” footage of her was just recycled deleted scenes, I still was completely surprised to see Natalie Portman’s Jane. Although it was arguably kind of expected, my favorite was Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter.

What was the best moment of the film?

Allie: I can’t pick one; I have to pick two. The first is the moment you see all of the *remaining* female superheroes in one shot. There is some controversy over that now — about it being forced — but I don’t care. I loved it all the same. And my favorite part of that scene was Pepper Potts. Seeing her in that group, wearing a suit, just really put her story arc into perspective for me.

The second favorite moment is also during the big battle, when you start hearing Sam Wilson’s voice and realize that the second snap worked. Then you hear him say ‘On your left’ to Cap and you just know everything is going to be alright. Cue the laugh crying. 

Charlie: How could it not be the epic final battle with the returned characters, beginning perfectly with ‘on your left’? Marvel has an incredible ability to weave each and every story together, and Endgame was the ultimate love song to them all. This was absolutely epitomized by Tony and Stephen’s moment at the end of the battle when Strange raised a singular finger to indicate that it was the one version they would win.

Stephen: While Stark dying was sad, it showed his true growth as a character when you look back at his time as part of this superhero squad. He not only gave Spiderman the push he needed but also was a mentor, friend, and a voice of reason for many during his time. The MCU will be a sad place without one of its core members.

Shadia: Ugh, there were so many but I’m stuck between two moments that really stood out to me and gave me ALL the chills. I’d have to say my #1 pick was when Captain America got ahold of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir! HE WAS WORTHY! I remember cheering so happily in the theater that I almost jumped out of my seat! My heart was so happy because I have this special kind of love for Steve Rogers/Cap.

Second was of course when ALL the Avengers assembled. It all led up to this specific moment and seeing everyone in line to go attack was such a powerful moment.

Shawn: There were so many great battle moments of course. “Avengers, ASSEMBLE” was the ultimate! Or when Captain Marvel busted through, destroyed everything and the ladies showed up to have her back – amazing! I’m always a huge fan of Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy scenes and cannot wait for that future collaboration. But, because I’m a sap, my favorite scene was the end when Peggy and Cap were dancing. I wanted so much more of that moment!

Bryna: Honestly, there are at least half a dozen moments that could qualify as Endgame’s best moment. I mean, the final battle was such an incredible and iconic cinematic sequence. From hearing Sam say “on your left” to Cap finally saying the words “Avengers assemble”, everything about that was perfectly crafted. I also really loved Captain America getting ahold of Mjolnir — he was worthy, y’all. 

Which character was the movie’s MVP? 

Allie: Ant-Man aka Scott Lang. I mean so many things had to happen in order for the plan to work, but without Scott, the team would still be conducting a universe wide search for a cure to being dusted. If he hadn’t made it back from the quantum realm and suggested the time heist, they would not have made any difference.

Charlie: Tony, ultimately. He was the heart and soul of the film. He brought joy, humor, heartbreak, wisdom; he was utterly human, and it was brilliant.

Stephen: Tony Stark was easily the movie’s MVP. I’ll touch more on that in just a second. 

Shadia: I’m gonna have to give this one to Ant-Man aka Scott Lang! I mean, without him the idea of time travel wouldn’t have crossed their minds. 

Shawn: MVP is tough. I think I almost have to give it to Tony Stark because, yes, he made the ultimate sacrifice but he also built so much of that world and pulled together the forces and just kept coming back to save the world. I can’t not include Black Widow as co-MVP because she basically sacrificed her storylines over and over for more propped up male characters, but that’s a story for another article. 

Bryna: Could it be anyone but Tony Stark/Iron Man? Robert Downey Jr. delivered what I would argue his most memorable performance in the role. His performance and story arc in this movie was a great reminder that he not only kicked this whole thing off but defined this world we’ve come to know and love over the last 11 years. Downey Jr. was Tony Stark and I’ll missing seeing him on the big screen.

Which character was the movie’s most underrated?

Allie: Oh, this is a tough one, but I think Nebula. Current Nebula, not 2014 Nebula. Yeah, her weird brain transmission thing kind of made the whole plan go sideways, but she was trying to be helpful — a huge change from when we first see her. And she shot herself for gosh sakes! Also, major kudos to Karen Gillan for playing both past and present characters.

Charlie: Natasha was underrated in the grand scheme of things. She sacrificed herself in the midst of the fight and unfortunately the film had to move on. The spirit of empowering and empowered women – started by her – lived on in a glorious scene with all the female heroes, however, and she was done justice.

Stephen: The most underrated character was Bruce Banner in my opinion. As someone who loves The Hulk, I just didn’t feel he was a massive part of his film, despite him being on screen a lot of the time. 

Shadia: I think I would also give this one to Ant-Man. I also wanna say Captain Marvel as well! She came through to save them in so many moments. Her fierceness is not to be messed with!

Shawn: I’m going to go with Nebula and Ant Man. Nebula had to overcome some serious family issues to become the 2023 Nebula that would ultimately take out her own bitter, rage-filled 2014 self. Her journey was sad and powerful and she had one of the most emotional journeys of this two part finale. On the flip side, I have to hand it to funny guy Scott Lang for pushing the time travel narrative that would ultimately save the planet. His journey wasn’t as emotional as Nebula’s but if it weren’t for Ant Man, we wouldn’t have had a Time Heist.

Bryna: Ant Man. Hands down. His idea is what kicks this whole plan in motion and ultimately saves everyone. Also who the fuck knew that Nebula, of all characters, would play such an important role in Endgame? IT’S NEBULA FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. If you told me that going into this movie, I probably would have laughed and dismissed your comment as a creative fan theory. Fat Thor also has to be mentioned, just for the comic relief he provided in what was otherwise an emotionally heavy movie. Lastly, I have to mention Hawkeye and Black Widow; I love them individually and their complicated relationship. I wish we could have just had more time to dive into it (I still need to know what happened in Budapest).

Which moment brought you to tears (or close to tears if you’re not a crier)?

Allie: I am very much a crier, so I basically cried through the whole movie. But the moment that made me cry the most was Tony’s last few seconds. Peter crying over him telling him he’s sorry, and then Pepper. When she tells Tony that ‘they’ll be alright’ I had to stifle my sobs because the theater was so quiet. That was truly heartbreaking. 

Charlie: If you didn’t cry at Tony Stark’s death, there may be something wrong with you. I started crying then, and kept it up for the next 10 minutes. I blame Peter Parker, again.

Stephen: I cried some manly tears at Tony Stark’s death, easily. Above, I mentioned he was my MVP of the film and his death really hit me hard. He really came full circle as his character’s life came to an end and it really showed why he was such a core part of the MCU family.

Shadia: Tony’s final moments, mainly because of Peter Parker. The crack in his voice during that moment to plead Tony to come back, the tears just came flooding. Followed by Tony’s funeral scene, and just every sweet moment between the Avengers and Cap growing old.

Shawn: I think we’ve established that I’m a huge Agent Carter fan so I cried pretty hard when I saw the wedding band on Cap’s finger and knew what he had done with his time in the past. If I’m being honest, I think I actually started tearing up when I saw the backwards RET on the door behind Cap when he was on base stealing the particles because I knew they were going to give us something to do with Peggy. But ending with the two of them dancing brought on the uncontrollable sobs. I know, Iron Man’s funeral was sad but come on…Steve and Peggy Forever!!

Bryna: Tony’s death definitely brought me to tears and made me pull out my tissues. I mean Peter Parker clinging to him with War Machine and Pepper standing right there next to him? Talk about the most brutal torture.

But the scene with Cap and Peggy’s long-awaited dance is what really did me in, but not because it made me sad. In fact, it did quite the opposite; it made me so damn happy. All I’ve wanted for so long is for Cap to be happy, and what made him happy was Peggy. So for him to finally have a life with her — and get that dance — I was elated!

What questions do you still have, if any?

Allie: Where is Gamora? Where did Loki go with the tesseract and how much did that change his timeline? Is he still alive now? How will we survive the next phase of the MCU without America’s Ass? 

Charlie: What now?

Stephen: I do question what will happen moving forward. Will Spider-Man be the new leader of the team now that Stark is dead? Endgame really provided a jolt into the Marvel universe and it will be very interesting to see how things are as we move forward.

Shadia: Is Gamora still alive?!

Shawn: I’ve got a few of the obvious time-travel related questions like how can future Nebula kill past Nebula and still be alive in 2023? Which memories does she keep? If Cap went back in time and married Peggy, can we have another movie about Cap and Peggy in the past, fighting crime and being bad-ass spies together? How does this whole parallel timeline thing really work? If they travel back and fix things, can we get Vision back? And why do they kill off Black Widow when she has an origin story movie coming up, for which they just ruined the ending? When do we get to see Tony’s daughter grown up and building cool stuff (and presumably eating cheeseburgers)? And how long do we have to wait to see Thor’s abs again? But no, I don’t think I have any actual Avenger storyline questions.

Bryna: OH MY GOSH I have so many questions. First of all, Loki — is he alive? When he leaves with the tesseract in the 2012 scene, where does he go? Will we be seeing Thor in the next Guardians movie? Also, what heck happens with Hawkeye? We know that he’s getting a series on Disney+ but what does it focus on? Also I had the same questions that Shawn had regarding Nebula. It makes no sense to me that future Nebula killed past Nebula yet is still somehow alive.

Are you satisfied with the ending?

Allie: I am. I think they did a good job of giving us closure for most of the original Avenger team. No, a couple of them were not the happiest of endings. But now we can go into the next phase of Marvel without wondering what happened to the original group. 

Charlie: I was SO satisfied with the ending. Unfortunately I had expected Tony to die, and I was not disappointed – it was a perfect end for the one who started it all. And Steve handing the Captain America mantle over to Sam was something I hoped for but completely forgot about going into the film. I wasn’t expecting it, and was pleasantly surprised. 

Stephen: I am satisfied with the ending. I felt this was an epic conclusion to a great era for Marvel. Now it is time for a brand new era and generation of heroes to pick up the pieces and begin to write their own story for the next chapter.

Shadia: I would say yes. I know a few were not, but you can’t please everyone! Like I mentioned earlier. I thought Cap was going to die, not Tony. But I guess it was to make everything come into a full circle because it all started with him as Iron-Man. I was a bit bummed on how they handled Black Widow’s death/sacrifice though. I thought they were going to mourn her more than what we saw.

Overall, I believe they did fantastic with the movie. It wrapped up a decade of movies. Gonna miss it! But also excited for what’s to come with the new generation of Avengers! Especially with Falcon as Captain America now!

Shawn: I would say other than the death of Black Widow, I’m happy with the way things ended. Tony sort of had to have the hero’s ending because he started the whole thing and that was his trajectory. I feel like there was way more to Natasha Romanoff than we got to see and I was looking forward to that being something that Marvel would dig into going forward. Killing her wasn’t fair. But let’s be honest, all I really wanted to see was Captain Marvel and the ladies kick some ass and Captain America and Agent Carter together forever. I got my wishes.

Bryna: I’m sad of course, but completely satisfied with that ending. I think that for the most part it gave us the closure we were craving but also left us wanting more from this next phase of the MCU. 

As mentioned earlier, make sure to let us know what you thought of the movie in the comments below!

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