Avengers Endgame was a perfect example of a love letter…not between two lovers…but to millions of fans across the globe!
Marvel Studios has lifted their 12-day spoiler ban request as of today. And, of course, it was just a “request” and it definitely didn’t stop bloggers and vloggers from throwing out posts on every aspect of the movie. The lift of the requested ban assumes this: After twelve days of theatrical release, if you haven’t seen the movie, you’re not a true MCU fan anyway so spoilers shouldn’t bother you.
I’m not covering the plot itself, but how each of the six original heroes brings romance to their character. I may throw in a plot point or two, but not many. That said … here we go. My take on the love letter that is Endgame.
Black Widow (Natalia Alianovna Romanova – Natasha for short):
Natasha is probably one of the most complicated characters when it comes to discussing the “romance” of her part in the MCU. She’s definitely in love with Bruce Banner, but accepts the fact that they can never have a normal romance or family life. She loves Clint Barton in a sisterly/partner-in-crime fighting kind of way. However, she respects the fact that he’s a devoted family man and would never overstep that friendship boundary.
So? Where does that leave her? Her love is for the team … all of them … and definitely for those who were lost in during the decimation. The “vanished” as they’re being referred to in the movie. She wants nothing more than to bring them back and dedicates herself to overseeing what’s left of the Avengers facility and their peacekeeping efforts.
When her pivotal scene comes within Endgame, she heroically does “whatever it takes” to complete the mission. My take: Natasha has definitely wiped all the red from her ledger!
Captain America (Steve Rogers):
The Captain’s story is definitely one of love lost. He sacrificed everything, giving up the love of his life (Peggy Carter), when his plane crashed into the ocean 70 years earlier. During those intervening years, the world (including his lost love) moved on without him.
Steve is definitely the most noble, honest, and forthright of all the Avengers … this is confirmed when he finally gets to wield Mjolnir. He also has a difficult-to-define romance. Despite remaining young and vibrant after his 70 odd years as what was once tagged a “capsicle”, he’s never sought out another relationship. He had one brief kiss with the niece of his long-lost love but, other than that, his only romantic emotion is shown in the loving way he refers back to a picture of Peggy Carter that he carries in his WWII issue compass.
It seemed only fitting that the resolution Captain America/Steve found in Endgame was one that kept him right where he wanted to be … sharing the promised dance and a kiss with the women he loved.
Hawkeye (Clint Barton):
Every good story starts out with drama, and Endgame was no exception. Set on the day of the “decimation” from Infinity War, the story opens with a shot of retired Avenger, Clint Barton (Hawkeye) enjoying a beautiful day with his family. They’re all there one minute and then, post snap, gone the next.
Needless to say, our hero is devastated. So much so, he goes all vengeful and begins meting out punishment as the anti-hero Ronen. Because he can’t bring back his family, he makes it his goal to rid the world of those who are taking advantage of the weak that are left after the decimation. Fortunately, over the course of the movie, his character morphs back into the Avenger we’ve come to know and love.
When the Avengers reverse Thanos’ original decimation snap, the first confirmation we get that all is well is when Clint/Hawkeye receives a phone call from his wife. The sheer look of joy on his face when he sees her caller ID is the way every romantic hero should look at the love of his life!
Hulk (Bruce Banner):
If you thought Captain America’s romance was hard to define, the Hulk’s is even more unusual. In the original MCU version of The Hulk, we saw the impossibility of a physical connection. Blood pressure rises (as it does with great emotion/arousal), and Bruce hulks out! Not good in the bedroom, for sure.
As we move forward through the next twenty movies, we see a definite romance brewing between Natasha and Bruce. They share a very emotional scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Bruce explains that any sort of romance/home/family is off limits to him. To his surprise, Natasha doesn’t seem to mind and is willing to accept what they can have, even suggesting they could run off together and get away from their dangerous, avenging lives.
In Endgame, we see the extent of Hulk/Bruce’s emotions when he loses Natasha for good. He is devastated just as anyone would be who’d lost the person they loved.
Okay, so I’m sneaking in a plot point here: I was not crazy about the change-over to Professor Hulk. I knew it was coming (thanks to leaks and comic book plots), but it just wasn’t one of my favorite character arcs. I would have much rather seen him remain Bruce and maybe work on controlling the “code green” use of the Hulk a bit better.
Ironman (Tony Stark):
Tony Stark has become the most pivotal character in the MCU story arc. He began it all with the first Ironman movie and has appeared in more of the franchise than in other hero. In Endgame, we find him stranded in outer space, his heartfelt audio love letter to Pepper Potts is both telling and touching. He reveals the softer side of Tony Stark for the entire world to see.
Back on earth, thanks to the timely save of Captain Marvel, Tony takes the advice he only joked about in Avengers: Age of Ultron and buys Pepper a farm. Fast forward five years, Tony and Pepper are now raising their daughter Morgan. When this idyllic paradise is interrupted by his fellow Avengers seeking his help to create a time portal, Tony turns them down, claiming he can’t risk what he has for something he doesn’t think will work.
Of course Tony goes on to figure out the quantum realm/time travel paradox which leads into the entire plot of the movie: bringing back the Vanished!
We’ve seen the development of Tony and Pepper’s relationship from the very beginning. It wasn’t always smooth. What romance is? But, their love and affection for one another was always there, finally culminating in the planned marriage we saw in Infinity War and the real one, complete with that farm, in Endgame.
Ironman’s final sacrifice is the ultimate love letter to the MCU fans. Ironman was never my favorite character but even I was moved by the ending. Plus, he does a bang up job of summing up everything in his beyond-the-grave video to his love ones.
Thor (yes, just Thor—God of Thunder):
Last, but certainly not least, is Thor. My favorite Avenger. Over the course of the MCU movies, beginning in the original Thor, it has always been alluded to that Thor (who happens to be 1500 years old), has romanced many women. No doubt.
His first on-screen relationship was with Jane Foster, a mere mortal who steals his heart. Quite truthfully, I was never a fan of the relationship and happy to see it end. In the third installment, Thor Ragnarok, we meet Valkyrie and I personally saw more sparks fly between these two characters in half a movie than I did with Jane Foster’s character in two. My fingers were crossed for Thor and Valkyrie to expand on their romance during Endgame.
No such luck.
Instead, Thor’s character is built around his reactions to the events of Infinity War. At the end of Ragnarok, we see Thor and the people of Asgard fleeing their home in search of another. The loss of their home planet is heartbreaking but at least they survived.
Cue Thanos and Infinity War. By the time we reached the end of that movie, Thor had lost everything and everyone near and dear to him. He was a broken man who blamed himself for the decimation when he was unable to stop Thanos from snapping away half the universe.
Endgame opens with most of the Avengers, along with Captain Marvel, seeking out Thanos to take the Infinity Stones. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and Thor ends up chopping off Thanos’ head. You’d think that would help ease his pain but instead it makes it worse when he realizes that he’s also now eliminated the possibility of bringing back the Vanished.
Following the five-year fast forward, we now meet a new Thor, a different Thor. As a lot of people do when they’re depressed, he’s become a hermit. Rather than lead New Asgard, he’s holed up with beer, pizza and video games. His character, once buff and strong, has morphed into a depressed, overweight, slovenly wreck. Valkyrie has been left to run the kingdom and Miek and Korge are his only companions.
So where can we find romance here? It’s well-hidden, but it’s there.
Hulk and Rocket come to Thor’s aid, dragging him from his depression and back into the world of avenging. His task in the grand scheme requires him to return to a past Asgard to retrieve the Ether. He and Rocket make the time jump and he has a very touching heart to heart with his mother.
His love for his lost family is evident. Obviously, not romantic love in that sense, but emotional love all the same.
More plot point discussion: I was fine with depressed Thor. I’ve known many people who have dealt with depression/PTSD by eating and drinking.
I was even okay with our first look at Thor. I thought the whole screaming at the kid playing video games was a bit unnecessary, but I let that pass as it showed Thor asserting himself instead of being a milquetoast. And, I appreciated Professor Hulk’s sincere speech about how Thor had helped him through a rough time. I thought, “oh good”, Hulk’s going to help redeem this broken version of Thor.
Didn’t happen. Instead, Thor’s character became the butt of far too many jokes. Tony Stark’s quip referencing The Big Lebowski, the horrible scene of Thor rambling incoherently when trying to explain where to find the Ether, the crying and running off when he’s on Asgard, and … most notably … Rhodey’s comment about cheese whiz.
Instead of helping Thor regain his dignity and health, the writers used him for comic relief. As a diehard MCU fan, this broke my heart.
The one show of redemption came at the beginning of the battle scene. Thor summons his strength, lightning crashes, both Stormbreaker and Mjolnir light up, his scraggily beard braids into a Viking-esque look and … finally … Thor is back!
We get a touching scene during the closing minutes of the film where Thor tells Valkyrie that he needs to be the man he was meant to be, not the man he’s expected to be (e.g., a hero, not a king). He turns over leadership of New Asgard to Valkyrie and rides off into the sunset with Rocket and the crew.
Going forward, we see him joining the Guardians of the Galaxy or, as he quips, the Asgardians of the Galaxy. He’s still overweight and scruffy but no longer depressed. He’s got his hero mojo back. I’m a bit hesitant to see him pared with the Guardians as there’s already enough humor there. The “who’s the boss” banter between Thor and Quill will get old quickly.
Hopefully, the writers will redeem Thor’s character before the next movie and allow him to become less of a cartoon and more of a hero. Also, when we get that promised Thor 4, I’m hoping he comes back to help New Asgard and we finally get to see the romance between him and Valkyrie heat up to where it should be.
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For those of you who enjoy a bit of romance with your post-apocalyptic world building, you might want to check out my Sci-Fi romance, The Vessel.
A career soldier, Major Liam McGregor has been following strict military orders for over a decade. Considered one of the best by his superiors, it’s not surprising he’s the operative chosen for an assignment that, if successful, could save mankind.
Years earlier, chemical warfare left the women of earth sterile and the population is dwindling fast. The only hope for survival lies in the government scientists’ ability to successfully breed alien females with healthy human males. So far, their attempts have been mediocre at best.
Alora, second daughter of the House of Delawon, is their last hope. A government protectee since her family’s transport crash landed on earth years earlier, she is the last surviving fempod from Tethys, one of Saturn’s habitable moons.
Together Liam and Alora must travel from the government’s safe house in what used to be the state of Colorado to Traverse City, the new capitol of the United Republic. Their route takes through both safe and hostile territory.
What poses more of a threat? The lawless marauders who’ll stop at nothing to vanquish their prey? Or, the forbidden desires tempting the soldier and the alien princess?