The Marvel Cinematic Universe is kaput. We’ve had a year to contemplate the great dusting, and while we never doubted the return of blockbuster characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man, we also fear what their resurrection will cost the others. Avengers: Endgame could serve as a grand going-out party for Captain America and Iron Man. The Russo Brothers have an opportunity to deliver a rousing heroic victory tinged with sacrificial heartache. You can’t overturn Thanos and expect everything to be warm and fuzzy.
We’ll be free from the speculation game in little over a month. Until then, however, we must dig into the latest Marvel Studios trailer and analyze every tantalizing second of it. Within the 2 minutes and 25 seconds, the marketers don’t appear to give us much to work with. Flashbacks, flashbacks, flashbacks. Cool, cool, cool. I appreciate the restraint, team, but we’re still going to spend the day scrounging for every possible narrative scrap.
So, yeah, it doesn’t appear like there is much to work with there. Yet, holy hell, there is a lot to blather on about. We’ve got possible new characters, a bunch of clues as to where salvation lies for our favorite Avengers, and hero shot after hero shot after hero shot. Just when you think you can’t possibly be more excited about a movie — boom — here we are. Let’s dig in.
We open where it all began. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), with shrapnel seeping ever-closer to his heart, collapsed in the desert. His Mark I armor having just saved his hide from the clutches of the Ten Rings terrorists. His black & white memory is playing like a “Last time on the Avengers” television intro. It may seem like a thousand years ago for him and a few crotchety joyless members in the audience, but for us, it was a rapid-fire decade that produced 21 segments of the MCU, and it’s all been leading to this epic finale. Tony has walked away from every fight he’s ever faced. Will he be so lucky this time?
He fought his way out of that cave and became Iron Man. His final reward is to die in the cold loneliness of space while he wistfully apologizes to fiancee Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) via his helmet’s hologram recorder. We’ve seen this shot before, but the decapitated, broken, and retooled Iron Man skull is about as apt a metaphor for how we’re all feeling post-Avengers: Infinity War as you could get.
Tony has come a long way since the promiscuous billionaire we met in the original film. Facing the repeated possibility of death, staring down the barrel of an empty mass murderer legacy, and continually finding the acceptance of Pepper at the end of each day changed this selfish drunk. Tony Stark has a heart, but it took a gift from Pepper to reveal that notion to the man himself.
Adrift in space, waiting to consume the last gasps of oxygen aboard the Benatar, Tony Stark leaves his apology to Pepper Potts and the rest of the universe. He failed, and he’s preparing to make an exit.
The trailer shifts perspectives. We leave the memories of Tony Stark and drift into the sorrow of his Civil War opponent. The billionaire shares blame with that other failure, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). No one can hold a burden quite like Captain America. We hear his lost love Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) explain how the world changed. Hah. If she only knew. I also appreciate how these ancient flashbacks are composed of the same pallor as The Vision’s lifeless, gray corpse. The reds providing just a hint of color to let you know that there was once vibrancy here.
New York City is all doom and gloom. The remaining huddled masses of planet Earth gather around each other. Misery loves company based on all those docked ships around the Statue of Liberty. “None of us can go back,” says Peggy. What’s done is done. We have to deal with the hell we’re living in today. There’s no use in crying over spilled milk, right?
In another flashback we see Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) marveling in the archery prowess of his daughter. Based on the length of his hair and the pre-teen/teenage kid, this scene most likely happens around the same time Thanos gets to snapping in Wakanda.
Who wants to bet that after this high-five connects, the young Hawkeye pops into a cloud of dust? Sad, sad, sad. I’d also like to speculate that the MCU could fiddle with the comic book continuity a bit, rename Clint’s daughter Kate, and introduce Hawkeye II within the context of a successful Avengers: Endgame mission. You probably want fewer Hawkeyes on your Avengers, but not me. Let’s get this Young Avengers spinoff franchise happening asap.
As Peggy continues, “All we can do is our best,” we meet back up with Hawkeye in Japan. He’s ditched the bow and arrows, picked up the katana, and found new purpose as the vengeance-seeking Ronin. New haircut, same old superpowerless self.
Peggy finishes her thought, “And sometimes the best we can do is to start over.” Sure, but The Avengers is not a group of folks who have ever faced defeat before. Starting over is not in their nature. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) meets Ronin in the streets after he has slain some faceless villains. She’s here to redirect some purpose to his wandering existence.
More, sickly sad memories. Look at baby Thor (Chris Hemsworth) being all morose about Papa Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) lack of confidence in his ability to reign. Ten years ago he was not fit to be a king of Asgard, and now there’s barely any Asgard left to rule over. Would Odin have aimed for the head?
We revisit a series of dustings from Avengers: Infinity War. The mighty god of thunder was proven impotent by that film’s climax. He spent half that runtime constructing Stormbreaker so he could ram it into Thanos’ chest and when he did he was simply not enough. Everyone will be reeling from the events of the snap, but Thor will need serious assistance to pull him out of a state of self-loathing. More on that later.
We assumed there would be a time jump in Avengers: Endgame and this shot of Black Widow’s roots confirm it to be so. Captain America laments, “I keep telling everybody they should move on…”
“…some do, but not us.” We’re The Avengers, dammit. This hell on Earth is on us, and we got to make it right. The time to shave the post-Civil War mope beard has come. Steve has to get back in the game.
Guys, Tony P. Henderson is missing! Enjoy falling down an Internet rabbit hole with that shout-out. It’s not worth it, FYI. More importantly, as Black Widow replies, “Even if there’s a small chance,” we get the trailer’s introduction of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). We’ve speculated that the Quantum Realm is the key to undoing the horror of Avengers: Infinity War and this trailer all but confirms that suspicion.
“We owe this to everyone who is not in this room, to try.” Black Widow and Hawkeye together again. This adventure has to top their exploits in Budapest. Time to get your game faces on Avengers.
Hawkeye speeds through a hallway that looks straight out of James Cameron’s Aliens. He’s fleeing a fireball erupting from an unknown source. Missed it by that much.
Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), the sole survivor of the Guardians of the Galaxy, mounts himself atop War Machine (Don Cheadle). Who needs a Gatling gun when you’re armed with this ferocious badass?
“Whatever it takes…” Captain America begins a mantra. What sky do you think that is behind the mighty Thor? Wakandan? Are we back to that fateful moment when Odinson failed to aim for the head? After a trip through the Quantum Realm will Thor be given a chance to correct his Stormbreaker swing? Every character in Avengers: Endgame craves a do-over, but maybe none more so than the thunder god.
Nebula could also use another stab at Thanos. “Whatever it takes…”
“Whatever it takes…”
Black Widow bones up on her pistol skills and responds in turn to Cap, “Whatever it takes.”
Cap knocked down on the ground again. He re-straps his shield, prepares to stand, and prepares to knock that smug smile off Thanos’ face. Avengers: Endgame will provide plenty of opportunities for Steve Rogers to land a satisfying thump on the villain, but I still believe that ultimate victory will require a sacrifice of self. He’s given it before, and he’ll be willing to give it again.
There will be plenty of punches to go around, of course. Nice to see that Ant-Man will get some time on the battlefield as well. Although, where is this battlefield? It does not appear to be off-world unless No. 2 pencils are the standard for every intergalactic Scantron test. Could this be Avengers HQ? Tony picks up the mantra, “Whatever it takes.”
The trailer ends with The Right Stuff strut. Steve Rogers leads his Avengers (which now includes Nebula on the roster) where they’ve never gone before. Based on the suit design, the team is geared to enter Hank Pym’s Quantum Realm. They don’t need an Infinity Gauntlet when time can just as easily be manipulated within the microverse. Well, maybe not just as easily, but close enough.
A better shot of Nebula alongside Scott Lang. You have to consider whether Marvel is cheating with these images. Has Captain Marvel been digitally erased from the squad? Could Thanos be standing next to them in this group as well? Wha? Huh? I’m just saying that the Mad Titan might not be as happy with the outcome as he seemed in the last shot of Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos reluctantly helped the Avengers in the comics after the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries. Marvel Studios is known to subvert expectation, and as much as we’re eager to see a purple grimace beatdown, it would be a helluva thing to witness Thanos and the Avengers reluctantly working together to achieve the same goal.
Why does Rhodey get a special War Machine Quantum suit? Shouldn’t they all be decked out in such weaponized armor? Maybe he’s just more comfortable with the bulk.
Hey look, Tony Stark! He made it off the Benatar after all. Phew. Um, unless this is Marvel Studios trailer trickery. We can’t trust them!
Depressed hoodie Thor stares down Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). He calls Stormbreaker to his hand. No one blinks as star-forged steel whips into his mitt.
Stern stare one.
Stern stare two. One badass god meets another.
“I like this one.” Captain Marvel gets the seal of approval from Thor, God of Thunder. Not that she needed it. Her arrival means their salvation as well as their redemption.
Avengers: Endgame saves the Marvel Cinematic Universe on April 26th.