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The ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Exit Survey

Talking the end of Thanos, [REDACTED]’s sacrifice, and Carol Danvers’s questionable haircut

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Ringer illustration

You saw it, we saw it, people spent a combined $1.2 billion to see it. Avengers: Endgame, the massive culmination of this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is the biggest movie in history. So let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about Thanos’s retirement plan, Carol Danvers’s haircut, and Old Captain America.

Spoiler alert

1. What is your tweet-length review of Avengers: Endgame?

Alison Herman: The Leftovers did it better, but Endgame did it bigger.

Sean Yoo: The MCU spent 11 years making 22 movies, over 40 hours of superhero content, all culminating in a three-hour movie that overwhelms the concept of “fan service.” I can honestly say it was one of the best rides I’ve ever been on.

Miles Surrey: Better than a movie full of fan service that undoes everything that happened in its predecessor has any right to be.

Andrew Gruttadaro:

Riley McAtee: A satisfying entry in the MCU saga (I can’t call it a conclusion because we all know that Disney will still be pumping out Marvel movies long after we’re all dead). Time travel still makes no sense in anything, ever.

Shaker Samman: Come for the stunning battle sequence, stay for the surprising emotional depth, consider leaving because the time travel part makes no sense.

Jonathan Tjarks: Turning this many loose ends into a reasonably coherent movie is a miracle in and of itself.

Jackson Safon: The real endgame was the friends we made along the way.

2. What was the best moment of the film?

Gruttadaro: The climactic battle is an unbelievable flex, a surreal spectacle. Seeing basically every famous person in the world on the same CGI-filled screen was impressive—and humbling, in a way.

Yoo: There’s probably half a dozen “best moments” within Endgame’s three-hour run time, but the moment that left the biggest mark for me was Captain America wielding the mighty hammer Mjölnir. It was teased in Age of Ultron but seeing it finally happen was worthy of the title “best moment.”

Safon: Every single time Fat Thor was on screen. He is a modern treasure and we must protect him at all costs.

Herman: As someone who identifies less as a Marvel fan than as a dispassionate appreciator of Marvel’s feats of content creation, I have to tip my hat to the time travel device. Actually revisiting high points of the MCU’s nearly two dozen films at the close of one of its many chapters is incredibly literal-minded. It’s also a pretty genius way to invoke these characters’ histories without exposition dumps, not to mention flex those in-house special effects chops.

Samman: How much does it say about me if I stan for the Leftovers portion of the movie? The entire first hour when everyone is like, “Wow, all our friends are dead and life is meaningless” hit me in a way I was not expecting.

Surrey: Endgame is most effective in its quiet moments. I really loved the opening scene that reveals why Hawkeye turned into your divorced mom’s new boyfriend with a Harley, as well as Tony Stark’s conversation with his father in the past. And, of course, Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter finally getting their dance!

Tjarks: Going back in time into your own movies takes navel-gazing to a new level, and they don’t even try to make the rules of time travel internally consistent, but it was still pretty cool to see Iron Man and Thor talk to their dead parents. Sometimes you just gotta know that your dad loved you.

McAtee: The cold open with Hawkeye was so chilling and effective that it shut up the preteen boys sitting in front of me.

3. What was your least favorite part of the movie?

McAtee: The 20 minutes in which the superheroes and villains took turns punching each other in the face without any real consequences. Every Marvel movie ends with roughly this same 20-minute CGI-laden sequence, and every time it feels boring, repetitive, and completely devoid of any stakes. Endgame was no different.

Gruttadaro: The lack of focus on logistics. The idea that half of the population died and then came back five years later—while the rest of the population lived on—is truly fucked up. I sort of wish they alluded to that even a little bit in the film’s closing moments.

Safon: It’s a tie between all of Captain America’s corny pep talks and the fact that apparently EVERY SINGLE PERSON at Peter Parker’s school got snapped in the original snap because they’re all still the same age (as opposed to five years apart for half the kids) at the end of the movie.

Herman: You can have a big “we support women!” moment during the big battle or you can have half a dozen female characters emote silently yet adoringly at their male companions. Preferably, you wouldn’t have either. Definitely, you shouldn’t have both.

Surrey: The climactic battle was a bit derivative. Marvel’s never been good at staging fight scenes, a couple of great tussles in The Winter Soldier notwithstanding. Captain Marvel’s empowerment moment with the Infinity Gauntlet, surrounded by the MCU’s female heroes, was also a little too hokey for my taste—you could practically hear the screenwriters high-fiving one another.

Samman: Anything relating to Captain Marvel. I get it. She’s overpowering and can do a bunch of cool stuff, and she was the key to beating Thanos. But her character has the charisma of a thimble, and the scene when she lined up with all the female Avengers, while cool, elicited a Liz Lemonesque eye roll from me, considering she could buzz through Thanos’s drones without batting an eye. She just torpedoed his ship without a problem! She doesn’t need your help beating a horde of nameless steroid space cats!

Yoo: Time travel’s a bitch. Look, I love time travel movies but most of them are filled with flaws and serious plot holes; Endgame is no different and my brain is not thrilled about it.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

4. Who was the MVP? Who didn’t get enough screen time?

Samman: Could it be anyone but Iron Man? Robert Downey Jr. delivered a showstopper in his last performance in the role and sent his character off with a touching sacrifice. Cap once said he was never the guy to fall on the grenade, and Tony spent the next decade proving him wrong.

Herman: The obvious MVP candidate is Tony, but he’s also the only one. Of course the character who started the MCU, and whose smart-alecky bearing defines its entire ethos, gets to wind down its master narrative. Of course Robert Downey Jr. makes every bombast-deflating joke and sudden pivot to gravitas land. His paychecks may equal the GDP of a small island nation, but they’re justified.

Conversely, maybe Captain America 2 should’ve gotten a bit more to do so that taking over the franchise’s most consistent property carried slightly more weight? I’m a reasonably dutiful consumer and couldn’t remember for the life of me who that guy is or when the last time I saw him at the multiplex was.

McAtee: The rat living in Ant-Man’s van is the clear MVP. But it’s a different animal I would have liked to see more of: Rocket Raccoon. He was disappointingly relegated to the sideline for most of the movie.

Surrey: Give it up for [checks notes three times over] the cyborg assassin Nebula?! Karen Gillan is a revelation, whether she’s plastered in blue makeup or beating up dudes in the jungle.

As for LVP, has there been a character more shorthanded than Bucky Barnes over these past two movies? My man barely has any lines and doesn’t even get Cap’s shield for his troubles. I wasn’t too bummed about this, but considering my girlfriend owns Winter Soldier basketball shorts, there will be some people out there who are totally despondent about this development.

Yoo: Fat Thor is the unanimous MVP, literally and figuratively the pound-for-pound king of the movie. I’ll be honest, though: I wish we got more screen time with Thanos. He’s easily the MCU’s greatest villain and one of the most multidimensional characters in the series.

Tjarks: Thor Lebowski. Chris Hemsworth is by far the most likable of any of the main actors. I can never get enough of his big rock friend, either. I could have watched a lot more of them playing video games.

Safon: Fat Thor is the actual MVP, but I’d probably give it to Tony Stark as part of a lifetime achievement award. Meanwhile, Korg and Drax always feel like they deserve more screen time because literally every single thing they say is funny. But it’s possible they’re firmly in the “Creed Bratton Zone” in that part of the reason they’re so funny is that their lines are a tad sparse.

Gruttadaro: Korg was the MVP. Shuri has no lines. Did you read what I just wrote? Shuri. SHURI. Had no lines. Who needs to be arrested?

5. Who had the best “five years later” look?

McAtee: I don’t know about five years later, but by my rough calculations, Captain America is at least 110 years old in that final scene. He didn’t look a day over 98!

Samman: If anyone answers Lebowski Thor, I’m demanding they be tried at the Hague for war crimes. That bit works for like 30 minutes. Not three hours. The real winner here is the Hulk, if only because I didn’t know you could buy cable-knit sweaters in that size.

Surrey: I don’t say this lightly: Thor Lebowski slamming beers, complaining about cable, and playing Fortnite with Korg is iconic.

Tjarks: Thor living his best life and giving up his crown to be a bum. He has seen and done too much. He’s over it. I respect it.

Yoo: Fat Thor and only Fat Thor. But I will say, even though I know it happens in the comics, Carol Danvers’s new haircut ain’t it, chief.

Gruttadaro: Captain Marvel be like …

Safon: While I currently pray at the church of Fat Thor, the Bruce Banner-Hulk mashup was brilliant. It was incredibly creative, and the diner scene when he took the picture with the fan girls was one of the best scenes in the entire movie.

Herman: Pepper! Cozying up in a lake cabin and reading up on composting is my preferred postapocalypse coping mechanism, too.

6. Finish the sentence: “Overall, Thanos was …”

Gruttadaro: … just like Don Draper:

Safon: … a good villain, but in reality, Nebula was the Bad Guy MVP of Endgame.

Yoo: … the best MCU villain ever and one of the coolest characters to ever grace the superhero movie realm. May he rest peacefully in his garden full of spiky fruits.

Surrey: … a much better proponent of farm-to-table dining than intergalactic genocide. Thanos, retire to your space crops, bitch.

Samman: … a worthy villain to cap a decadelong story arc. Also, thicc as hell.

McAtee: … the most complex and interesting villain in MCU history. The bar here is very, very low, but still. I’ll miss him.

Herman: … perhaps too effective? The movie never came up with a real rebuttal to the whole “Earth is actually a lot cleaner and more sustainable now, plus jeopardizing other timelines’ security is kinda selfish” thing beyond “but we miss our friends!” Thanos has a genuine commitment to principle; he even destroys his ticket to omniscience and retires to a life of rustic stew-making once his work is done. The Avengers have quips and charisma. I know which side of that equation wins at the movies, but not necessarily in my own sympathies.

Tjarks: … there. This movie wasn’t really about him, unlike the first one. It kind of feels like he still won, though. He dominated the Avengers so utterly they had to destroy the fourth wall to get back at him.

7. Which send-off brought you to tears?

Safon: Is “none” an acceptable answer at The Ringer?

McAtee: I really didn’t expect Iron Man would die going into this! Dr. Strange holding up one finger to Tony sent chills down my spine. RIP.

Herman: “I lost the kid,” followed by Tony and Peter’s reunion, takes up maybe 0.02 percent of this movie’s run time. Together, they pack about 80 percent of its emotional punch.

Tjarks: Iron Man talking to his daughter from beyond the grave. That whole scene at his funeral was super real. I would have loved to have seen the Civil War movie where Iron Man was on the other side of Captain America because he didn’t want to undo the last five years. I don’t know if I would be too interested in saving the world if it meant my kid grew up without a father.

Yoo: Tony Stark’s goodbye was emotionally devastating for me. Iron Man came out when I was in high school and has essentially been a constant presence in my life for the past 11 years. I know it sounds corny to say but I felt like I lost a friend. Thankfully Robert Downey Jr. is still alive and at this point has basically become Tony Stark.

Surrey: I was doing OK. Tony Stark died, I held back my tears. But then they had to show Cap dancing with Peggy Carter. Perhaps it’s because this entire conflict hinged on a rapture, but the scene brought back memories of Kevin and Nora in The Leftovers finale, and I was bawling my eyes out.

Samman: The last time I cried during a movie was when the whale jumped the wall at the end of Free Willy. I was 7. That being said, I did get a little emotional when Morgan told Happy she wanted cheeseburgers.

Gruttadaro: When Pepper “Not Gwyneth Paltrow” Potts had to put down her book on composting.

8. Pick a Cap: Skinny Cap, Buff Cap, Bearded Cap, or Old Man Cap

Samman: Bearded Cap. As a Noted Beardman, I firmly believe that most of us look better with some fur darkening/covering the lower half of our faces.

McAtee: As detailed above, give me Old Man Cap! I hope to look half that good when I’m a supercentenarian.

Yoo: Old Man Cap was iconic.

Gruttadaro: Old Man Cap seems like a real chill hang. I’d go golfing with him. He’d pay for everything and give you gifts and stuff.

Tjarks: Old Man Cap. Feels like the theme of this movie was all the original Avengers putting down their capes and going normcore. The whole being a hero thing only goes so far. The most heroic thing any of us can do is live a normal life and raise a family.

Herman: Cap in the sepia photograph on Peggy’s desk. The woman has an eye!

Surrey: Press Tour Cap.

Safon: Old Man Cap, simply because he’s “content with his life,” so he has some restraint as opposed to just saying the first cheesy motivational thing that comes into his head.

9. So … what’s next?

Surrey: I want to say this is a perfect ending for the MCU, and the whole enterprise should end on a high note. But that’s obviously not happening (for business reasons) and beyond that, are you telling me Guardians 3 is going to add Fat Thor to the ensemble?! WHERE DO I SIGN?

Yoo: I’m extremely curious to see what direction Kevin Feige and Co. decide to take the MCU, because it seems like the stakes can’t get any higher than Thanos. I guess we’ll all have to subscribe to Disney+ to find out!

Safon: Even with the controversy surrounding production, I’m very in on Fat Thor joining the Guardians of the Galaxy team. Hopefully he can bring Korg with him.

Samman: Hopefully a break. I need to catch my breath.

Tjarks: Thor Lebowski and the Guardians of the Galaxy. I really hope he’s in the next movie. He and Chris Pratt probably had the most chemistry of any pairing in this whole movie.

Gruttadaro: Gosh, thinking about human run governments trying to refigure their infrastructure after half the population returned is terrifying. The Avengers technically won because all the people are alive, but I kinda think Thanos won anyway, because life is irrevocably messed up now.

McAtee: Maybe a world where I don’t feel compelled by the forces of pop monoculture to see these movies every single time a new one comes out … but probably not.

Herman: Spider-Man: Far From Home, Black Panther 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Doctor Strange 2, and Captain Marvel: She Can Do Anything Now So This Movie Lasts 10 Minutes, for starters!