The End of the Line

The End of the Line

Avengers

{ image via Marvel/The Wrap }

*Warning: Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahead.*

22 movies. 11 years. And it all came down to this.

“Part of the journey is the end.”

– Tony Stark

If you are not yet privy to the international phenomena known as Avengers: Endgame, allow me to enlighten you. It is somewhat of an ending to a twenty-two film journey that has spanned multiple characters, storylines, and planets. All of it has been based on the comic books made by Marvel, and it has come to be known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

I have never read a comic book in my life. I don’t think that makes me any less of a fan. I have just experienced these stories through a different medium.

The first movie I ever watched within the Marvel Cinematic Universe was The Avengers. It was 2012, the summer before I started middle school. I heard about this very hyped up movie, and I wanted to see it. I am fairly certain that I had never actually seen a superhero movie before in my life, but something about this one intrigued me. So, I went to see it with my dad. And that’s when things changed. I left the theater fascinated by these superheroes. There was a guy who loved America even more than me? And some guy from another planet whose brother kept causing problems? And a guy who was really good at archery? And, most surprising to me, a woman? It certainly wasn’t that I didn’t think a woman could be a superhero. (I had heard of DC’s Wonder Woman and Supergirl.) I had just never seen one before. So, in that way, Black Widow opened up a new, exciting door for me.

After that, it became my mission to watch every MCU film that had been released. Poor, young, tasteless Mary-Faith had some interesting opinions about which films were best. Thankfully, times have changed. But one thing never has – from the very first time I saw him, Captain America has been my favorite superhero. He has embodied the idea of a hero to me. I have loved Steve Rogers as much as I have loved Cap, and I loved him just as much pre-serum, when he was a little guy ready to fight a big bully.

Needless to say, I have seen all 22 films by now. Some have been better than others. (Personally, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, and Thor: Ragnarok are the three I consider to be absolutely perfect.) But none of them have been just movies. Some have deeply affected me, like Black Panther, which started a new conversation about representation in film, and Captain Marvel, which was Marvel’s first female-led film. Some say fantasy is escapist, and maybe it is. But these characters have given me strength. If they can do that, then maybe I can do this.

If Wanda Maximoff can lose everyone she loves and fight those who have hurt her…

If Tony Stark can completely change who he is to become a better person…

If Carol Danvers can find her own power after being manipulated for years…

If Natasha Romanoff can accept her past and move on to find a better future with her new family…

If Steve Rogers can consistently choose honor and integrity, no matter what…

Avengers: Endgame was not the end of the road, but for some characters, it was. Watching this movie was a deeply emotional experience for me, as it was for millions of fans (and all of the people sitting around me in the theater who cried with me…shoutout to you guys). It’s been said that this movie is a gift to fans, and I agree with that. But it seems strange that Marvel would thank us when we should be thanking them.

For 22 films. For a new world. For laughs and smiles and tears. For characters to identify with and be inspired by. For stories that will never get old. For Natasha, who taught me to forgive. For Tony, who taught me to grow. For Steve, who taught me to love. Thank you.

“I used to be embarassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.”

– Stan Lee, Former Vice President of Marvel Comics

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