I, the Antiphoenix, saw Dr Strange recently & thought that it had an unusually good ending for a marvel film, which I seemed to remember being mainly about big grey things falling from the sky, so I decided to look through ALL the MCU films, and review the endings one by one to see if I was right.
All the quotes are from Wikipedia, I gave them $5 this year when they begged for it so don't whine about fair use.
THERE ARE FUCKING SPOILERS IN THIS IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T WORKED THAT OUT ALREADY.
Iron Man - "Stark fights Stane, but is outmatched without his new reactor to run his suit at full capacity. The fight carries Stark and Stane to the top of the Stark Industries building, and Stark instructs Potts to overload the large arc reactor powering the building. This unleashes a massive electrical surge that causes Stane and his armor to fall into the exploding reactor, killing him."
Technically a win through smarts plus GF assistance but really a shithouse evil-version-of-yourself fistfight. Jeff Bridges does his best but even he can't improve on this one. He has a really really bad line at the end that I can't quite remember. This is almost the template of the bad marvel ending. 1 out of 5.
The Incredible Hulk - "After a long and brutal battle through Harlem, the Hulk defeats Blonsky."
Oh god this is bad. No points.
Iron Man 2 - "Stark and Rhodes together defeat Vanko and his drones."
Maybe half a point for power-of-friendship, but conceptually dull as dishwater.
Thor - "Thor arrives and fights Loki before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki's plan, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin awakens and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss created in the wake of the bridge's destruction, but Loki allows himself to fall when Odin rejects his pleas for approval."
Hero having to smash up a culturally important piece of technology, (we're going to see that again), plus a bit of self-sacrifice, plus baddie doing character-supported resentment-driven pseudo-suicide. A solid 3 out of 5.
Captain America - "Schmidt physically handles the Tesseract, causing him to dissolve in a bright light. The Tesseract burns through the plane and is lost in the ocean. Seeing no way to land the plane without the risk of detonating its weapons, Rogers crashes it in the Arctic. Stark later recovers the Tesseract from the ocean floor but is unable to locate Rogers or the aircraft, presuming him dead.
Rogers awakens in a 1940s-style hospital room. Deducing from an anachronistic radio broadcast that something is wrong, he flees outside and finds himself in present-day Times Square, where S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury informs him that he has been "asleep" for nearly 70 years."
Looking back on it, this is actually a really good ending. The stuff with running around the base & fighting on the plane is boring as shit, but the baddy dissolving into light while alternative dimensions are glimpsed THEN the fated crash into the ice which we knew was coming from the opening THEN the 70-year sleep and the MODERN WORLD with a black Nick Fury..
You get the opening possibilities of cosmic weirdness fading into semi-Arthurian sleeping warrior stuff then the-adventure-continues NOW with a kicker of 'your friends are dead' with each thing moving seamlessly into the other.
Plus you get the primal charge of 'he's lost his girl' without a "you can't save them both!" women-in-refrigerators ending.
It's true the comics kinda wrote this ending for them a long time ago, but it was well carried off and actually more interesting than the film that preceded it, and did open up new imagined realities for the world and new emotional space for the character and audience. I think I will give this a tentative 4 out of 5, or maybe even 5 out of 5.
(Also I am holding out for Hugo Weaving to come back at some point, probably in disguise as someone else.)
The Avengers - "The Hulk finds Loki and beats him into submission. Romanoff makes her way to the wormhole generator, where Selvig, freed of Loki's control, reveals that Loki's scepter can be used to shut down the generator. Meanwhile, Fury's superiors attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Midtown Manhattan. Stark intercepts the missile and takes it through the wormhole toward the Chitauri fleet. The missile detonates, destroying the Chitauri mothership and disabling their forces on Earth. Stark's suit runs out of power, and he falls back through the wormhole just as Romanoff closes it. Stark goes into freefall, but the Hulk saves him from crashing to the ground."
Pffff. Back down the drain. A bit of hero self-sacrifice and a cool 'earthbound hero witnesses horrors of the cosmos' bit. Some points for finding almost everyone something useful to do, but still not a great ending.
Functional. 3 out of 5.
Iron Man 3 - "Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian."
Stark can you fucking kill a guy without your girlfriend helping? Also, wow you really fucking *kill* your enemies don't you? Well you are a weapons dude.
This gets a technical plus for use of technology and again for the GF assist, but its still not great. Still a kind of evil version of yourself, still just blowing a guy up & dropping them in an explosion. 2 out of 5.
Thor the Dark World - "Thor battles Malekith through various portals and across multiple worlds until one portal separates them, leaving Malekith unopposed on Earth. Thor returns in time to help his mortal comrades use their scientific equipment to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is crushed by his own damaged ship."
Piss poor. Piss piss poor. Shameful. He threatened the cosmos and got whacked by his own ship. Looks bad for everyone. Maybe 2 out of 5 for the running around alternate worlds stuff and the friend-assist.
Winter Soldier - "Fury arrives and forces Pierce to unlock S.H.I.E.L.D's database so that Romanoff can leak classified information, exposing Hydra to the public...... Rogers fends him off and replaces the final chip, allowing Hill to take control and have the vessels destroy each other. Rogers refuses to fight the Winter Soldier in an attempt to reach his friend, but as the ship collides with the Triskelion, Rogers is thrown out into the Potomac River."
Points lost for CGI-fuckfest, grey-things-falling and some slightly overcomplex whedoning-about of the characters & fighting-in-a-collapsing-base, but some gained for poor fucking Steve Rogers having to fight the only friend he has left in the world and being a super fucking good guy about it.
I will give this one 3 out of 5 just for the secret-power-of-friendship ending, but that's me.
Guardians of the Galaxy - "Ronan emerges from the wreck and prepares to destroy Xandar, but Quill distracts him, allowing Drax and Rocket to destroy Ronan's warhammer. Quill grabs the freed Stone, and with Gamora, Drax, and Rocket sharing its burden, they use it to destroy Ronan."
Ehhhhh, ok. Imaginatively a bit pedestrian get-the-magic-rock ending. Both gains and loses points for the simple and overwhelming embodiment of the power-of-friendship ending, it's never been more literal. Some extra for the extreme purpleness, at least it wasn't too fucking grey. I give it 3 out of 5.
(Maybe an extra half-point as they got me to briefly care about someone destroying an alien world. "He's going to destroy Xandar!")
Avengers Age of Ultron - "The city plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the landmass."
Grey robots, grey city, big grey object falling from a grey height. Grey. 2 out of 5. If that.
Ant-Man - "Cross takes Cassie hostage to lure Lang into another fight. Lang overrides the regulator and shrinks to subatomic size to penetrate Cross' suit and sabotage it to shrink uncontrollably, killing Cross. Lang disappears into the quantum realm but manages to reverse the effects and returns to the macroscopic world."
Points added for the originality and invention of the final fight, for the final contest being a battle-of-smallness and for the cosmic weirdness. BUT, take back one khadum for the boring blonde daughter in danger and for it still being essentially a resentment-fight and an evil-version-of-your-own-powers opponent. 3 out of 5.
Captain America - "Civil War - Satisfied that he has avenged his family's death in Sokovia from the Avengers' actions by irreparably fracturing them, Zemo attempts suicide, but is stopped by T'Challa and taken to the authorities."
Bad guys win motherfucker! Good work Zemo. Damn Cap gets good endings. Dramatically and emotionally resonant but un-cinematic and a bit disconnected from the rest of the film. Could have been television. This ending will not reveal the Well of Souls. 4 out of 5.
Doctor Strange - "Dormammu kills Strange, but realizes that Strange has created an infinite time loop with the Eye of Agamotto that makes him give in to Strange's bargain of leaving Earth in exchange for the souls of Kaecilius and his minions."
Cinematic-as-fuck. Points added for hero making the Ultimate Sacrifice to symbolize and embody their personal growth AND it actually being a smart move. More points added for a hero who is meant to be smart actually doing something smart in a film & outwitting an interdimensional god, which is a Pure Comics Strange ending. Fuck it, I'm going 5 out of 5.
(I may have to remove half a point due the the presence of time-travel as it's poison for serial storytelling.)
WHAT HAVE WE LEARN'ED?
Nothing! Except maybe these things;
- Captain America both suffers like a motherfucker and also gets consistently good-to-excellent endings to his films.
- Captain America's films are also the ones where the good guys are most likely to lose, or to win a phyrric victory.
Cap 1 - Saves western world, trapped in ice while friends age & die.
Cap 2 - Saves freedom but BF evil & world security fucked.
Cap 3 - Saves BF but Avengers fucked.
- Tony Stark consistently wins everything but gets kinda shit endings until he doesn't.
- Also, Stark can't win without Pepper.
- Multiple dimensions can be a powerful force-multiplier to the emotional power of a story IF the emotional power is there to begin with. So, Thor The Dark World had a dull ending and the multiverse was just an empty gilding to it, but Captain America The First Avenger, Ant Man and Dr Strange had good-to-great endings and painting those emotions across realities of pure imagination actually intensified and improved them. A lesson Marvel learnt in comics a long time ago, human emotions on a cosmic scale.
- Fuck grey CGI fuck it fuck it fuck it.
- But blowjobs for colour. Colour gets head all year, well done colour.
- Marvel can't do villians that well. I'm not sure why. They just seem to lack emotional power, I never feel compelled by them. Robert Redford was good in Winter Soldier, but more becasue it's Robert Redford I think, rather than anything else.
- Black Widow doesn't get her own film because she just solves her shit before it even reaches the point of drama. A Black Widow film is her discovering the enemy plot 60 minutes in, subverting it and then killing them by minute 70. The end credits scene is her assassinating another supervillian before they get their shit off the ground and preventing the events of another Avengers movie taking place. She is, paradoxically, too competent to be a dramatic hero.