I will be unable to see Avengers: Endgame this opening weekend, but I’m not too upset about it. The Marvel movie franchise has been hit or miss, lately. Some films, like Avengers: Civil War, have been top-notch comedic action flicks. Others, especially those intended to fill particular demographic niches, have been second-rate. However, Endgame has potential to be one of the better Marvel films because of the excellent set up of Infinity War. Having arch-enemy Thanos (cognate of the Greek word for death) destroy half the world’s population for the purpose of human sustainability leaves room for many intriguing possible endings.
The ending that makes most sense to me would involve Tony Stark defeating Thanos through scientific expertise—the moral of the story being that technological advancement makes Thanos' Malthusian analysis obsolete. Everyone can be restored to life because overpopulation, climate catastrophe, and other apocalyptic scenarios can be staved off through human ingenuity and innovation. But, I highly doubt Marvel will make my version a reality.
I fear it is far more likely is that Marvel will, once again, succumb to social and political pressure. They might attempt to please everyone by being as inclusive as possible. This would mean that Captain Marvel, the newly-minted feminist character, would require a role equal to or superior to the male characters. It would also mean that Thanos would need to be be defeated not by one white, male scientist, but rather by an intersectional coalition of different genders, races, and religious affiliations.
This got me thinking—what would be the most “woke” possible ending for this sequel? Here is what I came up with:
First off, all of the white men would need to be impotent, of course. Perhaps Ant Man’s suit is not working properly. Iron Man could be having another nervous breakdown. The Hulk might find it difficult to swell up to full size for some reason. Captain America, especially, would have to be hamstrung by self-criticism and an awareness of his own inadequacy.
While all of these fragile losers try to figure out why they can no longer fulfill their masculine roles, War Machine, Black Widow, Black Panther, Okoye, Nebula, Wong, and Pepper Potts join hands to defeat Thanos. Heck, even Rocket could be thrown into this group for an inter-species element. The group is obviously empowered by their diversity. The diversity aspect of their group-strength would need to be made explicit, several times, through painfully preachy summation dialogue, like this:
“We could never have done this without each and every one of us working together.”
Meanwhile, Captain Marvel, the “Superman” of the Marvel Universe, must fight Thanos in hand-to-hand combat by herself. At some point during this fight, she should come close to losing through the loss of her powers. Perhaps Thanos taunts her, calling her weak and making her doubt her own abilities. Then, at the moment when all seems lost, the powerless Carol Danvers will simply remember how powerful she was as a little girl, close her eyes, and then all of this powerful energy will be summoned up from her very womanness into one final blow that seals Thanos away forever.
A sub-plot could include the white, male Avengers needing to be saved from themselves. Perhaps, in their toxic go-your-own-way masculinity, they end up entangling themselves in one of Thanos’ traps. A countdown clock signals their impending doom. Only by cracking some kind of encrypted code can they escape. Scientists Stark and Banner spend the entire film trying and failing to figure it out. Near the end, Wakandan scientist Shuri shows up and accomplishes what the men failed to do the whole time, demonstrating her superior IQ.
Will Marvel create an Endgame that is woke or watchable? I will have to wait until next weekend to find out.