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Podculture: Reactions to ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Alexis White, Assistant Audio Editor

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ALEXIS WHITE: From The Daily Northwestern, this is Alexis White. Thanks for listening. “Avengers: Endgame” premiered April 26. Before the premiere, I discussed theories about “Endgame” with other Daily staff members. In this episode of Podculture, we come back to these theories, talk about what we liked about the movie and discuss an important symbol of American heroism. If you haven’t seen “Endgame” yet, listen to The Daily’s other podcasts. This one will have spoilers. I sat down with —

MELANIE DE VINCENTIIS: Melanie De Vincentiis

JACOB OHARA: Jacob Ohara

CHRISTOPHER VAZQUEZ: Chris Vazquez

WHITE: How many times did you cry during the movie?

VAZQUEZ: I only cried once the first time I saw it, but then I teared up a lot the second time I saw it.

OHARA: I never cried, but I teared up. And definitely the part where I teared up the most was that funeral scene at the very end. The one long shot that went through all the different superheroes.

DE VINCENTIIS: For me, similar, but I started a bit earlier when I realized he was gonna die. Also, he– when Iron Man died.

WHITE: This is not a spoiler-free episode. Yeah, so, I cried 11 times.

VAZQUEZ: You kept count.

WHITE: I kept count, starting when Clint’s kids died and then throughout the movie. I think I cried for a solid thirty minutes at the end.

DE VINCENTIIS: Did you cry for Black Widow?

WHITE: Yes. Of course.

DE VINCENTIIS: I didn’t. I was like, yes, this is the moment that they show that she is a really, really, really good person. And so it was just too good to be sad about.

OHARA: I wanted it to be Hawkeye, personally. I think Black Widow is a more interesting character to me, even though they did a lot to further Hawkeye in that movie.

VAZQUEZ: Yeah, I was also confused when I learned that there was a film with her coming up, which I didn’t learn until after I saw “Endgame.”

DE VINCENTIIS: It’ll be a nice origin story, hopefully. I mean, would people have gone to see the upcoming movie if she hadn’t been so drastically, like dramatically redeemed through her death?

OHARA: I feel like they would have. She’s almost a fan favorite character. She’s the first prominent woman superhero in the Avengers.

WHITE: If they let Hawkeye die, and Hawkeye had a family, and Black Widow didn’t make that sacrifice, I think a lot of people would be really angry at her.

OHARA: Yeah, it wouldn’t have been for lack of trying though.

DE VINCENTIIS: But I think her death was probably more important to the plot. If Hawkeye had died like, OK, they’re all friends. But truly he was the best friend of Natasha, you know, like no one else. They would have been like, “Oh that’s really sad,” but the impact that it had on all the characters was much bigger because it was her.

WHITE: It did bother me after she died when we came back on a scene and it was all male superheroes. And then later when they did the female superheroes all coming together to save Spidey. Like I cheered, it was great, I loved them. But it also felt like, you don’t really care about representation in that way.

DE VINCENTIIS: Maybe this was more of a foreshadowing, being like, look at all these women who are still in the universe. I hope that that was like, “We are going to show this more in the future.” I mean, you know Valkyrie is now ruler of Asgard. So I guess that’s a pretty big hint for the future.

WHITE: And what do you feel about other representation? Like the one very, very, very small gay character?

VAZQUEZ: That upset me because —

OHARA: Really?

VAZQUEZ: Kind of. Because they could have made a major character gay. There have been calls from online to make Captain America bi for a while now, at least in the comic books. And Marvel just didn’t adhere to those at all. But instead they just said, “Oh, if we flip this pronoun, that’s enough for them. We’ll throw them a bone.” That’s what it felt like to me.

WHITE: And they didn’t even show that person with their partner.

VAZQUEZ: Yeah.

WHITE: And it was a Russo brother, wasn’t even an actor.

DE VINCENTIIS: That was so small. I don’t even remember that. That’s wrong.

OHARA: I saw a lot of people saying that the movie was really long, and that was a scene that could have been cut. But I thought it was really cool to see where these superheroes were finding their place when they didn’t have stuff to save in that time span after.

WHITE: I think it was also very meaningful for Cap to be doing that because that’s how he met Sam. Like, you know in Winter Soldier, Sam was doing the support group and now Sam is becoming Captain America. So it’s like a flip role reversal. It’s cute.

DE VINCENTIIS: OK, so why did Falcon get the shield?

WHITE: Yeah. I don’t know. It happened in the comics, but I’m not a fan.

DE VINCENTIIS: He’s not strong enough. Bucky’s a super soldier. He can throw a vibranium shield.

OHARA: Here’s the thing though, for someone (who’s) a symbol of America to give it to someone who is a terrorist like, whatever, 10 years earlier, I feel like is a little shaky. Like Sam, he was a war veteran, right? Like I feel like that’s just a better symbol of —

WHITE: Well, so was Bucky.

OHARA: But —

WHITE: In the greatest war of America.

OHARA: He murdered so many people.

VAZQUEZ: It seems to me like Bucky was also in on it, because he told Sam, “Oh you go ahead to Cap,” when the whole exchange happened. And then after Cap handed Sam the shield, he looked back at Bucky. And Bucky nodded or something, so it seemed like there’s an acknowledgement there.

WHITE: Wrapping up Bucky, I feel like he was one of the characters that was mistreated. His hug with Captain America was so short but that’s been a big arc for Cap, has been finding and connecting with Bucky again. And the final one for me was Loki, because Thor passed him in prison and didn’t freak out at all. But then when he saw his mother it was like, “Oh, it’s a huge deal.” But all of his arc too has been his love for Loki.

OHARA: Thor’s moment with his mother was one of my favorite moments of the whole movie. That quote she had about being the best hero today I thought was so good. And I feel like I would take that over a moment with Loki. But that’s just me.

DE VINCENTIIS: Loki at this point has died like three times, right? Would you have wanted Loki to see Thor in those conditions? Would he have been any kind of addition to Thor’s development, or would it just have been a cheap shot?

OHARA: That’s a great point too, because they’ve had their goodbye before, also. For him to have another, “This is my last time seeing you,” might not be as powerful.

WHITE: OK. That’s true. I didn’t think about that.

DE VINCENTIIS: Scarlet Witch I think has been mistreated a lot. And they tried to bring her back in the scene where she fights with Thanos. She could have ripped him apart, like instantaneously, but dragged it out to a point where she gets distracted, and she gets pushed aside, and it’s someone else’s turn. But I hope she’ll be a much bigger part.

WHITE: What did you guys think about Tony’s arc throughout the movie having kids, you know, coming back to the Avengers, seeing his father and then sacrificing himself?

OHARA: It hurt.

VAZQUEZ: I think it definitely worked, just like as a narrative arc. Like having the first Avenger, so to speak, like the first one who was in the first movie, die at the end. I feel like it was a good closing-off point, kind of.

DE VINCENTIIS: I liked that he died instead of Captain America. I feel like Captain America was already — there (were) already so many good qualities going for him that they emphasize in every single movie.

OHARA: The two things they really focused on were his mortality and fatherhood. And I feel like those were kind of introduced in the very first Iron Man, with him adopting this huge company from his dad and then obviously fighting to save his own life. So to kind of wrap up both of those two arcs, I think was perfect.

WHITE: Yeah. It is interesting how his and Cap’s arcs are kind of opposite. Like Tony started off as selfish and moved to completely selfless. And Cap started off as wanting to go to the war, sacrifice everything for America, and then leave it all behind. And technically Captain America did die. It’s just Steve Rogers now.

OHARA: That’s so true. Yeah.

WHITE: A lot of theories came true oddly, like the Asgardians survived and helped out. And Cap went to the ’40s, and there was time travel.

OHARA: I loved that opening so much, like the way they shot it I thought was so beautiful. It was like, I don’t know why, I definitely should have seen it coming. But somehow I did not see it coming that his family was going to disappear.

WHITE: I like that they killed Thanos because I think in so many of the movies, except for “Infinity War,” the heroes always win. And then they won, but they still didn’t win. And that’s something so important that just hadn’t happened in a movie before.

DE VINCENTIIS: The real question is, what happens to all the people who aged five years, and the people who came back didn’t?

WHITE: This is gonna be a little bit of a topic switch. So there are just a lot of jokes and inside jokes within Marvel, and then just comedy in general. But one that’s a little bit controversial was fat Thor. Was that a joke? A lot of people laughed when they saw him.

VAZQUEZ: I honestly (didn’t) even think about it until I read a piece about it, and I felt like that was an oversight on my part. I feel like I definitely should have been conscious of it. And more audience members also probably should have, and Marvel definitely should have.

DE VINCENTIIS: I think some people maybe chuckled, but it was mostly just a gasp like, “Oh no, he let himself go.” And then you start realizing even more, “Wow, Thor is really actually human in the way he acts, in the way he perceives himself.” It’s like he doesn’t think that he is worthy, and that’s a whole theme of the movie.

OHARA: I do think they may have (taken) the humor a little bit too far. And I also want to point out one interpretation, which was that throughout the end of the film, even when Thor’s fighting Thanos, he never slims down. He stays fat throughout the entirety of the movie, which is an interesting take on your weight doesn’t affect your ability to contribute towards stuff like that.

WHITE: Yeah, I think if they definitely slimmed him down instantaneously, that would have really been offensive.

OHARA: Yeah, it would have been a lot worse.

WHITE: Yeah, so it could have been worse, could have been better.

WHITE: Okay, so happier times. When did you cheer the loudest during the movie?

OHARA: I was definitely when Captain America picked up Thor’s hammer. Like me and my entire theater screamed.

DE VINCENTIIS: They also all screamed when Captain America picked up the hammer.

VAZQUEZ: Yeah, I don’t think I really cheered a whole lot. I remember just like admiring other people cheering.

WHITE: The hammer moment, that was my big moment, but there are definitely so many other times. Probably when Scott came back, when other characters showed up, the portal scene when everybody came back who was dusted. That was great.

OHARA: Definitely when Captain America started fighting Captain America, too. I kind of fell in my seat a little bit. I was like, this is so cool.

WHITE: “I could do this all day.” “Yeah, I know.” When Cap said “Hail HYDRA,” I lost my mind. Let’s see, are there any theories that you really wish would have happened that didn’t?

VAZQUEZ: I wish there was at least some allusion to the Ant-Man Theory.

DE VINCENTIIS: You think that the reference to America’s rear end was just a nod to Thanos’s rear-end theory? Like people want to see a close-up of someone’s rear end. Let’s give them one.

WHITE: I mean, it was Scott Lang (who) said that.

VAZQUEZ: Yeah, maybe.

WHITE: Does he really have America’s rear end?

OHARA: Unequivocally.

WHITE: Yeah, I gotta say out of everyone. He has it.

VAZQUEZ: I kind of disagreed with Tony Stark’s comment. I feel like the old suit also emphasized America’s rear end.

WHITE: I agree with that as well.

WHITE: Okay, who was the real hero of the movie? For example, the rat that saves Scott Lang.

DE VINCENTIIS: Actually though.

WHITE: Yeah. That kind of kick-started everything.

DE VINCENTIIS: Can you imagine Doctor Strange understanding that that rat was the only reality? There’s just so many variables, and somehow this rat just saves that timeline and Doctor Strange knew that.

OHARA: I think it’s Hulk for giving Ant-Man that taco after his got blown away. I loved that moment.

DE VINCENTIIS: That was nice.

WHITE: I think it’s Carol, who after getting head-butted by Thanos just was unbothered. And her hair. Both of those combined.

OHARA: She didn’t even move, I don’t think, when she got hit.

WHITE: Didn’t even blink. What have you guys been doing to recover from “Endgame?”

VAZQUEZ: I’ve been going online and reading old Marvel Comics as a form of stress relief. It’s really good.

OHARA: You need to tell people about what you found on Twitter. It’s so cool.

WHITE: I found this Twitter thread of all the Marvel movies with ABBA songs overlaid on important scenes. And they’re really good.

VAZQUEZ: We can embed it in the transcript.

WHITE: Okay, perfect.

OHARA: There’s this series on YouTube that I’ve been watching called “One Marvelous Scene.” A bunch of different film analysts, I guess, on YouTube, were all assigned a different Marvel movie. And they pick the best scene from the movie and break it down. It’s kind of fun to look back on all 22 films.

DE VINCENTIIS: Well, you know, I watched the first Iron Man when I was like nine. So I feel I didn’t really go back and ever rewatch it. I just have this fuzzy image of what happened. A lot of people reference really specific things, and I’m like, I don’t remember that at all. So as soon as I’m done with my finals, because I guess we’re still here at Northwestern, I will definitely go and watch them all.

WHITE: Thanks for listening. This is Alexis White, and I’ll see you next time.

Email: alexiswhite2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @alexisfwhite


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