ENDGAME SPOILERS — STOP HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT ‘EM.
Before Endgame came out, we’d chatted on the GeekFamily back-channels about our wishlist for what the movie might entail. Now, I’m not a comics reader*, so I couldn’t join in on adding characters (with the exception noted at that first footnote I just wrote at that asterisk*) or plot points from old comics runs. But I AM a serious fan of Marvel television, and I found I had a rather strong wish for Endgame coming from that perspective.
It has always bugged me that the TV shows referenced the movie canon all the time, but the movies ignored the TV shows. “Well, how could they not?” people would reply to me. “Movies are in production long before the TV episodes, how would they keep the continuity straight? And they can’t put TV characters in the movies because most of the people going to the movies probably haven’t seen the TV shows!” Both these arguments seemed shallow to me because it wasn’t like I was asking Daisy Johnson to show up and start telling the Avengers all about the surge of Inhuman powered-people that obviously they have heard about, right? Why would it be confusing for non-TV-watchers if the movie characters, like, sheltered in a secret SHIELD base with a random Koenig brother to show them around or something? I mean, I haven’t seen any Ant-Man movies yet***, but I didn’t have trouble figuring out the importance of the Pym Particles and et cetera from context. And I had no clue who that kid at (LAST WARNING, SPOILERS!) Tony’s funeral was, either. There’s really no reason the movies can’t throw us TV fans a bone here for once.
But one thing, in particular, worried me about Endgame, in relation to the TV shows I loved. See, in the previews, Steve kept mooning over his lost love, Peggy Carter, because WHO CAN BLAME HIM, SHE IS THE GREATEST. But dangit, Peggy Carter is NOT just a love interest. She is the freaking founding director of SHIELD! And as my favorite TV show of all time only got the chance to START to prove, she had a long and fulfilling life post-Steve. I was justifiably afraid that that whole fulfilling life, even if just specifically the events of the far-too-soon-lost Agent Carter series, might end up erased just to give Steve that dance he missed.****
And… did it? Oh, the wonderful world of time travel paradoxes! Yeah, Steve got his dance and an implied many, many more… but in an alternate timeline, so nothing truly got erased, right? “But how did Old Steve get back to THIS timeline if he didn’t live it?” people ask, and then others reply, “Oh, it’s been this timeline all along, just well hidden!” This makes the Agent Carter fans glower. “Oh!” somebody puts in, seeing the glowering, “Maybe he went back to AFTER the events of the show!” Oh man, you cruel, cruel people, HOW could you do that to Daniel Sousa? He JUST managed to stop believing that garbage about “What woman would ever trade a vibranium shield for an aluminum crutch,” and then you want Steve Rogers to just walk into their life all “Hi, Babe, I’m back”? I don’t care if you’re not a PegSousa shipper like me (please read my thorough treatise on WHY THEY ARE PERFECT SHUT UP HATERS), that’s just mean.
But you know, I didn’t feel too put out by that ending, because, time travel paradoxes and alternate timelines. I feel like the Steve/Peggy universe got to exist AND the universe of Agent Carter got to keep on existing. I felt all right, that Agent Carter hadn’t been disrespected, because earlier in the movie, they’d done something I hadn’t expected at all.
They threw Agent Carter fans a bone.
So, Steve and Tony go back to a 1970s SHIELD base. Steve watches Peggy be all Director-like. “YES,” I think. “SEE, SHE HAS A LIFE WITHOUT YOU, STEVE.” Tony runs into some slightly familiar-looking guy. “OH. That’s supposed to be Howard. He doesn’t look like Dominic Cooper and this frustrates me. But I guess I shall roll with it because it’s still a cute conversation.” Then Howard bids the man-he-doesn’t-know-is-his-son adieu and walks to his car, and THERE HE IS.
“It’s really him!” I squealed aloud. Quietly. There are Mr. Jarvis and Howard staring in puzzlement away from their car in the very same position I KNOW I’ve seen them in on Agent Carter, even if Howard’s face is wrong. It is clearly a TV show reference, here in a Marvel movie, and I did not see it coming at all.
When Agent Carter was canceled, the, unfortunately, few people who had been watching were like, “you know, this doesn’t have to be the end. They can come back years later in history, showing the early days of SHIELD. There are decades of story for them to pursue here!” Some people said, “Maybe this is a good excuse to bring her back into the movies! I’m sure we’ll see Peggy again in the movies!” Yeah, I was sure we’d see Peggy again in the movies, too. But I didn’t want just PEGGY. They could too easily make that Peggy one who’d never experienced the events of Agent Carter. Sure, she’s my absolute-favorite-MCU-character-and-only-Funko-Pop-I-own, but this is my favorite SHOW as well. I want to see Peggy with her SSR colleagues! I want EDWIN JARVIS, dangit!
THEY GAVE US EDWIN JARVIS. On the big screen. With lines, even! We got to hear his bewildered-yet-genteel stutter in surround sound! It looked less like he’d aged thirty years and more like they’d just given him a bad wig, BUT STILL.
It was probably the one TV show Easter Egg I always most wanted in the MCU, although I might not have been able to pinpoint it in words beforehand. Jarvis always belonged there, in theory. Tony based his first AI assistant on the guy, after all. I am SO GLAD they brought him in, in the flesh. I personally don’t understand how this makes me as happy as it does, but it does. I am, to steal my friend-who-had-the-same-reaction’s word, giddy about it.
On the whole, my feelings for Endgame can best be summed up as “satisfying.” It felt like it had successfully gathered the widespread threads of this epic Cinematic Universe and tied up all the oldest ones, at least, reverently. And it wouldn’t have been nearly so satisfying if they hadn’t given at least a nod to their TV universe as well, but they did. And that was what I needed most from it.
*Most of the time, they make me dizzy, but to be absolutely truthful I HAVE been reading Ryan North’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl lately just because the constant laughing out loud thoroughly counteracts the visual-overstimulation headaches. (I discovered Squirrel Girl through the awesome Shannon and Dean Hale’s prose books last year, and decided recently I missed her and needed more and so must suck it up and read the comics.) Now, putting Squirrel Girl in Endgame** would be, dare I say, nuts, but it would also be absurdly wonderful and we all know canonically she WOULD defeat Thanos, and now I really hope somebody makes this version happen in the upcoming Disney+ What If? Series.
**But about that, did anybody else feel there was a Squirrel Girl Easter Egg when Tony first went out to talk to his daughter? Carrying a stuffed squirrel, of all animals? And Tony IS Squirrel Girl’s main super-mentor figure, after all. The vibe. Maybe I was just seeing things because I just love Squirrel Girl so much.
***Although I do dig me a good heist story, so I am looking forward to rectifying that.
****Amazingly, I wasn’t the only one! I almost wrote an article about it beforehand but didn’t get around to it, so was pleased to find somebody else had tackled the subject for me over at Syfy.com.