Endgame was without a doubt the most “human” Avengers movie to date.
Everything from the different, non-superhero music “Dear Mr. Fantasy” in the opening credits scene to the fact that Natasha Romanoff spent most of her non-Voromir scenes wearing comfy lounge-wear set a different tone for this story.
After everything that has happened over the past decade, the Russo brothers wanted a heavy emphasis on FAMILY in this story.
We’ve always been told to see our characters as a family. They have acted as a family with the teasing/inside jokes, and shared living spaces (yes, Vision, we’ve talked about this, you still need to knock on Wanda’s door before entering).
We’ve also seen them hurt each other and break one another’s hearts. We’ve seen the damage that can result from a family being broken apart. Civil War felt like a personal punch to the gut.
The Russo brothers confirmed that had the Avengers all been united in Infinity War that they would have actually beaten Thanos. It was possible, they had the power. But they were fractured, fighting on separate fronts, therefore they lost.
It’s a sobering reminder to us how important unity is and just how powerful families walking in unity can be.
We lost everything in Infinity War, but we also gained something that was Thanos’ ultimate undoing…
We got our family back, and this time they were stronger for the breaking.
One of the chief ways the Russo’s communicated this idea of togetherness and family was through a very visual feature.
I have never seen a Marvel movie that has this much eating in it. Sure, we’ve gotten cute moments of eating before. The famous “Shawarma” scene from the first Avengers is probably the most memorable one.
Food is necessary for our continued existence, but even more than that, food is a part of who we are.
When someone dies, we bring their family food. When a new life enters the world, we bring food.
Weddings are celebrated with food. Birthdays, sporting events, parties, and holidays as well.
People enjoy food together on dates, during long work hours, late night snacks, last minute taco runs, etc.
Food can also be used as an escape. Food can mark times and seasons as well as locations.
Food is comfort. Food is tradition. Food is artwork. Food is memories. Food is home. Food is a new adventure. Food is family. Food is gathering. Food is escape. Food is healing. Food is normal. Food is special. Food is celebration. Food is personal. Food is uniting. Food is provision. Food is safety.
Food is a common thread that ties a whole life together, the good, the bad, and the glorious.
Avengers: Endgame was meant to tie all of the previous threads of the MCU together just as it was also meant to tie our characters together more strongly than ever before.
Every film is a conglomeration of many parts. If the set guy doesn’t do his job as well as the lighting lady does hers, the whole movie suffers. The musicians have to create music that illuminates the story. The actors have to bring the lines the scriptwriters wrote to life. The director has to see a million details and arrange how they come together in order to create a masterpiece.
No detail is too small. It is no mistake that there was so much food shown in this story, it was an excellent use of setting+props+actions to communicate the keyword, the solution, the most important theme for this entire story.
We open the movie to Clint Barton having an archery lesson with his daughter. In the background, his sweet wife is fixing hotdogs for lunch while the boys play catch. It’s calm, peaceful, and homey.
Clint pays no attention to the ankle bracelet he is wearing, it’s a forgotten object of his other life. This place, these people around the picnic table, this is his life, his heart, his home. Hotdogs at the picnic table, it doesn’t get much more normal and relatable than that.
One moment his wife is calling out for condiment orders, the next moment Clint’s entire family is dust. A very normal, familiar scene is turned into a horror show as he runs around screaming their names. The normalcy is polluted by the tragedy and shock.
Natasha Romanoff sits at an empty Avengers headquarters and talks to all of her super friends across the galaxy, trying to keep the whole universe safe at once.
And she’s making a peanut butter sandwich. A girl still has to eat, it is a strange juxtaposition. A woman in lounge pants making a peanut butter sandwich while managing intergalactic tensions and listening to the horrendous crimes her best friend Clint is committing in his grief.
She can barely choke the sandwich down, the peanut butter and the lump in her throat and her chest are in conflict with each other. We all know this, it’s scientifically impossible to eat peanut butter and cry at the same time.
Steve Rogers drops by, and after threatening him with the sandwich Nat affectionately slides it across the table towards him. It’s a comfortable, casual kind of hospitality that shows their intimate friend/sibling relationship and trust. They are comfortable sharing saliva. I mean, yes, I know they kissed while undercover. But sharing food, that’s pretty personal.
Scott Lang arrives in a flurry, he’s excited and he’s hungry. “Is that anybody’s sandwich? I’m starving!” #ilovethismansomuch
He downs the discarded sandwich in between sharing his brilliant idea to use the Quantum Realm to bring everyone back.
One sandwich tied together multiple characters. It was a strangely normal object in the midst of abnormal circumstances. It connected heavy grief, deep friendship, and new hope.
The hope of a new possibility. The sandwich connects the old mindset, the ruins of the previous era to the birthing of the new one that will drive the entire rest of the story for this movie and all that follow.
Tony Stark comes out of a very normal-looking cabin (normal for a Stark) to go bring his messy-haired little princess in for lunch. It’s such a darling domestic scene that highlights everything we ever wanted for our beloved Ironman.
A car pulls up, Steve, Nat, and Scott get out and interrupt the moment. Tony pours them some sort of healthy “smoothie”? A homemade smoothie likely made from the same vegetables we saw growing in the garden between the cabin and Morgan’s playhouse. They talk “quantum physics” and saving the world, and Tony invites them to stay for lunch. They have to decline and leave to go talk to Dr. Banner.
Later on, Tony is doing his dinner dishes in yet another scene of beautiful domesticity. The great Tony Stark does dinner dishes, AND in a moment of distraction, his own water sprayer attacks him. I loved that moment. He may be a genius/billionaire/superhero but even he gets attacked by his own water sprayer! #beentheredonethat
He pulls up the specs to play with the idea of time travel while drinking another health drink (a neat callback to his famous green chlorophyll drinks) and munching on nuts.
Tony falls into his chair in shock at the discovery that this plan could work…only to be interrupted by Princess Morgan who wants juice pops. He tucks her in later and finishes off the juice pop.
Almost Tony’s entire story is summed up and highlighted by the use of food in these scenes. A callback to his earlier green drinks that were once upon a time his attempt to give himself a few more days to live in Ironman 2.
His new life is such an opposite to the previous days of flashy towers, unhealthy sleep and eating habits, superficial relationships and constant noise.
This new life is deep, rich, simple, and pure. It’s natural and homegrown. It’s wholesome and nourishing, just like the kinds of food we see around the Stark household. The juice pop is playful and childish, but it represents Morgan, therefore it’s utterly precious in it’s meaning.
Tony tells his wife that he may actually be able to save the world, all the while he is still playing with the stick from his baby girl’s juice pop.
This moment is huge for the Starks. Rather than jumping the gun, Tony actually has a calm and honest conversation with his wife that shows the vast growth and maturity of him as a character and of their relationship as a couple.
Pepper also shows huge growth as she actually listens to him, lets him know that she knows who he truly is, and gives him permission to pursue this new direction, knowing full well that she may lose him as a result. Tony is at peace when he makes this step, and he’s in unity with his wife. That peace enables him to unify with the rest of his family.
I believe that is why Tony is so incredibly successful this time around. Home and family were rooting for him now, he wasn’t reacting anymore, he was making conscious choices.
That sweet cabin with its vegetable garden and playhouse and two lovely ladies and a freezer of juice pops, that is why Tony Stark was able to defeat Thanos.
After thinking that Tony was out of the picture, Steve, Scott, and Nat go seek out Dr. Banner/aka Professor Hulk…and they meet at a diner.
The Dr. Banner of old would have been horribly uncomfortable in this casual, well-peopled setting, he would have felt exposed and nervous and been unable to relax. This time around Banner is fully in his element. He’s downing giant bowls of eggs and sausage and taking time for cool selfies with the neighborhood kids.
It’s stinkin’ adorable. This big, green “Hulk” sitting at a little diner table eating eggs and sausage talking Quantum Physics, Time Travel, and selfies with his pals. Oh yes, and we noticed the “looks” he and Nat were trading. #youthoughtwewouldntnoticebutwedid
The small American diner is a common experience many of us have had throughout our entire lives. It is in this setting over eggs and sausage that part of our team comes together and begin a bizarre plan to save the world.
In previous movies, these kinds of plans were usually made dramatic surroundings, be it the Avenger’s Tower or the ruins of New York streets. The only thing that comes close is Nat and Steve enjoying breakfast at Sam’s house while they make a plan to take Hydra down. But that moment was still a reactionary thing.
Good, high quality food requires excellent planning, preparation, and proper execution. Just like good food, this Time Heist the Avengers have to pull out cannot be a haphazard plan, this is their Sistine Chapel. This is their Great Wall of China. It’s their masterpiece.
Our heroes have had to react after the fact so many times over. In their line of work, that’s often the only way to do it and maintain some balance of freedom. Like Cap says, “I thought the punishment came after the crime.” It’s hard to anticipate every threat without aiming a whole gun at the world.
But this time around they have had five years to sit and think about Thanos’ crime. This time they have a chance to take a breath, assemble the pieces of their plan carefully, do their research, and launch from a place of preparation.
This isn’t a quick breakfast before or shawarma after, this is a fine, full meal that our Avengers have planned. Most of our characters have grown immensely over the past 5 years, they have nourished different parts of themselves that were always on hold before.
Scott Lang is sitting outside about to enjoy a lovely taco when suddenly all of his toppings are blasted out of his shell by the arrival of the Milano bringing Rocket and Nebula. He stares open-mouthed (oh how I love this man) only to be called an idiot by Nebula (WHY? Cause he’s excited to see a spaceship? I call that charming, sister, get over yourself!) And then he’s scared half to death by the arrival of Rhodey, who thoroughly enjoys calling him “Regular-sized man.”
I was so panicked that Scott would be left a laughingstock with no taco, but then Hulk walks by, beams at him, and gives him not just one taco, but two. Scott beams back. It’s one of the most adorable moments of the whole movie.
Hulk/Banner is so chipper, so benevolent, for how heavy some of the other parts of the movie are, Banner’s turnaround was really refreshing to me. This moment showed just how far he’s come, how at peace he is with himself. It also cemented the fact that Scott is an accepted member of the family now, he gets to share their tacos.
Tacos are playful and celebratory. Both Professor Hulk and Scott Lang provide some of the lightest moments in this movie, they were bouyant characters who lifted it up even as the subject matter and parts of the storyline were really heavy.
We see food used in a negative context with Thor. From the bulging beer belly to the pizza that looked non-to-fresh (where did he even get pizza in New Asgard?), we see that Thor has not been nourishing himself well in the past five years.
I do not judge him, that man had taken more hits of grief one after another than almost anyone else leading up to Thanos. His personal crash dive was inevitable and made him more “human”. But food has had a negative effect on him, it has become an escape as well as a prison to him.
Even this very shocking change in our handsome god of Thunder made this movie seem more normal. We have experienced grief, and many of us have medicated with food, and some have medicated with alcohol.
But just like we try to bring those broken brothers and sisters back into the fold, so our Avengers family bring their broken brother back home. He may feel unworthy, but they have not forgotten who he is. They still need him, they still want him. It’s a beautiful thing.
Gathering together in unity around a feast of ideas, personalities, abilities, and experiences; this is how the Avengers save the world. Together.
The most prominent scene involving our Avengers and food is around the dining room table during the Time Heist planning montage. It’s an utterly charming montage of people sprawled all over furniture, storytelling, note-taking, and yes, eating noodles.
I loved, loved, LOVED this quick scene. No, I didn’t appreciate Rocket giving Scott such a hard time for his excitement over space. GUYS! Would you all give this man a break? Part of what I love about Scott is his open-eyed wonder and enjoyment of all the super stuff around him. He’s exactly how I would be if I suddenly became a superhero but I was still me. He’s adorable.
But we see most of the team taking in some delicious looking Chinese takeout. Thor is at his drinks again. Rocket is walking on the table as he shares about the Power Stone, and no one blinks an eye. Hulk is eating a giant carton of ice cream that given the color and ingredients we can only assume it is Ben and Jerry’s Hulk Hunka Burning Fudge flavor mentioned in Infinity War.
They are all so…weird.
Rocket is on the table. He’s a raccoon with a deadly shot, brilliant mind, and sassy mouth, and specific cleanliness standards just like any other raccoon. Thor, King of Asgard, the god of Thunder is wearing a dirty hoodie and drinking cheap beer. This dude can literally fly and channel lightning through his body.
Billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist-now-husband-father Tony Stark. Serum-super WWII hero Steve Rogers.
Nebula, an alien/cyborg who really needs to see a counselor. James Rhodes, former military-rule-stickler turned Avenger who gets around with his robotic legs.
Scott Lang, a brilliant thief who can shrink between molecules or become the size of a giant. Natasha, formerly a deadly assassin turned into the biggest, sweetest heart we’ve ever seen.
Clint Barton, husband, father, expert bowman, samurai assassin? And Professor Hulk. He’s huge, green, playful, and sophisticated.
They are so weird, but they are teammates. They are partners. They are a family. They have gathered together as individuals carrying their own griefs, their own burdens, their own regrets.
They also came to carry each other’s burdens as well, to stand side by side and fight not just for their own sakes, but for the sake of their loved ones and millions of strangers.
A family dinner with the Avengers means that the earth is about to shake. Good is about to happen. Darkness is about to fall from its throne. This family is gearing up to take down evil and bring life together.
The final mention of food is the one that brings us full circle in this decade of films. It’s the part of the movie that got me the hardest.
Dangit, Happy! I cried harder when Happy got choked up than at any other part of this movie.
Cheeseburgers marked the turning point of Tony Stark. The moment he came back from captivity in the Middle East the first thing he asked for was cheeseburgers, and a press conference.
Tony had come back from the Middle East a changed man. He saw a bigger picture now, he was not just living for himself anymore, he had decided to use his incredible gifts to make the world a better place. “Don’t waste it.”
Tony didn’t. He made a heck of a mess along the way, he made a lot of mistakes, hurt some people, but oh man, he did NOT waste it.
The sweet moment where Happy is cuddling Morgan on the front porch and being a kind, fatherly figure to her was such a precious, gut-wrenching moment.
Like father, like daughter. Morgan just did something really hard, and she’s setting out on a new journey that is going to be hard, she wants cheeseburgers. #somebodyhelpmemyhurtiswounded
The use of food in this movie was like a thread in a rich tapestry, a bit of theme music on low volume, present but subtle.
It added to the richness and the purpose of this story and appealed to our personal experiences. It reminded us of old and precious memories and gave us new ones. It marked times and seasons, it tied our characters together and drew them even closer to us, the audience.
Future filmmakers should take notes from the excellent use of food in this movie. It was not a 100% necessary element, but it was used effectively to flesh out a story in an unforgettable way.
Review of Disney+ Marvel 2021
Loki Odinson and Claire Dearing: How to Advance Plot Without Compromising Character Growth (Part 1 of 2)