Avengers: Endgame might be the most anticipated movie of all time. The wait (and the decade-long buildup), as Uproxx’s Mike Ryan has declared, has resulted in convoluted fun and a satisfying conclusion, although, as Vince Mancini argues, it’s essentially Marvel’s self-congratulatory monument to itself. This three-hour movie, which doesn’t quite cap off MCU’s Phase Three, will undoubtedly be a juggernaut and could approach $1 billion for a global opening weekend. This is truly an event movie by every definition. Ideally, it also will be rewarding to fans who have waded through 20 MCU movies. With that perspective in hand, perhaps it’s time that we pay some begrudging tribute to the guy who may have made this last lap possible — Peter Quill, a.k.a. “Star-Lord.”
Yes, I know. Chris Pratt’s Marvel Studios character made such a promising start with his smartass attitude. The man can dance, and who doesn’t adore a superhero with moves? It was truly unfortunate that he lost his celestial powers in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 after (necessarily) killing his father. Star-Lord’s also played by an actor who brought a truckload of goodwill over from Parks and Recreation and beefed up for the role. However, it’s widely acknowledged that Star-Lord is known as the guy who screwed up Infinity War. Even Pratt, who felt the anti-love, gave up and admits as much.
And I get the rage. It feels good to blame someone, especially someone as aggressively cocky as Star-Lord. He’s an easy target, and nerd anger is a bit of a drug, but let’s step back. Is it really all his fault? I think it’s possible that folks may have blinded themselves with all their Star-Lord hate and closed off their minds to exactly how the Avengers botched Infinity War.
During the crucial scene where Star-Lord lost the fandom, several characters — including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Drax, and Mantis — were struggling to combine their collective strength and powers to stop Thanos. To be real, no one actually knows if they could have succeeded. Honestly? It didn’t look like a guaranteed victory. Mantis was precariously balanced on his shoulders while Doctor Strange had harnessed one arm and both Iron Man and Spider-Man went to work on removing the Gauntlet. I’m not really sure what Drax’s plan was by pulling on Thanos’ leg?
Yet Star-Lord is that guy who zoomed into the scene and did the wrong thing — he grew overly emotional and punched Thanos, which broke Mantis’ hold over his mind. Star-Lord was incensed over his lady love, Gamora, who had been sacrificed by her father (Thanos) in order to secure the Soul Stone. One could easily argue that both Mantis and Nebula should have known better than to potentially tip the scales back in favor of Thanos informing Star-Lord of Gamora’s fate at such a crucial moment. Seriously, they could have waited ten minutes! Yet they told him, and he reacted. Yes, it was a stupid reaction while Peter Parker had just removed the Infinity Gauntlet (after Tony Stark let go). Maybe Parker could have been a little faster, but noooo. Yet Star-Lord has suffered much wrath (for essentially making it possible for Thanos to kill half the universe) for the better part of a year.
Is this fair? There’s no guarantee that Thanos couldn’t have taken the Gauntlet back even if Star-Lord hadn’t done his thing. And Peter Quill was dusted, so obviously, he suffered a grave consequence here. Yet those who remain are the ones sorting out the mess. Captain America, Bruce Banner, and the rest are all so sad. However, let us not forget that without Star-Lord’s stupidity, Infinity War could have conceivably ended on Titan. Wouldn’t that have been a dull option? Instead, fans can soon enjoy Endgame.
Look, some criticism of Star-Lord has been sound. After all, Thor was able to get through Endgame without losing control. After Thanos murdered Loki and tons of Asgardians, he zoomed away and forged a new weapon, Stormbreaker. However, Thor is not only a demigod, but by then, he had achieved more emotional maturity than during his earlier movies, unlike Peter Quill, whose feelings on daddy issues may have been reignited while learning of Gamora’s fate. Plus, no one ever accused Quill of being mature and unemotional, so yes, he was an idiot who popped off at the wrong moment, but that only exposes him for being human. He made mistakes. Let’s not forget that the MCU is full of heroes who make mistakes, many who also have parentage-related issues.
Seriously, Tony Stark has carried a grudge over his own father’s connection to Steve Rogers (and that rivalry is still alive, even after Civil War), and Stark also took umbrage with Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier over his parents’ assassination, even though the poor guy had been programmed by Hydra.
The bottom line is this — character flaws are major in the MCU. That’s what makes these heroes interesting. And there were no winners against Thanos, not even Thor, who impaled him with the Stormbreaker but not fatally. Yes, Quill’s selfish and disrespectful and doesn’t think long enough before acting, especially after Tony Stark begged him not to “engage.” Yet that’s done. It’s over. And we’ll likely never know how things would have turned out if Tony had been confronted with a similar piece of information, such as if Thanos had killed Pepper Potts. That is to say, both Tony and Peter are vulnerable to similar emotional downfalls, but Peter was pushed to the brink (and “snapped”).
Yes, his impulsive behavior was consistent with his character, but c’mon, this could have easily been the “fault” of Stark or any other number of MCU characters. Also, I’m not the first person (or even the 100th) to point out how Doctor Strange said there was only one way to win after viewing over 14 million scenarios, and he still let this happen. Strange had the Time Stone and likely somehow could have stopped Peter, but he (arguably) chose not to do so. Maybe it’s time to let it all go, at least from a fan-centric point of view, and trust that the Russo Brothers know what they’re doing here.
Star-Lord was a bit of a pawn, after all, in making sure that we could all sit in a theater for three hours and watch Endgame. That runtime still won’t be much fun, but the payoff promises to be rewarding.
‘Avengers: Endgame’ opens in theaters this week.