Okay, fair warning, big Avengers Endgame spoilers in this article. We’ll be doing a spoiler free review in the next day or two, and then shortly after that probably a spoiler-filled review (hey, it’s one of the biggest movies… ever) but this is just a little pre-review spoiler filled peccadillo.
I’m on record about not liking “deconstructing” movies. I was a big fan of Cracked growing up, but pointing out logical fallacies in movies in general feels like a bad faith critique. Same with when Neil Degrasse Tyson explains how the science in Star War or Gravity doesn’t always add up (though in his case I understand having a captive audience and wanting to capitalize on it). Still, I don’t go to movies to learn accurate science. That being said, I do think there’s a logic within movies that matters. Character logic (is it something we can accept the character doing, allowing for the fact that people and characters can occasionally be erratic or even “out-of-character”) and respecting the rules that the story has internally set up (how could anyone, even a fleet footed assassin, make their way through an overwhelming zombie army without being noticed and get close enough to the King zombie to pounce on them… bringing this up for no reason) are what matter. Still… still… picking out little strange things and imagining scenes that never happened is a wonderful indulgence, and as long as you aren’t accusatory about it (aka you don’t pretend that silly acceptable inconsistencies ruin otherwise good movies), it can all be in good fun.
Seriously, spoilers now.
Which is a long preamble to discuss the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame. First: in order to gain the Soul Stone, you must sacrifice that which you hold most dear. Which, sure, fine, I buy it. That being said, it’s majorly convenient that Thanos happens to show up on Vormir with his beloved daughter, and Flint and Nat show up together as very best friends. What exactly is the rules for “that which you hold most dear”? Is it what you hold most dear that you have on you? If Hawkeye showed up alone, would he just have to toss his favorite arrow off this cliff? Or, do you do all the work of getting to Vormir and then Red Skull gives the whole most dear speech and says something along the lines of “so… you know, come back when you’ve got that with you.” What if you don’t have the Space Stone? Getting around the universe isn’t so easy. I’d love to see a scene of some dude showing up to grab the Soul Stone and getting the whole spiel and then sitting down and calling his mom and being like: “hey, Mom, mind meeting me on Vormir?… oh, no reason… yup, love you the most too!”
To turn our attention more specifically to the Soul Stone mark 2 (we’ll call it that in honor of Iron Man). The first and most important thing to acknowledge is that Nebula lets Black Widow and Hawkeye go nab it. More than anyone she probably has a good idea what it takes to obtain the stone (Hawkeye and Black Widow immediately figure out Red Skull isn’t lying from context clues, and they don’t even know Gamora). Nebula knows Thanos went to get the stone with Gamora, but didn’t bring her back. She knows he was mourning her. She knows he made a sacrifice to obtain the stone. It is patently hilarious she puts Hawkeye and Black Widow in a spaceship and is like “lol, good luck!”
I’m perfectly happy with the time travel argument offered in Endgame, that you can’t change the past and we should only care about the events in the order they happen to our heroes. Sure. They harvest the Black Widow Soulstone, and they use it, and Thanos turns to dust, and then Cap has to go return all the stones… which in general makes sense to me, since they belong to people who are expecting them back (Tilda Swinton, the 1970s US Army, HYDRA want’s Loki’s staff, I guess… okay, not sure why they bring that one back). The only one that is sort of confusing is… what the hell does he do with the Soul Stone??
Let’s break it down.
He shows back up on Vormir and immediately runs into the dementor version of his… old arch-nemesis who was a straight up old school WW2 Nazi. Does Hawkeye think to warn him about this? I’m guessing no. He gets over that shock (I guess) and offers Red Skull the Stone (again, can’t really see him offering Red Skull the stone, but fuck it). Then Red Skull… takes it back? It can’t really be returned, can it? The Soul Stone harvesting process seems like a one-shot deal. I’m assuming there can’t be multiple Soul Stones floating around the same universe, which means that once that sacrifice is made it can’t be made time and time again (especially since it’s implied the sacrifice is “within the stone” since they can’t bring Widow back – undoing the sacrifice would presumably bring her back, which seems undoable). Which means probably that stone is “in the universe” for good. What does Red Skull do? Does Cap say: “here,” and does Red Skull say: “Oh, no thanks.” Does Red Skull take it and just, unsure what to do, hopefully chuck it back over the cliff?
I’d love if the end credit scene of Endgame was Red Skull just burying the stone in one of those sand dunes of Vormir and trying to think of some new introduction to the planet. “If you seek the Soul Stone you must… I dunno, show persistence. It’s buried somewhere. Just… start digging. That’s it.”