Arguably the biggest movie ever has hit our screens. I don’t think I need to explain how and why the anticipation for Avengers: Endgame is higher than any film of the century. The Russo Brothers have arguably brought the best films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and their fourth collaboration with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (their sixth MCU screenplay) had tons of promise. Speculation was through the roof on what the plot could be, how characters would come back, who would die, and even… Thanos winning again? Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. But it’s big, it’s bold, and it’s finally here.
Endgame is definitely different from the rest of the films of the MCU, which has had a good track record in phase three where every entry had something unique going for it. Whether it was Doctor Strange’s visuals, Spider-Man: Homecoming’s comedic tone, or Black Panther’s unique aesthetics. While Infinity War feels like a relentless, briskly-paced adventure, Endgame begins a quiet, contemplating drama. Again unlike Infinity War, Endgame has a very distinct three act structure, moving from solemn drama to Mission: Impossible with superheroes, to a final battle that turns all of the dials up to twelve.
***major SPOilers AHEAD READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***
***I’m Serious so stop if you haven’t watched the movie***
Stripping away the spoiler filter now, the film opens on a chilling scene introducing Clint Barton. We see his wife and children all disappear, and just as he starts to panic, the classic Marvel Studios logo appears. That brings me to the biggest surprise of this movie, the performances. Yes, all of these actors are perfectly cast in their roles, but this is the first film in the franchise where multiple actors are given room to really show their stuff. Robert Downey Jr. has always been the defining actor of this franchise as Tony Stark, and he gets multiple moments to shine. Hawkeye and Black Widow have a surprisingly emotional scene at the middle point of the movie. Tilda Swinton has a standout return as the Ancient One. Legendary Asian actor Hiroyuki Sanada even has a brief appearance and brings ferocity to what could’ve been a forgettable moment. Especially in the first act, the character dynamics stand out more than ever before, and it’s a welcome thing to see in the conclusion of this franchise.
Avengers: Endgame, courtesy of Marvel Studios
The screenplay for this movie is also extremely tight. Even when the second act moves into time travel territory that borders on convoluted, you’re able to follow what’s happening without your head exploding from strange time travel mechanics. I was content with applying the Terminator logic that time travel doesn’t change anything, and only fulfills the natural course of events. The time travel element allows a lot of famous moments from the franchise to be revisited, with a nice repeat of the hero shot from The Avengers, a recreation of the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy, and even a visit to Asgard before everything goes to hell in The Dark World, which I assume Markus and McFeely wanted as a callback to the movie that typically goes overlooked when thinking of the franchise in retrospect. This also gives different characters chances to interact. We see Natasha and Clint go retrieve the Soul Stone, both seemingly more willing to give their lives up than the other. Tony, Steve, Bruce, and Scott go to the time of The Avengers to retrieve the three stones (there’s a great meta-joke about this) that all just so happen to be in New York at the time. Finally, and this may be the strangest pairing, Nebula and Rhodey go to Morag to get the Power Stone before Star-Lord can. This is a brief note, but this film, as well as Infinity War, does such an excellent job with pairing up characters. Some are givens like Natasha and Clint, but Nebula and Rhodey have a moment of sympathy and relatability that I didn’t see coming at all.
Now, let’s get to the finale. This third act is pure cinema spectacle, and it’s what all of the fantastic CG effects that everyone complains ruins these movies were made for. There are wide shots that look like a painting and took my breath away, Thanos is just as intimidating as he was the first time around, and the action flows so smoothly. There are a lot of great subtle callbacks to previous films here, but the one I enjoyed the most is a wide shot just as the action really kicked into gear that harkens back to the wide take in Civil War. This movie brings a lot of fanservice to the table, but if any film deserves to deliver, it’s this one. Captain America catching Mjolnir was no less than epic, and the entrance of all of the members of the Avengers, the people of Wakanda, and an army of Sorcerers was a dream come true.
Avengers: Endgame, courtesy of Marvel Studios
I have one complaint with the movie that I can’t really get over, though. Every character that returns from the dead feels like they need just a little more screen time. I would have loved it if the entrance of all of them had lasted a little longer, just to get the feeling that the Avengers were truly here. Don’t get me wrong, this third act delivered, but the movie could’ve used a couple more minutes to make it feel like half the team didn’t come back from the dead just to go straight to war.
Endgame is still everything I wanted it to be. There are complaints to be made, sure. The time travel logic is sometimes flimsy, and the female characters are a little underused. But I can never spend too much time thinking about what this movie could have done, or could have been, without thinking about how grateful I am for what Endgame did, and what it is.
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