What an incredible run it has been movie fans. 11 Years, 22 films, dozens of heroes and 47 hours of combined runtime (not counting the Marvel One-Shot short story extras attached on the home video releases years ago, or series like 2 seasons of Agent Carter or 5 seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. among others) from 2008 until present. Needless to say, anticipation for this movie is as high as any movie I’ve ever experienced, ranking up there with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’ although I’m sure there are one or two other movies throughout my lifetime that I’m forgetting. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ has the immense pressure of providing a satisfying conclusion, not only to last year’s mammoth ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ but also to provide a satisfying measure of closure to all the characters and films that have preceded it dating back to 2008’s ‘Iron Man’ and changed the landscape of the Hollywood blockbuster and the industry’s mentality toward film franchises along the way.
Considering all the characters and ground this film has to cover, the sheer fact that it executes near flawlessly is impressive in of itself, but the degree to which it succeeds, provides lots of character moments, character building moments, throwing in plenty of east eggs and fan service, weaving the narrative and by the end of runtime, delivers plenty of action and spectacle in spades and hits just about all the right beats when it’s supposed to is nothing short incredible. Considering at least over 90% of this movie is a spoiler, attempting to review ‘Avengers: Endgame’ without any spoilers is a tough task indeed.
For a brief synopsis, the grave course of events set in motion by (the wonderfully villainous) Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers ranks compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand. Directed once again by the dynamic duo of Joe and Anthony Russo, our remaining Avengers our brought to their lowest we’ve yet experienced as this film picks up with the fallout of the universe spanning Decimation from ‘Avengers: Infinity: War.’ And ample time is given to exploring our main characters and the world they’re left in, which is where many of the character building moments; dialogues and interactions, takes place. Apart from one moment early on which felt a little shoehorned in and seemingly happening out of nowhere, everything flows very naturally as the characters progress from their dire circumstances and personal struggles through their journeys throughout the course of the movie. A small criticism which is technically explained elsewhere and by the end has all but faded from memory like the victims of the Decimation snap in the previous instalment. Much credit in this regard has to go to the writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (unsung heroes in their own right for their work on ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and many MCU films as well as another loved series films over the last fifteen years) for weaving a striking tale that tests our heroes as never before.
A lot of credit not only has to go to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige for envisioning this grand endgame so-to-speak and maintaining the vision through execution over so many years and so many movies with so many different characters, industry talent and moving parts, but also to the Russo Brothers for crafting and doing their part to execute on that vision and bring it to life in it’s completed form on the big screen. Their work on their past films has been regarded as some of, if not the, best among all the movies in the MCU franchise, and ‘Avengers: Endgame’ looks to be no different. At a robust 3 hours, not once did I feel disengaged from the event unfolding on screen and the time seemed to fly by. The story did not feel rushed or short-changed in any way and is as long as long as the story required in completing the narrative, so the runtime seems spot on. Visually, the movie is on par with ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and every bit of the 350 – 400 million dollar budget shows on screen in a visual treat. The vibrant colour palette and lighting of the last several MCU movies is present again and, even scenes and locations at their darkest still have an appealing visual aesthetic. All locations in the movie are visually distinctive enough that long time fans will require no introduction and others will easily be able to tell locations apart as they cut between them scene to scene. Sets look fantastic and the big action set pieces are something to behold. No matter how serious things get, there is also the right ratio of comedy thrown into the mix to balance things out and like the story, comes across naturally and doesn’t feel as heavy handed as past MCU entries.
Another very apparent, but perhaps unsung, hero of this movie is composer Alan Silvestri who composes as sweeping a score as he did in ‘Avengers’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ The movie is elevated through his score, whether during the quieter and character building scenes where his score quietly pushes on in the background (and takes cues from past composer character themes) or the louder and boisterous parts where the score blends into the forefront and belts out the now familiar Avengers theme. The score helps do its job in complimenting the story unfolding on screen and many times and this is one I’m looking forward to going back and listening to many times over.
The original set of Avengers get plenty of shine in this movie, and considering this is a closing chapter of sorts, it is only fitting. The cast truly shine in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ as they did in ‘Infinity War’ (no surprise as both movies were filmed back-to-back) and bring everything they have to the roles. Robert Downey Jr. shines as always as Tony Stark/Iron Man (to the surprise of nobody in 2019) and has become the character so much that he they may as well have just stuck a camera in front of him randomly and started filming, he pulls it off so effortlessly by now. Chris Evans has embodies the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America does his fair share of heaving lifting acting here. Perhaps the man himself should take some cues from the character of Steve Rogers as he looks to find his role in the country away from the screen, but on screen he justifies his casting ten times over and regardless of whatever he does next he will forever be associated with this role and this character. Thor has enjoyed quite the resurgence and evolution since ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ which continues into this movie. The other Chris, Hemsworth, also has come to embody this character looks like he’s having as a great time in front of the camera as he has been on press junkets and premiers. Mark Ruffalo gets to show off some new layers to the characters of Bruce Banner and the Hulk and get some good moments. Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of this movie are the characters of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Both get more personal moments in this movie than in past films and get lots of opportunity to shine and get their moments. After being left out of ‘Infinity War’ Jeremy Renner brings his “A” game to Barton and is perhaps one of the one the surprise standouts of the movie. Everyone, big or small, role large or supporting, hero or villain does their part to create an event film that will stand for years to come.
I highly recommend this film and cannot praise it enough. For casual movie going audiences this is one you can enjoy as a family outing or a date-night over some popcorn, coldrinks and other threats and be very entertained. For superhero fans or those who have followed the entire MCU until this point (or at least most of it) you be treated to a movie with lots of nods, call-backs, and moments that will provide the epic conclusion you were expecting and then some. By the time you leave the cinema you will have gone through a roller-coaster of emotions and will most certainly want to go back for more to experience it again and look for all the clues and extra details that might have missed the first time. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (and possibly even when combined with part 1 in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’) is a superhero blockbuster the likes of which we have not yet seen before and could likely never see again (although I hope that is not the case.) This film is to blockbuster film making today what Ten Commandants was to film in 1956, it is that epic in size, ambition and scope and will mean so many different things to so many different people.
And while this is a conclusion to all that has come before, it is by no means the end. Last year I described ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ as an event comic on the big screen and ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is no different, possibly more so. And if these films are the big event crossover at the end of Phase 3, the upcoming film in July (I won’t name it here for spoilers sake but we all know which one it is right?) will be like the post-event epilogue concluding Phase 3 before the start of Phase 4 and whatever comes next. The MCU will continue on different and supposedly more experimental than before with characters we’ve seen before, characters obscure and brand new as well as characters we’ve seen elsewhere getting a new chance and a brand new coat of paint; both on film and on Disney+ streaming. Twenty-two chapters later, the volume 1 omnibus concludes. Bring on Volume 2 and to the future we wait, anticipate…and MARVEL.