Action, Anthony Mackie, Avengers: Endgame, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Bradley Cooper, Brie Larson, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Evangeline Lily, Jeremy Renner, Jon Favreau, Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Superhero movies, The Russo Brothers, Tom Holland, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana
Avengers: Endgame is a very satisfying conclusion to what has been a ten year, twenty two movie story arc; this is one that’s strictly for the fans and won’t convince anyone to join in if they’ve not already been invested, and it’s a film that packed to the brim with concluding and paying off the story that’s been told across these many films. It’s fan service, but it’s fan service in pursuit of a meaningful conclusion; the end to each of our main heroes’ story arcs are thoughtfully planned out to best represent their journey, and the means to get there include some very creative and entertaining deviations from what one might expect from a team up movie. It’s a fulfilling cinematic experience like no other; while I may personally prefer the stand alone genre pieces found in films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this contains so many gleefully jam-packed moments that are simply irresistible.
After the Avengers’ failure to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin), the world has now moved on after half of the population was decimated. Desperate to rectify this massacre, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and their eclectic friends pull off a last ditch effort to change these events and justify their roles as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
What I was most impressed about with the film is what it does with the six main characters; it’s a film that features many characters who are there to populate the action scenes and add expansions to the universe, but the film focuses on the six core members that initially proved cinematic superhero crossovers could exist. Each character is here to protect the legacy of their work over the previous films, and they each are forced to confront and accept that responsibility in different ways. Downey Jr. and Evans are both able to reap the most dramatic potential of the characters at their most vulnerable, with Hemsworth and Ruffalo both making interesting choices that are bold in solidifying their progress over time. It’s also great to see Renner and Johansson in major roles; after years of being sidelined, they do their best work in the franchise here.
The film is divided into three clearly different sections; the first is the most odd, shifting from a kinetic and subversive opening that is the perfect rebuttal to our expectations, before shifting to a The Leftovers-esque character piece and then finally kicking into the plot mechanics. The exact plausibility of said plot mechanics are easily the film’s most confusing element; while the filmmakers are able us visual and emotional cues to help us understand how we should feel, it’s often hard to grasp the logic of how everything works. That being said, it does lead to a very creative second act that plays on the rich history of this franchise and explores it in ways that are innovative, surprisingly emotional, and often very humorous.
As for the last third, it’s a cataclysmic action spectacle that is everything fans have wanted to see. Sure, I can offer my nitpicks, like the overly grim coloring to the few characters I wanted to see more of or Thanos’s lack of presence compared to Infinity War, but in the end it’s a truly awe inspiring moment- there’s never been anything like this, and I’m not sure if there ever will be again. This whole universe is a big experiment, and when you take a moment to ignore the corporate politics and its impact on the industry as a whole, it’s a reminder of how often wonderful, touching, and exciting the last eleven years have been; at the end of the day, these are movies about characters that resonate with people and this is a film that celebrates that.
Avengers: Endgame is a grand, packed spectacle, and while there are flawed tonal shifts and some somewhat undeserved supporting roles, it’s just crazy that it works as well as it does. It’s sad, touching, gripping, and often quite weird, and while there are often convoluted ways to getting to these payoffs, the payoffs are so successful that you can forget the road to get there. Still, the films is very much about the road it took to get here; if not a standalone in anyway (or interested in being one), it’s a movie that focuses on giving a resolution and conclusion to the themes of self sacrifice, service, commitment, and love that these movies have championed. Grade: A-