‘Avengers: Endgame’ brings pride and joy to the fans who have invested in the MCU franchise, 11 years and 21 movies ago.
After the “snappening” in Infinity War, audiences, myself included, are left with our jaws on the floor as the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) wipes half of the living creatures in the universe. It’s a superhero film where the supervillain wins at the end – it’s far from the crowd-pleasing ending expected, yet it’s something fresh that we can definitely dig. Serving as the culmination to Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3, Avengers: Endgame assembles the surviving heroes one last time to avenge the fallen. The trailers, however, drop very minimal hints. What’s exactly going on in this solid 3-hour film? Are the ‘vanished’ really dead or are they just inside the soul stone? Will time travel through quantum realm be the means to undo their demise? I can neither confirm nor deny these fan speculations in this discussion. One thing I can guarantee for sure, this groundbreaking film exceeds the hype. It even retroactively deepens our love for the previous films. If this isn’t perfection, then I can’t even imagine how to make a more gratifying version than this.
Whereas the main attraction of Infinity War is its earned fan service spectacle, Endgame surprises as the most emotional and most contemplative MCU film to date. There’s plenty of fuel here – loss, grief and guilt are the prime ones to motivate our core six Avengers. Y’all should know them by now but since this will be their swan songs, I’d mention them anyway. There’s genius inventor Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), super-soldier Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), rage monster Bruce Banner/Hulk, god of thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth), deadly assassin Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and a vengeful marksman Clint Barton/Hawkeye returning from his absence in Infinity War. Rounding up the troop are Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Rhodey/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and newly-minted Avenger, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely once again deserve high merits for successfully juggling an overwhelming amount of characters, with the OG crew getting the lion’s share of show-stopping moments.
The character and ensemble work is better than expected, with every A-lister bringing their A-games to the table. Downey’s subdued grief and reliable cocky screen presence supplies much melancholy and joy. Evans finally gets to play with Cap’s lifetime of regrets from being frozen in ice several years ago. Ruffalo sells both the neurotic scientist and the rampaging Hulk. Hemsworth feels loose and natural as a self-deprecating comic god. Johansson lends an unexpected emotional weight to the film and Renner has so much soulfulness in his eyes. What most trailers don’t show is how much time is devoted to make these characters appeal as more than a team, but rather as each other’s adopted family. By this point, most of us see them as friends. We worry for their safety. We heavily root for them. Genuine emotional connection is the magic that MCU has built all these years.
Endgame also serves as a testament to the majestic directorial skills of the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, in tying up a decade’s worth of storytelling into a poignant and hair-raising climax. The film bears plenty of callbacks from its franchise’s earliest entries, along with a top-notch cinematography and even the frenetic quality of the comic books. It’s emotionally-overwhelming and that’s because Endgame is a layered film at its best. It’s an epic superhero spectacle, an inventive heist, a dramatic tale of courage and loss, and most of all, an exploration of what it means to be a family and a hero. The hearty takeaway is this: heroism is not defined by superhero abilities, but by what one is willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
It’s true that Endgame will have a much deeper impact for the diehard fans. With its sense of finality pervading throughout, the film takes its viewers to a roller-coaster of emotions: I was gasping, laughing, crying and cheering (sometimes all at the same time). Its tragic yet uplifting. To say that Marvel has outdone themselves with their carefully crafted emotional beats, thrilling action sequences and heartbreaking farewells, is an understatement. No other movie franchise has done this feat in Hollywood history.
MCU caps off an era by being more than just 11 years of entertainment. This is the cinematic superhero journey of a generation. Part of that journey is the end but with each ending comes a new beginning. The past is golden and the future looks bright. I give my heartfelt gratitude to all the characters and to all the true and unsung heroes of Marvel.
5 out of 5 stars