It’s all been leading up to this, 11 years and more than 21 movies and it’s time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to provide a conclusion to the Avengers saga and some of its Phase One heroes. The ones who ushered in a renaissance and resurgence of comic book superhero movies. Whodathunk that back in 2008 when Iron Man first hit the screens that Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios would soon build a universe of characters that would be so dearly beloved that saying goodbye would be so hard. Make no mistake, Avengers: Endgame, like its predecessor Avengers: Infinity War does not hold back. For the diehards this is both blatant fanservice but also a genuine farewell that will swell the emotions. Some MILD SPOILERS AHEAD but hopefully nothing too drastic so as to ruin your experience.
A quick recap, Thanos (Josh Brolin) after getting his hands on the six Infinity Stones manages to wipe out half of all living creatures across the universe. The Avengers, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) despite their best efforts, were unable to stop him. Living in a post snap world each of the team are grieving or attempting to move on. But the return of Scott Lang/Antman (Paul Rudd) from the Quantum Realm heralds a new opportunity for them. So in one last Hail Mary attempt, they decide to try to go after Thanos and the stones in an attempt to fix their mistake.
The film refuses to waste too much time with exposition as it deftly picks up where Infinity War left us. If we thought the team was a mess after Captain America: Civil War, well this is the team completely shattered, feeling devoid of hope and uncertain of where to go next. The screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the pair having penned the entire Captain America trilogy, deftly makes use of dropping moving or comedic emotional beats in amongst fast paced action. It examines the human condition of grief, and how different people cope with it differently. It also looks at family, both blood and by choice, the people who we hold dearest and the sacrifices we make for them. But where Infinity War felt more thrilling and had more laugh-out-loud moments, this film overall feels more dire and sombre. And where some debate surrounded the “necessity” of seeing the entire MCU back catalogue prior to Infinity War, here it absolutely and utterly rewards the fans for having done their marathon homework.
For a cast so large, the film does an impressive job of giving almost everybody some amount of screen time. Credit to Anthony and Joe Russo for corralling such an enormous ensemble cast, having done it in Civil War, Infinity War and now here. Though it is not surprising that our three Phase One heroes – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor – are who the film circles around the most. This is truly the conclusion of their journeys and all part of the MCU masterplan. Bringing us individual character stories that then become part of a much larger narrative. These three in particular are throwing their all into their performances here and it shows.
It’s hard to find any major faults with Endgame, one downside is despite much hyping of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), she actually isn’t in the film as much as one would expect or hope. And this is the same with Okoye (Danai Gurira), James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle), and Bruce Banner/Hulk is yet another new iteration that has evolved and even though funny, was oddly confusing. And with the creation of Disney+ streaming service and the already announced series for Falcon and Winter Soldier (Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan), Scarlet Witch and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), we can rest assured that some of them have solid chances of surviving. It probably would’ve been smarter (and less spoilery) to announce these after Endgame’s release.
Alan Silvestri once again brings an orchestral scoring that rises and falls with the energy and movement of the film. And we are treated to some fancy slick new costumes for our heroes by Judianna Makovsky. There may have been much huffing over the films three hour runtime, but with all that’s crammed in it never feels that lengthy. So when we do get to the final climactic battle, we are compensated for our patience with a fight of epic proportions. We’ve come to expect grandeur and scale from Marvel but if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s merely an accompaniment to the more satisfying and filling emotional meaty resonance we desire in our films. And it’s so refreshing to have a comic book superhero movie be able to deliver on all fronts. Even if that delivery is a gut-punch to our feels.
Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of more than 10 years worth of work for a film studio that has revelled in success. That built a cinematic model that enabled its audience to go on a journey with its characters over a decade and rewards us for sticking with it. It’s the ultimate payoff for the fandom, and it’s impossible to dispute early projections of box office glory. What will be interesting to see is if the MCU can continue its juggernaut of achievements, with the end of this era, as it rolls out its next generation of heroes.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Avengers: Endgame is screening in Australian cinemas now through Marvel Studios Australia New Zealand.