Movie Review: Avengers Endgame
Rating: 4 Stars
I typically try to avoid reading or listening to other peoples opinions before I write my reviews but I knew it wouldn’t matter much with Endgame. My opinion was solidified the moment I left my seat in the movie theater.
Avengers Endgame is the peak moviegoing experience of this generation. This is the culmination of a series so clandestine and forthcoming to provide shock, awe, and wonderment.
Is the modern era superhero film prone to tropes and formulaic expression? Sure. But you can expect Chic-Fil-A sandwich to be fresh and tasty 95% of the time that you eat it, right?
I wouldn’t say that the Marvel brand has put out the equivalent to the Chic-Fil-A sandwich, but when they want to throw a gazillion dollars at a movie and get many of the best actors and CGI artists in the world, they’ve got a stable foundation.
The MCU is so ubiquitous in pop culture, I’d be curious to hear the opinion of someone who only tuned in for the last two Avengers films. Is the material accessible for someone fresh to the series? I can’t speak on that, I’ve watched damn near all of them.
Because Marvel movies have plots and characters arcing and threading from movie to movie, it’s fairly crucial to have a grasp of who the main heroes are and what they represent not only as a superhero but an individual ego and personality. Marvel doesn’t play its characters loose or malleable, which is to their advantage, because the emotional investment is that much deeper.
It’s what puts Iron Man and Captain America as central stars to this loaded cast. Most Marvel heroes will get their moment in the sun, but Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in their respective roles have shaped how superheroes are perceived and portrayed in cinema. In Downey’s case, he is arguably the gold standard for portraying a superhero in today’s boom era of the genre. He’s made a lot of people a hell of a lot of money.
Downey Jr. made audiences more captivated with his antics outside his suit than in it. It’s only fitting that Avengers Endgame is his swan song.
Exposition and context aside, Avengers Endgame is an effective three-hour experience. While it may be more sluggish on a rewatch, it’s edge of your seat entertainment on first viewing.
Endgame opens with a secluded Hawkeye and his family. Considering half the universe was swept away due to Thanos successfully capturing the infinity stones, it’s not a surprise that Hawkeye’s family will be turned to particle dust within a few minutes.
This opening scene is important because it reflects the pacing the rest of the film adapts to. We see the emotional toll and effects of how so much was lost. Five years later, Steve Rogers believes maybe it’s time to move on. Tony Stark has a child with Pepper Potts and believes he can finally live out his dream.
Thanos is murdered at the outset of this film as a consolation effort by a few of the Avengers including the newly acquired Captain Marvel. Thanos achieved his destiny already, his death was merely circumstance.
Scott Lang is presumed dead but if you watched the ending credit sequence to Ant-Man and the Wasp, you’d be aware he was trapped inside the quantum realm. This is where the MCU becomes a barrier to entry for the casual fan. I’d imagine there were many conversations between those in the know and those not in the know.
The return of Ant-Man leads to a time travel theory and Endgame seamlessly transitions into act two. The Avengers have to get back together, even a drunkard basement gamer beer belly carrying Thor who has lost most of his motivation to live. With the help of Thanos’ creation Nebula, and a late assist from Tony Stark who continues to uphold his father’s legacy despite his own crippling ego-driven self-interests, the Avengers are back in business.
There are some brief gags about time travel which are perfectly acceptable. Time travel rarely ever makes sense so it’s best to just accept the rules the movie tells you to be true.
For the second act, Endgame is a gripping heist movie. This is where I believe the Russo brothers do their best work. The tension and pace are rising but not to a crescendo. We are privy to landmark scenes like the first Avengers circular pan. Thor revisits Asgard on the day his mother dies. Hulk visits the New York Sanctum from the Doctor Strange film.
Hawkeye and Black Widow end up at Vormir and one has to sacrifice themselves so that the other can get the soul stone. They end up fighting each other for who has to commit suicide. I was curious about the decision for the character that actually fell. It’s also one of the few less forgivable plot holes in the film. Hawkeye and Black Widow went up to Vormir unaware of the cost so it would’ve been very awkward if two random characters were forced to rock-paper-scissors for who takes the leap of death.
Nebula and War Machine find the final stone during the opening sequence in Guardians of the Galaxy. Past Nebula connects to current Nebula and past Thanos catches wind of the Avengers grand scheme. Current Nebula gets captured and past Nebula travels back in time as a double agent to bring Thanos directly to the Avengers to enter the explosive third act. It sounds a little messy considering this is time travel we’re messing with but I didn’t linger too long on what was and wasn’t supposed to make sense. Plot devices such as time travel aren’t supposed to divert the audience’s attention unless the movie is trying to play to a sci-fi theme based around the concept (see: Source Code).
The Third Act is exactly what you’d expect and everything you want for a film of this magnitude. The Avengers are able to turn back time and Doctor Strange is able to bring back the fallen as he silently prophecized in Infinity War.
Endgame earns its climactic battle and delivers in only the way a film of this scale can. The cinematography is magical as the camera whirrs around on a line from hero to hero. This is the evolution of the Peter Jackson Return of the King battle scene.
The ending is sublime. Not only is this the culmination of twenty-one previous movies, but the themes and storylines that have been exercised to their core to this point. Superheroes are known for taking a stance on the side of good, morality, and justice. Marvel superheroes find themselves in all manner of personal, societal, and moral complexities. No matter how grave the times get, you can rely on the Avengers to stand up for the greater good. Fighting for family. Fighting for each other. Fighting for the safety and betterment of the world around them.
Fighting against corruption might not always be as cut and dry as defeating a giant purple alien monster who believes peace coincides with genocide. I don’t think that Thanos is one of the essential villains in the comic world. For the Avengers to succeed in the Infinity saga, they had to win their battles within themselves. Endgame was the defining victory for Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, two great characters of our time.