I don’t like to make assumptions about films before I’ve seen them; in this modern age of “fan service,” it is difficult to separate, as an audience and/or as a consumer, what we want and expect out of a product from what we are ultimately presented with. I apologize if that statement comes off as pretentious – that is far from my intention – but when it comes to cinema, I like to be engulfed by the experience and assess everything afterward. My favorite part of going to the cinema (besides watching film) is the ride home. Whenever Numa and I would go to a movie, we’d watch, let the credits roll, sit in silence as we digested the film, and walked to the car. When we made the drive back to his house, we’d talk about the movie we just witnessed; what we like and what we didn’t like, and in doing so, it allows us in a sense to critique the film, albeit in a raw state. Normally when you make assumptions about a film before you’ve seen it, two things can happen: either it meets your expectations or it doesn’t; very rarely does a film supersede expectations. Avengers: Endgame has accomplished this rare feat.
Avengers: Endgame, on the surface, is a continuation of the events of Infinity Wars. It is the conclusion to the Thanos story line, an end of an era for some characters, and the dawn of a new age for the rest. Picking up 22 days after “The Snap,” the remaining Avengers set off to find Thanos, retrieve the Infinity Stones, and bring everyone back with a snap of their own. When things don’t go as planned, the Avengers are forced to move on; move on to new lives, move on with the burden, with the guilt, with survivor’s remorse, move on with the knowledge they are powerless to undo what has been done. They are forced to come to grips with the fact that they failed and they now inhabit a world that is a constant reminder of that failure. However, when Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is released from the quantum realm, he brings with him a glimmer of hope and a way to bring everyone back. All they need is to reassemble a team that may not want to throw salt in fresh wounds.
Avengers: Infinity Wars (2018) was a massive film for Marvel and, in some ways, the ripple effect or “The Snap” (for those of you like me who enjoy a good cheap cheeky pun), had a profound effect on our popular culture, fan or not. I’ve stated before both privately and publicly, that though I do enjoy a good comic book from time to time, I am a bigger fan of film, and a film, whether fantasy or grounded in reality, has to have a great story with great depth and complex character. I didn’t feel Avengers: Infinity Wars was great. It was good. It had to be; so much was built toward that event and the payoff was worth the wait, but when it boils down to it, when it comes to superhero movies, you tend to know what to expect. I felt Infinity Wars, for what it was worth, fell short in terms of character depth; a roller coaster ride with more drops than rise. There were so many questions, intentional or not, that were left unanswered. They were all (for the most part) answered in Endgame.
Of the Avengers films that have been released, Endgame is perhaps the most human. I am not a fan of millions of mindless CGI characters getting killed one after the other because there is no emotion attached. Endgame still has that (it is a superhero film after all) but it isn’t present through the entire film. As a matter of fact, through the first act and the first half of the second act, there is barely any action. The film is patient, the acting is rich with pain and emotion, and we actually have the time to become fully invested (reinvested) in these characters that most of us have grown up with over the course of 11 years. The investment pays dividends in the second half of act two and the final act. Though we know that this isn’t exactly the definitive end; Spider-Man: Far From Home is right around the corner, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 is moving forward with James Gunn back in the director’s chair, and Ryan Coogler is penning Black Panther 2, the Russo Brothers did a fantastic job in making Endgame actually feel like the finale of the Marvel Universe. It will be a challenge to surpass what was built over 11 years of Marvel films and I’m interested to see the direction it goes, but if you wanted to jump off the Marvel train, this is a great film to end on.
Though the film definitely is worth the price of admission, there is one glaringly large issue I could not ignore.
I was not able to review Captain Marvel with Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson upon its initial release, however I did not think the film served any purpose besides being a filler episode; a place holder meant to wet our appetite for Avengers: Endgame. Because it was released a month prior to Endgame, however, we were made to believe that Captain Marvel would play a more prominent role in the film. She does not. She is barely in the film, and what’s worse is that she is used, rather overtly, as a Dues ex machina, and it does the film a huge disservice. That is the only negative of the film.
The run time is rather long at 3 hours and 2 minutes, 22 minutes longer than Infinity Wars, however, whereas Infinity Wars felt like a 5 course meal of small portion dishes that left us hungry and somewhat unsatisfied by the end, Endgame is an endless buffet that leaves you stuffed and waiving off another bite.
Avengers: Endgame is a blockbuster in its purest form. We are living in a streaming age; it is more convenient to stay home watch movies from your couch than it is to find time to frequent the cinema. Though it could at times be convenient, I think streaming films has all but done away with the “glamour” of going to a movie theater. Why sit next to a stranger in cramped seats with no arm space when you can sit in your sweats at home? Marvel (under the Disney umbrella) has rejuvenated what it means to go out to the theater and cheer collectively with strangers who are as excited for a film as you are. Avengers: Endgame delivers action packed performances, answers every question, ties up all the main loose ends, and stays true to the characters who have grown and developed over the years since Iron Man’s debut in 2008. It serves both as a massive celebration of the Marvel Cinematic universe as well as an ultima palmarius. It is a heartfelt, humorous, fun, thrilling, and emotional send off.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, I urge you to go. This film isn’t just for the most die-hard fanboy, it’s for fans of film. Go with friends to the cinema, grab a bag of popcorn, a small soda, get comfortable and enjoy the ride. It’s all rise.