Movie Title: Avengers – Endgame
Directed by: Anthony & Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, and Josh Brolin.
Premiere Date: April 22, 2019
Available: only in movie theaters
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 4.75 out of 5 Stars
Note: This review has no spoilers in it
Three weeks or so after the depressing ending of “Avengers: Infinity War” where half of the universe was decimated by Thanos’ finger snap, our remaining heroes are trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. Inconsolable, they all try to make sense of what happened and carry on in their own ways. But when some hope arrives in the form of a second chance to make things right, they concoct a risky plan which might just work. But will they succeed in this ambitious endeavor or suffer an even greater defeat than before?
To describe more than this would be to enter deep spoiler territory. But what I can say is that while the first hour or so of this movie moves slowly but also has a deeper focus on character. Their reactions to the traumatic experience they, and the world are going through are explored. After that, the story moves much more swiftly with an engaging plot that brings eleven years of cinematic stories to a close in an effective and fantastic manner. Not only does it tell an amazing story, but it also pays close attention to its characters and continues to add layers of development to those we’ve gotten to know and love over the course of the past eleven years.
The special effects are, as always, spectacular, but they only serve to supplement the storyline we see on screen without overpowering it. There’s a ton of heart to be found in this film and the emotions run from the heights of victory to utter defeat and everything in between. There is almost no emotion untouched throughout the course of this film.
There’s a lot of great character work for most of our main characters as well. From Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nebula, Ant-Man, War Machine, Captain Marvel, Rocket and more, everyone experiences some growth or has moments to shine. But it’s how they demonstrate their devotion to the greater good and do whatever it takes to succeed that truly defines them as superheroes.
Since this movie is the twenty-second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the culmination of is larger overarching storyline over the past eleven years, this movie demands to be examined in the light of those previous films and how well character arcs have been developed over that period of time.
There are some things that happen to some characters in this movie that make a lot of narrative sense, paying off on plotlines and character development over all the course of all these films. While I appreciate it from a character perspective, it doesn’t mean it didn’t make me sad at what happens to them.
In contrast, there were many moments where I was cheering along with the entire audience at some of the most triumphant moments ever seen in a Marvel film. There are so many I could mention but one moment that stands out here is directly connected to a scene in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and probably received the most raucous cheers from the audience out of everything in this movie. Another is a fan-favorite character’s arrival into the climactic final battle of the film and the audience roared there too. And the gathering of a group of female heroes together for one distinct purpose was just awesome. There were many of these types of moments, more than I can mention without spoilers.
There are a ton of nice callbacks to other films in this series. It really expands upon the continuity of all these films and demonstrates the true cohesiveness of this universe that Marvel built and proves that it’s all connected in one way or another. People who have seen all the Marvel movies will be greatly rewarded by what they find here. There are even clever seeds that were planted in “Avengers: Infinity War” and the post-credit scenes from “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Captain Marvel” that grow to full fruition here and expertly connect one film to the other.
I gasped in wonderment many times at what I saw onscreen throughout the whole movie but the most gasps came from me while watching the latter third of the movie. One of the darkest moments where things looked the grimmest provides a marvelous answer to this question: “How are our heroes going to get out of THIS predicament?” It’s a question I asked myself constantly over the course of the entire movie with each jaw-dropper I experienced.
It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without some pithy quips and comedic moments. Though the tone of this movie is deadly serious, with the stakes being higher than ever before, there’s room for some lightness. Things like a great one-liner about a certain person’s rear end, Ant-Man’s awkwardness around his idol, the Hulk’s dislike of stairs, the elevator scene with Captain America, changes in Thor’s looks and War Machine’s remarks about a character that’s dancing to music are just some of the funny moments that come to mind.
There’s plenty of great character moments too. The scenes where it’s just Tony Stark and Steve Rogers on a crucially important side mission are just loaded with some beautiful moments that perfectly demonstrate how much their lives have changed and have been altered by their circumstances from previous movies.
Stan Lee’s always-expected and always-welcomed cameo in this film is just perfect and drew much applause from the audience when it occurred. This is the last of the cameos he filmed before his death so it was even more poignant than usual.
A remark about the science in this film, which I’m sure will be a hotly debated topic among fans for years to come. How it’s explained to the audience makes a certain amount of sense within the confines of the film and seems to follow its own rules without a ton of explanatory dialogue that slows down the fast pace of the film. But in a film universe where people can shrink to minuscule size and fly in an armored suit without getting crushed by gravitational forces, rocks have universe-altering powers, a man can transform into a Hulk and creatures live in dark dimensions, I find that one has to suspend a certain amount of disbelief and just enjoy the movie.
I had a lot of predictions about how this film would play out and only about seven percent of them were correct. I appreciate the care taken to make this film as unpredictable as possible while providing a moviegoing experience that hits all the high notes and gives this final movie an appropriate conclusion to this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also makes me wonder what the future of this universe will look like. However, with plenty of memorable characters, the future of this series of movies looks very bright.
There’s some really deep cuts for the dedicated Marvel fan, such as the audio Easter egg after the end credits, a call back to an exchange between Captain America and someone from “Captain America: The First Avenger” and even the appearance of someone you might not have expected from “Iron Man 3”.
These Marvel superheroes are relatable and flawed characters whom we’ve gotten to know over the course of the past eleven years. These movies also show why these characters are timeless and are among the best humanity has to offer. With incredible action sequences and heartwarming character beats, it provided a lot of emotional moments that resonated perfectly as a fan of all these movies. There’s plenty of jaw-dropping moments and big challenges for our heroes to overcome. It’s an immensely satisfying movie that invites you to just get on the roller-coaster and enjoy the ride that a comic book movie like this can be.
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