Grim and Bear It, and Be Rewarded: A Spoiler-Free Review of 'Avengers: Endgame'
The culmination of eleven years of films and content that commenced in 2008 with Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's ‘finale,’ Avengers: Endgame, is a film that’s not that easy to write about. For in the manner of how things have evolved in the MCU, these films, especially one that’s been publicized and marketed as Endgame has, become more than just a film. It’s a happening, an event; a near-religious occurrence for the ones who follow the MCU, in all its manifestations (films, TV series, websites and blogs, merch and events) with fervent devotion. Tapped into the zeitgeist of the last decade, the MCU has extended its boundaries beyond the comic books and films that spawned it, and has attained socio-cultural phenom status.
Part of the grand vision of Marvel President Kevin Feige, Endgame is directed by Anthony and John Russo, from a screenplay of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. So that’s the brain trust we can either praise to high Heaven, or curse for dropping the proverbial baton. And I’m sure there will be more in the former category––the ones who will place any MCU product on a pedestal, drooling over the multi-film interconnections and Easter eggs. But this review is more about the film itself, as a stand alone entry into the MCU––about whether this three-hour ‘beast’ lives up to the hype and delivers.
First off, if you haven’t been following all the films, do yourself the favor of, at the very least, watching Infinity War before lining up for Endgame. Otherwise, you may be at a loss––for the first hour, thinking you’ve stumbled into a film about grief and the different ways of coping with it, and not a superhero film. Endgame literally picks up from where Infinity War ended, and given the massive cast of characters, you may be disoriented as characters and storylines pop up or are referenced, just to be put on hold, and then continued after a lengthy amount of time.
Endgame is an emotional roller coaster that firmly plays by its own rules, and you have to salute Marvel for sticking to its guns. It may get messy at times, meander and have some episodic false starts (like Hawkeye handling his grief by becoming a hired assassin in Tokyo), but you can sense that purpose, that vision, that’s distinctly Marvel controlling the proceedings. It’s been said, half in jest, that Marvel films are first and foremost, about character, plotting and narratives come second, and that actual action is a close but definite third. Well, Endgame reinforces that observation to the extent that you can no longer say it in a joking manner at all.
Leading this emo direction are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans). Taking his cue from Ragnarok, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) provides the first shafts of humor that manage to hit home amidst all the despair and grief that surrounds the first hour. In fact, it’s only around the 60-minute mark that we get any semblance of the action getting a kick-start. And yes, patience is definitely rewarded when at the 120-minute mark, the ultimate superhero battle scene gets underway. It’s this kind of very measured pacing that may have non-followers gnashing their teeth, but for the faithful, it’s a journey like no other. It’s one that rewards immeasurably, and serves as both a fitting finale, and the starting point of what’s to follow.
For those who have been following the MCU films, you will absolutely love the plot device that ‘resurrects’ so many of the characters, both major and minor, that we’ve encountered over the 11 years of MCU films. It’s fascinating how they’ve managed to fit everyone in, and even in the dark of the theater, I could sense how pearly whites would glimmer as smiles broke out from other viewers. And be forewarned that Endgame will tug at your heartstrings and elicit tears like no other Marvel film has done in the past.
Endgame, and it’s just the start of a new chapter in MCU’s lifespan. Don’t miss out!
Photos from Marvel