Review: Avengers: Endgame. Short and spoiler free
Marvel Studios used Avengers: Endgame to wrap its love letter to fans of the 22 film cycle in a big bright bow. And as they clipped the wings of the nostalgia angels, they also released the franchise to take flight in the future. It was as though Captain Marvel arrived in theaters just ahead of Endgame so fans would know that there was life before and that there will be life after Endgame and this phase of Marvel’s cinematic onslaught.
If you haven’t seen Endgame yet, go now. Like stop reading this and go now, now. The Russo brothers and Marvel Studios delivered a lot of movie. The sumptuous feast of visuals often finds itself punctuated by emotion, many emotions: sadness, loss, longing, regret, vengeance and joy. And the beats all hit at the right time. Some moments brought tears, others spontaneous cheers.
30 seconds in and fans were already reeling, tears held back, tears let go. Nothing short of heart-wrenching. A key character transforms. It immediately reminds the audience just how devastating the Thanos snap was for so many.
The characters reflect the audience’s perspective of loss from Infinity War. Some struggle to find themselves, others just struggle to find a way home. I’ll give you one spoiler: not all the trailers and commercials are actually in the film.
Endgame delivers a three-hour tour of Marvel’s past and the present. It brings wholeness, thankfulness, and peace a few times, just to have the next second offer a choice that might erase it all.
Every one of the surviving Avengers gets at least a moment, if not several—Endgame’s long run time does allow for breathing, but most of the time it prompts hyperventilation.
Some critics have complained that the first hour is slow. Those who miss it can just jump back in for hours two and three. They are wrong, at least on the first viewing. The set-up and the backstory act as foundational rudders that guide the story. Perhaps years from now when Endgame plays on television to an audience steeped in its lore, this first half may more likely offer a time for tea and sandwiches…but that will be then, not now.
The steady acceleration does hit around the 2-hour mark and it’s going to and through the floorboard. How much more can we want? indeed, Wong.
More. The answer is more.
Endgame challenge most recent comic book-based films by constructing the premise in a very hard science fiction fashion. The script pushes science to the point of making fun of science fiction films and television that leverage the same trope, albeit they with a misguided interpretation of what is possible. Regardless of the ability to execute on the physics in this reality, the lack of magic (with the exception of those who practice in the MCU over physics) the premise holds up pretty tightly. Endgame will leave many with a good kind of intellectual hangover, especially for those saw the film late in the evening.
The visual effects were amazing, and amazingly complex. The film delivers the best fight scenes in the franchise. The Civil War tarmac fight and the Battle of Wakanda were just skirmishes. But its the more subtle VFX work should get the film a technical Oscar.
Beyond the fighting, surprises lurk around every corner. Some characters change mightily, while others appear unexpectedly—and some appear in unexpected ways. And sometimes people might shake their heads as they think they see double. A couple of personal favorites either had little to do, or didn’t show up, but that’s a minor nit. The caliber of star power participating in Endgame would overpower any other film, but Endgame’s Oscar winners and nominees alike seemed genuinely happy to just be included in a cameo in the past or as a surveryor of the survived.
Endgame brings no post-credit scene, but there is something worth waiting for, and it of course hints at the future of the franchise.
Will Endgame win an Oscar for directing or best film? It should at least be nominated. As for the actors, many of the performances are powerful, with Robert Downey Jr. leading the way across the spectrum of emotion.
Those who read my Star Trek: Discovery reviews know that I don’t let my inner fanboy trump critical thinking.
When Endgame faded to black, those two parts of me met in perfect balance. “So that’s it. That’s how it’s done,” I said to myself. “I wonder if they still have seats available for another show this weekend?”
Endgame wasn’t designed to serve a large broad audience. It was designed to serve its audience, which just happens to be large. Hats off to Marvel Studios, Mickey ears or S.H.I.E.L.D. caps in equal measure.
For more on Endgame read this post.