Avengers: Endgame Review
Revenge of the Fallen
Avengers: Infinity War was a landmark event in film history, but can Endgame make good on the cliffhanger ending?Whilst there are NO Spoilers as to the events of Avengers: Endgame, the review assumes that you will be familiar with the events of the preceding movie, Avengers: Infinity War.
The 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was a lot riding on this. Not only did it have to deal with such an unprecedented cinematic build-up - this really is a game-changing collection of movies which will likely, as a whole, never be topped - but it also had to make good on the devastating events of Infinity War although do so without undermining the damage done. The Russo Brothers, who made their name with The Winter Soldier - still arguably the best of all 22 films - and cemented their more impactful entries with Civil War, unleashed Infinity War upon us and, once Thanos clicked his fingers, nothing was ever the same.
Endgame, thankfully, doesn't just pretend it was all a dream, mostly avoiding convenient gimmicks on its path to an inevitable resurrection of at least some of the fallen - inevitable not least because Marvel, in their infinite wisdom, have announced a whole slew of further movies and TV shows featuring many of the characters thought lost forever (including one in just a couple of months time which has now been rebranded as the real end to this Phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Don't be fooled though, this is the end of everything you thought you knew about the Avengers; an epic, unwieldy, emotional, at times frustrating, at times hilarious, occasionally even fist-pumping and ultimately fitting conclusion to this 11 year journey.
An epic, unwieldy, emotional, at times frustrating, at times hilarious, occasionally even fist-pumping and ultimately fitting conclusion
There's little point in explaining any kind of plot, as it would clearly lead to spoilers, suffice to say that we pick up after the genocidal events of Infinity War, finding the depleted members of the Avengers - only 6 of the core team remain - faced with their biggest challenge yet: to find a way to undo the damage done.
Winning seems initially easy to this unit, once they had time to regroup and come up with a plan, but Thanos is one step ahead, and the challenge appears impossibly difficult, with help coming from an unlikely place, and a possible - slim - chance at changing fate appearing to be all these guys have, even if it comes at a price.
The Russo Brothers should be commended for coming up with something that plays out as a part-grand tribute, part loving send-up, and part-ensemble reunion, pulling in just about everybody you can think of from the last 21 films to mount an assault of past nods on the way to forging a possible future. It's an impossible task - and a thankless one - and whilst not everybody will be satisfied to the answer to Thanos's finger-clicking devastation, it would probably take more than even Dr. Strange's 14 million future outcomes to come up with something that ultimately works better.
That's not to say that it is a perfect beast, enjoying its time with throwback nods that little bit too much, and almost forgetting the immense tension that Infinity War built, which is ultimately forgone for vast swathes of its epic 3 hour runtime (there's no stingers, so dip out before the 15 minutes of credits and you'll trim a bit off that). The jokes are great, and occasionally very welcome, but it comes at a price, and the movie frequently forgets the stakes in favour of perfect comic timing - ultimately this leaves a slightly bitter taste. Almost everybody gets a great moment in the limelight, including that undervalued Scarlet Witch, Wanda, whose powers really aren't to be underestimated. Unfortunately this also leads to an utterly ludicrous and stupefyingly politicised moments of all-female team-up which is nothing more than a crass statement, and appears completely out of place in the grand scheme of the epic battle that is going on. On the plus side, Captain Marvel gets to shine just brightly enough but, respectfully towards the original Avengers, doesn't ever steal the limelight - something which fans were rightly concerned might go the other way.
This truly is the end of the road, at least as we currently know it, and what a ride it has been
There are some key members missing from Infinity War who finally make an appearance here, and make it (mostly) worth the wait too - even if a brief attempt at going dark doesn't ever convince - but despite the best efforts to do right by everybody, at least one player still hasn't really been done justice, and now it feels like they might never get the chance to. The trio of core players who have made it through the wars - Captain America, Thor and Iron Man - all appear front and centre for the majority of the proceedings, and are given mostly fitting conclusions to their respective long-running arcs, with Evans and Hemsworth afforded the majority of the fist-pumping surprises, but Downey Jr, both at the beginning, and arguably right through to the end, standing head and shoulders above the others in terms of performance.
Indeed, despite any misgivings, the strength of the screenplay still lies in the fact that, out of the dozens of heroes on screen, you simply don't know who will still be standing at the end (future project announcements notwithstanding).
Infinity War still remains a better build-up to this fractionally lesser pay-off, which threatens to take the edge off such a momentous occasion (and may similarly have a corresponding knock-on effect upon your view of that preceding entry). In another universe of possibilities, such a decimating first film could have perhaps been held back on its key deaths a little to give the conclusion a slightly less impossible task of trying to keep you invested in the future fate of its beloved characters, but Endgame magically still comes through in the end, whatever macguffinesque gimmicks it uses to get there, rounding off the massive franchise with a Lord of the Rings level of multiple endings, at least two of which will hit home. This truly is the end of the road, at least as we currently know it, and what an emotional ride it has been.
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