Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Screenwriters: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Brie Larson
The Avengers are back, this time as a depleted albeit universe-trotting combination of humans, super-humans, bionic beings and Gods alike, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes coming full circle from their debut outing in The Avengers (2012) by re-establishing the core group in their attempts to save the universe from that which has already occurred: Thanos’ Infinity War snap that wiped out half of all life – the decimation.
With the audience-pleasing combination of fresh ideas and a nostalgia towards revisiting the core group, Avengers: Endgame has shattered pre-sale and preview records, and is expected to become the highest grossing movie of all time. The Marvel Studios culmination project, directed by franchise leaders The Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Captain America: Civil War; Avengers: Infinity War), is more than a blockbuster, it’s a cultural event around which all of superhero cinema is set to pivot. In the years to come, we’ll discuss the superhero sub-genre as either before or after Endgame, the 21 Marvel releases and countless films from other studios bound together under one banner defined by this film, the result and/or pay-off to every superhero movie ever released to this point and the cinematic version of a thank you letter to those who’ve stuck with it for so many years. Disney, Marvel, Marvel head Kevin Feige, The Russo Brothers and everyone involved with this film seemed to have had one goal in mind: pleasing everyone.
Endgame, or more aptly Fan Service The Movie, is a film not lacking in issues – a plot defined by leaps in logic (both within the film itself and the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe) as well as conveniences big and small being the central most concern – and much like many a season finale, Endgame was arguably outshone by the series’ penultimate episode (in this case Infinity War) in an artistic sense. But, that’s not to say that it wasn’t possibly the greatest season finale of all time, a new standard bearer for the ultimate long-term, many-franchise-long, pay off. For fans of the MCU, this is almost everything you could have wished for, and for those going in without 21 films of knowledge and a backlog of Marvel comic book information to guide them, there’s more than enough about Endgame to not only keep your attention but to truly shock, inspire and wow you. Endgame is a blockbuster that pushes all the right buttons.
Logic holes and plot conveniences aside, Endgame does actually feature a very solid narrative through-line considering the number of factors at play, encapsulating motivations and potential issues in amongst its countless battles and nostalgia trips, never seeming to shy away from offering real stakes (despite such concerns regarding most Marvel releases to date) and satisfying narrative conclusions – it seems Marvel’s apparent lack of faith in traditionally secondary characters has waned due to the success of projects like Guardians of the Galaxy and that the studio is finally embracing the inevitable: that nobody lives forever.
Endgame is, without a doubt, the biggest superhero tear-jerker to date.
It is perhaps assumed that an Avengers film is going to look good at this stage, and in Endgame that is certainly the case once again, the CG-rendering of characters like Hulk and the challenging battle sequences seamlessly blending with the cleverly assembled visual motif of the Russo Brothers’ live-action footage, providing the true peak of superhero-related CG work to date. What’s more is that Endgame sounds fantastic, the work in sound editing working to deliver extra impact to every punch and the score being integral to the emotion of the piece, not least to reacquainting us with the themes and traumas of previous movies and thus the narrative arcs of the central most characters.
As a standalone artistic venture, Endgame may not quite live up to its predecessor (arguably the greatest offering Marvel have constructed to date) on the page, but it is without a doubt a phenom of the genre despite this and does, in almost every other conceivable way – importance to the franchise, to its audience, to cinema and to culture – outstrip Infinity War, making it quite possibly the greatest superhero movie of all time and certainly the most important.
Take some tissues and stay through the credits despite there not being an after-credit scene because it’s likely we’ll never see superhero cinema reach the heights of this again. Every single minute of the 3 hour run-time will captivate you (and then some). Laugh, cry and be left in awe at the majesty of the peak of the Marvel mountain…