Avengers: Endgame, 2019.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
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.
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.
“Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same. And now it’s here.” Those lines were spoken by Thanos in his Infinity War introduction, signaling an ominous time ahead for the Avengers and fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Those words came to pass in a startlingly dramatic way as Thanos wiped out half of all life in the universe, including a great number of the Avengers. Those words still hold true in Avengers: Endgame as the now 22-movie franchise delivers a sense of finality to audiences as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are left picking up the pieces of their defeat and attempt to correct Thanos’ actions. The Russo Brothers have made a captivating film that doesn’t lose sight of its characters by placing them and their journeys at the heart of the story, concluding some of the biggest arcs in the MCU while offering crazy moments comic book fans expect out of a story like this.
Despite Endgame being a direct continuation of Infinity War, it’s surprising just how different both films feel. Whereas Infinity War was a gigantic crossover that hopped across the galaxy on an edge of your seat adventure, Endgame is instead a very somber affair. The first 30 minutes alone are quiet, taking the necessary time for this new world and the scope of the Avengers’ defeat to sink in. Surprisingly, there is actually very little action throughout the first half of the film as the Russo’s focus on the complex feelings Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and the others have and their very different coping methods post-Snap. Endgame dedicates itself to examining its characters and how they have evolved during the 11 years of the MCU, particularly in the case of Tony and Steve. The emotional weight throughout the film is well-earned and very heartfelt, especially for fans who have stuck through the franchise for years.
By now it’s no surprise the assembled (no pun intended) cast is great together. particularly Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans as Tony as Steve respectively. Both give their all to the emotional depth of the story, especially in the first and third acts of the film. Jeremy Renner also stands out as Hawkeye is given a fairly significant arc in the film after suffering a huge loss due to the Snap. Renner definitely displays the pain and resignment Hawkeye goes through very well while Scarlett Johansson gives her best performance in the MCU as Black Widow picks up the slack Tony and Cap leave behind on the team. Chris Hemsworth also shows Thor at his most vulnerable, giving a very different take on the character than what we’ve seen after everything he’s gone through. Josh Brolin is again a scene stealer as Thanos, except this time around he gets to play with the much more villainous side to the galactic despot than the noble zealot who believes he has to make the hard choices. It’s an interesting shift in perspectives of the character, but one that is both satisfying and a great foil to the Avengers.
With Endgame being the longest MCU film to date, clocking in at just over 3 hours (including credits), the pacing works pretty well for the most part and has an engaging enough story that you don’t notice the time’s length too much. The slow burn of the film’s first act works to set the new status quo and how all the heroes deal with the Snap, but once things get going after that it doesn’t entirely stop. The Russo’s find some fairly inventive ways to move the plot along and conjure up some entertaining sequences that haven’t really been seen in the MCU before. There are a couple moments, though, where the film’s pacing is slightly impacted for a good chunk of time about halfway through the film that slows it down just enough to almost be unnecessary as it doesn’t really add much to the plot or the character’s emotional arcs. The ending itself also isn’t rushed exactly, but there are some lingering questions that aren’t completely answered. The trade-off is some excellent and moving focus on the characters, but fans might be left with some questions regarding certain players that aren’t revealed.
One of the elements the MCU has been known for, perhaps the most, is how funny most of the films can be. While there are jokes throughout the film, Endgame follows suit with Infinity War by striking a very good balance between the comedic and serious elements of the story. Endgame doesn’t lose sight of the tragedy that has befallen the world and treats it seriously, even when some characters attempt to hide their pain with laughter. As the culmination of the MCU, there is plenty of emotion to be had, especially in the second half of the film as journeys come to an end. The investment audiences have had with these characters is well paid off and the Russo’s don’t pull any punches with the emotional weight. By the film’s conclusion, there are a lot of feelings to unpack and process.
Avengers: Endgame boasts some of the MCU’s best visuals to date. It looks like a comic book brought to life with some gorgeous shots, particularly in the climax. There is a lot going on with the action, but it doesn’t overload the senses and is presented in a pretty clear manner that’s easy to follow and tell who is who. Even when there is no fighting onscreen, the cinematography is well utilized during all the grieving, discussing and plotting the Avengers do before setting off on their mission. There are also some great tracking shots employed, one during the climactic battle and another that is both emotionally heavy and shows just how far this franchise has come in the 11 years since it began. It’s no question Endgame is perhaps the best looking MCU film with its outstanding visuals and vibrant colour palette.
Audiences who have been along for the ride will find it easy to connect with the plot and character arcs of Avengers: Endgame. While it may not be quite as exciting as its predecessor, the Russo Brothers made a more than worthy follow-up and conclusion to the MCU’s Infinity Saga. None of the characters are lost in the shuffle and their emotions are given prominence over the spectacle. Downey, Evans, Johansson and Hemsworth give great performances that cap off their journeys while the rest of the cast are equally as great in their roles. Even with a couple points that slow down the story a bit too much, Endgame is a rousing success that will have fans happy. It’s bittersweet to see this part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe end, but it does so meaningfully and endearingly while examining what it is that has made the Avengers so special.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★