After the likes of Infinity War and Aquaman, some superhero movies have recently embraced the same sense of movie epic that James Cameron exhibited in Avatar or Peter Jackson mastered in his The Lord of The Rings trilogy. So it is only appropriate that on a most epic occasion Marvel Studios delivers another, in this 3-hour follow up to the events of Avengers: Infinity War and in many ways (despite the fact this summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home will close out Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or ‘MCU’) conclusion to the story that has been brewing for 10 years and 22 movies. As Dr. Strange said, “we’re in the endgame now”.
What Marvel has accomplished here is no minor feat, whether you have liked, loved or loathed any of the MCU offerings on this journey; the scale, foresight and construction of this universe has been a lesson in franchise-building and patient character formation and storytelling. There have been hiccups along the way (the early situation with Hulk, the recurring villain problems and some noticeable formulas) but Marvel has thrived by revelling in the lore and fun of their heroes, before beginning the maturation process evident in some of their most important showings. So, now, as we reach the apex, it is rather refreshing to see the studio not completely abandon their token comedy but to predominantly use raw emotion, spirit and drama to deliver this grand climax.
If Infinity War depicted loss and fate, Endgame depicts moving forward and making the best world we can in the aftermath of great pain. Yet, despite the grave occurrences it picks up from, Endgame delivers a truly fun and exciting cinematic event that serves as a pure reward for the legions of fans and moviegoers who have been there since 2008 when Robert Downey Jr. made his remarkable career comeback and proclaimed himself to be Iron Man.
In a project with such stakes Anthony and Joe Russo do a miraculous job of bringing together a decade of heroics and delivering a coherent and satisfying “ending”. Starting their Marvel career with the acclaimed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and following it up with the masterpiece Captain America: Civil War (still my personal favourite), these directors have handled the biggest risks and the largest scope of this universe and have flourished and here they do so again.
The endless roster of characters get a chance to have their moment, with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man, Karen Gillan’s Nebula and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow perhaps shining brightest, while Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel (less used than initially expected but who leads a damn cool moment towards the end) and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk get some brilliant moments too. Also, Josh Brolin as big baddie Thanos, once more is an effective and all-powerful antagonist and the character’s spiritual edge and beliefs continue to to be delved into, which is what makes Thanos shine where a plethora of previous forgettable big powerful CGI Marvel bad guys of the past have not.
The imagery is grand, the effects are super and a potentially eye-rolling well-trodden central concept is instead used in a fun way to act as a fitting celebration. Some may (and have) see it as smug or fan servicing but I saw it as the film and its makers thanking the people who have supported them every step of the way and to that point I cannot see any Marvel fan not enjoying Endgame. There is indeed a lot to take in and perhaps some of it gets a bit lost on the casual watcher of these films (I can see why multiple reviews have suggested rewatching previous films and seeing this one a few times) but be it Alan Silvestri’s rousing use of the Avengers musical motifs and soulful scoring, or the fist-in-the-air-athon of set pieces (that moment in the massive third act – you’ll know it when you see it) and character moments, Endgame is a must catch big screen event and a blockbuster that knows what is required and which delivers.
Admittedly, the biggest shocks of this story seemed to have been saved for Infinity War as – save for one or two unexpected decisions – Endgame very much plays out as it logically ought to. In fact, with all Thanos’ speeches about being inevitable, that is a perfect way to describe this film because this is a full circle moment in many respects and one which reaches unavoidable outcomes and rational story paths.
Endgame is a celebration, commemoration and climax that leaves a final stamp on one story, while shuffling some interesting pieces together for the next. Its record annihilating success is both guaranteed and earned, even though – at this rate – Disney will own the world in 10 years!