One year ago, Marvel Studios released Avengers: Infinity War. It was a film that was touted as the penultimate culmination of the last ten years of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans everywhere pondered on how Marvel could step up their game once more, and then, it happened. A silence fell over audiences everywhere as they watched their favourite heroes’ parish as a result of Thanos and the infinity stones. It has been a year since that massive film and now Marvel is back with what they call “the true end to the Infinity Saga,” Avengers: Endgame. With the team and the world at the brink of collapse, there was no telling what Marvel, directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, had up their sleeve. With a three-hour runtime, Avengers: Endgame not only exceeds expectations, it blows them out of the water. This line is said often but Endgame truly is “the Marvel film fans have been waiting for.” Including incredible action, phenomenal performances, and a stellar musical score, Avengers: Endgame is not only the crowning achievement of the MCU, it is a love letter to every film that came before it.
Avengers: Endgame picks up some time after the dreaded events of Infinity War. Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, James Rhodes, Bruce Banner, and Rocket must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic battle with Thanos, the mad titan who decimated the universe.
This is truly a special film. For the casual viewer, the film acts as an incredibly moving but also fun time at the theatre. For those who have been with this universe throughout its entire lifespan, Endgame is the crowning achievement of this monumentally successful franchise. There is not a moment wasted as the film immediately kicks off in an unexpected place. Similar to War for the Planet of the Apes, Avengers: Endgame is not the film you were expecting to see. Endgame is a beautifully crafted, character-driven story with bombastic action sequences and jaw-dropping surprises sprinkled throughout. Whereas Infinity War was a Thanos-centric film, Endgame brings the focus back to our original six heroes. With the Russo Brothers at the helm, the 22nd film in the MCU becomes a methodically-paced, but still unrelenting experience that will leave fans speechless and shocked for days to come.
I mentioned above that Endgame not only honours the past, but also acts as a love letter to the entire franchise. While still managing to stand on its own, Endgame sprinkles in surprising connective tissues to previous MCU films that were genuinely surprisingly. As someone who has watched these movies since 2008’s Iron Man, it was a feeling of elation to see certain moments brought back for this film, almost as if it was a reward for watching these films for such a long time.
The action sequences in particular were spectacular. There is no sugar-coating it when I say that each action set-piece in the film is better than the last. The visuals are vibrant and colourful, with the 3rd act being the best finale ever put out by Marvel Studios. It is actually absurd what Marvel was able to do with its finale, but you never lose sight of anything. It is as if Marvel saw the battle of Wakanda and said “let’s not only make it bigger, but more focused.” Specifically, there is a long take at the beginning of the finale, similar to the one seen in James Wan’s Aquaman. The camera navigates its way through the pulse-pounding atmosphere, but never do you feel like you will lose track of the action. In fact, not only is this Marvel’s best action yet, it is also a testament to how far the Russo Brothers have come since essentially re-inventing the Captain American character.
There was no “playing it safe” with a film like this. Not only does Endgame shape its own path, one that turns the franchise on its head, it also closes what Marvel has called “The Infinity Saga.” It is a breath of fresh air and delivers on being both an emotional drama and an action-packed blockbuster. Thematically, the film revolves around failure, sacrifice, and the hope instilled in the heroes of tomorrow. We see how each hero reacts to the fact that they failed to protect those around them. Through the sacrifices each makes in this long battle against the mad titan, we watch them grow. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, all take the spotlight for the fight of their lives.
The major advantage Endgame holds over Infinity War is in fact its longer runtime. Infinity War, while great in its own right, unfortunately sidelined certain major characters so that everyone could be fit in the story. Endgame however, is blessed with an extra 30 minutes, and with that comes superbly fleshed out character arcs for all the heroes – and villains – involved. The standout performances come from Robert Downey Jr, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, and Karen Gillan. This is by far RDJ’s best outing as Iron Man. He perfectly balances light-hearted and subtle comedic cues with the dire circumstances that came with the snap. Stark’s quips feel natural, almost like they’re just a way for him to cope with notion of his failures. For fear of spoilers, I will not dive too deep into Josh Brolin’s role, but his performance is something completely different from what was seen in Infinity War. Johansson and Evans were equally fantastic as they hold down the fort on Earth. Their relationship in particular was a major highlight, reminiscent of what was seen in Captain America: The Winter Solider. Both have lost their friends and now, their country and planet is in disarray. Endgame sees them trying to find purpose in putting the world back together. Karen Gillan has always brought something new with each performance as Nebula and Endgame is no different. Since her debut, she has only had one mindset: to kill Thanos. In Endgame, her role is deeply layered, as the film explores who she was, how she has evolved, and what it means to be a hero.
Alan Silvestri’s musical score is remarkable, which in actuality, is an understatement. From the opening sequence to the end credits, Silvestri’s music helps elevate the moments seen on screen. Paired with breathtaking visuals, the sights and sounds experienced in Avengers: Endgame is unlike anything previously seen in a Marvel film. His use of horns for action-packed moments contrasts beautifully with the strings heard during the quieter moments. The Avengers theme has never sounded more powerful and awe-inspiring, and Silvestri’s music will go down as one of the genre’s best score’s ever put to film.
Avengers: Endgame shattered my expectations. Even after seeing every trailer and TV spot, there is nothing that could prepare someone for a film like this. Some pacing issues during the first half of the film aside, Endgame is everything a superhero fan wants in a film like this. The film balances dread and fear with well-crafted moments of levity, but still leaves you on the edge of your seat with each passing minute. Everything led to this moment, and it probably should not have worked as well as it did. Overall, Avengers: Endgame provides terrific entertainment value with its bombastic action and stellar visuals. But, at its core, it is a story about a group of heroes trying to put the universe back together. That is what makes this film so great. It never loses sight of the characters that made this universe so enticing to begin with. When all is said and done, Endgame will not only go down as one of the best superhero films ever, but also as THE quintessential Marvel film.
Rating – 9/10
Avengers: Endgame flies into theatres on April 26, 2019.