is a great film. There’s no sense in delaying that statement with attempts at
being profound or grandiose. Simply put, this movie is why we go to the theater
to watch blockbusters, and I can’t imagine that anyone who has invested the
last 10+ years in following this series will be disappointed. On the other
hand, those that haven’t invested much time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
probably will be disappointed. But, honestly, this movie isn’t for them.
Five years after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, the people of Earth struggle to cope with
the loss of half the population. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) leads a
ramshackle group of former Avengers while Captain America (Chris Evans) leads
support groups. Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) saves Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)
and brings him back to Earth to start a new life with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth
Paltrow). And Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) begins a new life of his own as an
international vigilante. It’s a hopeless and bleak world until Ant-Man (Paul
Rudd) is released from the Quantum Realm by chance. With his limited
understanding of the science, he approaches the remaining Avengers with a
fantastical scheme to undo Thanos’ work.
10 Years in the Making
I can still remember seeing Iron Man in the theater back in 2008. At the time, I had no idea
that it was the beginning of a grand plan that would culminate in Endgame. I simply regarded Iron Man as a fantastic realization of a
comic book character. Of course, that was before I was a film critic. Since
then, I’ve watched every Marvel film and, like other fans of these movies, lived
with all of these characters for a decade. And yet, it feels like yesterday
that I saw Tony Stark don the iconic Iron Man armor. My, how time flies.
Now, here we are, at the magnum opus 10 years in the making.
And what makes it especially memorable is that – for the first time – a Marvel
film felt dangerous. We all knew that characters we loved might be gone
permanently and irreversibly. As such, the film feels more meaningful. And as I
watched heroes go to their destinies, I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up
multiple times. This is a film that honors the journeys that not only the
characters took but also the journeys we took with them.
is as beautiful to look at as it is to experience. From its desaturated color
palette of a desolate Earth to the vibrant and otherworldly landscapes of alien
planets, the excellent visuals shape our emotions as much as anything else
happening on screen. Late in the film, when the last remaining hero makes a
stand against an insurmountable and unending tide of enemies, we’re treated to
a wide angle of the scene to truly understand the odds. On one side of the
screen, the lone hero stands backlit against the remaining pocket of sunlight
while the encroaching enemy force emerges from rising smoke, twisted metal, and
foreboding clouds. That frame of film could hang next to other works of art in
Given the elevation of the art in this film, somehow the
Marvel humor we’ve all come to enjoy (and sometimes rely on to tolerate these
films) feels unwelcome. Ultimately, the biggest bit is a gag that lasts the
entire film, and it really challenges our expectations of what a superhero
looks like, especially one we’ve lived with over the last decade. The gag doesn’t
break the film, but it’s an adjustment that audiences are going to have make.
The only other criticism I have of Avengers: Endgame is that it’s definitely not a film that can be enjoyed
completely without having seen the previous films. There are so many characters
that many of them only have seconds of screen time while many more have no
lines at all. For those who followed the films, seeing a familiar face do one
cool thing during the climax is enough to feel like they’re being active
throughout. For viewers who aren’t familiar with the characters, those moments
will probably feel very hollow and random. But, once again, this film wasn’t
made for the latecomers.
Welcoming a New Era
The MCU is at a turning point, and a part of me is glad to
see it happen. Frankly, it’s a chore writing glowing reviews while being
cryptic so as not to spoil anything. Not every Marvel film has been great or even
good, but enough have that I find myself challenged while writing the review,
especially when this review will not
affect anyone’s decision to see this film. Avengers:
Endgame is a cultural touchstone, so everyone is going to see it just to
have an opinion when the internet and coffee houses explode with conversation
about it. And even if that doesn’t matter to you, then go see this film anyway,
because a feat like this will only be pulled off once in a generation.