My original article here.
6 May 2019
Last year, at pretty much exactly this time I sat down and wrote about how Avengers: Infinity War lives up to the 10 years and 18 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies worth of hype. And here I am doing it again for the spectacle that is Avengers: End Game.
I say spectacle because this is what directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, have given us. They’ve made a film that surpasses ridiculously high expectations and services, now, 21 preceding MCU films with an insane amount of love and detail. This is by no means a perfect film in the sense that when YouTubers pick it apart and agonise over every detail that everything makes sense. We live in a time in which everyone’s a screenwriter and knows better than the people paid to do so – no film or series can meet those expectations.
This past weekend was huge for the geeky fandom. Avengers: Endgame was released to huge hype and the third episode of the last season of Game of Thrones promised us the biggest and longest night battle sequence since the battle of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Social media was buzzing (and still is) with memes, spoilers and on Monday morning perhaps a sense of disappointment. I think both Endgame and Game of Thrones delivered and that emptiness that we now feel is that we won’t see such spectacle for a long time. Both Thanos and the Night King represent such a huge scale of threat and villainy that we just honestly don’t know where to go after this.
Picking up where we left off
I digress, though, we’re here for me to tell you about Endgame. I thought that after Avengers: Infinity War that all this movie could hope for is to be as good as that but, no, it goes and far surpasses that movie! The 181 minutes of runtime means that the movie pays attention to all the characters and give them all a bit of the spotlight. This also means that the movie can hit different thematic beats in its story. The movie opens with the remaining Avengers and the rest of the world recovering from and dealing with the repercussions of that finger snap from the last film that resulted in half of all life in the universe being wiped out. Everyone’s grieving and we spend time with the surviving characters, all of whom have lost people. The Avengers are not used to losing and Thanos has soundly defeated them so they’re at their lowest.
All the characters deal with their grief in their own way. Hawkeye is back and pretty much on a criminal murder spree after his family gets dusted. Tony Stark is angry at Captain America for not being there when he needed him and for the rift created between the team after the events of Captain America: Civil War. The Cap is running a survivor’s support group where he helps people move on from their grief but admits that he can’t move on.
Natasha tries to hold the rest of the Avengers team together because they’re the only family she has. Thor is in a state of self-loathing because he should have gone for the head. Everyone’s pretty much not having a great time. This part of the story also reveals a flaw in Thanos’ plan. He erased half of life in the universe but the remaining half hasn’t forgotten and instead of moving on people are stuck in their grief and the world goes through somewhat of an apocalypse because, well, half of the universe’s workforce is just gone.
Fan service and Easter eggs abound (*Spoiler alert*)
You can’t keep the Avengers down for too long, though, and the movie kicks it up a gear when Ant-Man escapes from the quantum realm and puts time travel on the table for the team. They come up with a plan they refer to as a time heist and go off to try and get back everything they lost. The time heist allows for many, many callbacks through the MCU’s past movies. This part is pure fan service and just a treasure trove of Easter eggs. The references to the MCU are just brilliant and the nods to other time travel movies make for a lot of laughs.
This part of the film is Marvel showing off their amazing ability to use humour whilst still making you feel like everything you love will be lost. It’s quite magical. The time heist itself is wibbly wobbly timey wimey and probably doesn’t make sense if you overthink it. Things obviously go wrong when you mess with time and the action kicks in on an epic scale from here on. It would be too much of a spoiler to tell you how huge everything becomes from here! Again, all I can say is that it’s a spectacle of astounding proportions! Thanos is still very much the main threat and he is still as menacing as ever.
Marvel has crafted a masterpiece with Endgame and I think whatever they do from here on out, it will remain as a highlight that will not be overshadowed anytime soon. You don’t need to have watched all the 21 preceding movies to enjoy this movie, but it sure as hell makes your experience so much better if you did. The MCU has taken what for the longest time could only be successfully done on the pages of comic books, showing off the sheer spectacle of a huge space villain like Thanos, that Mad Titan hell-bent on destroying half the universe on a massive scale. You don’t even understand, this movie is me reading Grant Morrison’s epic comic book, Final Crisis (DC, I know) and wondering how a comic book can be so massive in scale and emotion. Watching Endgame is like that and as the credits roll up you wonder if you’ll ever feel this way again.