Following on from the cataclysmic events of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, the remaining team members are still struggling to come to terms with the fallout. Lost between resignment, self pity and revenge, the group is fractured as to what to do next. However, when one character re-emerges out of nowhere, a slim glimmer of hope presents itself albeit with the heaviest of costs.
...in a surprising move of bravery, it courageously decides to wipe the slate clean within its first thirty minutes...
In the chasm of time between ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’, speculation has been rife as to how Marvel’s ten year journey would resolve itself. With the satisfying ‘Infinity War’ teasing the direst of outcomes, the potential for an anti-climatic finale loomed large and yet in ‘Avengers: Endgame’, this doesn’t happen. In fact, in a surprising move of bravery, it courageously decides to wipe the slate clean within its first thirty minutes. Intentionally robbing the audience of all of their interim theories, it delightfully does the other thing and digs even deeper into its characters rather than settle for a lame CGI-fest.
Fully embracing both its darkness and its hopelessness, ‘Endgame’ becomes the Marvel movie that surprises you the most. Focusing on character rather than prowess, chief amongst these arcs is Robert Downey Jnr.’s Tony Stark. Sly and frequently irreverent, his arms-manufacturer-turned-pacifist regularly subverts and solidifies the more ‘flying-capes’ aspects of Marvel’s other superheroes (and so it is here too). This is not to say that ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is without humour. In fact, in amongst all the hopelessness, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is the funnier of the two chapters. Rooted much more in desperation, all of its jokes land cleanly albeit for one characterisation, which whilst arguably promoting an unhealthy cliché, very nearly steals the second act, if not the entire movie.
Sadly for the ladies of the team, they are not served as well. Again brought on as a weapon of mass destruction, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is denied an arc that would serve both her character and the storyline. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow fares a little better, inheriting the mantle of the Avengers leader-in-absentia and commendably pulling the team together. That said, both her and Hawkeye also find themselves traded in cheaply for plot progression rather than potential character growth.
However, in amongst of all these concerns, Josh Brolin’s towering performance as Thanos deserves special mention. Imbuing both soul and emotion through the heaviest layers of CGI enhancement, his measured rendition suitably balances Robert Downey Jnr’s. Burdened by the battle scars and sacrifices that it’s taken them to get here, it’s the gravity of their combined performances that keeps ‘Avengers: Endgame’ tethered to the ground.
With its inevitable fight scene at the end, Marvel finally manages to deliver a stand-off that doesn’t just splinter the scenery. Instead we are treated to a catalogue of stolen moments that pepper each character’s journey as the story’s beats come at them hard and heavy. Neither wallowing in or over-milking its final moments, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ also commendably avoids any burdensome soliloquies given the emotions at hand. Clocking in at just over three hours of screen time and given the sheer number of superheroes onstage, there are surprisingly few loose ends left to be tied up. Instead the movie bows out with one more final reveal and a fantastically progressive surprise that eclipses any real need for a post-credit scene.
Seen in comparison to ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ feels the shorter of the two despite its extra half hour. By the way that it revisits many of the Marvel movies that have brought us to this point, there is a decent case that ‘Endgame’ could be seen in isolation. However to do so, would be to deny many of its satisfying pay-offs as it rounds out its ten year journey. See it. See them. It’s worth the trip.2