We can’t say we weren’t warned. The directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, have even admitted they cried watching Endgame. They had set themselves an almost impossible task. How do you top the box office and critical success of Infinity War and, even more daunting, how do you somehow bring back most or even all of the fallen heroes without rendering the emotional punch and plotlines of Infinity War redundant? Captain America says: “Today we have a chance to take it all back. We will, whatever it take. Whatever it takes.” Yes, you should pack your tissues, but you may end up laughing a little more than you expected and not crying quite as much as you could or should have.
Avengers 3 ended with Thanos carrying out the Snap and wiping out half of all life across the universe, including certain prominent Marvel heroes who fans already know must return in some form for their own movies. Most notable among these is Spider-Man, who plucked heartstrings with a tearful farewell in Tony Stark’s arms, yet will swoop back onto screen in July for Spider-Man Far From Home.
It’s just one of the many tricky and sticky webs the filmmakers have to unpick.
So, just how good is Avengers Endgame – and how successful is it at providing a satisfying ending to Marvel Phases One to Three, while also setting up Phase Four?
In the end the Russos have delivered a typically powerful and surprisingly funny final act that just about wraps everything up but occasionally feels like it is servicing fan wish fulfillment at the expense of the extraordinary story built up over the last three Marvel movie Phases. I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of it, but I have a nagging sensation it pulled a few of its punches.
After writing and reading incessantly about all the theories surrounding this movie every day for twelve solid months, I was sure of only two things. Firstly, I had no idea how the Russos were going to pull it off (although there have been enough hints about time travel and the Quantum Realm). Secondy, if anyone could do it, it would be the Russos.
And they have. Just about.
The film manges to pay hommage to the entire MCU franchise up to this point in a dizzying array of witty, often moving and sometume pleasingly subversive scenes. There is also one enormous plothole my clever colleague pointed out that will ignite major debate once fans see the film. But there is a nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, the film could have made some harder choices.
It builds to a truly spectacular and jaw-dropping final battle that is everything any fan could ever have hoped for. It closes on resoundingly emotional series of scenes that another colleague accurately summarised as “more endings than Lord of the Rings.” It successfully reboots the MCU for what comes next. It gives us everything we secretly wanted, but that isn’t always in our best interests.
One thing that is beyond doubt, however, is how the entire cast and its leading figures rise to the challenge in glorious fashion.
Chris Evans has been growing in stature throughout his Marvel journey as Captain America/Steve Rogers and he provides the moral and even emotional core of this movie. His mirror image has always been Iron Man/Tony Stark, two men with the same goals but very different beliefs about how to achieve them – and what they are willing to sacrifice. Both characters (and actors) get the material and screen time they deserve.
Fellow original, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, has another spectacular reinvention whch the actor and audience alike revel in, while Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk/Banner dilemma gets the resolution hinted so heavily in the early posters. There is enormous joy being had (and occasional pathos) subverting both characters yet again and the humour is irresistible. I’m just not entirely sure it helped an already overloaded film find its tone or pacing.
The film sees the return of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, aka Ronin – and Jeremy Renner finally gets some decent storytlines to sink his teeth into, while Scarlett Johansson finally has a fantastic moment to finally shine.
In the end three hours was probably not enough and the film did not achieve the flawless mastery of storytelling, timing and truth of its illustrious predecessor.
It is a great movie, highly enjoyable and does a remarkable job servicing the entire array Marvel movies that have come before. If sometimes it feels a little self-indulgent and self-revereantial, that is understandable and forgivable. I just wish it had been a tiny bit bolder and more brutal in its choices.
By most blockbuster standards it is a triumph, but it falls a little short of Infinity War. But then it is always more fun tearing things apart, putting it all back together is the tricky part.
It is almost impossible to go into any detail without revealing major spoilers but the debate will explode from tomorrow once the movie starts opening in much of Europe, Australasia and Asia, before the UK on Thurday and the US on Friday.
Published at Tue, 23 Apr 2019 21:59:00 +0000