TAS Reviews: Avengers Endgame
As a dude who is only 18 years young, the MCU has been the apex of my childhood as far as cinema and entertainment goes. I saw the first Iron Man in theatres when I was 8, and in the past 11 years, I've grown with these characters and this world. Regardless of your opinion on the MCU as a collection of films, what Disney and Marvel has accomplished in 11 years, taking mostly B and C-list heroes and turning them into household names, has been one of the boldest, most impressive experiments and accomplishments in cinematic history.
When I was watching Endgame, it hit me at numerous stages that I was witnessing the most anticipated movie of all time, but more than that, I was watching the closing chapter to a family I've grown with for the better part of my entire life. I tried to leave my expectations at the door going into this movie, but there's no denying that there's a lot riding on this movie in terms of satisfyingly delivering a satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Saga we've been following for 11 years, a continuation of Infinity War's storyline, and also delivering on the spectacle and the hype behind the most anticipated movie of all time. In a lot of ways, watching Endgame feels like the apex of all of the character building in the MCU for the past 11 years.
Seeing The Avengers win time and again made their loss in Infinity War all the more shocking, and in Endgame, the Russo Brothers do a fantastic job showing the devastating impact of this loss on the heroes. Not only how they deal with the fallout of Infinity War's events as a collective, but how they deal with loss and grief as individuals. The movie is rife with fantastic, mature instances of drama, and a handful of emotionally charged interactions between the fellow heroes.
Markus and McFeely's script leads to some terrific performances from the entire ensemble, most of who are at their absolute best in this movie. If you thought Robert Downey Jr was exemplary in Civil War and in the first Iron Man, he somehow manages to top both of these performances with his performance in this film. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo give it their all, and it's incredible how you can feel the weight of their character arcs in their performances. One of my favourite things about the MCU is the interactions between heroes, and there is an abundance of that in Endgame, from further-explorations of character dynamics from previous films, in addition to interactions and pairings we haven't seen in previous films.
Not only do the filmmakers deliver on new pairings between characters, they also deliver on new-iterations of characters we already know. I absolutely love what they've done with Hawkeye in this movie, and I adored the new direction they took with Bruce Banner in this movie, and a beautiful thing about both of these is that although they're new interpretations of these characters, they feel like natural progressions of these characters. Paul Rudd also fit fantastically in this ensemble, and Captain Marvel, who I was a little iffy on in her first film, is utilised perfectly here.
This isn't a perfect movie, and it is missing that aspect of perfectionism I've come to expect from The Russo Brothers. Without naming names, there is a character who I loved in past movies, but in this movie, the Russo's made them absolutely pathetic, and it's disappointing to see such handling of a character, particularly in such a pivotal moment in the MCU. The handling of this character represents the level of gravitas in this movie, in that, it is one of the more serious, emotional MCU movies, but it carried less gravitas and less intensity than Avengers: Infinity War, which surprised me considering this movie had even greater hype and I'd argue greater stakes than leads me to still prefer that movie a little bit more Endgame. However, where this movie is missing on the craftsmanship and attention to detail in that movie, it does compensate with a bigger heart and deeper emotional resonance. It's a movie that does a beautiful job delivering on the task of taking 11 years worth of storytelling, and delivering a satisfying conclusion. It's a monumental task, but the Russo Brothers, Markus and McFeely accomplish this by distilling the MCU into it's most thematically significant parts, instead of just cramming in as many fan-service moments as possible.
Thankfully, there is a glorious amount of fan-service within this movie, but it is beautiful and appropriate every step of way. The movie alternates between delivering on jaw-dropping, fan-service scenes and tear-inducing scenes, and it's just three hours of that for the entire movie, yet it still works because we've grown so attached to these characters throughout these past 11 years, and because of that: scenes that could've come across as the directors ticking boxes off of a fan-service checklist, carry profound emotional significance, and feel like they were truly earned.
I know this is subjective, but I live in Australia, and I can count on one hand how many times people have clapped in theatres, and this movie had multiple scenes which had audiences erupting in cheering and clapping. In addition to this, I can count the amount of movies that have made me cry on one finger, and this movie made me shed tears and straight up cry. It's not just the big emotional moments that did this to me, but even smaller moments and dialogue exchanges made me tear up, and it wouldn't have been possible without the immense emotional connection I've formed with these characters, and the absolutely terrific performances from the cast in delivering these lines.
The important question for me going into Avengers: Endgame was "can the filmmakers make me feel rewarded for following these characters for the past 11 years?" The Russo's mostly accomplish this in flying colours, crafting a movie with an impeccable understanding of not only these characters, but the thematic significance of these movies. Thanks to Endgame, the MCU feels more complete than ever now. The MCU will go on to explore new stories and unexplored areas of the universe, and even revisiting familiar territory in different ways (including a Black Widow film next year), and I suspect I will watch with curiosity, but watching Endgame felt like turning the page on this iteration of the MCU I hold so dear to myself. Something that inspired me, and inspired the stories I told. Something that inspired and shaped the way I watch movies. And I couldn't help but shed tears as I left this movie, saying goodbye to something that defined so much of my childhood. If you've been as invested in the MCU as I have been for the past 11 years, I'm almost certain you will too.