After twenty-one movies over the last eleven years, we’re finally in the Endgame.
And with perhaps the highest expectations for any MCU movie so far, I’m pleased to report that – in the words of our very own Laurence – Avengers: Endgame sticks the superhero landing with style.
What’s perhaps most impressive about this film, at least initially, is how well its true structure was concealed in the lead-up to its release. While Marvel Studios can occasionally be guilty of giving waaay too much away in their trailers and trailers-for-trailers (and teasers-for-trailers-for-trailers), Endgame’s plot was kept impressively vague for the most part, resulting in a ridiculously exciting and incredibly unpredictable experience as we finally get to watch it unfold.
I’m not going to delve into any spoilers, but suffice to say that the Russo Brothers make the most of every last minute of their three-hour running time, displaying a far more patient approach than the adrenaline-fueled sprint of Infinity War. From the very first scene, character-based moments take centre stage here, and we have plenty of them as the surviving Avengers struggle to keep going, battling grief and guilt in the wake of “the snap.”
The scale and stakes are dizzying here, and it’s great to see the Russos paying homage to all the work that has gone before them, packing their film with references and call-backs that celebrate the impressive legacy of the MCU. The spotlight is shared fairly equally throughout the surviving Avengers, and all of the key characters get their own time to shine – for the most part, anyway.
My only real niggle, and it’s something that has bothered me about quite a few previous MCU offerings, is the balance between funny and serious. Don’t get me wrong, these films undoubtedly need their lighter moments, and the MCU has built its unstoppable reputation on its mixture of humour and gravitas, but there are a few occasions here where things stray a little too far into the “SNL parody” version of the MCU, which took me out of the impressive story the Russos were building. One character in particular gets some fairly rough treatment in terms of becoming the butt of almost every joke, which slightly diminishes all the great work that has gone into building them up to this point.
That said, and putting this minor complaint to one side, this is pretty much flawless in its execution, leading to one of the most exciting, rewarding and ridiculously cool showdowns in the history of cinema. I’ve always been one of those people who cringes when they hear about people cheering in theatres, but dammit it if wasn’t warranted on at least two or three occasions here.
As we all might have expected going in, this is a film packed with sacrifice and heroic moments, and – once again, without going into spoilers – not everybody makes it out of this unharmed. It’s an emotional roller-coaster to be honest, taking you from euphoria to grief to tension to optimism, and the Russos do an impressively respectful job of drawing this incarnation of the MCU to a close and leaving the door wide open for the new generation of heroes to carry things forward into the next decade.
It may still be the wave of adrenaline coursing through me after seeing it, but I’m ready to call Avengers: Endgame the absolute pinnacle of the MCU. Three hours of emotionally arresting cinema that pays homage to and celebrates the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Absolutely unmissable.