'Avengers: Endgame' (2019): Excruciatingly Satisfying
There are many films that try to be epic. Some do it through mind blowing special effects, others do it through chilling drama. Designed to leave you in awe and possibly without words for what you’ve seen. There are a few films that have succeeded at this, and in doing so become a new standard by which succeeding cinema is measured. The bar is set time and time again, but never has it been set so high as ‘Avengers: Endgame’
So here it is. The result of the impossible task of putting together words for a film that left me without any. I suppose I should start at the beginning, which for most viewers is likely to be surprising in its bleakness. My biggest misgiving going into ‘Endgame’, was that the film’s very existence would cheapen the ending of Marvel’s last epic, ‘Infinity War’. Instead, I was happy to see that everyone of my heroes was now miserable. Rather than sweep the dust that was half the universe’s population under the rug, the film sits with it. It forces you to see the ramifications of the world that was left behind. It does the thing that Marvel does best, humanizes superhumans.
You watch as a Raccoon consoles a cyborg, and a group of people used to coming out on top, try to accept that the one time they didn’t, is when it mattered the most. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is a movie about superheroes, but it’s also about a very human idea of failure. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ was built around an ideology of sacrifice that permeated throughout the film. It firmly denies a reality in which one life might be traded for countless others. To win means to succeed at all costs, without compromise. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ deals with the fallout of that arrogance beautifully and gives the audience a chance to see their heroes in a way they hadn’t before. 22 movies in, and Marvel is…
Eventually though, The Avengers do what they do best. To give details on that front would be to ruin the experience that is ‘Endgame’. Safe to say though, the second act of the film is a rewarding experience to the most fanatical of Marvel acolytes. So much so that the film runs the risk of alienating the less familiar crowd. Still, there’s enough basic action of good vs. evil for even a first time viewer to enjoy. As someone who’s had an intense love of these films, I myself must admit that gleeful as the trip down memory lane was, it nevertheless reeked of gratuitous commercialism. Thankfully the filmmakers were able to utilise the familiar imagery in a way that suited the story, its characters, instead of feeling like a strict regurgiation.
Aside from that, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ has the honour of being the most Comic Booky film I’ve ever seen. Other films have come close. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ nails the cosmic traversal and outright goofiness balanced against a heartfelt treatment, ‘X-Men Days Of Future Past’ nails the time travel fueled retcon, but nothing comes close to ‘Endgame’, a film that if you begin to break down the mechanics of the plot, you begin to sound like a crazy person, having a fever dream, while tripping on acid.
For many, the first act of the film will be too slow. The second act will rely too heavily on nostalgia. However I defy any audience participant to find the third act to be anything less than the culmination of not just the MCU, but of all blockbuster filmmaking. The Russo brothers have proven their prowess of powered people time and time again, but even they never had to manage 64 speaking roles, the end of multiple arcs, and have to deliver action that was exciting, coherent, AND inventive. Not to mention writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who have been flexing their MCU muscles since ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’. That you’re able to make sense of what’s going on at all is an impressive feat. The fact that they’re able to make you care about any of it, is expertise filmmaking.
Imagine the sensation of watching Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings for the first time, in all its majestic scope with battles that seemed impossible to commit to film. Now imagine those same battles, except the soldiers all have superpowers. Looking better than ever, with characters you’ve spent over a decade with, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ manages to find an incredible balance between gut wrenching character moments and truly fantastic action sequences.