Quite simply the entertainment event of all time, Avengers Endgame is the culmination of Marvel’s 22 film tapestry. What started way back when in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man comes to a thunderous close 11 years later, continuing the thread after the events of Avengers Infinity War, where Thanos (Josh Brolin) succeeds in his plan to gather the six infinity stones and wipe out half of all living creatures. Running at a whopping 3 hours and 2 minutes, Endgame is a groundbreaking commercial success, smashing every kind of record that exists and quite a few that don’t with the biggest opening of all time; naturally, this being quite easily the biggest film of all time. The cast would be to long to list, and, quite frankly, I’m going to assume you know them and their characters.
Wow. How to begin. In case it hasn’t been appropriately emphasized, this is a colossal film. Forget for a moment my attachment to the franchise as a whole, one way or another we’re talking about the most ambitious, audacious cinematic endeavor of all time. Even if we forget, for a moment, the kids who went for Iron Man on opening weekend all those years ago (kids like me) who went on to grow up with this pop-culture phenomenon, we’re still talking about 22 films worth of character development, all boiling down to this. Damn. Movie. One can only imagine the weight on the Russo Brother’s shoulders as they stood before a camera on day one and said “whatever it takes.”
On the whole, I can say without any conflict in my mind that they succeeded in every measure possible. Avengers Endgame is a flawed film, deeply in places, which manages to make up for any plotholes and inconsistencies with brute forced fan targeting, making for one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve had in a theater for as long as I can remember. The last hour of this film is a piece of solid gold, filled to breaking point by fan service and epic moments. I’d go into specifics, but how could I possibly explain how I felt when Cap got Mjolnir, or when the fallen come to the rescue, armies in tow, or when Tony Stark, on his knees, comes full circle on one of the richest character arcs of a generation and uttered the words that sparked the flame that would, 11 years later, add up to Avengers Endgame in all its glory. Yeah, the last hour was kinda good.
I’m gonna get back to that, but I want to get the flaws out of the way first. The quality difference between the first and second halves of the film is steep, I’ve already touched on the magnificence of the second half. I’ll get back to it, I promise. The first half, on the other hand (while not exactly bad by any stretch of the imagination) is plagued by tonal inconsistencies and plot issues. It’s not that the humor doesn’t land in the beginning, it’s that it feels so out of place. There’s a very understandable somberness about the opening. The film literally opens with the revelation of Hawk-eye (Jeremy Renner) losing his family to Thanos’ snap. The fact that the next scene is Tony and Nebula playing flick football is a little…wrong? It’s not that it’s not funny, it definitely is, but the humor in general felt incredibly out of place in at least the first half hour or so. You laugh, but in the back of your mind you’re asking yourself if you’re allowed to. Some of the choices they made with characters didn’t sit well with me. I wasn’t a fan of fat Thor, it was an interesting and bold move at first until he comes face to face with Thanos and I can’t take him seriously. I also didn’t love the thing they pulled with Banner, to quote Valkyrie in the film, “I think I liked you better either of the other two ways.” These were the two main ones, I actually loved most all of the other character threads they pulled on, but those two made me feel a little uncomfortable. Plot holes was a biggie. For one thing, I’m not exactly convinced by the time travel explanation they offered. I’ve since discussed it with some physics whizzes I know and they insist they got it right, so I won’t harp about it, but I definitely wasn’t convinced with that, nor with how exactly Cap ended up in the same timeline after living out his life with Peggy. The scene where they explained the time travel logic was a little convoluted, it was essentially a “hey let’s take a break so we can justify the rest of the plot” in a way that absolved them of responsibility when it comes to the continuity of the timeline we have (fair enough I guess, it’s not a simple timeline to mess with). Aside from that, there are some pretty gaping holes in the plot of this film that Marvel would probably prefer we just not think about.
But enough about the flaws. The thing that makes this film incredible in a way almost no other film in my memory manages is the enormous insignificance the imperfections of the film in the context of the film’s overall effect. I mentioned the questionable ways in which they dealt with Thor and Banner, but those flaws are made up for and then some with the relationship between Tony and his daughter Morgan. Some solid writing and scene-work on behalf of the Russos makes for a bright, shimmering light in the fog that is the first half of the film. The rest of the positives of the first half are generally couched in amusing MCU nostalgia, a real trip down memory lane, which is always welcome, but the fog clears completely in the second half. Romanoff’s death was a hard to swallow. The moment she and Clint went to Voromir you knew only one of them was coming back, but the scene between the two of them atop and on the side of the cliff is still heartbreaking. Obviously the standalone film is going to be an origins story, which I’m really looking forward to, but it was not an easy moment seeing her fall to her death. A sign of things to come. The final battle sequence in the film is just magnificent. I’m talking choc-o-block filled to the brim with moments of pure nostalgia and fan service, never feeling forced because when it came down to it that was what we were all there for. I feel perfectly inclined to banish the negatives from my mind, purely because I feel like in the grand scheme of things I don’t know how much I care. I don’t really know what else to say when it comes to the battle sequence. Immensely satisfying is the only thing that really comes to mind, I could go into specifics but we’d be here a while.
The thing they managed to do that struck me as a far fetched as I was watching the battle sequence was round it all off appropriately. I wouldn’t say I wasted a ton of bandwidth trying to think three steps ahead with this film, I was busy, you know, in awe, but there was a nagging the back of my head asking how on earth they were going to end this all on one note. In the end, that’s what was important: the film could be whatever it wanted to be but the objective here was to make the conclusion satisfying; so long as they achieved that I couldn’t find a real complaint. And do it they did, finding deeply satisfying ways to tie up some important loose ends, while leaving some tantalizingly open ended. Tony Stark’s death was one of the most releasing moments I’ve seen on screen (he’d been holding that one in since 2008). The way they treated his character over the ten years is a sight to behold, and while it was heartbreaking to see him go, they could never have done it better. Thor sets off, an Asguardian of the Galaxy, to appear (hopefully) again in future MCU films (ideally with his abs back? Please?). Banner stays on, with any luck we’ll see him again as well but I don’t imagine they’ll reverse the half-and-half stunt they pulled with him. Cap’s fate is probably my favorite. Firstly, the last scene. I shan’t say for fear, of what I’m not exactly sure. Ruining it, maybe? A more satisfying end to the film literally could not have been thought of in my book.
The rest of the Avengers live on, with phase 4 set to kick off with Spiderman: Far From Home this summer. I don’t know how easy I’ll find watching those films. I’ll watch the characters I know, of course, but the same excitement won’t be there for me.
Unless they do it again? The biggest threat in the MCU was just faced, what more could they throw at us? I haven’t read the Comics, I’d call myself a pretty big fan of the films but the lore is something I’m far from versed in. Maybe they’ll think of something, maybe that something already exists. In the meantime, I’m satisfied with my satisfaction. Avengers Endgame is a flawed movie, but I’d argue that if that’s your focus, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. In 2008 I went for the very first Iron Man. I came out of the theatre having witnessed a man stand in front of the world and say the words “I am Iron Man.” 11 years later I’ve done the same. I’d like to thank Kevin Feige, The Russo Brothers, and the entire cast and crew that’ve worked on the MCU over the last decade, starting right with Jon Favreau. They have done something incredible, an unprecedented triumph in storytelling. It’s going to be weird to see it still going. All in all, I’d tell you to go see this film if I didn’t know you already have. I loved it 3000.
– Aman Datta
Aman’s Score – How could I reasonably rate this one. Aryamaan’s Score –