How does one review a film whose every moment qualifies as a potential spoiler? Avengers: Endgame, which serves as the final brick in the 22 films floor-plan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first decade, is a fan event before anything else. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have painstakingly crafted a film that fires on all cylinders; a film explicitly designed to please die-hard loyalists of the franchise and to win over anyone seeking a value-for-money big-screen experience. Because, frankly, this is what IMAX 3D was invented for.
The last Avengers film, Infinity War, is still fresh in one’s memory for its sheer audacity in letting the bad guy win. In obtaining all six Infinity Stones, Thanos had defeated the Avengers. Then he did the unthinkable – he snapped his fingers and wiped out half the world’s population, including many of our favorite superheroes. They literally turned to dust. There’s no way to get those images out of one’s head.
But what does that mean going forward – particularly in terms of the surviving Avengers? When Endgame opens Tony Stark aka Iron Man is floating somewhere in space, his oxygen fast running out, his spirit defeated. Steve Rogers, or Captain America as we know him, the noblest of the Avengers, is also plunged in grief. But as the film’s trailer makes it clear – they aren’t going to just sit around and accept their fate. As Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow says: “We owe it those who’re not in the room, to try”. But try for exactly what? Revenge on Thanos? Reversing his cruel deed?
No, don’t worry, of course I’m not going to say. What I will tell you is that watching Endgame is an exhilarating experience. It’s a real adrenaline rush. The writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have plotted a shrewd screenplay that contains thrilling moments cleverly linked to events from previous films. These are unquestionably some of the best portions of Endgame. It also illustrates what Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has been saying all along – that there’s always been a ‘grand plan’; that these films don’t exist in isolation, they’re intricately connected through ideas, characters, and events.
The events in Endgame, for one, alternate between somber, thrilling, and emotional. Reunions and goodbyes can be teary affairs, and there are both in this film. More than once I found myself choked. But the film also delivers on that most important comic book component – fun. There are plenty of laughs to be had, and the bulk of them involve Thor, who’s gotten a little thick around the waist since we last saw him. The god of thunder thighs steals every scene he’s in.
The film has substantial roles also for both Ant-Man and Hawkeye, who did not appear in Infinity War. Meanwhile Bruce Banner appears to have made peace with his alter ego The Hulk, and Captain Marvel is also a winning presence. There are also several cameos by significant characters from the previous films.
Is Avengers: Endgame the best film in the MCU? Perhaps not. Is it the busiest? Without doubt. There’s so much going on in the film, especially in its big action centerpiece, you’ll be straining to keep up with the pace. The film’s tone shifts so skillfully between dramatic and comic, there’s seldom a dull moment. At three hours and one minute sure it’s long but I suspect you’ll be happy to stay in the company of these folks.
And when it’s time to bid farewell to old friends, you’ll be fighting back tears. What more do you want from a film? I’m going with four out of five for Avengers: Endgame. Watch it on the largest screen you can find.
Rating: 4 / 5