Review: Avengers Endgame

Review: Avengers Endgame

by Alan Grant
article from Thursday 2, May, 2019

THE MARVEL Cinematic Universe (MCU) is undeniably the biggest thing in movies at the moment. This complex, winding, genre-spanning labyrinth of films featuring super soldiers, tech geniuses, spies, monsters, wizards, and other characters drawn from the comic book giant’s massive stable has been going strong for over a decade now and has succeeded in becoming the big runaway pop culture juggernaut for an entire generation of moviegoers. This week, that juggernaut has reached one of its most highly anticipated stops, the culmination of the Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame.

For the unaware or the disinterested, the saga tells the story of a team of superheroes put together by a covert agency called the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and  Law Enforcement Division (S.H.I.E.L.D) who do battle with the forces of a sinister galactic dictator named Thanos. 

While the different characters have individual movies, those with Avengers in the title see the team get together to battle the bad guys and Endgame follows on from Infinity War where the heroes, and everyone else in the universe, have been wiped out by Thanos using a collection of magic gems called the infinity stones. Endgame is the story of their fight back to ‘avenge’ what happened and put things back in order.

As cliche as it sounds, Endgame is the kind of sequel that can be safety thumped with the “if you’re a fan, you’ll love this” stamp. Everything that fans of the series love, the wide, sweeping cinematography, quip-laden dialogue, comfortable story arcs, mirror-polished production values, and sexy people running about in front of explosions and lasers are plentiful. Everyone’s favourite characters get their moment to be their badass selves, with recent editions like Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) having fun alongside series mainstays like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Captain America (Chris Evans). So, no matter who your favourite costumed crime-fighter is, they get that iPhone wallpaper moment. 

Essentially, Endgame is a very comfortable film that provides a fitting end to this part of the extended MCU and will keep fans happy but if the whole superhero thing isn’t for you, this one really isn’t for you as it probably has the most of what you don’t like in it of any of the MCU films so far.

However, with Endgame having so much going for it in terms of fan support, popularity, ticket sales, marketing, and the other factors that go into making a mainstream film a success, no review, regardless of who it is authored by, is going to undermine its success. 

Endgame was never going to be a failure owing to the amount that the popular culture has invested in it. That’s the hard reality of the matter.

Therefore, in this reviewer’s opinion, the success of Endgame, the Infinity Saga, and the MCU tells us more about how audiences have changed in their habits than about the movies themselves. 

The MCU is truly revolutionary if you think about it. 

Prior to 2008, the idea that fans would treat a series of films in the way that only comic book fans had previously treated their favourite content, i.e. treating different instalments as part of a massive, sprawling, continuity while not necessarily having had to see all of them (for instance, you can skip any of the Hulk films or maybe even Doctor Strange and still totally get what’s going on) would have been regarded as absurd. Sure, there had been film series before but the idea of a massive, sprawling, interlinked series of pictures across such a grand panoply of settings, themes, and in-universe organisations was unthinkable. 

This is the landmark success of the Avengers series in terms of its contribution to the modern media landscape. It has changed how we think about films and how we look at how individual movies can, and do, relate to one another. We now expect sequels, references to other movies, and for stories to continue after the credits (speaking of after the credits, the only spoiler I’ll put in here is that there is no post-credits scene in Endgame) as a matter of course. I see at least one film every single week for this website and even I sometimes find myself sitting obediently as the credits roll after a non-Marvel film, expecting something more. That is the lasting impact of the series that Endgame is a worthy part of.

Taking Endgame by itself is both difficult and not really worthwhile as it is fundamentally a valuable part of this massively influential series and has been designed and built that way. That it holds up, even at a slightly over long three hours and some odd minutes, in this way is its success as an experience. That, and changing the face of cinema for the foreseeable future, is, I’d say, a pretty impressive achievement worthy of a superhero, or even a team of them.

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