Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on various players.
Well, it was a long time coming. When Jon Favreau directed Iron Man in 2009, who knew that a decade later we’d be ending the huge character arc of dozens of characters in a three-hour epic? I mean, I guess someone might have foreseen this, or decided that this was where we were going to end up, but I doubt it started in 2009. But Avengers: Endgame was the wrap-up of a 22-movie arc of multiple intertwined characters and stand-alone series that make up the MCU. Well, technically, this is the 22nd movie in a 23-movie arc, since Spider-Man: Far From Home is considered part of the MCU Third Phase. Still, the MCU is moving into the next part of its evolution, but Endgame really does feel like the end of something huge, well, because it is.
Much like the Harry Potter series, it feels like half of Hollywood is in this movie. The “let’s show everyone who is in this” scene at the end, which short shrifts a chunk of the cast but gives huge sexy poster shots including the actors’ signatures for the original Avengers, goes on for what feels like five minutes. It’s a lot like the multiple endings of The Lord of the Rings. It’s extensive, but it also feels kind of necessary after all we’ve been through.
So here’s the thing: just for my own sanity, I’m not going to do a lot of plot summary here. There are a lot of characters involved in this movie, and a lot that would need to be explained, including the previous movie. If you haven’t seen this or the previous Avengers: Infinity War, what follows is going to be pretty much all spoilers. You’ve been warned.
The movie starts just post-Snap from Infinity War with one of the more tragic scenes in the film. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is having a quiet day at home with his family when the Snap happens, and his entire family vanishes. All of them. From there, we learn that the unsnapped Avengers, or at least some of them, gather together to find out where Thanos (Josh Brolin) has vanished to. They locate him and hunt him down only to learn that he used the Infinity Stones to destroy the Infinity Stones, meaning that the murder of half of the universe’s population cannot be undone. In a fit of rage, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) kills him.
From here we flash five years into the future when a freak accident releases Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) from the Quantum World. For him, only five hours have passed, so when he arrives, he is unaware of the Snap. However, he realizes that the quantum world can be used to essentially time travel. If they can figure out how to work the quantum, they can go back in time and essentially steal the Infinity Stones before Thanos gets them—but there is resistance from Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), since in the five years since the Snap he has gotten married and had a child.
And really, that’s the movie. We’re going to end with a giant climactic battle, something the Avengers movies are very good about. But getting there is going to instead feel like a sort of heist movie as the characters go back in time in three different groups to grab the stones at different points before Thanos does. Of course there will be problems, and there will be flashbacks that happen in the heart of other movies—we’ll get moments in Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, and Infinity War, for example. Each of these moments will either stay true to those movies or work with them in interesting ways to maintain the integrity of the original story. Regardless, once we get to the end of the heist movie, we’ve still got a good 45 minutes or so of movie left that will be taken up with the Big Fight and then a series of denouements to get us to the final credits.
Here’s the thing—unless Avengers: Endgame was utter shit, it was going to be worth seeing. While not everything in the MCU has been brilliant, the movies have been consistently good throughout. This is the culmination of that, and there are a lot of threads that fly together. It’s smart that, with the exception of a couple of characters like Ant-Man and Rhodey/War Machine (Don Cheadle), the real focus here is on the original six Avengers. Many of the characters show up for just a cup of coffee at the end—Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who has been a running thread through the series—doesn’t even have a line in this one.
Where this succeeds is in giving us completed character arcs for the main Avengers. We get something like completion for Iron Man, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor, and Captain America (Chris Evans). All of these characters at the end feel like, much like the first three phases of the MCU, that their stories have been told so that we can move on to the new characters and the new versions of the old characters.
It’s good. There are moments in it that really do feel like the culmination of ten years of waiting and ten years of fandom. Even if it sucked I would probably tell you it was good, though. It’s a hard movie to be objective about.
Why to watch Avengers: Endgame: It’s the end of a very long journey.
Why not to watch: Same reason—it’s the end of a very long journey.
At least it wasn't rubbish like Disney's "Star Wars" debacle. They were so bad, I can't even watch the final one, and I had to re-watch the original three to cleanse my mind of pretty much every other film except "Rogue One."ReplyDelete
I didn't hate The Last Jedi but I was not a fan of Rise of Skywalker at all.Delete
Endgame did a lot of things right.
Correction, Iron Man came out in 2008.ReplyDelete
Still one of the best cinematic experiences I ever had in my life. People just went ape-shit for all of the action and honestly, that shot of all of those heroes returning in that massive wide shot. This is the kind of shit that the Gods of Cinema would salivate for.
For me, if the history of cinema was going to pin-point the idea of when the modern superhero blockbuster began. Superman is the obvious answer and then its standards raised by Batman and later The Dark Knight. Then The Avengers raised the stakes and Endgame I think took the superhero genre further than I think Stan Lee and every other comic book writer ever imagined. It's really a film that is better than it should've been but also did a whole lot more with the stakes and characters that is often unexpected in these films.
I have been thinking on and off again about writing essays on a few of those films but I've been stifled but also distracted by other things due to this fucking pandemic.
You're right about Iron Man. I always associate it with being a 2009 film, though. My first ever attempt at film blogging started in 2009, and Iron Man was the film that started me blogging. I saw it (clearly at a second-run theater) with a friend. I expected nothing from it and ended up having a great time with it.Delete
Seeing all of those characters warping in is really what all of this built up to, even more than the battle. That "Avengers, assemble" line is in many ways the culmination of the series. It was great to see so many of the dusted characters return, but for me, Watching Black Panther (my favorite Avenger since the late '80s with his 25-issue serial in Marvel Comics Presents) and Spider-Man re-appear was emotional as hell.
I agree that Superman is the starting point--in fact I agree with your trajectory, but I'd go with Batman Begins over The Dark Knight. But as good as DC started, I don't know if anyone could have foreseen exactly how big the MCU got, and how much of that was done with quality, genuine humor, and movies that took themselves exactly as seriously as they needed to. And for what it's worth, I would probably add Logan in that superhero list. It wasn't the first R-rated superhero movie, but it was the first big-budget one that was meant to be taken as a serious drama, and that worked and was completely successful (although I could be wrong--it's the first I know of that fits all of those categories).
Endgame ultimately works because it was built on a foundation that had been created to support it. It gave us a decade of characters who we became emotionally invested in, and it paid off.
I agree with all of this. The MCU movies have been a towering achievement in film and both Infinity War and Endgame were a damn fun time at the movies. Endgame is the kind of movie I love to see with a crowd, and missing that experience is high on my list of things that suck about the pandemic.ReplyDelete
Of course, the MCU films represent some of the best casting decisions in movie history, and watching these actors inhabit these roles has been a joy. And, as you say, the humor, most of it character based, is a huge reason these films have been so successful.
They really were cast well, with only one or two hiccups (I'm looking at you, Edward Norton). That happened from the start, too--Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark.Delete
Being an MCU fan, I want to like this more than I do. Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie. And I get that this was culmination of a decade worth of building and commend it for that. I juat think it was a little too concerned with fan service. Tight storytelling was almost always sacrificed for something they knew people have been dreaming of seeing. Those things were cool, very cool even, but doesn't make the movie as great as people swear it to be.ReplyDelete
I can see that--but at the same time, it makes sense for them to have a big fan service movie. The big full-team movies have always had those moments where everybody gets a few moments of cool battle time, and I think that's something that everyone wants and expects.Delete
My only big complaint about the entire series was how few Marvel characters were actually in it. For Marvel fans of "The X-Men" (or is it now "The X-People" in today's hyper-P.C. world where "Deadpool" is in Disney pergatory/limbo), "The Fantastic Four," "Venom," "Carnage," "Daredevil," "Punisher," "Silver Surfer," "Ghost Rider," "Cable," "The Black Cat," "The Sinister Six," etc., etc., etc., their favorite characters weren't even invited to the fight. But then again, with the Phoenix Force, "Endgame" wouldn't have been necessary in the first place as the series would have ended before the ending of the first film.ReplyDelete
That doesn't bother me at all--this was an Avengers movie, so the characters in it should be connected strongly to the Avengers. While there might be some crossover, this feels like compaining that they didn't find a way to stick Gambit in a Spider-Man movie.Delete