Review: Avengers, Endgame

Sit down and shut up. Endgame is here. I’m just going to come right out and say that this review will be spoiler free to begin, and then I will finish the review with some spoilers. So you can safely start reading this before seeing the film if you want my thoughts on how Endgame totally nails the finale, and then I will tell you when to stop reading before discussing some spoilers. Because those are some of the best parts of this movie and the overall franchise. But then you have to promise that after seeing the movie, you will hurry back and finish reading. Seriously though, promise me that. Also, less important and completely unrelated, I know that the title of the movie is Avengers: Endgame and not ‘Avengers, Endgame’, but college taught me that it looks dumb to have two colons and is also probably incorrect. So I changed it to a comma (maybe correct?). Also even less important, the picture I chose does not represent all MCU films and I am aware of that too; I just found it and think it looks dope. Now that those are out of the way, let’s get started.

NON-SPOILERS
Avengers: Endgame is a cinematic singularity. It finishes an 11-year, 22-film arc and manages to tie a well-knotted bow. Only three other film franchises in history can even claim to incorporate more than 20: James Bond (24), a very popular British comedy franchise I’ve never heard of called Carry On (31), and Godzilla (35). But only the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a very specific through line which connects together each movie plot, at least in some small way. Also, as of right now (Sunday afternoon), it has reportedly grossed over $1 billion worldwide in its opening weekend release, re-writing nearly every record book, even some that were just established last year by it’s predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. This event is something we may not and probably will not see again in our lifetime, or even ever. Just let that sink in for a minute…okay enough sinking, there’s more to this movie that is still non-spoilers.
Endgame is a terrific movie. It almost perfectly balances both big action scenes and small character-driven scenes, something which Disney is known for accomplishing often enough. But it also continues to pull you in, as the viewer, to care intensely for characters as if they were a family member or a friend you’ve grown up with. I walked into the theatre last night with both a desire and an unease to see the film, because I wanted to know what their vision to pull it all together and make it all worthwhile would look like, but I also knew that this was a big finale to pull off and there was still a possibility of it not working. It could have fallen apart and just been another money-grabbing, popcorn-munching blockbuster, and what a disappointment that would have been. I’m glad that it wasn’t. It was exactly what I wanted as a pretty big fan of these movies since the first Iron Man. So my feelings on the movie are just that, and in addition to those I had a couple of thoughts too. 1) I think the tone of this movie was exactly what the franchise needed. 2) I think the plot was not too unimaginable for their situation, nor our comprehension. And 3) I think that every character’s choices in the movie made sense for what they went through. And based on those three thoughts, here is where I want to continue into spoilers. So stop reading if you either haven’t seen the movie or don’t like reading my words (why did you keep reading until I told you to stop then, hmmm???). But make sure to come back and finish afterward, like you promised! And if you have seen the movie or just don’t care about knowing plot details before going to see a movie (you people boggle my mind), well then this next section is for you.

SPOILERS
I’ve been writing for almost an hour now (slowly, thinking…) because I started the post with a few different ideas for format and content, and then struggled to decide how to incorporate it all and/or just smash everything together. Eventually I just let it naturally take shape, and so I’m actually kinda glad that I didn’t force anything because looking back over what I’ve typed so far, I like where it ended up with my three thoughts and taking those into my spoilers section…..and if right now you are like “Why the heck is he saying all of this that I don’t want to read?! It has nothing to do with spoilers or the movie!” You are right. I simply wanted to give a buffer between paragraphs so that nobody accidentally saw anything that was coming next…and if that would have been you, who left and returned later, don’t feel dumb for my correct guess of your poor thoughts toward me and my blog. All is forgiven 🙂 Let’s talk some freakin’ spoilers.
Based on my first thought, that the tone was what this franchise needed, the movie was much more somber than I expected! Like, a good chunk of the movie had that tone. But imagine if it didn’t, and instead was just like the first Avengers: punch, quip, punch, quip, credits. The tone reflected what had just happened at the end of Infinity War, and was even still happening throughout the film. In fact it really wasn’t until the final fight scene when everyone returned that I felt like a weight had been lifted and the air was lighter. Even when they killed Thanos in the first 20 minutes (first of three unexpected movie moments), and when they discovered a way to time-travel (totally expected movie moment), I still had a bad feeling in my gut that it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows. Killing Thanos sent most of the Avengers into separate self-sabotaging spirals, and time-traveling ended up killing Black Widow instead of Hawkeye (second unexpected movie moment). The undertone was fairly consistent, even with some excellent one-liners and comedic moments thrown in there. Which was your favorite? Comment below, if you’re reading this and have already gone to see the movie. My personal favorite: “That is America’s ass.”
Concerning the plot and our comprehension, I have never had too many problems following time-travel theories in shows and movies (and even books), so maybe it was just less difficult for me to go along with here. Basically the remaining Avengers team discovered a way to go back, at the same time, while splitting off to different points in time, and then attempted to collect each Infinity Stone so that they could then, in the present time, assemble them and undo/re-do the snap. Wow, maybe explaining it is even more confusing. Maybe just go back and watch that sequence of events again. I personally enjoyed them down-playing every other culturally relevant time-travel movie in support of their own mission, which I thought was a pretty funny scene. Moreover, based on what they were dealing with, time-travel seemed the best option, and it took a lot of courage to go through with it, especially from Tony who felt like the snap had finally given him something to live for: a normal life. I also liked that all of them messed up while traveling back in time, because it separated that decision from being just an easy plot point/tangent to push the movie forward. This also gave us Black Widow’s death, which as I said earlier was totally unexpected, although we did know that whoever went to get the Soul Stone was going to have to make a sacrifice. The short fight between Black Widow and Hawkeye took me out of the moment though, and I wish they would have just let her knock him down and jump over the ledge without stretching out that scene. The death of Gamora was more heart-wrenching for me, and I cared less about her at the time.
Finally, the last thought about character choices in the movie (this paragraph will be a bit longer). I know that I would probably lose most of you (if I haven’t already, jeez this is getting to be a lengthy post, sorry!) if I went back over every character arc and choices made in this film, so I won’t do that. But there are a few that I want to highlight. First, Tony Stark sacrificing himself to stop Thanos, for good this time. He came a long way from the rich, cocky, self-centered guy he was when we first met him….oh wait, maybe he was still all of those to some extent. But now he showed true sacrifice, consciously choosing to save humanity by giving up his life. And by that, I mean the life he found apart from being Iron Man. I think he started guessing what was coming when he had that short side-conversation with Dr. Strange, who told Tony that he couldn’t tell him what had to happen or it wouldn’t happen. Nevertheless, another heart-wrenching moment as Tony looks absolutely defeated after using the Infinity Stones to snap Thanos out of existence, and then again as everyone attends his funeral. Second, Thor completely letting himself go. Another great scene, when we first see him five years after killing Thanos. Just gaming and drinking, all day every day. Yes, he killed the mad titan. But also, it didn’t solve their problems. Everyone was still gone, and now they had nothing. His arc from that point to the end of the film was probably my favorite, as it reminded me of the first Thor movie when he was cast out of Asgard by Odin and deemed unworthy to wield his hammer, Mjölnir. In this film, he was surprised and overjoyed that he was deemed “still worthy” to carry the hammer, even after deserting his team and throwing in the towel, but all because his heart was once again in the right place. And also, then he had two weapons to wield, which along with the unkempt beard and beer gut made him look both utterly ridiculous and completely badass at the same time. Third, Captain America lifting Thor’s hammer (my favorite movie moment). Remember in Avengers: Age of Ultron, not Cap or anyone else could lift the hammer. Only Thor. Fast forward to now, and you might be thinking, “Yeah, but what changed?” Well I have two ideas. The first is that between then and now, he came clean to Tony about knowing about his parents’ deaths, thereby clearing his conscience. He owned up to his mistakes, and made things right, so maybe he is more pure and “worthy.” The second, and my choice, is that he never gave up. Even when his shield cracked and it looked like Thanos would win (again), he got back up and was ready to hold his ground until the very end. A true hero, and truly worthy of Thor’s hammer (which he left somewhere in the past…?, because he didn’t come back with it). His last scene was the ending I didn’t know I wanted, choosing to stick around in the past and enjoy living life with his lost love, Peggy Carter. His avenging was over, and it was time to be a little selfish and trust that they could carry on without him. Handing the new shield off to Sam (Falcon) was my final unexpected movie moment. I, probably along with most fans, thought it would be Bucky who took up the shield next. But Sam makes sense. He isn’t superhuman. He’s just a guy who knows that fighting for what’s right is the right thing to fight for. And Bucky seemed 100% behind him, which was another great moment. I look forward to seeing where they go next with the new team (Falcon, Bucky, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Hulk, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel, and anyone else they pick up along the way), but my guess is that Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Captain Marvel won’t be as central to the team because they have other responsibilities. An honorary fourth and final character choice that made sense was the Russo Brothers not writing in Captain Marvel to fly in and save the day, single-handedly defeating Thanos. She even takes a beating from the Power Stone, even though she’s powerful enough to initially hold the gauntlet open and halt his attempted re-snap. I’m glad they made the decision for it to be a team effort to take him down, and for Tony to ultimately finish it.
In conclusion….dang, so many words. But as one of my new favorite movies, I think it’s okay. I was struck by the thought of the film being okay with just one viewing (uncommon for me, personally), but I’ve decided to watch it once more in the comfort of my home, whenever that may be, so that I don’t have to sit by random movie-goers talking, cheering, and even singing during the film. Seriously though, the girl next to me sang the Guardians song when they showed up. But, I guess that’s the theatre experience that you better be prepared for these days 🙂 I could see Endgame receiving a Best Picture Oscar nomination next year, similar to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, only because of the overall popularity of the film and franchise. And I also wouldn’t be surprised if it won, since the Academy Awards hasn’t give the win to a “popular movie” in the last 15 years. But hey, even if that doesn’t happen, this was a great movie and I am proud of their zenith to the first three phases of the MCU. A very generous thank you for sticking it out if you read all of this, I realize it was much more reading than any of my previous reviews. If you like the non-spoiler/spoiler format, please let me know in the comments below. I might consider doing it more often. I’ll have another streaming review coming soon, this time it’s a Netflix show you may not have heard of but should be watching: Kim’s Convenience. It’s a very funny comedy about an Asian immigrant family running their convenience store in Toronto, Canada, so check it out if you want to beforehand, and then come back here to read my review. Cheers!

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