I’ve always believed that unique circumstances warrant for unique ways of approach, taking a break from our usual code of conduct, which can potentially spice things up by a touch. In this case, we have a really, really special film in question: Avengers: Endgame. As such, instead of banging the wall trying to piece together our usual spoiler-free review for , we will be heading the opposite direction this time around. Here it is, the spoiler-full review of Endgame.
Thanks for your concern, but why banging the wall, you asked? If I have to be upfront with you, Endgame is simply phenomenal. In fact, it is too good that, virtually anyone, Marvel fans or not, deserves a chance to go into Endgame as unprepared as possible, akin to a blank sheet of paper. That being said, spilling some random words like “girl power”, “I love you 3000” or America’s behind to the masses inevitably riles up my sense of guilt, and evokes an immense phobia.
The phobia of messing up the Endgame experience of our dear readers who are still waiting for their turns to step into the cinemas for the film. It’s almost impossible to pull out a review while being embroiled with all those sense of guilt. And let’s face it, no amount of reviews in the world can stop Endgame from tearing up the box-office like an unstoppable beast (which it already did, at the time of writing this). So without further due, I will let the spoiler-warning roll and get on to the ‘review’.
Warning! This is a spoiler-laden review of Avengers: Endgame. If you have not watched the movie, do not continue reading. But remember to come back later on.
So, this is it. This is the culmination of over a decade of world building. Spanning across 21 films with a whopping cumulative screen-time of almost 3000 minutes (familiar number, eh?), Endgame is undisputedly the grand closure that the world had been waiting for. And while the world was still waiting at that, Marvel released a couple of sneak peaks and a full length trailer that virtually showed nothing from the movie. Yes. Nothing.
To the masses, the trailer merely hinted Thanos’ retirement, a couple of sobbing Avengers, a stranded playboy and probably a new white-and-red themed uniform. That’s about it. Unless, if you have dedicated yourselves to a few rounds of Endgame theories reading, you would have guessed correctly that those are quantum suits. Still, with that discovery in hand, we were still far away from the whole Endgame truth.
What’s even more shocking is the fact that majority of the trailer’s scenes got done with within about 30 minutes into the movie. That left us with about 150 minutes of the film that the we have absolutely zero idea about. Which even applied to most of the casts, with the exception of Robert Downey Jr. The usual notorious suspects for spilling the beans like Tom Holland and Mark Ruffalo certainly didn’t get to read the full script of Endgame. I believe Marvel wouldn’t want to resort to duct tapes anyway. The way Kevin Feige and the Russo brothers conducted the whole filming operation of Endgame in such top-level secrecy deserves a Hollywood film entirely on its own.
To be truthful, I wasn’t expecting the first 30 minutes of Endgame to move on in such a rapid fashion. The way Tony Stark was immediately found and rescued by Captain Marvel really caught me off guard. I was expecting Pepper Potts to suit up and pull Tony out of space herself, with the Russo brothers putting in at least an hour or so before the rescue mission of the most prominent figure of Avengers becomes fruitful. It just didn’t go that way.
Stark lashes out at Captain (America, of course. He wouldn’t have anything to say to another female captain who just saved his ass) in no time, being in a state of immense trauma just like everybody else during the aftermath of Thanos’ snap. After the habitual squabbling, clawing and biting each other like a bunch of pissed-off cats, the world’s mightiest heroes are off to space. Whether the audience realize this or otherwise, in no time, their favorite superheroes are already at Thanos’ doorsteps.
What comes in next is shrouded in instant mystery. No, I’m not referring to that T-shirt clad Thanos nor his decision to pick up farming after retirement. It’s the creepily and abnormally weak state of Thanos, which then gets addressed quickly in that very scene. Then, you have that disappearance of those highly coveted Infinity Stones, which have been at the center of any leftover hope that our superheroes might have. Then, BAM! Thanos’ head rolls. As Steve Rogers put it, “Yeah. Just like that.”
And I was not at all depressed. Because I knew for sure that the first act of Endgame is obviously not about grandeur, honor or permanent resolve. It is there to raise even more questions. The theme in play centers around the Avengers’ enormous state of shock following their defeat, and they were scrambling for ideas to reverse the universal massacre which they have failed to prevent at the first place. They were desperate.
And all these are well played by the Russo brothers, which shows in just about every scene; their timid behavior, the huge clouds of self doubt (except for Carol Danvers, of course), and their overall lack of confidence. Also, the hastened plot pace works almost like a speeding train without brakes, ferrying the audience of Endgame at scary speeds before crashing straight into a wall (that’s the moment when Thanos’ head touches ground), leaving them disintegrated, and asking “what just happened?”. That very moment marks the exact point in the story-line where the audience virtually stalls, having no context of what’s coming next.
As if that’s not impactful enough, Endgame immediately skips to 5 years later. At this time, I’m pretty sure that most of the audience would have gone mad. I myself wouldn’t expect the events of Endgame to last more than 5 weeks, what more with 5 years passing by without any trace that those disintegrated victims are ever going to come back.
But still, with Endgame starting to feel like a marvelously pieced together of a story, that long time frame of 5 years came with a couple of good (or bad) surprises. Bruce Banner has reached an inner zen with the Hulk inside him, with the latter promising not to take over Banner and throw disgraceful, childish tantrums anymore. Thor retired from being a fitness model and decided to embrace dad-bod instead, instantly making fathers around the world happy with their current shapes. And then you have that fierce rivalry between Carol Danver’s new haircut and Clint Barton’s well anticipated, and very much talked about mohawk hairstyle.
Really, Endgame could just end right there at that very moment. With the overwhelming light-hearted vibes and massive influx of humor, the world’s mightiest ex-heroes seems to have moved on and ready to retire. But both you and I knew that was not the ending, because we both read about Endgame’s lengthy 3 hours of running time, together with the ‘pee-before-Endgame-or-be-damned’ warning that came along with it. So, Marvel planted a mouse, that would eventually initiate the call-back of Ant-Man from the quantum realm, and present the idea of ‘time-heist’ to the Avengers. You see, no mouse, no Endgame. Or, if you see it from a different perspective, it might also mean that, no Disney, no Endgame.
If I can conduct a time-heist myself, I would probably have gone back and warn my past self to read-up every single time line of each Infinity Stone before heading for Endgame. Because, the mission itself is by far the most convoluted segment of the whole film, and though our heroes may have survived the quantum realm maze, I’m pretty sure that most of the the audience would have gotten lost within the sea of overlapping scenes.
Strangely, one does not need to memorize all the years and locations of each stone to fully capture the essence of the second act. Apart from the neat recall of ‘Battle of New York’, Morag, and Vormir (and the awkward and inevitably funny scenes when the Avengers stumbled upon their past selfs), the loudly delivered message is rather about second chances. The chance for each surviving Avenger to reconcile with the ones they had lost, perhaps for one very last time, fully aware that they cannot alter the past and save any of their dear ones. My favorite? Have to be when Tony meets up with Howard Stark. It is just, just beautiful. And immensely heartbreaking at the same time.
Of course, everyone is given a similar chance. Thor encounters his mother in Asgard. Steve Rogers stumbled quietly upon Peggy Carter in S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. And Bruce Banner came into contact with the childish Hulk in a smashed New York. How lovely.
If my intuition is right, 2 hours should have passed before the ‘recovery snap’ takes place. And there was not a single instance within that 2 hours that Endgame seems to overstay its welcome. The film showed no signs of slowing down, as the plot paced vibranium-solid, one scene after another.
Again, to the unsuspicious audience, Russo brothers teased yet another possible, and rather logical resolve. A silver lining seemed to have appeared beneath humanity’s darkest cloud. Those vanished after the Thanos snap seemed to have returned. It should have been the brightest of logical ending that can possibly be achieved by Endgame.
But superhero films are not about logical solution, aren’t they? And if it ended right there without a grand finale, how much damage and injustice could it cause to MCU fans worldwide, by large those who have been following the films since day one? Kevin Feige knew that they can’t let down what he’s been building for the past decade. Never.
And such, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely decided to harness the haunting from their grandest and baddest villain ever; the Mad Titan himself. It’s the Avengers’ worst nightmare turning to reality. Polarity is reversed, and the Thanos from the past engineered his own ‘time heist’ into the future, and continued to hunt after them, and the now-complete Infinity Stones. Which, is a no-brainer showdown that the world has been craving and waiting for.
If the Russo bothers were going to take the audience for a ride of their lives, what better place can he let all the magic happen, other than home? Without hesitation, Endgame takes the fight back to where it’s most significant, and where it all started; the headquarters of Avengers. Mind-bending fan services roll in one after another, starting from that explosive revelation of Captain America’s ability to wield the legendary Mjolnir, instantly driving the cinema hall into a state of frenzy. Even those who watched Endgame purely just to catch the train felt that the scene was somehow special, as questions kept coming in, “What’s with Captain America holding that hammer?”. Needless to say, my explanation to them was far lengthier than just ‘he’s worthy’.
The Russo brothers definitely know how to please the crowd, as once the lightning-loaded hammer slips into Steve Rogers’ hand, the audience are seamlessly distracted by that zippy and dramatic fight sequences, which, I believe few noticed that the conflict is showing signs of snowballing into a full scale war.
Suffice to say that though being the very first few to touch down Planet C-53 from his ship, Thanos didn’t come empty-handed. He’s joined by a plentiful of Chitauri’s, Outriders and Leviathans from the past, which were still very well fed and very much alive at 2014. The reappearance of the Black Order just happens to dampen any lingering hope that humanity will ever survive their invasion this time.
I have to admit, that scene was geared to make you believe that it’s now Captain America versus the entire Thanos army, and I literally fell for it. Like the rest of the audience, the sight of a circular fireworks and a few ‘fallen’ heroes stepping out from it catapulted me into a high that’s just beyond words.
And the next portal opens.
And so on. And so forth. In no time, the battleground looks like a reunion party from all who have make appearance within MCU since the beginning of phase one. It’s quite true that the whole MCU family is finally here. It’s just that Dr Strange didn’t realize that.
Mind twisting scenes ensued, like how a Regular-Sized-Man rose up from the ashes of the collapsed building in a gigantic form, holding the colossal Hulk in barely one hand. After that fitting ‘Avengers assemble’ war-cry from Cap himself, the scene combusted into a wild chained reaction of vivid and explosive fights. It’s the most epic battle that I’ve ever seen since the last one decade, or two. And amid all the unsettling euphoria, Stephen Strange gazed at Tony Stark, with eyes that clearly tell ‘there’s no other way’. And the third and final snap took away all the breath and attention of the cinema, with that accompanying three words that nailed the scene. The rest, is history.
Finding a film that can still linger around my brain for days after the initial watch can be difficult, but Endgame proved its worthiness to stay on. It’s a true mind-blower, and what’s left after the film is the aftershock. For days, I still marveled at how well the sub-plots are sown together, and how the story pieces seamlessly link to one another in perfect adhesion. Which left my wondering, how long did the writers spend on rethinking, honing and perfecting the overall story-line before it’s finalized for filming?
As I’ve mentioned, the 5 years time-jump comes with multiple reasons. It gives Ant-Man enough time to notice the time dilation between the quantum realm and the actual world. Which pioneered the time-heist. And gives way to the flawless team formation to carry out the heist, with each Avenger in the team planted in the perfect location to either revisit their sentimental pasts or pave way to the development of the story. Also, 5 years sound just about the right time frame for Bruce Banner to merge his brain and brawn. Which results in the only capable form to perform the ‘recovery snap’.
Of course, bringing everyone back comes with a huge price of resurrecting the Mad Titan, but remember, even that have been foreseen by someone. And when you realize how desperate Dr Strange was to trade his Eye of Agamoto in return for Thanos to spare Tony Stark’s life in Avengers: Infinity War, it suddenly becomes creepily clear that this is the only one of over 14 million possible futures which Thanos can be finally defeated. And Tony acknowledged that, too. After all, he is, Ironman.
You don’t have to revisit the trailer to recall a few lines from Endgame that seemingly sound tacky at first. But, when you realize that ‘whatever it takes’ means Black Widow jumping off the cliff of Vormir, and ‘part of the journey is the end’ is Tony Stark’s final message to his daughter, Morgan, the emotional weight attached to those lines can come crashing down pretty hard. I never thought that merely a few film lines could gravitate madly with my emotion, but when it’s about movie characters which have build their bonds with you for not one, but a few films, I guess it goes. And as such, equally retiring from lightning quick-movements and fast-paced cuts, the camerawork seemingly takes a bow as it slowly graces through Tony’s funeral and fades off at a smiling Steve Rogers.
Addict Verdict, AV:
There’s no justifiable way to put Avengers: Endgame into our usual perspective of Addict Verdict, really. It’s more than just a film. It’s a worldwide phenomenon, and at the same time, is phenomenal. It’s a cinematic celebration, that just so happens to fall into a league of its own.-The Film Addict
Originally published at https://www.thefilmaddict.com on May 5, 2019.