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The road less travelled
It hasn’t always been a smooth road, superhero movie fatigue has set in on this reviewer on numerous occasions. These days I’ve surrendered and accept my fate. In doing so, I’ve found the whole ride infinitely more enjoyable. Through trial and a little bit of error Marvel have become a juggernaut that has taken over the movie business and proved to everyone that fan service is not a dirty word.
Where other big movie franchises have sacrificed their source material to the egos of directors, Marvel’s Kevin Fiege has diligently worked as custodian in the form of their president of production since Iron Man in 2008. He’s maintained the tenuous balance between fan service, the all powerful bottom line and director ambition ever since.
Feige gets it, and it reminds me of a similar approach the great Stan Lee took all those years ago, building a sense of community between the fans, the stars and the creators. Where these other franchises have divided people, Marvel have brought them together.
A fanbase united
Avengers Endgame is a master class in just that. This is easily the biggest movie event I think I’ve seen in my lifetime, and it definitely has fans united and moving in the same direction. Case in point has been the overwhelming response to the #dontspoiltheendgame campaign. Everyone wants to have the best experience with this film they possibly can, which is a major shift after all the fan theories and people scratching at the door for plot details to be leaked.
I feel like all it took was an open letter from directors Joe and Anthony Russo with the almost Christ like message to “not spoil it for others the same way you wouldn’t want it spoiled for you” and the internet just kind of shut the fuck up. It’s been amazing to watch and I guess it proves it never hurts to ask.
Which brings me to the film. How do you review something that has the weight of 21 other films and tonnes of characters behind it spoiler free?
We start and finish only with what we know before Endgame. Following the events of the snap we’re left with only a handful of heroes. Conveniently the original six from the first Avengers film all made it out the other side, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Thor. While more characters enter into the story here, these guys are at the centre of it. The universe is in tatters, Thanos is out to enjoy his retirement but the Avengers can’t let go of what happened, they want to have one last shot at taking the mad titan down and make everything like it was.
The movie moves through a lot of genres, sci-fi, drama, action, war, superhero and heist. Remarkably it doesn’t lose its way and the cast, particularly the original six put in their best performances yet.
Jeremy Renner makes a welcome return as Hawkeye and it’s so great to see him playing off Scarlett Johannsen who shines as Black Widow. Chris Hemsworth is still the best and only man who can play Thor. Mark Ruffalo returns with the most lovable as ever-loving version of the Hulk to date. Both Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans completely steal the show as Iron Man and Captain America. While I was not a huge fan of the Civil War movie the result of them being the leaders of each faction meant the baggage they checked into this movie was way over the excess and made for some seriously heavy performances. I really can’t say enough about how brilliant both of those guys were.
The supporting cast are great too but I’m not saying shit about them because of spoilers.
Will I need to pee?
Possibly! Clocking in at three hours Avengers Endgame may present a solid case for bringing back intermission during movies but it honestly did not drag in any way. I thought it was really well structured and each act is so clearly defined—from the mournful first, to the galvanising second and the exhausting and explosive third—you just don’t want to take your eyes off it.
Like most Marvel heroes there are flaws but they are petty; a moment in the final act where a blatant attempt to be inclusive almost causes a buzzkill, Black Widow’s character is undervalued and Captain Marvel is over powered and hard to care about.
Something else I couldn’t ignore, but managed to forgive was the how the film handled post-traumatic stress. Previously we’ve seen the serious side effect of this on Tony Stark post Battle of New York, which earned a lot of empathy from the audience. The snap has easily been the most traumatic thing to happen in all of these 22 films (for the characters and the audience) and I thought it was a strange choice to use a particular character’s failure to cope for comic relief. The jokes landed though and I laughed so no point trying to play the social justice warrior now.
The movie is delightful and exhausting. There are moments that will have you wanting to raise your fist in the air and shout “fuck yeah” while Alan Silvestri’s Avenger’s theme pumps away in the background and there are times where you’ll curl up into a ball and fight back tears.
It is such an incredible achievement from the Russo Brothers to cram so much into a movie and have it work in such a way that it doesn’t feel crowded. I know they’ve done this before with the pervious movie but compared to this it just looks like a mashup of action scenes.
Avengers Endgame starts out as a casualty of Infinity War and rises above every other film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to deliver a finale that could not be more perfect for fans.
The only thing that could make it better is if Stan Lee lived to see the day and Tony Stark took us all out for Shawarma afterwards.