April 25, 2019

CINEMA | Into the Future – 'Avengers: Endgame' Over

"I am inevitable."
Robert Downey Jr. Anthony and Joe Russo | Iron Man | Marvel's Avengers: Endgame

Marvel Studios' de facto ending to their sprawling twenty-one film spanning Infinity Saga storyline feels like such a satisfying conclusion and resolution to Infinity War that surprisingly deals with the nature of parenthood. For Avengers: Endgame, directors Anthony and Joe Russo have assembled possibly the most movie ever and definitely the most Marvel of movies yet.

Rooted in the trauma and grief of losing half of all life on Earth, our mightiest heroes are in deep shock. Much of the film's first act deals directly with all the baggage of the previous film's final events. Stripped down from that entry's massive cast, we focus firmly on the core cast of Avengers as they desperately try to undo Thanos' deadly actions or die trying.

Unquestionably, both stalwarts Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. as the original leaders Captain America and Iron Man are the heart with Evans pulling down most of the emotional weight of the film and Downey adding a much need gravitas and sense of mortality to the stakes. Surprisingly, Karen Gillan as Nebula carries a huge portion of the story's crux combining the more cosmic elements with the action on Earth.

Essentially a heist film where the remaining Avengers team comes together to retrieve their past in order to save their future, the action is much more grounded and patient. Some longtime coming character meetings finally come to fruition and the sudden weightlessness of prior events gets retroactively re-earned somehow with truly emotional scenes of resolution. Despite being significantly longer than Infinity War, Endgame has a much looser, effortless pace.

Chris Hemsworth Chris Evans Robert Downey Jr. Anthony and Joe Russo | Captain America | Marvel's Avengers: Endgame

Both Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd as Hawkeye and Ant-Man, who were notably missing from the last Avengers joint, get a lot to do as their personal stories drive the film forward. The craggly, purple Josh Brolin continues to do fine motion-capture work with the understated yet highly dramatic Mad Titan. Newcomer Brie Larson's inclusion as Captain Marvel feels somewhat convenient yet awkwardly placed as she shows up for big moments then disappears with little explanation.

Possibly the most surprising character turn comes from Chris Hemsworth's Thor going full comedy, despite an initially very depressed outlook, with such an insane physical transformation that the actor really commits to. Rounding out the original crew, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and Don Cheadle as Hulk, Black Widow, and War Machine fill out the supporting cast juggling all the moving parts and new character interactions.

Veteran Marvel screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely pay off so many seemingly random elements of all the previous twenty-one Marvel films with countless references, character returns, and nods. How they quickly include cosmic elements of space travel and time shifting are remarkable while packing so much into a three-hour-plus film that gives its characters room to breath.

Avengers: Endgame proves to be such an emotional send-off to the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. It's a mostly fitting goodbye to most of the original characters' journeys with so many callbacks to previous films. It comments onto itself within this film's plot as the heroes must literally come to terms with their own histories. There's often so much fan service and pandering yet done so in the sincerest ways possible.

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