Movie Review : Avengers - Endgame (2019)
* this review contains spoilers *
I’ve never went out of my way to see a Marvel film. They were so ubiquitous these last eleven years, I ended up watching thirteen out of twenty and became invested in them almost against my will. It starts innocently: a lazy Sunday Netflix viewing here, a date night compromise there, a little hey-it’s-on-tv-what-the-hell-let’s-watch-it and before you know it, you become part of Disney’s long con to break box-office records. There was no way I wouldn’t watch Avengers: Endgame. Not after spending a decade caring about characters that got annihilated at the end of Infinity War. I needed that fucker Thanos to go down.
Fortunately for us, Avengers: Endgame is not the bloated nightmare of shaky cam fist fights and CGI abuse that it could’ve been. I wouldn’t say it’s profound or anything, but it’s… not bad at all.
Endgame picks up three weeks after the events of Infinity War. Half of everything is missing and everybody is bummed out. Our remaining superheroes are either stranded in space (well, Tony Starks is) or left on Earth, trying to understand what the fuck just happened. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that… it takes a little while, but our heroes figure out a way to hypothetically bring everyone back. It involves zany time travel through every other big Marvel movie, giving Ant Man way too much credit and having to deal with this Thanos’ bullshit once and for all.
So, Avengers: Endgame was not the movie I expected at all. There’s usually a formula to superhero blockbusters like this one and it involves amping up a confrontation between the protagonists and an all-powerful villain for two hours before letting them duke it out. Instead, I’ve gotten a weirdo, Jules Verne inspired adventure movie where people traveled to the past to collect magical stones to save their friends. Sure, there’s Thanos in it. But he’s not “Thanos” Thanos. He’s basically an alternate reality version of his Infinity War self. Avengers: Endgame is not about him. It’s about refusing to be defined by failure.
Failure is an uncommon theme for superhero movies. There’s a mandatory 20-30 minutes in every one of them where the protagonist flirts with it, but manages to pull himself by his or her bootstraps and saves the day. What happened at the end of Infinity War made it unavoidable for Endgame, though and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely dealt with it rather well. The movie argues that failure doesn’t define you unless you stop trying and that sometimes, in order to save the day, you might have to sacrifice. I mean, it’s pretty simple, but to my knowledge, it’s the first blockbuster to carry a responsible, uplifting message since… the Harry Potter movies?
Although Avengers: Endgame was criticized for commodifying feminism (something many, many people are guilty of), I thought it did well with female characters outside of that. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) goes toe to toe with Thanos at a crucial moment and does better than most male characters, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) wrecks his spaceship and arguably saves everyone’s lives and, of course, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) sacrifices herself in the most selfless way possible. It’s too bad the Russo brothers gave her the goofiest sendoff scene alongside idiot, mid-life crisis Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner with a fauxhawk). Fighting on the edge of a cliff is a terrible idea, folks.
I liked Avengers: Endgame. I thought it was more original and ambitious than Infinity War and did an OK job at spinning a lot of plates at the same time. I don’t think it’s nearly as good as Thor: Ragnarok was. It ranks slightly below Guardians of the Galaxy 1 & 2 for me, falling somewhere alongside Black Panther to round out the top 5. It was a satisfying conclusion to this cycle of Marvel movies, but so not the end. Disney announced a whopping eight new films between here and 2022. So brace yourselves for more Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, new superheroes, etc. Disney are not done demanding your money, but at least they’ve gotten good at it.