This is it. While Marvel will continue creating movies to fill their universe, this epic 3+ hour film is the conclusion to the massive story that has been eleven years and 21 movies in the making. It’s no overstatement to say that this is, in many ways, the biggest movie event in Hollywood history. Can it possibly live up to this task? In my opinion, I don’t know how the Russo brothers – who directed this ultimate comic book culmination – could have done a better job.
Now the MCU movies are not masterpieces of high cinema. But they are almost always, consistently, fun. They are exhibits of a mastery of film craft in many ways, even if they are not “important” movies. Marvel has crafted an interconnected universe of movies populated with characters we have grown to actually care about. If you are at all invested in this universe, I can all but guarantee you that Endgame will be a thrilling and satisfying conclusion to the story.
Somehow – and this is nothing short of a cinematic miracle – almost everything in this movie makes sense. Despite pulling countless characters from multiple franchises represented by over 20 films and many directors, it all comes together in a cohesive finale. That’s not to mention that these stories contain a wide range of science fiction and fantasy elements – enough to break a sense of reality when dealing with only one story. That plot holes are minimal and characters remain consistent is a testament to the directors as well as Kevin Feige holding the reins behind the scenes.
The Marvel films have given us an incredible amount of moments that show us what a comic book coming to life on screen can really look like. Until you see Endgame, you haven’t seen anything. The final battle is the stuff of legend. Exhilarating and emotional with the sense that you really are seeing the most fantastic comic artwork jump to life onto the screen in front of you in a way that should be impossible, but works on almost ever level.
Speaking of emotions, let me jump back a few hours. Endgame opens with an emotional punch to the gut in an incredibly effective scene that sets up the tone for the rest of the film. It never lets up. There are great moments of levity of the sort we are used to getting from this franchise, but this is an incredibly heavy movie in many ways most of the time. There is a weight that hangs on every word and every moment. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that there were at least have a dozen times when sobs of joy and sadness were audibly heard throughout the theater – and this was a theater mostly populated with hardened film critics.
There are not a lot of major surprises here, story-wise. We know the story Marvel has been telling, and the characters, almost too well. Even if you don’t know the finer points, much of what happens, just based on the personalities of the heroes, can be predicted to a degree. That’s not to say it is boring and predictable though, just not entirely unexpected if you have been a fan for the past decade. That’s not to say there aren’t any “Holy crap, did Tony Stark just create a miniature Iron Man suit for Ant-Man out of Captain America’s shield!?” moments. That doesn’t actually happen, but other fun surprises do lurk around many corners.
While heavy much of the time – we are dealing with the aftermath of half of all life in the universe being indiscriminately wiped out after all – the movie is still a fun ride. Exciting, enjoyable, and engaging. Much has been made of the marathon-like length of this movie, but every single of its 181 minutes has a purpose. Nothing feels like it exists simply to pad the film until the next important thing happens and nothing feels rushed either. This movie takes exactly as long as it needs to in order to fulfill it’s destiny that was written all those years ago when Tony Stark declared “I am Iron Man.” I have seen 90 minute films that felt longer than this one.
The gigantic cast – seriously, watch the credits roll and marvel (no pun intended) – is juggled as effectively as can be expected, and almost all get the time and moments they deserve. The film focuses on the core Avengers, the ones that started this whole thing – after all, many of the others were gone with a snap after Infinity War – but there is plenty of screen time to go around.
It is hard to find things to be critical of in this movie. I will say that if you were not happy with the direction Ragnarok took the character of Thor, I’m sorry, but this movie is not going to make things better for you. I can’t say I 100% like what happens with with the god of thunder, but it may come as a shock. Some of the sci-fi elements are somewhat dubious, but not to the degree that you can’t just suspend disbelief. I mean, come on. If you’re the type to nitpick at physics and quantum theory, and not be satisfied with a movie unless a celebrity scientist signs off on the realism, this is not the film for you. For the rest of us, it works.
Some Marvel movies are enjoyable all on their own. You don’t have to know Cap’s origin story to have fun with Guardians of the Galaxy for example. This is not one of those movies. If you don’t know what is going on, if you don’t have a vested interest in these characters, you are going to be lost and confused. This is the movie for the long-time fans. If you haven’t seen at least most of the previous films, I ask you to stay away from this one for now, lest you be both spoiled and disappointed.
If there is one major problem with this film it is from the point of view of Marvel Studio’s future. There is so much closure, so much finality, for most of what has being built, they are taking a huge risk, banking on their fans still willing to come back for more all new stories that are going to be populated by mostly new characters with so many others taking their final curtain call in one way or another. I’m not saying everyone dies, but there is a finality to the stories of many. There are certainly some things left open to continuation, and I know I’m game, but it will be interesting to see if the success of The Infinity Saga can be continued. As long as they continue telling compelling and entertaining stories with enjoyable characters, I hope so.
Mrs. and Brother Hamster look forward to seeing this movie soon
My Rating: Five out of five hats