Chapter Five: A Marvellous Conclusion
WARNING: This Review will Contain Spoilers, yes let me say it louder SPOILERS! SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS. If you have NOT seen Avengers: Endgame please do not read this or anything that relates to in-depth discussion about the movie. I went on a complete social media blackout before seeing the midnight screening, so I urge you all to do the same, you won't regret it.
(P.S This is not a review, I'm not a film reviewer. I'm a film lover, who adores super-hero films and big cinema experiences and have been eagerly ticking off the days for the past year for this films release. So don't expect any nit-picks or complaints on "plot-holes", that's not my thing)
Okay for those who have stuck around..
It can never can better this. It truly can't.
As I took my first steps out of the cinema screen just past 3am in the morning after the midnight screening, I was truly lost for words. The word overwhelming doesn't do this movies impact on me justice.
Avengers: Endgame was truly the culmination of over a decade of storytelling from Marvel Studios. Everything I dreamt of happening did. The Russo Brothers, along with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely delivered an epic unlike anything I've ever witnessed, a tour de force in Blockbuster filmmaking, screw that not just Blockbuster - filmmaking in general.
For all of the snobs towards franchises that will tell you they lack weight, stakes, emotion and meaning, show them this film, or show them me after walking out of this film. No film has made me run the gamut of emotions, and I mean every emotion.
Fear, happiness, excitement, intrigue, sadness, happiness, more sadness, EVEN MORE happiness, heartbreak then astonishment.
The connection all of us have to these characters and their stories is truly a momentous achievement and one that only increases everything that takes place over this three-hour conclusion.
The first act is a mix of sadness and shock. The tone from the opening scene of Hawkeye's family is perfectly executed and is not tasteless but reintegrates us into our emotional state at the climax of Infinity War. A second viewing really brings the masterful construction of this films narrative into the forefront, and nothing more encapsulates that then the journey of Tony Stark.
Lost, despondent and desperate in space with Nebula, speaking into a half destroyed Iron Man mask to Pepper Potts, Tony seems like a beaten man. Despite being saved by the beam of light that is Captain Marvel, Tony soon shows his anger towards Steve Rodgers in a superbly acted scene from Robert Downey Jr. when returning to the Avengers compound on Earth. Helping to nail down Tony and Steve's fallout at the end of Civil War. This scene also magnifies the importance of Tony's plan in Age of Ultron about a "shield around the world", keeping the character's grounded and their principles in tact.
Not to bash another film here, but a dispute between two other Superheroes in a big motion picture was settled with the realisation that their mothers share the same name. Endgame shows how to do battling ideals and conflict between our protagonists the right way.
The brutality of our heroes confrontation with Thanos is truly shocking. Thor not only chops the Mad Titan's arm off to retrieve the Gauntlet, but in an act of rage at the discovery that the stones have been destroyed, The God of Thunder decapitates Thanos, going for the head this time to devastating effect.
The Russo Brothers have reiterated the point that they always like to write themselves into a corner at the end of their movies, but along with wiping out half the galaxy at the end of the last film, they double down by murdering the antagonist in the first 15 minutes. Where do we go from here?
The rest of the first act works wonderfully in establishing a post-snap world. Five years later and the world seems a bleak, joyless landscape. Joe Russo's cameo with Cap in a therapy group is right up there with the best scenes in the film, speaking on the fact they no longer have the pleasure of going to see the Mets play. Simple luxuries eradicated, along with the massive trauma of losing so many loved ones vindicates and honours the strong choice made at the end the last chapter on such a bleak note.
Natasha's clear anguish is soul-crushing to witness as she tries to keep hope, in contact with her fellow heroes across the galaxy dealing with the cataclysmic fallout. All the story threads in these slower, more dialogue heavy scenes not only help establish again who these people are and what they're going through, but also what the fight ahead means to them individually. Despite all the CGI filled, super-human feats these characters will go through, at their core, they are flawed humans and that's what makes the rest of Endgame so satisfying.
Once it became clear what the premise of the movie's central plot is in order to reverse the snap, the giddy 7-year-old me sprung up in my seat. Yes its fan service, but its fan service done properly. Returning to key moments of previous instalments of the MCU not only justifies why we've been watching these films all this time, but heightens the weight of each individual films meaning to the overarching story that the 22nd instalment concludes.
The Battle of New York and a trip to Morag are where these fan pleasing moments most take place.
Personally for me, coming to the MCU at a later stage and first seeing Peter Quill dancing to "Come and Get Your Love" was what brought me into this world, so hearing the opening beats of that famous tune again and seeing one of my favourite scenes played out, this time from the perspective of War Machine and Nebula was glorious and heartwarming.
The callbacks to Winter Solider in the lift were masterfully executed, helping make Cap a much more street-wise, funny and complex character with rougher edges to the patriotic, slightly greener version of the character he fights minutes later. Providing us with two of the best one liners in the entire franchise. And yes that is America's Ass!
And just when you think Chris Hemsworth has gone everywhere with Thor, he and the Russo's execute one of the biggest surprises of the movie - Fat Thor. Living as a slob with Korg and Meek whilst screaming at 12-year-olds through a headset playing Fortnite is pure genius and brings more milage to Hemsworth's comedic talents, as well as his more serious and emotional scenes when reconnecting with his mother on Asgard later in the film - just sublime.
The death of Natasha on Vormir is a tough watch, considering the character's plight at the beginning of the movie. However, the scene although replayed beat for beat like Infinity War, is a sacrifice that's integral to the plot and also the motivation of our characters heading into the third act. Natasha's sacrifice in order to extinguish the red in her ledger that has loomed over her since the first Avengers. The death is still tragic, tear-jerking and tough to witness, but one that pays off the character's journey in a fitting way.
And so we reach the third act, which for me is the best, and simply brings us some of the greatest cinematic moments in many years that will be remembered forever. A younger, less serene Thanos confronting our heroes provides a deadly villain, that is truly villainous in his ambition to retrieve the stones and do even more damage than before.
Thanos always needed to be defeated in the third-act of this film and the clever twist to Marcus and McFeely's script that allows for a more menacing version of the MCU's big bad to obliterate the Avengers Compound into rubble brings the spectacle and grand landscape that the universe's biggest finale deserves to take place on.
Cap summoning Mjolnir in itself could be the moment of this film, but is eclipsed minutes later by the moment that brung me to tears of happiness. As Captain America stands the only hero in front of Thanos and is gigantic army of monsters (soon to be my Desktop picture), we hear the familiar voice of Falcon.
Like with the time travel element, once you realise where this scene is going, it only gets better.
And from portals emerges ALL of our heroes and then as Silvestri's score ramps up we get the famous word we've craved since the Avengers inception from the mouth of Cap - "Assemble", and so ensues the greatest climax to a film I've ever seen.
Whats staggering about both Avengers 3 and 4 is their ability to have so many plots, character arcs and themes in play and manage to serve all of them without feeling tacked on or rushed.
Tony's sacrifice to snap his fingers whilst uttering the words that ended the first movie that kicked all of this off is poetic. And soon the waterworks begin as its clear Iron Man's time is up.
The touching epilogue, surrounding Tony's funeral and his perfectly written voiceover that Stark narrates as we see the fallout to a universe shattering event, not only gives a much needed quieter and softer tone to finish out the story but also sets up future movies to come, my favourite being Thor's supposed inclusion to the Guardians and Quill's search for Gamora.
The film ends on the character the Russo's and Marcus and McFeely began with, Steve Rodgers. Going back to live the life that was taken from him, witnessing one dance with Peggy Carter ended this superhero masterpiece in the perfect manner.
No movie has hit me quite like Endgame.
I've cried tears of sadness to many films, but tears of joy and happiness is a feat only Endgame can attest to. I'm forever in the debt of Marvel, Kevin Feige, the Russo's, the writers and everyone who made this spectacle a possibility.
"This generations Star Wars.." is a line banded about a lot, but for the MCU it truly is. The construction over many years, through many filmmakers to get to this point is a feat no other franchise can lay claim to. I hope it earns all the money and takes top spot over Avatar, because it fucking deserves it.
In the same cinema that inspired me to become a filmmaker when my 12-year-old eyes were blessed with the wonder of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, nine years later my imagination has been captured again and all seems right with the world.
A Marvellous conclusion, indeed.