Review - Avengers: Endgame (spoiler free)
After 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which includes 21 films prior to this one, Avengers: Endgame, in some ways has more build up than any other film franchise in history, but does Marvel pull it off?
Last year's epic Avengers: Infinity War set us up for the story ahead with a year of mass speculation and small teases from the studio that was able to keep the majority of this film under lock and key.
Finishing last year's entry on a cliff-hanger, eradicating half the population means Endgame picks up straight where Infinity War left off. With half our heroes gone and the rest left to pick up the pieces, Endgame could easily feel like the second half of a five and a half hour movie. Luckily Marvel and the Russo brothers ensure it feels like its own film.
In our franchise heavy world, we've seen it numerous times from the likes of Harry Potter, the Hunger Games and the Hobbit franchise who have all split their final films to give more room to grow their story. Often the final entry struggles to shake that TV show quality of simply trailing off where the previous instalment finished, but here, the Russo's visually and narratively set us in a new world.
We open to Hawkeye training his daughter in archery as his family enjoys a picnic in their bright country farm. From the get-go we are already given the Hawkeye story we were promised after his absence from Infinity War. We're shown a sombre, quiet and impactful moment, the first of many, that sets the serious tone of the movie.
Consume your snacks during the trailers, because as soon as the film begins, the film creates an atmospheric stillness that has everyone hanging on every word.
We then jump to Tony and Nebula drifting in space aboard the Guardian's ship- The Benatar. We're given the ever plucky and humorous Tony, contrasted with the ever-serious Nebula, a theme that will continue through the movie as we see new and interesting combinations of characters.
Once back on earth the remaining Avengers along with Captain Marvel devise a plan to take down Thanos and reverse what has happened. At this point the drama really ramps up as old wounds are opened, and our favourite characters start to reflect on their previous mistakes. Writers Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely expertly utilise the drama for the characters, creating emotional arcs for all our core cast and tying up emotional threads from all previous movies.
After a few surprises the film jumps forward five years and truly becomes something different. We are shown a world affected by the loss of half of its life, memorials set up for "the disappeared" and meetings for those struggling with who they have lost. As always this demonstrates how the Russo brothers understand the drama of these elaborate storylines, grounding them in reality (with the exception of some jarring but amazing cameos).
The film encapsulates its audience, without the need for showy action or set pieces. There's rich dialogue that make us believe the determination of the characters we are cheering for. Black Widow talks about how the Avengers are her family, with that notion carried throughout the movie.
We're given insight into the lives characters wanted to live and how their situations can drastically change, with touching but also comedic effect (there's good reason Thor and Hulk have been more absent from the trailers).
Humour has always been a strength of the MCU, establishing its own kind of comedy that lends itself to these larger than life films. While the themes and story of Endgame are certainly serious it doesn't stop it from having a joke or poking fun at itself.
The inclusion of Paul Rudd's Ant-Man is of course sure to lift the mood, with other great characters like Rocket and Bruce there to add to the obscure moments. Travelling literally through previous Marvel films makes them even more interconnected but also tons of fun for the filmmakers and the audience.
Scenes which show us various "what if" moments and hilarious observations (Cap's first Avengers costume we're looking at you) not only lets the film loose to give us bizarre and crazy scenarios but also some unexpected emotion.
The Russo's give us the heist vibe they alluded to in Infinity War and while this middle act of the film can feel more devoid of stakes or simply a bit silly, it just wouldn't be the same without it.
The film battles with the complexities of time travel, doing a pretty good job at keeping it fairly simple. The threat of Thanos is amped up as we head into our final act and we get our gigantic set piece that literally rains down from the sky.
Our protagonists are thrown straight into danger, with the filmmakers giving us tense and exhilarating situations that are backed up by the simply spectacular visuals.
Infinity War made us sympathise and understand Thanos all of which fuels and justifies his passion to succeed. Despite that we're immediately turned against the villain as his blood lust makes him into a truly evil character, contrasting against some of our favourite heroes.
The Russo's use the drama, themes and emotion throughout the film to drive this epic conclusion. Elements introduced in the very first films of the MCU are brought full circle along with some of the most nail-biting action I've ever seen.
Alan Silvestri once again fittingly provides the score, as he has done for all the Avengers films. With an atmospheric and enchanting score, Silvestri not only complements the visuals but helps to lift the climatic and joyous moments of the film.
Like many great franchises Avengers: Endgame uses everything it has built up, in a simply beautiful and joyous final fight. Every character is given their moment, from satisfying face offs to the stunning "Avengers assemble" announced to a screen full of characters. The action is riveting and expertly mapped out, a trait we have come to expect from the Russo brothers, who can now add this epic war of worlds to their memorable action sequences.
Fans will get moments to cheer, to clap and to get teary as this is simply made for them and with so many fans around the world, can we complain? Like Ready Player One, they throw everything they've got at the screen for full out carnage, but what that film didn't have, was 10 years of ground work behind it.
We're given our final goodbyes and with three hours to play with, the filmmakers don't waste a second. Much like epics such as Return of the King, Endgame takes it time in wrapping up its story, with beautiful imagery, showcasing our fantastic cast of characters.
While any film of this kind may not stand alone as its own film especially when its connected to such a larger universe, Marvel can feel proud that Endgame gives all its characters a fitting conclusion to this epic journey.
A conclusion that will stand up with the great finales of all time.
Where the MCU will go next? We don't know, but that's not for this film to tell us.
Avengers Endgame finishes its own story and that is all we need. It is emotional, funny and epic. A 11-year narrative that can be proud to please diehard fans and general audiences alike.