Monday , 8 August 2022

Avengers: Endgame begins new era for Marvel – review

“Where do we go, now that they’re gone?”

Eleven years, twenty-two films, dozens of superheroes, and villains, and many a planet throughout the galaxy have all culminated towards one of the most hugely anticipated movies in history. Avengers: Endgame is finally here and it delivers everything fans would want and then some. What follows here is a relatively spoiler-free look at the film and what it entails, while assuming one has seen all the prior movies, from Iron Man to Captain Marvel, and of course, last year’s Avengers: Infinity War. (For a discussion of that film, read the Gore 4 review here.)

When we first see our heroes in Endgame, they remain battered and broken, and totally demoralized over what transpired at the end of Infinity War, where the big bad, Thanos, wiped out half of all life in the universe with the snap of a finger, whilst wearing the Infinity Gauntlet possessing the six Infinity Stones. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the rest of the survivors are not in a good place, and some are in outer space, with little hope and no idea of what to do next. Luckily, a certain all-powerful noble warrior hero comes along to take them higher, further and faster than ever before, and someone who has just spent a little time in the quantum realm shows up with hope that there may be indeed be time left to save their friends and restore balance once again to the universe. What transpires is an epic, cinematic spectacle that takes the audience on a journey through space and time, from one-on-one hand-to-hand battles to colossal all-out war. There are plenty of thrills, shocks and surprises that will leave fans gasping in awe, crying in tears and cheering in triumph. Above all, Endgame should leave those “true believers,” who have waited a lifetime for this motion picture event, supremely satisfied, and perhaps a bit drained in the process.

“This is the fight of our lives, and we’re going to win, whatever it takes.”

Marvel, Kevin Feige and everyone involved must be commended, for not just putting together such a magnificent film in Endgame, but for keeping its many secrets intact leading up to its release. Most of the clips seen in trailers and TV spots occur early in the film, and other shots seen have been altered or cropped to avoid revealing certain aspects and plot points. (Kudos also to Mark Ruffalo for keeping his mouth zipped, and cellphone off.)  By deriving certain storylines from the comics, Infinity Gauntlet serving as a main inspiration, but deviating in many ways, much like AMC’s The Walking Dead also does, Marvel is able to satisfy comic fans while also keeping them surprised throughout the film. We’re witness to several characters as we’ve never seen them before, and in new situations (“Who here has never been to space?”), while also enjoying a look at others we may not have laid eyes on for quite some time.

If there was any issue with the previous film, Avengers: Infinity War, other than that huge cliffhanger ending (The Empire Strikes Back, anyone?), it would have to be giving enough screen time to so many superheroes within the confines of two and a half hours. With Endgame, however, with half or more of our heroes turned to ash, that leaves much more available space for some real character moments for the original Avengers and the others who remain. While everyone gets their chance to shine, it is clear that Iron Man and Captain America are the true leaders, and Robert Downey, Jr. who got this Universe started when he hammered together that Mark I suit in 2008, and Chris Evans, when he first donned the shield in 2011, both have awesome, awe-inspiring heroic moments that you won’t soon forget. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Marvel’s first female superhero in this film universe, and one of the few without superhuman powers, proves herself a leader as well, and has some genuine interaction with fellow mere human, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, AWOL from the last film. Karen Gillan’s long-suffering Nebula, also plays a key role in the events that transpire throughout, as does our most recently introduced  comic wonder, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. And let’s not forget Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, who were teamed up in Thor: Ragnarok. Along with Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon, or as Thor affectionately refers to him as “Rabbit,” and Don Cheadle’s War Machine, they provide much welcomed comic relief along with their own heroic deeds. Indeed, despite the doom and gloom that pervades the early part of the film, this will go down as one of the funniest films of the year, rivaling any comedy that comes down the pike.

“If I tell you what happens, it won’t happen.”

This sense of humor that permeates throughout the course of the film, while originating to some extent with Iron Man, really took hold in 2012’s first team-up, The Avengers, thanks to Joss Whedon. It carried over to James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxies, both Ant Man films and the hilarious Thor: Ragnarok. Who would’ve expected Thor to be a literal comic Avenger? While humor abounds, there are a number of instances that truly tug at the heart. And they’re not necessarily moments where someone might meet their demise, but those between characters reuniting or joining together. As Black Widow declares at one point, this is her family, and it allows for plenty of deep, emotional and very moving scenes. Director brothers, Anthony and Joe Russo, and screenwriters, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley, have only further cemented their legacy within the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a finale that is damn near perfect.

“In all my years of conquest, violence and slaughter, it was never personal.”

And what of Thanos, the mastermind of so much devastation and despair? Josh Brolin gives this all-powerful being the gravitas and pathos that make the character so complex. Thanos, though seemingly without any sense of empathy or remorse, except when it comes to his adoptive daughter, Gamora, does have an altruistic, albeit skewed purpose to his madness. Though certainly adopting a godlike persona, he’s not out to rule the universe, just course correct it. An infinite universe with finite resources can only provide for so many sentient beings for so long, and Thanos’ reasoning is that by eliminating half of all life, the remaining half will thrive. Early on in the film, Steve Rogers, aka, Captain America, mentions seeing a pod of whales in the Hudson, suggesting that the lack of pollution and an increase in food supply facilitated such an occurrence. Wouldn’t less people here on Earth make for a cleaner, healthier planet? As the human population ever expands, will the Earth itself eventually take drastic action in order to survive? There has to be a tipping point at some point. However, it is Thanos’ arrogance in believing he is the only one to make such a decision for everyone, and the only one who can make this happen, that he is inevitable, and that all those who survived should be grateful, that make it difficult to take his side. Again, it’s what gives this character a depth unlike that of most supervillains simply hellbent on destruction or rule.

“Everything’s going to work out exactly the way it’s supposed to.”

While Marvel has done a great job keeping so much under wrap, there still remains the fact that we know that the vast majority of the characters we lost will find their way back, we just don’t know how. Sony and Marvel’s Spider-man: Far From Home is due on July 5, so we know the webslinger makes it. Disney wisely brought back James Gunn to helm Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3, a Black Widow movie has been discussed, and we know we’ll be getting more Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel. Additionally, films are said to be in the works featuring Shang-Chi and The Eternals. Then there’s Disney’s new upcoming streaming service that will feature several existing Marvel characters in their own series, as well as the already airing Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC and Cloak and Dagger on Freeform. Still, knowing any or all of this does not detract one iota from the spectacle on the screen here. Avengers: Endgame is a once-in-a-generation cinematic event the likes of which we may never see again, and one that would make the ones who started it all – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and company, very proud . These are true superheroes we have grown to care deeply about. And while some of their chapters may be closed with this book, others remain open for new adventures. Marvel isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as Phase IV and beyond gets underway, but in the words of Captain America, “you gotta move on.”

— Brian de Castro

One comment

  1. Brian de Castro

    After a record breaking opening weekend that took in an astronomical $350M domestic and $1.2B (that’s with a B, as in Billion) worldwide, Avengers: Endgame continued its assault on the all-time box office charts. After adding an additional :147M + domestic and around $430M worldwide, Endgame’s total earnings after just 10 full days of release now sits at $621M in the U.S. and Canada, which moves it past last year’s The Incredibles 2 and 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi for eighth place on the all-time list. Worldwide, it has amassed close to $2.2B, enabling it to sail past Titanic into second place behind only Avatar’s $2.78B. Remember, Endgame is flying by these other films’ TOTALS with less than two weeks in release. Truly astonishing, with no end in sight.