Avengers: Endgame features a veritable cornucopia of characters from 22 films over the last 11 years. In theaters on April 26, Avengers: Endgame is a true gift to the fans.
It took me a number of years to finally watch Iron Man. Long before I was a film critic, I used to watch trailers. I’d watched Paramount’s efforts to market the film and I was in one of my “I don’t want to see this movie” moods. Yet, there was something compelling about the marketing; there was something unique about that particular story and in that particular time.
Flash forward 11 years, 22 movies, three studios later and we have Avengers: Endgame, a film that is equally as compelling as Iron Man was.
Anthony and Joe Russo’s Endgame starts nearly where last April’s Infinity War left off. Half our heroes are gone, wiped out by Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) use of the Gauntlet. What’s left of the Avengers, including Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Chedle) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) have assembled at their headquarters, trying to figure out the next move.
Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) continues in her Captain Marvel personae, as gifted by the end sequence in last month’s Captain Marvel and helps the Avengers throughout the galaxy.
There is something simplistic about the way Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who co-wrote Captain America: The First Avenger start out Endgame. This is clearly Steve Rogers’ story as he reasserts his All-American image. There are plenty of jokes to go around to that effect too.
Remnants of the Avengers and other factions of Disney’s MCU are spread throughout the galaxy and are equally as decimated. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are aboard the Benatar. The ship is nearly out of power when they are intercepted and returned to Earth.
The early parts of the story make effective use of each of the characters, giving them a moment to shine in the spotlight, a nice touch for fans who have stuck with the films over the past 11 years.
As the film’s canvas stretches, so too does the inclusion of characters and events. The most notable character to join the Avengers is Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). His involvement in the story should offer some sort of indication about the flow of the story, none of which should shock those who are familiar with Infinity War or Ant-Man and the Wasp. Markus, McFeely and the Russos really use Ant-Man and the Wasp as a bridge for this film, and they do it in such a clever way that this Marvel-dubious critic is impressed.
I can’t necessarily say the same for the latter half of the Avengers: Endgame. The story, which starts out so strongly, stretches its boundaries just a bit too much slowing down the pacing of the film just a bit. If anything, the three-hour run time was a solid enough vessel to fill this story, its characters and their adventures. The pacing is perfectly fine: you won’t feel like you’ve just watched a three-hour film. In fact, that’s a testament to just how tightly bonded the threads and characters were.
In the end, it’s the characters and the sense of family that Kevin Feige and his crew have created within the MCU that will keep the fans happy. It isn’t fan service. There are some genuine, heartfelt moments in Avengers: Endgame.
I could quibble about some of the issues that I have with the story, most notably the lack of Captain Marvel’s presence in the film. This might have been by intention, owing to the fact that her origin film just came out last month. She did get a really solid character moment which makes up for what I consider to be an oversight.
One could say that Marvel bunched up Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. They would be right, but those two films really lend themselves to one another; Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame don’t necessarily have the same, tight connection. But, that won’t put fans off. They know better about such things.
There are probably a handful of television or cinematic moments that I can recall where such respect and reverence was paid to the years of content behind it, while remaining forward-looking: the finale of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the finale of M*A*S*H and the finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Like those episodes, Avengers: Endgame is not a finale, there is no goodbye. Avengers: Endgame celebrates what is behind it while looking forward to the next phase.
Avengers: Endgame is a true gift to dedicated fans and might just draw in a few new ones.
In theaters April 26, Avengers: Endgame is rated PG-13.