MAAC Review: AVENGERS – ENDGAME

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After 21 movies and a handful of television shows, Avengers: Endgame brings everything to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to an epic conclusion. While further MCU movies are planned, this is clearly the end of an era.

I have been conscious to not get into specifics in regards to the main plot and some of the plot developments so as not to spoil it for others. There are parts of the film that you will have to see for yourself.

After the cliff-hanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War (2019), which saw super villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) wipe out 50% of all life in the universe, the remaining Avengers assemble to try to reverse his plan. 

However, after events in previous MCU movies, the Avengers do not all see eye to eye. Because of this they have to try and put their differences behind them and work as a team, something they have not done in some time.

Originally entering the world of Marvel with Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), directing duo Anthony and Joe Russo have since become two of the main driving forces of the current MCU, with their work on Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War shaping the franchise to where it stands today. 

Running at roughly 3 hours, Avengers: Endgame is the longest MCU movie by far. The Russo’s change gears somewhat from Avengers: Infinity War, with a stronger focus on character and drama. They have certainly made one of the most emotional movies of the MCU. 

Of course there are the large scale action scenes as expected, but they mostly take place in the second half of the film. When they do come, they are spectacular, with every character getting their chance to shine, albeit some more than others. The final battle is probably one of the most satisfying finale’s to an MCU movie yet, with countless hair raising and applause worthy scenes that I would not want to spoil.

Like Infinity War, the Russo’s split the characters into separate teams, with them working on their own mission before reconvening to take on Thanos. Not only does this help the pacing of the film, it stops it from feeling overstuffed. We are also served with some terrific call backs to previous film in the MCU.

As expected, the performances are all universally excellent. By now, Robert Downey Jr. has become synonymous with the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man. Introduced way back in Iron Man (2008), Downey Jr. has always given the role his all. This time Stark has real personal stakes, more than he ever has in the past. Downey Jr. has stated that this will be his last MCU movie, and if this is so, it is a great swansong for the character.

The same is true for Chris Evan’ Captain America. He has become the moral centre of the franchise, letting his conscience rule his actions. Evans took what on paper could have been a bland character into one of the most popular and important characters of the MCU. A lot of Evans’ screen time is spent with Downey Jr., with the two of them getting to work on their unresolved issues from previous movies. 

Those disappointed by the lack of the Hulk last time round, should be pleased by the amount of screen time he gets, although the Hulk has changed significantly since the last time we saw him. With this, and his previous appearances, Mark Ruffalo has made the part of the Hulk his own, and it would be hard to now see someone else inhabit the role.

The Hulk is not the only Avenger to have changed since Endgame, with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor being noticeably different due to his experiences. Since Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Hemsworth has pushed the comedic aspects of the character which are equally present here, although there are elements of sadness and regret present which make sure that Thor does not just become the comic relief.

Both Paul Rudd’s Antman and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye sat out Avengers: Infinity War. They make up for that this time round, with both being pivotal to defeating Thanos. Surprisingly, it is Scott Lang/Antman who comes up with the plan to reset Thanos plan, with his thief’s mentality truly coming into play. As shown in his own two starring vehicles, Rudd is hilarious as Lang, however he also gets a chance to show off his dramatic chops in a number of scenes.

Thanos’ finger snap has a major impact on Hawkeye’s life, significantly altering the character from what we have seen previously, being more in line with his Ronin alias from the comics. 

This is probably the most well used the character has been, and it is great to see Renner get more involved. Always a likeable presence, I look forward to the recently announced Disney show, which will bring Renner to the small screen. One memorable scene finds him having a brief swordfight with action legend Hiroyuki Sanada, with the only drawback being Sanada’s short screen time. 

Speaking of Thanos, he is still a commanding presence. However in comparison to Infinity War, where he was the main focus, his screen time is limited. The character is now more of a clean cut villain than the multi-faceted character he was previously. Still, Josh Brolin still impresses with his mo-cap performance.

With the recent announcement of her own spin-off, it is surprising where the film takes Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. The film has major consequences for the character which I do not want to spoil, but it will be interesting to see how the MCU deals with the character beyond this point. She is slightly short changed in terms of screen time, but Johansson is still great.

In regards to the other female superheroes of the MCU, I was quite surprised how little Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) was used, considering how successful her own introductory film was. This is perhaps down to the fact that Endgame was shot first, but in a way it is for the better, with the focus being more on the characters that got us to this point. 

The same is true of Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, who are lucky if they even have five minutes worth of screen time. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts fares slightly better, with her even getting in a bit of the action during the finale.

Better utilised is Karen Gillan’s Nebula, who has continually developed as a character since her introduction in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Nebula plays a major role in the fight against her adoptive father Thanos, with Gillan getting to play different iterations of the character as the film progresses. 

Although such characters as Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) may come across as underused, screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christpher Markus should be commended for bringing all the separate story strands together into a cohesive whole. 

Some of the sci-fi aspects of the plot may not make much sense if you begin to think about it, but this is a minor complaint when there are so many great characters, dialogue and plot elements.

Complementing the on screen action is a pulse pounding score by Alan Silvestri, building on his own work in the MCU as well incorporating the work of composers like Michael Giacchino, Christophe Beck and Pinar Toprak. Silvestri additionally uses some jazz infused music for the scenes dealing with Antman.

Avengers: Endgame is possibly one of the most engaging comic book movies of the year, and a major feat in blockbuster filmmaking. Fans of the series will struggle to not get a bit misty eyed before the end credits rolls. Whilst this may be the end of an era, it leaves the MCU open to a number of interesting possibilities.

Plot: 4/5
Acting: 4.5/5
Action: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.3/5

Written by Guest Reviewer: Darren Murray (Facebook Profile)

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