And so here we are… at the end.
A journey that’s encompassed 10 years, 22 movies (and counting) and that rewrote the rules of franchise filmmaking to the tune of nearly 20 billion dollars worldwide, is now techinally done and dusted – so to speak, with Avengers: Endgame, the official climax to The Infinity Saga.
After an agonising wait after the cliffhanger left a shocked Captain America whispering “Oh God” as you could hear a pin drop in cinemas all across the world, Marvel somehow managed to keep it’s all encompassing evil of secrecy blanketed over everything: trailers showed virtually nothing, the very nature of the plot was a mystery and not even the gregarious lips of Mark Ruffalo and Tom Holland where letting anything slip – literally anything could happen and while we all fretted over who would die in Infinity War, it turns out the victims of the Snap where the safe ones…
When last we saw our heroes, they were beaten and watching on in dismay as “The Snap” decimated fifty percent of the universe’s population and left them able to fit snugly in a max sized ashtray. As Tony Stark slowly expires from asphyxiation in the middle of space and the remaining Avengers lick their wounds, the arrival of deep space adventurer Captain Marvel gives new hope to bring stark home and locate a fugitive Thanos in order to try and find a loophole for the whole universal genocide thing. However, when this final hope turns out to be hopeless everyone has to face the prospect of having to to on with their lives and a time jump – a phrase that goes on to have a more significant meaning – reveals a world that is in a subdued, depressed funk. The Avengers are struggling to move on, some are despondent, some angry and some are trying to be desperately proactive, but all want to find a way to undo the damage that the mauve marauder, Thanos has caused. But with the suprise reappearance of Scott Lang (aka. Ant-Man) from spending an extended time-out in the Quantum Realm brings with it an insanely risky plan to counteracting the damaged caused – but is assembling the Avengers going to be that easy? Stark has settled down, Hawkeye has become a vengeful vigilante, Thor is a doughy drunk and Bruce Banner has embarked on a voyage of self discovery and emerged a whole new Hulk, but each are enticed back for this ridiculous long shot at redemption; but if they fail, well… at least there’ll continue to be more parking?
If over the years you’ve become even remotely attached to these characters and invested in this universe of Infinity Stones, superheroes and a talking raccoon, the following 3 hours are an insane cascade of emotions, each one hitting deeper than the last. When it’s funny: you’ll laugh, when it’s sad: you’ll cry and when it goes big: you’ll gasp – a lot – because Endgame goes very, VERY big. In fact the whole final 45 minutes (after an amusingly chaotic and innovative middle act) could quite be the most satisfying 45 minutes of comic book cinema ever made- more than the airport fight from Civil War, more than the finale of the original Avengers; when it comes to pure earned joy, Endgame and it’s near constant string of play-offs, in-jokes and overwhelming fan service is more than everything.
It’s also extraordinarily nice to see that after all this time Marvel still hasn’t gotten complacent with it’s treatment of it’s characters, mischievously taking some of them in some pretty extreme directions to keep things fresh. Both Hulk and Black Widow reach the end of arcs that have stretched across multiple franchises with the former seemingly having combined the two halves of his bifurcated id and the later taking on the mantle of leadership and family after a lifetime of being a lone assassin and Thor’s descent into depression led addiction may sometimes be played for laughs but is also tinged with legitimate tragedy (plus it’s nice to get another plus-sized hero to go with Spider-Verse’s sweatpants wearing Peter B. Parker and Godzilla’s chonky man-thighs…).
The real key to Endgame, however, are the surprises and it’s fairly ballsy of Marvel to actually dedicate it’s middle third to essentially a time travelling victory lap of it’s own success while riffing on Back To The Future II. Some of the shocks are fun, some nasty, but all unexpected to a certain degree as nothing really occurs the way you expect but still somehow turns out exactly the way you’d want. Dozens of cameos lurk around every corner and somehow don’t see gratuitous in the least, plus it means that Rene Russo finally gets her due and that can only be a good thing. Not only is this a more than a fitting end to the “Infinity Saga” but a celebration of every movie the MCU has released, yes, even Thor: The Dark World…
If I’m being especially harsh, all the fan service does mean that despite it’s countless audience pleasing moments, it’s not quite as tight as Infinity War or Civil War but, when things like the already legendary “portals” scene happens or the air punching Mjolnir plot twist, you’ll simply won’t care thanks to the flood of Marvel-themed endorphins coursing through your brain.
Oh, one last thing. I’ll be fucked if I understand the movie’s version of time travel – it doesn’t follow the usual movie laws and even some of the characters in the movie fail to grasp it – but try not to think about it too much and you’ll be just fine
And yet with the 22 film saga wrapped up, there’s no time to rest and watch the sun set on a grateful universe; as mere months months later, Spider-Man: Far From Home swang into cinemas acting as a epilogue to Phase 3 before the real life snap of COVID-19 meant that the MCU had to keep it’s engine revving in park for the entirety of 2020.
With it’s multiple, dangling plot threads waiting to be tied up by the onslaught of Disney+ shows waiting in the wings (The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki) and a clutch of brand new characters hoping to make their debut – not to mention the Fantastic Four and the X-Men pitching to make their MCU bow – it’s painfully obvious that this cinematic universe is only stretching it’s legs…
We’ve collectively “made ours marvel” for over a decade and this is our glorious reward, but rest assured; this may be the Endgame, but it’s most certainly not the end…