Movie Mayhem – Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame — 2019; Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo; Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, and Don Cheadle.

22 movies over 10 years all come down to this — Avengers: Endgame. Prior to 2008, attempting to tell a continuous story over ten years probably seemed impossible, a pipe-dream that would never come to fruition. Yet producer Kevin Feige somehow managed to masterfully weave dozens of characters, stories and directors into a grand symphony that have only had a few missteps among a bevy of incredible highs. (Even more astounding is how they only had two major and one minor cast change throughout). It’s a feat that is, and will be, incredibly hard to replicate as evidenced by the mostly critical, if not financial failure of those producers who have tried ever since Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) announced that he was Iron Man and was first approached by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) about the Avengers Initiative. And now here we are, at the end of an era; and oh, what a ride it has been.

As anyone who has seen Endgame (which by now is probably everyone who didn’t get dusted by the snap), you know it’s incredibly hard to discuss the film, as it’s chock-full of spoilers. What I can say is that all of the major players that have been around since phase 1 (with maybe the exception of 1 or 2) are given satisfying conclusions to their stories, completing arcs that were set up a decade ago. And those that haven’t been around as long? Well, they’re given fun teases as to what to expect from them, and Marvel in general, moving forward.

What’s even more impressive about Endgame, and in a lot of ways, Avengers: Infinity War before it, is how well balanced everything is. Each major character is given at least one true superhero moment, some that will leave you cheering, some that will leave you devastated, and some that will leave you bawling while whooping and hollering. There’s one moment in particular involving Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) that has been several years in the making and ends with the perfect crescendo of power.

Like all of Marvel’s slate of films, Endgame isn’t without its perfectly-timed layers of humor. Don’t get me wrong, because the film picks up right after Infinity War, the first half hour or so can feel a bit depressing. But what would you expect after so many beloved heroes were dusted with the snap of Thanos’s (Josh Brolin) fingers. However, the moment Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is inadvertently rescued from the quantum realm, that gloomy misery is gently spun back into typical Marvel stasis, and it remains there until the third hour when the film explodes into pure cinematic superherodom.

Everyone including, Rudd, Downey Jr., Evans and Scarlett Johansson, continue to play the roles we’ve come to expect from them in all of their appearances. Their are two players, though, that really stand out among the crowd in both character arc and humor — Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). After their incredible pairing in Thor: Ragnarok and the struggles that plagued them both throughout Infinity War, both characters get an upgrade (well, maybe not upgrade, but alterations) in Endgame that are striking changes from what’s come before, yet both work perfectly well within the framework of the film and the series going forward.

If there is something negative to say, it would be the lack of character development in a few characters, most notably Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Rennar). After his entire family is dusted, Clint becomes a rogue vigilante, spreading his anger around the globe. Yet this activity isn’t given a lot of time to grow before it’s all but doused with his return to the Avenger fold. This makes it hard to connect with him on a level that warrants the emotion needed later in the film.

I was also slightly let down by the lack of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Bree Larson) in the actual film. Based on the way Carol was played up in Captain Marvel, it felt like she would have more of an influence in Endgame than she actual does. That’s not to say that the scenes she is in aren’t spectacular, I just expected her to be more than simply a Mighty Mouse deus ex machina.

There are certainly some expected pairings as the Avengers go on their final mission to reverse what happened in Infinity War, but it’s the pairings that we haven’t yet seen that are fun to watch. Rudd and Downey Jr. pair very well together as the yin and yang of technological brain power, and though I would have liked to have seen more of Downey Jr. and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), the interactions they do have are fun and exactly what you’d expect.

There are also a lot of character moments in the last hour that fall slightly short of expectations. On the other hand, there are a lot of character moments in that last hour that also exceed expectations, and that’s why most of the negatives can be forgiven. The actors bring their all to every scene they’re in, giving the audience exactly what they came to see.

We all knew going into Endgame that this would close the door on a major chapter in cinema history, and it’s everything you’d want and expect from not only Marvel, but superhero films in general. What it does right is subtly set up the future of the series. This may be the end of one chapter, but it is certainly not the end of the franchise. Reboot? Not in this universe. Like the comics, the characters will live on, but in slightly different iterations, and the story that was initially started in 2008 will continue for as long as fans continue to support them with their wallets and acclaim.

Thank you Marvel for ten years of pure marvelous entertainment. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for the next decade!

My Grade: A

Bonus Review:

Secretly part of the Conjuring Universe, The Curse of La Llorona does a good job with the haunted aspects of the film, but doesn’t develop the characters enough for us to fully become invested in their plight. B

Next week, new movies include The Intruder, Long Shot and UglyDolls. If you would like to see a review for one of these, or any other film out next week, please respond in the comments below.

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