The year 2019 is a year of finality. “Game of Thrones” is in its last season, the Skywalker saga to the Star Wars series is supposedly wrapping up with “The Rise of Skywalker,” the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it is coming to an end and this is my final review since I’m graduating in a couple of weeks…
I turned to the MCU a lot while dealing with numerous bouts of self-hatred and nihilism. It provided a comfort, even when its quality tended to fluctuate. To see this series as it currently stands parallel my conclusion to college, as I transition into a world I’m not even sure wants me, I can’t help but feel melancholic as I write this.
If there’s one thought I wish to impart upon you, I would have to resort to a simple exclamation/question in order to do so. Here we go: Disney… what are you doing to me?!
If you read my “Dumbo” review, then you may remember I made a plea to the House of Mouse that they need to have more faith in their audience and, in doing so, can become the greatest movie studio in history. Well, even though this is impossible since “Avengers: Endgame” has been locked for quite some time now, they seem to have listened to me. What convinced me of that is how “Endgame” wastes no time in telling you what it’s all about. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where I felt such an extreme wave of catharsis right at the get-go. I’m not going to be okay for some time, that’s for certain.
So many, many emotions are coursing through me that it’s hard to focus on writing this. Love or hate the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we can’t deny it’s a type of serialized storytelling that hasn’t been seen outside of television before. Even its most forgetful film has a moment that bears some relevance here, and that’s no easy accomplishment. It’s a shame to think the series is going to continue in some way in just a few months with “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” but “Endgame” does a great job of setting up a new and strange world for us to dive back into. I wouldn’t go as far as to say everything following this will feel like an epilogue, but a ripple-effect will be felt in the series’ coming films.
If Marvel Studios has been accused of anything with this series, it’s their films lack consequences. “Endgame” is not that kind of film. It grabs you by the collar, and just when you think it’s going to let up, it punches you in the face—and just when you think it’s going to let up for real, it kicks you in the groin. It’s an emotional surplus while also being what a fan—casual or super—would come to expect in a grand finale that’s been 11 years in the making.
While there are noteworthy moments of pure geeky joy to be had—especially in an absolute bananas of a final act—a great deal of time is spent on character moments where people just have a conversation. This is to be expected when something like “Infinity War” is the lead-in. Sorry, but I’m going to spoil that film. If you haven’t seen it, then you likely aren’t going to; half of all life in the universe was wiped out and the Avengers—or what’s left of them—are reeling from the effects of Thanos’s life-evaporating snap. I can’t in good conscience blame a movie for addressing the kind of toll that would have on people, fictional or not. This, too, may be considered a spoiler, but expect a good half of the film to be a slow build, dedicated to establishing just exactly where these characters are at since we last saw them. Some may hate that, some may be surprised this monster of a blockbuster is actually attempting to establish an emotional core.
Like all films, “Endgame” has its moments where the tension is given a break and some levity is brought in. These moments don’t feel like Joss Whedon-moments from the original Avengers and its sequel, “Age of Ultron.” A criticism I’ve developed toward the director is how he takes potentially powerful sequences of catharsis and punctuates them with a quip. It’s never funny and we feel insulted as viewers. To me, it seems he thinks we can’t stand a moment or two of sincerity. As a consequence, Marvel adopted that into several films, which lasted until 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” a film I felt took a different and better route toward presenting humor and levity. “Endgame,” while a very different experience than “Ragnarok,” stays consistent with Marvel’s evolution. The film doesn’t fall victim to Whedon-isms, I guess is what I’m trying to say, which is a maturation for the series. More so than ever before, the quips feel organic and as though they’re coming from a bout of improvisation rather than meticulous engineering by the screenwriter.
Not only have we, the viewers, grown with these movies, Marvel Studios has too. What worked five or 10 years ago may not work today, and they understand that. A person like Joss Whedon would not have been able to make a movie like this. A person like Bryan Singer—who essentially brought the superhero genre into the new millennium with the original “X-Men” back in 2000—would also not have been able to make a movie like this. “Endgame” reflects the climate of an over-saturated genre and dares to be as refreshing as it is conclusive. I’m going to go out on a whim and assume all superhero films henceforth will be either referred to as “before ‘Endgame’” and “after ‘Endgame.’” That’s how impactful this movie, film, blockbuster is.
I took this job because talking about movies lets me escape from reality, albeit fleetingly. If you’ve read my reviews at all, then I cannot thank you enough for listening to me ramble. But I have to be honest, I didn’t do this because I thought I would gather a following. (Funny enough, I doubt I did, so I’m likely talking to the void right now.) It also wasn’t to show off my distorted knowledge of film. And it especially wasn’t to prove to an ex-girlfriend I can actually do this kind of thing. I did this for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
I didn’t know I wanted “Endgame.” Now that it’s here, I want it again, again and again. When the Harry Potter series wrapped in 2011, I was certain I would never again go on what felt like a cinematic journey of grand proportions. The MCU, and much later on, writing these reviews came and did just that. I guess you can say this is my “endgame.” 5/5