As with all these films, the best way to experience them is without any set expectations, and light on story information. With that in mind, if you want to go into Avengers: Endgame as blind as possible, you’re best stopping here and coming back after you’ve left the cinema.
For those that have done so, or if you’re not the type of person that considers someone’s response to a film – positive or negative – as something that might spoil your experience, read on through.
Avengers: Infinity War set the stage for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to bring its sprawling, 11 year cross-franchise project to a close, all with the snap of the arch-villain’s fingers. A year later, and with no end of teases, hints and fan theories, the Endgame is finally upon us. Does the finished product stick the landing?
Well, mostly. Without giving too much away – and god knows there are plenty of people who will go for the jugular if any story beat is let slip – the things I liked, I liked a lot, and the things that didn’t work really jarred with me.
Avengers: Endgame is a film that doesn’t concern itself with too much setup; after 21 films in a series, that’s probably forgivable. Instead, it’s an exercise in payoff for those who have followed the series since Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark declared to the world “I am Iron Man”.
I’ve no doubt that many will perceive much of what happens in Endgame‘s three hour runtime as naught but fan service, but for me it’s a film that, in so many ways, looks back at the journeys which the series’ heroes have taken to reach this point in their stories.
For me, the closest cinematic comparison would be with Return of the King, in wrapping up multiple story arcs for a raft of characters. It’s no spoiler to say that a film called Endgame is going to deliver some permanent conclusions, and in that regard the film certainly delivers. While there is definitely a future for the MCU in some shape or form – of course there is, the series has been printing money since its inception – Endgame feels like the first time that the series has come to a natural rest point. That said, it’ll be interesting to see where Marvel decides to go from here.
Continuing with the comparison, Endgame unfortunately shares the same issues which pop up in Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth closer: there are maybe too many endings for one film, and the film seems almost reluctant to see its heroes off as the farewells inevitably arrive.
In a way, that’s not too much of an issue, but the time devoted to those characters – and some of the choices made by the writers in how to portray them – left me at odds with the film worryingly often. Certain individuals disappear for 90% of the screen time, just when it feels like they should be getting a greater focus, and at least one major character gets a change which felt completely at odds with their development to date, and for me it ended up undercutting the rest of that person’s arc.
All of that said, the positive character developments far outweighed the negative, and while the narrative course that Endgame decides to take isn’t always a satisfying one, the moments of lightness combined with the emotional payoff which the story provides just about keeps things together. The best things about these films are its characters, and Avengers: Endgame makes the most of its diverse roster to deliver some really moving sequences.
Avengers: Endgame is not the film I expected it to be when going in, but coming out of the screening I can’t think of any other way it could have gone. It’s an imperfect, often perplexing, but ultimately rewarding end to this decade’s landmark cinematic series.