Watching the grand finale of The Avengers franchise, I was acutely aware that the film is absolutely critic proof. It does not matter what any of us say, this film is going to be a massive part of pop culture. Suffice to say it is the most anticipated film of the spring.
Readers are aware I am not a fan of the genre; I believe we are over run with superhero films. While I loved The Dark Knight (2008) and consider it a cinematic masterpiece, the only others to come remotely close to that level of genius have been the magnificent Wonder Woman (2017) and the Oscar nominated Black Panther (2018). There have been a lot of middling films made in the superhero genre, and a few stinkers, The Green Lantern (2011) by far the worst.
Endgame is a massive film, long at three hours, but to the credit of the actors, director and writers, the film breezes by, never feeling 180 + minutes. Loaded with action, great visual effects and familiar characters who survived Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his apocalyptic finger snap. So many of the Avengers died with that snap, including Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy and more. We watched helplessly as many of them were turned to dust as their friends watched. Most haunting was the death of Peter Parker, still a teenager, falling down clutching Tony Stark weeping that he did not want to go, he did not want to die. It is amazing how these characters, these superheroes created by Stan Lee, have come to mean so much to audiences.
Now, going forward with Endgame, it is not to much of a spoiler to state a great deal of the film is spent trying to find a way to reverse the deaths Thanos brought on.
Let’s remember who survived. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Rocket the raccoon from Guardians, the Hulk and coming to help is Captain Marvel, portrayed by Brie Larson fresh from her own blockbuster, Captain Marvel (2019).
The group forges a bond to find Thanos and stop him, but also to try and find a way to restore the lives of their friends.
Robert Downey Jr. has always portrayed Tony Stark/Iron Man with just the right amount of humour, cockiness and courage, but it was gutsy enough to portray him as both arrogant and sanctimonious. The deaths of his friends has sobered him, and there is a true sadness to Stark in this film. It is the deepest Downey Jr. has gone with his character, and he proves to be the beating heart of the Avengers.
As Captain Marvel, who might hold the key to defeating Thanos, Brie Larson is a welcome addition to the group. Standing tall, Larson is terrific in the film, as expected.
It is great to see Stark and Captain America (Chris Evans) make peace fora common fight, and Bruce Banner, badly beaten as Hulk by Thanos, is traumatized but reaches down to find his inner Hulk, exploding into action. Mark Ruffalo has managed to bring the humanity Eric Bana and Edward Norton lacked as Bruce Banner and the big green guy, the Hulk. Scarlett Johansson has been solid throughout the series as the deadly Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner is outstanding, as always.
I am not going to spoil the film by writing about the outcome and who survives and who dies for good (well, until the studio decides to recast him/her in a new film). Never forget, in 15 years three different actors have portrayed Peter Parker/Spider-Man over several films. Sometimes it seems to make no difference who wears the suit. I worry that in a short time we will have a new Tony Stark, Captain America; all of them recast in a new Avengers. Let’s face it, the film is a massive cash cow for Marvel and Disney, and Disney is known for its greed.
I will give the film this much, it never disappoints, and is a hugely fine finish to the story of the Avengers. Fans – in fact no one watching the film – will be disappointed. It is an emotional roller coaster, a rollicking good time.