Warning- Review contains Spoilers
After eleven years and 21 films, the Russo brothers had a lot riding on their shoulders to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the ‘Infinity Saga’. Avengers: Endgame does exactly that and justifies the hype that Marvel has generated around the film. Poignant, heart-breaking, thrilling and epic. Avengers: Endgame sees a decade of storytelling brought to a fulfilling culmination, carrying multiple character arcs to a close, but also setting the foundations for the MCU’s future.
Multiple fan theories which mused that the Avengers would undo the decimation by travelling into the past to collect the Infinity stones were proved accurate. Scott Lang’s escape from the Quantum realm thanks to a universe-saving rat, combined with Tony Stark’s genius, enables the remaining Avengers to pluck the stones from the past and build an Infinity gauntlet of their own. The MCU’s rules of time travel are clearly explained without delving into too much exposition. Interestingly, the concept takes on a very different form compared to other films, whereby altering the past does not change the future. Instead the future becomes the time traveller’s past and inevitable. Any alteration to previous events creates a new timeline at the moment of change, bringing Doctor Strange’s introduction of the multiverse into the fore and presenting opportunities for new forms of storytelling in the future.
Tony’s bumble thanks to an angry hulk who doesn’t like stairs means that the 2012 version of Loki is able to nab the Tesseract and make his escape, potentially setting up his Disney Plus series with the original version of Loki sadly remaining dead in Endgame. The limited screen time that the fan favourite is afforded sees him up to his usual delightful antics, mocking Captain America and the Hulk, and using any situation to his advantage.
The rules presented in Endgame initially appear a little confusing, and if you think about them too hard you can be left with more questions than answers, for example how Captain America was able to return to the past to reunite with Peggy without creating another alternate timeline. The Avenger’s decision to return the fallen five years after the decimation also carries significant ramifications for humanity: loved ones return after people have managed to move on with their lives, and whilst those who were snapped have not aged, surviving spouses will suddenly find themselves five years older than their significant other.
However, the alternate timeline theory was the only way that the events of the films since the first Avengers could be preserved. The heroes’ journey through previous marvel films evokes fans nostalgia to the fullest and makes for some comic moments. Take away the music from the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Lord’s sing along suddenly looks much less cool. It also enables some of the film’s most poignant moments, such as Tony’s conversation with his Father in 1970 and Thor’s heart to heart with his Mother during the events of Thor: The Dark World, which makes him realise that failure is an acceptable part of life even for a God.
Our heroes’ failure to prevent Thanos from wiping out half of all life in the universe left them in a dark place. Yet it is a testament to the skill of screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely that the film is simultaneously amusing and emotionally devastating. Thor’s “I went for the head” when the Avengers dispatch Thanos surprisingly early on in the film, draws a laugh from the audience, but also reminds us of the immense guilt upon the God of Thunder’s shoulders.
A number of fans have taken issue with the shockingly different appearance of Thor for the majority of the film, stemming from his failure to stop Thanos, but the way he is characterised in Endgame is a compelling part of his character arc. Driven into depression by the enormous losses he suffered in Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War, he retreats into alcohol and food for comfort. Gone are the chiselled abs, replaced by a beer-belly and matted hair to reflect his mental anguish. Yet after everything that he has suffered, this new direction makes sense for Thor and was not just a case of an overweight character being played for laughs. The fat jokes may have been overdone slightly (we’re looking at you Rhodey) but to see Thor at such a place reveals the human in the God, as he comes to accept who he is. Thor made it clear in Dark World that he had no desire to rule and Endgame frees him from the burden in the best way possible.
The final showdown against 2014-era Thanos is one of the most epic fight scenes in the entire MCU to date, as for the first and last time nearly all of the Avengers, old and new assemble to defeat the Mad Titan and his army. A female team up is particularly awesome. Although some may see this scene as too forced, it draws attention to the diversity that Marvel has brought to the superhero genre. Fans who were concerned that Captain Marvel would swoop in and overshadow the original Avengers would have been satisfied that the climatic moment is awarded to Tony Stark, the character who spawned a cinematic universe. Tony’s death was bittersweet, as he is finally able to rest, sacrificing the happiness that he had managed to find in the face of the Avengers failure.
Whilst this action sequence was truly powerful, Endgame is fundamentally more of a character driven piece compared to Infinity War, providing a more fitting goodbye for the original Avengers team and giving each member their moment to shine. True to its name, the film sees the end of some big faces. Ironman and Captain America had been expected, but Black Widow’s death came as a big surprise. The scene had you on edge throughout as Natasha and Clint rolled closer to the edge in their bid to be the one to sacrifice themselves for the Soul Stone.
Endgame’s focus on character is to be applauded, but the amount of plot it needed to bring to a conclusion means that there are a couple of relationships that are pushed to the side. Considering Steve and Bucky’s friendship has been a central dynamic to the Captain America franchise, the duo’s reunion feels a little rushed. Some fans have been disappointed that Captain America passed his legacy onto Falcon, but considering that Bucky is still coming to terms with the dreadful deeds Hydra forced him to perform, Sam Wilson was the best character to bear the shield.
Avengers: Endgame looks set to displace Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time, and such an achievement, to me, would be well deserved for arguably the world’s most successful film franchise of all time.