“Avengers: Endgame” – Retreading the Waters

Going to see this (for the first time) at almost the earliest possible opportunity in Poland, I had this idea for a troll/late April’s Fools joke to schedule a tweet for around 1h into the screening saying something like “Ugh, Avengers Endgame is such a waste of time I left the cinema already”. I didn’t do it, but it was funny to see that in this particular case it might actually work…

I have a lot to say about the spoilerphobic culture in general, but this is not the time nor place for it. But I’ll still try to be as vague as possible. So, in very broad terms, this is basically MCU’s “Return of the King” in scope, impact and also the sheer number of endings. But this is the finale that MCU truly deserves, working their asses off over the last decade making comic book movies of general quality far above what blockbuster cinema has taught us to expect before. This was an enormous undertaking and the conclusion in “Endgame” truly does it justice.

It’s good, very entertaining and fulfilling. Is it better than “Infinity War” though? I had to watch it again to make sure that, indeed, it is not. And now I even know why.

“Infinity War” was groundbreaking in more ways than one. It made a villain its protagonist (it wasn’t an Avengers movie, it was a Thanos movie), it took us to many amazing new places (Vormir was beautiful) and it ended on a low note (“so… the good guys actually lost?” asked my wife the first time we watched it together, and yes, we’ve watched the same comic book movie together more than once, which is groundbreaking as well). There was simply no way “Endgame” could pull something like this again.

Fortunately, they seem aware of this, so instead they consciously made a decision to not even try to tread any new waters, but instead took us for a nostalgic trip on all that’s well known again. That’s not to say there’s nothing unexpected here – the first act is a never-before seen (in a Marvel movie, Nolan attempted this with his conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, but sadly failed) psychological trip to the land of failure, loss and guilt. This is easily the best part of the movie.

After that though we’re taken for an adventure that finds the way to bring joy to all fans who have been following the MCU over last 10 years regardless which of our superheroes were their favorite – there’s something here for everyone. Some of it didn’t work for me (I could do without the “eat a salad” scene), but some were truly brilliant (the elevator scene made me applause loudly). An argument could still be made against the unclear rules of this whole escapade – the movie specifically mentions other movies with similar theme noting that it “isn’t like them”, but doesn’t specify what they are instead, which made me scratch my head more than once. I see here a potential for a whole spin-off movie or series – maybe for the Disney+ platform? – that would focus on some details or the aftermath of these adventures, but I’m afraid this would never happen.

The biggest complaint about “Endgame” though is the usage of Captain Marvel. Sadly, because I love Brie Larson and the character of Carol Danvers, the nature of her appearance here not only undermines the final sacrifice of the Avengers, but also the existence of her whole introductory movie.

There are also places where “Endgame” went a little too far in its three hours runtime – the epic third act tries a tad too hard to give absolutely everyone something to do – but overall I wasn’t tired, had tons of fun and would gladly see it again. Parts of it, at least. That’s another indicator for “Infinity War” being a superior movie: I could (and had) watched it day after day, and every time in awe of it’s greatness. Here I do feel I can be tired of some elements of it already.

Aside from single scenes (Clint vs Natasha), I really couldn’t tell what would happen in the very next scene, and this in itself is a huge achievement for a Hollywood blockbuster in a series and a genre that all but overstayed its welcome, and then it took us to the ending (or endings, LOTR-style) that brings the journeys of every last one of its characters to a close, and very emotionally satisfying they are.

And yet, at the same time, “Endgame” opens up many more roads to go from here. Which I’m sure it will, as well it should. Because if Marvel keeps up the level of quality it got me used to, I will still be happy to follow.

You can read this and other reviews on my Letterboxd profile.

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