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AVENGERS: ENDGAME | Spoiler Review

26 Apr

I got up this morning to go and watch Avengers: Endgame a second time. After working the midnight release, and checking the screens, I continued to notice little things that I wanted to experience again – so with today being my day off, I went back to the cinema for a rewatch.

With that in mind, I’m going to discuss the film in full. However, it will be exceptionally spoiler heavy, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, do not read this review. Don’t click ‘read more’. Don’t even look at the tags. Go watch this movie. But if you’re needing something to read, my original review can be found here.

RELEASED: April 25th 2019
DIRECTED BY: Joe & Anthony Russo
WRITTEN BY: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Alan Silvestri
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lily, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Linda Cardellini, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Vin Diesel, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, William Hurt, Maximiliano Hernández, Frank Grillo, Jacob Batalon, Robert Redford, Ross Marquand, Kerry Condon, Callan Mulvey, Ty Simpkins, James D’Arcy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Emma Fuhrmann, Joe Russo & Josh Brolin

The movie starts concurrently with Infinity War, as we get to see the effects of the snap on Hawkeye, who loses his whole family. Throughout this movie, Jeremy Renner gives a great performance – one of the best, in fact. We’ve seen Hawkeye show up several times across this ‘Infinity Saga’, but this is perhaps the first time that Renner gets to show true emotional depth in a way that justifies Hawkeye’s existence alongside our other major heroes. He goes through an incredible arc, growing and becoming a different person to who he starts out as, something that he’s been unable to do with the material given to him in prior movies.

Then, we get to the present day, 23 days after ‘the decimation’. Captain Marvel rescues Iron Man and Nebula from space, and the Avengers regroup at the compound. The next two scenes are fascinating for a number of reasons. The first is due to the continued tension between Iron Man and Captain America, and speaks to, in part, why Civil War is one of my favourite movies. Even three years on (real time), it still has a lasting impact on these characters, as the two heroes don’t just make up and become friends again. There’s still friction, and it’s definitely the more interesting way for the Russo Brothers and writers Markus and McFeely to build on prior events. This is true of a lot of content in this movie – they rarely choose the obvious option, instead opting to make a film that’s different and interesting. This continues to be the case as the Avengers, now with Captain Marvel in tow, fly into space to confront Thanos, only to discover he’s destroyed the Infinity Stones, and in a fit of rage, Thor decapitates him, claiming this he ‘went for the head’. All is seemingly lost, showcasing that this isn’t the movie most people thought it would be. It’s an excellent subversion of expectations.

Five years pass, and we see Ant-Man finally escape from the Quantum Realm. He then acts as our point-of-view character, of sorts, and we get to see how a lot of the characters have changed quite a bit, as he suggests a plan to restore the world to its former glory, and tags along with Captain America and Black Widow to reunite the team.

It’s this point that led to me stating in my non-spoiler review that this is a very different type of film to those that have come before.

Post-time jump, Bruce Banner has fused his two personalities, keeping the body of the Hulk, but with his mind still in control. This is one of the more interesting performances I feel, because despite it being mostly CGI (a great job from the visual effects team) he manages to convey a wealth of very human emotion on a scale we’ve not seen from the Hulk before. This is very much the work that made Thanos seem so realistic taken to the next level, and that’s helped tremendously by Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of this ‘Professor Hulk’. I may be wrong here, but it seemed like he even put on a slightly different accent, which I feel could be a reference to the comic book Hulk persona ‘Joe Fixit’ – he has a tang of ‘mob boss’ in his speech, and just goes to show how rich this film is – there’s a wealth of in-your-face content, but also little hidden gems that people may not notice.

The flip side of that is what people have dubbed ‘Fat Thor’. Thor’s response to his previous failures has been to become a recluse in ‘New Asgard’, drinking his days away in the company of Korg and Miek. As such, he’s put on a fair bit of weight, in a fat suit that always looks a bit off, and makes his costume look a little weird later on if you focus on it for too long. Alongside this, he’s taken his ‘noble goofball’ personality established in Ragnarok and heightened it. Sometimes, it works, and it can be heartbreaking to see this once Godly being having been reduced to a bit of a snivelling mess. There are some scenes later on where you can see he’s been humbled like never before, and Chris Hemsworth manages to squeeze some great emotional performances out of this new situation, as well as demonstrate his perfect comedic chops. However, at other times, it feels like a bit too much, and becomes, in my opinion, one of the few detriments to the film.

I also feel like while Thor’s character is consistent with his Ragnarok post-credits – Infinity War arc, a lot of what he goes through here continues to undo his arc from Thor 1-3. It’s a shame, but I guess two-thirds of that trilogy aren’t very highly regarded.

It’s the scene that precedes Thor’s reveal that makes me want to give a particular shoutout to the music in this movie. Alan Silvestri does his best Marvel work here (perhaps his best work of all time – I’m not overly familiar with his non-superhero work), with an epic score that’s mixed in with some very well placed songs. One such example is ‘Supersonic Rocket Ship’ by The Kinks, which plays over Rocket and Hulk sitting in the back of a truck as their driven into New Asgard. The scene plays like a European Road Trip movie, but featuring Marvel Superheroes. It looks really goofy and I love it.

With the team reassembled and a plan put in place, we finally get to the main reason spoiler reviews are so important with this movie. One of the major facets of Avengers: Endgame is something that’s not hinted at in the trailers is that this is a time-travel movie (although I suppose with the knowledge of the Ant-Man & the Wasp end-credits scene and a keen eye, you could come to the conclusion that the Avengers all have a shared uniform because they need to enter the Quantum Realm and travel back in time, but whatever).

I knew this already, due to set photos a year or two ago showing Paul Rudd hanging around with Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo on a set directly plucked from the 2012 Avengers film. On first viewing, even though they do explain it, I wasn’t sure everything made sense. I’m still not 100% on it, but I do think most of it holds up. Basically, they can go back in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones, and their actions won’t change the past, because changing the past creates a new timeline. However, once they’re done, they need to return the Infinity Stones so as to not create a load of branching dark alternate realities. I’m not really sure how Thanos’ role in this whole thing works, but we’ll come back to that later.

Blue: Avengers, Purple: Thanos, Red: The Vanished

This allows the Avengers to travel back through the Quantum Realm, and revisit the movies Avengers Assemble, Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy, where three teams of Avengers have to each retrieve the Infinity Stones present (or in close proximity to) these films. In this regard, this film really acts like a love-letter to the MCU, reminding us of the good (Avengers) and the bad (The Dark World), but finding excellent parts of all of it (such as unexpected cameos from Rene Russo and Tilda Swinton, both of whom shine). This time travel sees extra scenes added to the timeline of those movies, as the Avengers interact with their past – such as War Machine and Nebula watching Star-Lord sing along to ‘Come and Get Your Love’, and Captain America, Iron Man and Ant-Man trying to steal the Scepter and the Tesseract from the 2012 Avengers after they’ve captured Loki.

The action finally comes into play here, as Captain America runs into his past self and the two duke it out due to past Cap thinking future Cap is Loki in disguise.

Things get really interesting in the 2014 portion of the film, as Hawkeye and Black Widow discover the only way to retrieve the Soul Stone is through sacrifice. The two try to overcome one another to sacrifice themselves, but ultimately it’s Black Widow whose life is ended. When I first saw this film, I didn’t really feel much here, but the second time around, I found it a lot more emotional, especially considering her last words to the rest of the Avengers are ‘see you in a minute’ (ie. once they’ve returned to the present). It’s a fitting end to Black Widow’s journey; an untrusting loner who’s become someone who will do anything for her ‘family’ making the ultimate sacrifice based purely on her faith in her friends. As a result, I started to well up a bit – not full blown crying, but my eyes were definitely watering. It was teary time (however, I do think it’s kind of strange that the two most prominent female characters in this series were both killed off in the same way).

Adding a further wrinkle to the story is the fact that Nebula’s arrival in 2014 syncs her cybernetics up with her past self, allowing Thanos to learn of the Avengers’ plans and send his ‘daughter’ to infiltrate the group and bring the villain and his armies to the present. On top of that, while Cap obtains the sceptre, Iron Man and Ant-Man lose the Tesseract, forcing Tony and Steve to make a risky jump even further back in time to obtain the Space Stone and get some more Pym Particles for the return journey.

It’s here that the set-up for Iron Man’s last outing really comes into play, as this extra journey is basically an opportunity for Iron Man to get some closure with his father Howard Stark (played once again by John Slattery), before all the remaining Avengers reunite in the present.

Here, we get a bit of time for the heroes to mourn Black Widow’s death, before they assemble their own Infinity Gauntlet and ‘snap’. However, before they can figure out whether it’s worked, past Thanos’ war ship enters the present and demolishes the Avengers compound. Hawkeye is forced to keep the Gauntlet out of the hands of the outriders, Ant-Man and Hulk try to save War Machine and Rocket from drowning, while Captain America, Iron Man and Thor (dual wielding Stormbreaker and a Mjölnir that he stole from the past) confront Thanos.

The following battle is pretty intense, as Thanos proves himself to be a formidable foe in spite of his lack of Infinity Stones. I feel like Josh Brolin didn’t get a whole lot of time to shine this time around, but the character of Thanos proves himself to be an excellent villain in actions alone. After Iron Man and Thor are taken down, a moment Captain America fans have been waiting for for years occurs – and Captain America faces off against Thanos alone, now with Mjölnir in hand. This one-on-one fight happens pretty quickly, but it’s a true spectacle to behold; the fight choreographers go mental on this one, taking everything they’ve built over the Russo’s other films with Captain America, and adding in the element of a lightning casting weapon. Obviously, though, there’s more film to go – Captain America gets beaten down, as Thanos’ armies land on Earth.

The next shot is a beautiful one, as, amid the ruins of the compound, Captain America stands alone, ready to face off against Thanos’ hordes. I honestly thought this was going to be his end – going down fighting thousands by himself, but what happens next is even better. Cap’s last stand is interrupted by an ‘On your left’, as several portals open and the fallen heroes from Infinity War, flanked by the Asgardians, the Masters of the Mystic Arts and the Wakandan army. Cap reclaims Mjölnir, Ant-Man sizes up with Hulk, Rocket and War Machine in hand and we finally (finally!) get to hear Cap shout Avengers Assemble. Seeing all these heroes together at once – two armies facing down – the true culmination of ten years of building this universe… It may be one of my favourite sequences in cinematic history. Teary time #2.

Seriously, this sequence alone makes the film a contender for most enjoyable superhero movie of all time. The fight is amazing. Hawkeye, Black Panther and Spider-Man have a fun sequence trying to keep the Gauntlet out of enemy hands. Captain Marvel makes a fantastic reappearance (she’s used quite sparingly in this movie, but when she does show up, she’s very memorable) and the ladies of Marvel get an assembly shot and their time to shine.

That last part, in particular, is impressive, considering the growth Marvel has had with its female heroes, even if a lot of them haven’t gotten their own movies. It does feel a bit weird if you give it any thought though because all the men just suddenly stop helping them so they can have their time and be the only ones in the shot. But whatever, it’s an achievement worth highlighting.

Of course, there needs to be a real sense of danger in a movie like this, so eventually Thanos manages to get his hands on the gauntlet, forcing Iron Man to make the sacrifice play after Doctor Strange hints its the only way to win. Taking the gauntlet for himself, Iron Man has a great exchange with Thanos that calls back to Iron Man, snaps his fingers and ‘dusts’ all the bad guys, before dying.

It was very fitting (and inevitable, to be honest) that Iron Man would be the one to save the day. Robert Downey Jr.’s performance here is once again excellent (as is his performance throughout) and he makes his departure a truly beautiful moment as he interacts with Don Cheadle, Tom Holland and Gwyneth Paltrow. He’s been through so much; both the actor and the character – and to see Tony Stark go from a nonchalant playboy to a loving father willing to give his life for the greater good over the course of eleven years is perhaps one of the most incredible hero journeys of all time.

The film then goes about tidying up loose ends, giving Iron Man a funeral with the majority of the main players in attendance, that works both as an Iron Man sendoff and a showcase of the legacy that film has. Although neither his death nor his funeral moved me to tears, I found the conversation between his daughter Morgan and Happy Hogan (OG creator Jon Favreau) to be particularly poignant – the relationship Tony’s had with both of these characters have always been especially touching and amusing, and it’s a shame it’s come to an end (teary time #3).

We then move on to see Thor departing Earth in a very funny exchange with the Guardians (which actually makes me excited for Guardians Vol. 3 now, I confess I wasn’t that excited before), and Captain America setting off the return the Infinity Stones to their correct time, and consequently live out his life in the past.

The last we see of Steve Rogers, he’s an old man (looking pretty good for someone nearing 200) passing on the shield to Sam Wilson. Anthony Mackie adds to the list of excellent performances here, and I’m excited to see what he’ll be like as the new Captain America. Something about Steve’s ending still didn’t quite resonate with me though – I like it in theory, but it’s not what I personally was wanting or expecting. But it works.

I’m happy he finally got that dance with Peggy though.

Finally, although there are no end-credits scenes, the start of the credits at least, are worth sticking around for. The above music plays as we get a character card for every major character in Endgame. In my mind, this look back on the series’ history is a good substitute for the lack of another scene, and for some reason it got to me again (teary time #4), and is the perfect ending to the ‘Infinity Saga’, as the core Avengers’ character cards literally have them signing off.

It’s both beautiful and heartbreaking, just like this film.

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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in MARVEL, Marvel Studios

 

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