YIN/YANG REVIEWS: Avengers: Endgame
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
By Derek May:
I’m going to break the mold a bit with this one. Rather than reviewing two different films like I usually do, I’m going to concentrate solely on just this one. Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of a 21-film, 11-year interconnected franchise that seeks to service each of the several dozen characters introduced along the way while providing an emotionally satisfying resolution to one of the most epic and heartbreaking storylines ever put to celluloid.
I’d say that deserves some singular attention.
But with so much hinging on secrecy and surprise, it’d be hard to give a fair review without delving into some details (plus, dammit, I wanna). So the split this time is going to be between Non-spoilers and Spoilers. For those who haven’t seen the film, rest assured I will keep you unsullied. For those that have, continue through to the end. So let’s begin:
YIN: NON-SPOILER REVIEW
I’m hard pressed to think of a film that had this much riding on it, both in terms of audience expectations and in satisfyingly resolving such a massive and gut-wrenching cliffhanger from not only the last film, but the 20 before it. I’m relieved to report that Endgame does, indeed, succeed on almost every level, grounding its characters in the emotional reality of their devastating loss and in their resolute will to make things right.
But if you’re expecting a repeat of what we’ve seen before, you may be a little disappointed. The tone of this film is a visceral departure from Infinity War. The most accurate comparison I heard was that if Infinity War was Kill Bill Volume 1, then Endgame is Volume 2. The film starts out how you might expect, with the heroes reeling from the SNAP! felt across the universe that wiped out half of all life. A somber mourning is felt across the cosmos, and proves to the audience that there are indeed true repercussions to Thanos’ success, not to be easily undone. From there, however, directors Joe and Anthony Russo take us on a roller coaster that covers just about every genre you can imagine. As a final coming together of such a diverse slate of films, it seems only fitting that this finale would include the tones of each and every one. There’s comedy, horror, sadness, action, joy, tension, drama, pathos . . . you name it, it’s in there. Endgame is by far the most emotional film in the franchise (and that’s saying something), but it’s also quite possibly the most comic-booky (and that’s really saying something), using some conceits that could only work in a world of superheroes, aliens, and god-like powers.
As such, some elements tend to work better than others. A little levity to diffuse tension is perfect when used correctly—and it often is. But some jokes are beaten to death. Likewise, there is a definite feeling of fanboy nostalgia across much of the second act that, while certainly giddy fun, isn’t exactly the most logical setup possible. We therefore get something of a victory lap around the franchise. Sure, it may be well-earned, but it’s also a departure from the more realistic and grounded world we’ve come to expect.
But really, all of that can be set aside because the real coupe is in how well the Russo Brothers and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have treated their characters. With half of the new brood wiped out following Infinity War, we return to our original core team, and each is thoroughly mined for every nugget of agonizing turmoil. It would be easy to rely solely on the trauma of the previous films to carry the characters through this one but, never ones to take the easy way out, the filmmakers provide each Avenger with a current and meaningful journey to complete. Yes, that’s right, even after all that’s happened, they somehow manage to raise the stakes yet again.
What this means is that when the characters do complete their respective journeys, it’s a complete climax to both the past and present. And yes, there is a definite sense of completion with everyone (at least those who do not have a movie slated for the near future). Not all endings are happy ones, but not all endings are finite either. Despite the title, the goal was not necessarily to terminate but to resolve. Some doors close, others open. If this were to be the final installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, audiences would certainly feel satiated. But as we know it’s not, we feel a sense of readiness to move on, knowing that our beloved champions have been given their due, and see where the future takes the rest of our heroes.
A word of praise must be given to the acting tour de force of the magnificent cast. With dozens of the world’s best actors all sharing the same screen, it’d take a book to acknowledge each one. Suffice to say, comic book films get a general bad wrap for being hollow, silly popcorn fun without much dramatic depth. But if Infinity War began to sway any of those naysayers, then Endgame may seal the deal. None of that, however, occurs without the unabashed investment by the cast to cement these fantastical scenarios in an emotional reality that the audience can relate to. We may not know what it feels like to have super strength, or fly through the air on jets and wings, or watch an alien madman kill off half the universe. But we all know what it feels like to lose loved ones, to bitterly argue with your family and friends, to feel sadness, sorrow, or find humor in the unlikeliest (and even most inappropriate) situations. We know what it feels like gather the strength to pull ourselves up from the dirt after having been beaten down into it. And it’s these realities that our team of thespians bring forth.
That said, special props have to be given to the man who set it all off over a decade ago, Mr. Robert Downey Jr. As Tony Stark, Downey likely has the toughest job in the film—and the franchise—to move through just about every conceivable feeling along an amazing and effectively earned arc. There were times in this film he literally gave me chills, and more than one elicited tear. You never know what can happen, but I can’t think of a more satisfying performance to cap off a beautiful run. Every other member of the cast brings their A game, and most have a beautiful moment or two to really shine. Hell, for a while, Paul Rudd provides much of the dramatic tension, so that should tell you something. And for better or worse, if you’re a fan of the more comical direction Hemsworth has taken Thor, you’re likely to be happily surprised. If not, brace yourself . . .
In summary, Avengers: Endgame is not a perfect film, but it’s about as close as something of this magnitude is ever likely to get. Nothing like this has ever been done, and now having witnessed the aftermath, I can’t see how it could be again. There’s just no way this many characters, played by this many amazing actors, having been built up over this amount of time, to face stakes this high and this taxing . . . I mean, where do you go from here? Even if the recent acquisition of Fox by Disney means we may see an X-Men, Fantastic Four, and new Avengers crossover film, it still will not have been brought together in quite this way. This is something special, and quibbles aside, has been pulled off with enormous success. If you haven’t contributed your dollars to the $1 billion+ the film has already made, do so. You’re going to want to see this one on the big screen. After all, you’ve earned it.
YANG: SPOILER REVIEW
Still with me? Good. So from this point on, if you haven’t seen the film, please leave this page and go check out one of the other fantastic Flapper Press articles.
Ready? Ok, so let’s dive in.
The question that was on everyone’s mind over the past year has, of course, been how the Avengers were going to bring everyone back. We knew they had to, I mean, after all Spidey comes back swinging into theatres next month. (Though wouldn’t THAT have been the world’s biggest fake-out?) There was plenty of speculation about how it could be done, and the only thing we pretty much knew for sure was that it was somehow going to involve the Quantum Realm introduced through the Ant-Man films. Outside that, however, the other logical choice was to simply use the stones to undo what was done. What we ended up with was an