- 4 out of 5
Avengers: Endgame - I cried. Twice
Avengers: Infinity War ended on a downbeat note. It is a brave film that does so. Few get away with it - The Empire Strikes Back and Frank Darabont's film of Stephen King's The Mist are good examples with the latter being the bleakest end to a film you will ever experience. At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, half of the population including many of our favourite superheros are dead. This new film, Avengers: Endgame picks up right after the events of the first film with the remaining superheros despondent and despairing; some turning to family, some to the bottle.
It's not often that one has to have seen the previous Marvel superhero films but for this one you must have seen Avengers: Infinity War. If you haven't you will be totally at sea with this film. Indeed, to get the most out of this film, it helps to have seen most, if not all, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe output.
This is a film with three distinct Acts that vary completely in tone. The first Act is an exploration of grief over the loss of friends and loved ones. Despair runs deep and there does not appear to be much hope. This is a brave way to start a film. There is no big opening action sequence, no exposition, just talking heads and the beginnings of recovery and acceptance. Some hang up their superhero costumes and settle down to raise families. Others lose themselves in a bottle while some join support groups and keep looking for answers. A vague plan begins to hatch when Ant Man (Scott Lang) returns from the Quantum Realm where he went at the end of Ant Man and the Wasp which leads us to Act Two.
The middle Act sees our characters return to their previous lives as they plot to undo the damage done by the villainous Thanos. This Act has a lot of humour and a lot of heart. We see our characters at their most vulnerable. The final Act is what you would expect - the showdown with Thanos. However there are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing.
All along our heroes discuss the price to be paid for what they do and the lives they lead. This discussion is a portend of latter events in the film. It's not a masterpiece of cinematic history however in terms of telling a story on such a huge canvas, it is truly incredible. The story telling is on point and gives each of our characters a successful arc. There are a few plot holes but if you let yourself go with the story, all will be good. There is more focus on humanity and emotion than in any other previous Marvel film and it lifts this one to a higher level.
Avengers: Endgame is the end of an era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it serves as a giant sequel to every MCU film ever. It made me cry. Twice. Let me say that again. For only the second time ever, a Marvel superhero film made me cry. The last one to do that was Logan and the first Act of Endgame is tonally very close to Logan.
It's big. It's messy. Parts of it are all over the place but its heart is in the right place. It showcases humanity from despair to hope, from loss to gain, victory to defeat and from birth to death. The bigger these films got, the more the Avengers failed, and the more human they became.
I cried. Twice.