One keeps groaning about the nature of franchise film-making but at the end of Avengers, I felt this decade-long relationship between the movies and me had grown too deep to permit any cynicism. It’s time to acknowledge — I had a blast.
Of the 22 films produced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, standalone origin stories or connect-the-dots superhero alliances concerned with long-term plot outcomes — some dazzled, some fizzled out.
But the stakes got higher and the enthusiasm grew progressively communal with every passing end credits tip-off. That it was all escalating into something bigger and bolder than the previous scene of destruction was certain. That it would also achieve soul along the way turned out to be the real surprise.
People became superheroes and people again, gaining an identity beyond their cool costumes, extraordinary strength and skilful weaponry. One’s wit, another’s wisdom, the coming together of such contrasting ideologies provided both conflict and Vision.
If Avengers: Infinity War zoomed in on the antagonism of Thanos (Josh Brolin) and came dangerously close to seeing sense in his Malthusian views, its 181-minutes long second and final half, Avengers: Endgame is a rumination on time and nostalgia after the purple philosophical maniac has wiped off half of Earth’s population and left it in complete despair.
What ensues is unexpectedly poignant and genuinely satisfying.
The world is still reeling from the aftereffects of his horrifying ‘snap’ in the sombre opening scene of Avengers: Endgame. Do anything take us out of this gloom plays gently in the endless space. This line from rock band Traffic’s Dear Mr Fantasy perfectly summarises the forlorn mood of its invincible saviours at their most defeated.
Their foe might not necessarily be at peace either. A telling image of the Mad Titan’s bulky armour hung up like a scarecrow in the fields says a lot about him that the film leaves unsaid.
Sensing his enormous charisma, resulting in one of the most memorable villains of this decade, would once again dominate over the titular superheroes, the Russo Brothers — Joe and Anthony (who also directed Infinity War) — shrewdly sideline his presence to focus on retribution.
Time has hurt and not quite healed. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) may have picked up the pieces, but fresh starts cannot erase painful memories.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has turned into The Dude from that Coen Brothers movie. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are sulking. Captain America (Chris Evans) is mellower than usual. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) seems okay and that’s what makes it bizarre.
The damage is too severe, but spirit and sense of humour (often at the expense of Back to The Future) persevere as the Avengers alongside War Machine (Don Cheadle), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillian) and the freshly minted Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) assemble to embark on the ‘fight of our lives’.
As stunning such spectacles are, they’d feel empty if not for the friendship and banter suffusing the screen with charm as they get past over matters of politics, physicality and past transgressions.
Avengers: Endgame may sell a lot of toys, but its details and symbolism reveal a landscape beyond fun. Of miracles in the shape of Marvel and inner conflicts that pit future and past, enlightenment and ignorance. Of diversity and inclusivity, race and sex. Of entitlement and ethics, snap or save.
When you’ve savoured these delightful characters and their lovingly developed arcs as ardently as its collectively cheering audience has, including yours truly, it’s like you’re inside the mind of a movie and one with it.
For all the studio’s paranoia over spoilers and secrecy, I could anticipate the surprises and shocks in store purely on instinct not predictability. The Russo Brothers appreciate how invested this fandom and celebrates it through a culmination that screams glory beyond words.
Avengers: Endgame is a three hour-long emotionally draining, exhilarating, electrifying goodbye.
Did I cry? Yes. Did I smile? Yes. Did I get goosebumps? YES! Do I want to watch it again? Of course! Do I believe this is the end? Not quite. I am inevitable, repeats Thanos. So is the world of Avengers.