Avengers: Endgame

With all the inevitability of a purple half-giant snapping his fingers, the Avengers saga rumbles to a close, the world’s box offices crumbling before it.

*Spoilers will follow*

Endgame is a huge film, by anyone’s standards. It’s over three hours long, features more characters than can possible be done justice, and ties up a decade’s worth of background plots and credits-sting developments. That it does so without collapsing under its own lodestar weight is impressive, despite its limitations.

We resume just after the fatal *snap* that closed Infinity War, Thanos having zipped away to enjoy his cosmic retirement, and our surviving heroes feeling appropriately glum about it all. Heck, the previously overlooked Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) even got a new, utterly heinous haircut! Sequences showcasing their respective losses and grief are well-wrought, though.

But Thanos is still out there, and even without uttering the phrase “time travel” straight away, everyone knows that most of his damage could be reversed if they get those pesky Infinity Stones back. So messrs Thor (Hemsworth), America (Evans), Widow (Johansson), Rhodes (Cheadle) and Stark (RDJ) set off to put things right. Also a raccoon.

An opening salvo of quasi-resolution gives way to years of mourning, and then Paul Rudd’s unfathoming Ant-Man stumbles back on the scene to offer a potential Quantum Realm-based chink of hope. It’s hokey enough stuff, and sadly within the realms of predictability, but chops along at a fair old pace. We effectively watch three hour-long movies — After the Snap, A Heist in Time, and A Really Long Fight, and each has its merits.

Even that intensely long, intensely brown final battle earns some credit for juggling dozens of characters, suits, powers and cameos, including the popcorn mega-revival moment that we all turned up for. There’s no sense in pretending that, after 10 years invested, so many films endured, and so much incremental, snail-based character development, it isn’t satisfying to watch it come together.

That said, this isn’t the triumphant coronation some have welcomed it as. Infinity War was funnier, for one; more tightly-written and logical, for another, and brighter in palette. These are all considerable losses for Endgame. Its jokes are still fine, and its plotting clear enough to follow, and to choose not to question. But, for the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, it does still feel a little by-the-numbers.

Some conveniences do rankle, too, principally surrounding the terrific Brie Larson as Captain Marvel — introduced as a Deus Ex Machina
to resolve certain issues, she’s then ushered off-stage again, to await another timely return and equally unlikely cock-up when Thanos’s victory is at hand. For all the planning that goes into this universe, it still feels as though some characters just don’t fit into a credible, earthly drama with stakes that make sense in relation to each other. Cumberbatch’s Dr Strange is similarly kept busy by… a reservoir?

Marvel, and the Russo brothers, have pulled off a coup by making Endgame as enjoyable as it is. But we’re in the realm of comics now, of convoluted mythologies and powers that make no sense when pitted against each other, and with that come the same tedious debates and comparisons that nerd culture embraced so long ago. The thrill of seeing hero shots with literally every character Marvel has available is significant, but the reality of those lineups then fighting in a shared environment may never match their creators’ own ambition.

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