Kevin Feige, you knew what you were doing.
Or at least, somewhere in the last five years you figured it out.
“Avengers: Endgame,” a part two to last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” faces the difficult task of not only following up one of the biggest movies in recent years that ended on an enormous cliffhanger, but also serve to, in a sense, wrap up a culmination of 21 previous movies in what has become the second-biggest, next to James Bond, and arguably one of the most culturally impactful movie franchises in history.
After Thanos has successfully achieved his goal of snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all living creatures in the universe at the end of “Infinity War,” the remaining Avengers, having lost half of their team members, are themselves lost, suffering with the defeat and uncertain about what to do. Five years has passed and the world is still rocked by the decimation. But when the remaining heroes discover a way to potentially undo “the snap” and bring everyone back, the race is on.
The approach to reversing the damage done in the previous movie does stretch beyond the typical established reality. I know, in a universe where alien planets, sorcerers, Norse gods and quantum realms, it’s hard to believe that anything can be considered too far-fetched. Their approach is nothing that hasn’t been pre-established beforehand, but it does seem to push the envelope into “deus ex machina” plot device territory. At the same time, while cliche, it does lend itself to some impressive sequences and visuals. Let’s just say, “Endgame” is just as much a new storyline as it is a look back on the stories that came before it. Just make sure you’ve done your homework before seeing it.
MUch like “Infinity War,” the movie suffers at times by trying to do so much in all in one movie. There seems to be a lack of consistent pacing, particularly in the first two hours of the three-hour runtime. Some scenes, while dragged out for emotional impact, stretch a bit too long; other light-hearted or comedic ones, while a nice tonal compliment, seem better fit for the cutting room floor. By the halfway mark, it seems the movie is trying to make up for lost time by “yada yada”-ing its way through plot explanation, just expecting audiences to go along with it.
Once the main plot picks up and the characters aren’t just sitting around talking, the real fun begins. As mentioned before, the plot structure allows for some impressive actions sequences, though the final hour is truly what fans have been wanting to see for years now: all your heroes lined up and ready to do battle. And while there are petty gripes here and there (nearly half the characters are relegated to two lines or less, a few shoe-horned-in social commentary moments), it certainly does not disappoint.
While “Infinity War” gave an unusual amount of focus on Thanos, diving into his character and backstory (making him one of the best and most well-rounded Marvel cinematic villains to date), “Endgame” redirects the focus back onto the remaining Avengers, particularly Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. As a result, Thanos slips back into the role of a typical Marvel villain, spouting mostly cliche bad-guy dialogue and staring menacingly. Obviously, the audience should expect that his established character traits from “Infinity War” carry over into “Endgame,” but with a stripped-back focus and less screen time, it feels like a step backwards for villian development.
The issues with the movie are largely the same issues with “Infinity War” and a number of other Marvel properties, ones that the studio has apparently come to embrace. A visit to one particular planet that was visited in “Infinity War” plays out much the same as in “Infinity War,” complete with rushed emotional development that, despite the movie’s attempts to convince you is genuine, certainly does not feel it.
All in all, “Avengers: Endgame” feels like what a Part Two should be, building upon the character development for the first movie and spurring off a climatic cliffhanger, all while increasing the stakes and the scope. While the main plot device feels contrived, getting beyond it and just accepting it for what it is opens up a world of excitement and action on a scale never seen before. “Avengers: Endgame” celebrates the universe Marvel has created, and sends the franchise out on a high note.