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#TAPReviews | “Avengers: Endgame” Movie Review

A 10-year saga finds its final chapter. Will it be all worth it?

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Marvel has reached a new milestone. Heralding the end of a culmination of a 10-year, 22-film run stands the epoch of an era. The movie they have been hyping and building towards, appropriately entitled Avengers: Endgame.

The team and the universe as we know it was plunged into purgatory as Thanos laid waste to half of all living creatures. Now the Avengers, the ones that remaining anyway, are up for some get back. They have to at least live up to their namesake.

So, exactly how great a send-off was Avengers: Endgame? Endgame has been teased as the capstone to a colossal effort to interweave a plethora of movies. An interconnection of movies the likes of modern cinema has never seen before. But does this MCU quilt of patch films come at a cost?

Let’s get the snappin’.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

#DontSpoilTheEndgame

“We’re In The Endgame Now”

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Fifty per cent. Half of all the universe’s population reduced to dust. At the snap of the finger. Thanos’ lifelong dream of population control stood fulfilled. And we had to relive these moments yet again. This time, from the viewpoint of Hawkeye enjoying family time. His eagle-eye alertness was not even quick enough to witness his children and wife turn to cinerary as it happened.

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Meanwhile, Iron-Man and Nebula await their demise on an unpowered ship adrift in the middle of nowhere, galaxies away from outer space. But hope takes the for Marvel’s angelic Super Saiyan – Captain Marvel. And as soon as the remaining team returns to Avengers headquarters, the very human instinct of bloody vengeance is hot on their tongues and blades. The plan is to use the infinity stones to return everyone back. But by the time they track down the tyrant-turn-farmer Thanos, the stones are gone. Destroyed. “Irretrievable”. And Thor ends up taking the advice Thanos gave him right before the genocidal snapping of his fingers in Infinity War. Always a fan of a great beheading.

Now, with no stones and hope, the world seems to dip into chaos, and peace in a way. The Hudson is clean for one. When has that ever been true? But when Ant-Man shares a crazy plan after – by blind luck – escaping the quantum realm the Avengers travel the breadth and width of time and space to find the stones pre-Infinity War.

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And whilst they try their best to avoid the same problem plots in Back 2 The Future, Past Thanos gets wind of the time-travelling avengers. It’s worth noting the Conquest-driven Thanos will not go as quietly as the retired-Conquerer/farmer Thanos. And the final battleground will be a scurry to who can get to the Infinity Stones first.

The Thanos Effect 👌

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Five years after the remaining Avengers exact their revenge on the Thanos living his simple-life, the true effects of the *snap* extinction-level event are far-spread and categorically transformative.

Iron Man revokes his playboy status and settles down with Miss Potts and has a Daughter. Black Widow finally has emotive range and seemingly retires from performing her signature scissor-kick takedowns. Hawkeye goes to exotic locations (where all corruption is rooted apparently) and becomes an organised-crime slaughter machine. The Hulk is, for all arguments sake, a eunuch (which really started when Thanos beat him into submission in Infinity War). A revelation that has effectively near-killed off any hope of ever seeing an epic fight between Wolverine and ‘the strongest there is’.

However, the one person who has changed the most, undoubtedly, is Thor. He is chunky. Not the good type of stocky-fat you would get in a classical render of a Nordic god. We’re talking dipsomaniac-fat. Out here looking like a trash Lebowski.

But the lasting effect we wished Avengers: Endgame focused on a bit more is whether Thanos 50% plan actually made the world a better place. Captain America hinted at there being less pollution and whales being in the Hudson River. But a deeper conversation as to whether Thanos had the right idea, especially from the more astute, practical minds of the thinkers and scientists – your Iron Mans and your Banners. Entertaining the idea would have made for an interesting debate and viewpoints. In addition to whether the Avengers’ personal feeling was worth tipping the balance of this devastating but new-found equilibrium.

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This, connectively, would also lead to the philosophical question of whether Thanos was pure evil or just willing to take on the onus of saving the universe by any means. Factually-speaking, Thanos halved the population of all living things but did not seek to rule over or dominate the remaining life. This arguably takes him out of the tyrant/despot conversation.

Furthermore, Thanos using stones a second time to destroy the stones was not a power play. It was a means to avoid ‘temptation’. To avoid becoming a slave to greed and power. Thanos, arguably, is the most self-actualised character in the MCU. He had a plan. Executed it. And risked death to destroy the stones to avoid its lull and adopted the simple farmer’s life.

Time is of the essence ⌛

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This will always be a design flaw of any narrative. Often it is said that a series or soap opera that begins re-running past events, resorting to time travel or bringing people back from the dead, the said series is in trouble. Avengers: Endgame has all three of these in hefty, glob-like servings.

In reference to time, we figured it was going to be a slightly messy time-warping adventure. The time-stone to some degree. But when every moment was used to reference pop-culture films to have used it a plot device was thrown at us we knew there would be a time machine, trippy graphics zooming into time and space dimensions and someone interacting with their past selves. Even as much as we like Captain America’s ass. Hey, this type of narrative worked in these time-hopping films, so why not here?

Hey, for the record, the master of the film time-stream is director Christopher Nolan. The better Terminator movies kept things in the present and did not show one time-machine. Thus more palatable was the suspension of disbelief. I got enough of the previousThor and Avengers movies during my rewatch to then have it all rehashed in front of my eyes like day old egg-fried rice.

Ultimately, when it all boils down to the syrupy raw – the concept of life and finality becomes a frivolous exercise. If it was as ‘easy’ as building a time-machine and snapping the fingers to bring the dead back, the stakes become a little bit minuscule. What’s to stop you from giving it a go again? Then, there’s the ‘butterfly effect’ which there seemed to be none off or any event-altering repercussions stemming from it. It all gets a bit messy when you bring time and space manipulation into the equation at this frequency and magnitude.

Only the Worthy ⚡🔨

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This chilling moment was not when the dead came back to the land of the living and present. Neither was it seeing Spidey back in the fro of things. It really started was when the original 3 leaders of the MCU – Iron Man, Thor and Captain America faced the Titan in the battlefield.

“As long as we are all on the same page”. Thor’s eyes cascade with light and fury as thunderous clouds unnaturally swirl above. That nirvana moment is close. It is when Thanos has Thor pinned in the midst of battle and is about to get his chest caved in by the Stormbreaker do we get a glimpse at what greatness looks like. Thor stands seconds away from sure death. Suddenly, the Mjolnir, like a comet, is hurled at Thanos only to boomerang its way back to the wielder. A wielder that is not Thor. Captain America, in the heat of battle, proves himself worthy enough to wield the mighty Mjolnir. And the flurry of shield/hammer combo attacks shows the Cap wastes no time marvelling at how much of a monumental feat he has accomplished.

Which begs a particular question. Thor took the Mjolnir from the past before it was destroyed by Hela in Thor Ragnarok. So, out of curiosity, what happened to the past Thor in that timeline. He’s just hammerless? What about the Bifrost? How did Captain America return it to Thor on Asgard in the past, if he even did? See, timeline all the way messy.

Moments of Shine

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Thanos, being the nefarious brute that caused such a sweeping, violent change the universe over, is understandably a loathed individual. And everyone wants a piece of the big purple scrotum-chinned guy. And they all at some point do get their piece. Scarlet Witch, Thor, and the Cap were the ones that laid it in pretty good. The likes of Hawkeye and Spider-Man helped to run point with the great Infinity Stone gauntlet keep-away from Thanos. And who doesn’t like seeing a huge Ant-Man on the battlefield?

There was also a nice but overly-orchestrated and short-lived ode to the current leading ladies of Marvel, save for Black Widow. She already served her purpose as the soul exchange to obtain the Soul Stone. Kinda funny when you realise with that much of a femme roster, only two have their own movies, and 50% of the solo performers had to share half their screen time with Ant-Man.

The Tin-Man that had a Heart 💙

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I found it quite a cyclical argument that Stark’s call for a worldwide monitoring network of Iron-Men would be his crutch in criticising Rogers stance in Civil War. When we all know it was Stark’s unbridled, destructive genius that leads to the creation of Ultron and Vision. Ultimately painting a reticle on the entire world for Thanos to take notice. That’s neither here nor there. All hell’s roads paved and all that.

Iron-Man needed to die. Given his dubious past and the selfish, opportunistic defiance in the likes of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Indubitably. And we did get just that. But did we need him as a martyr? For me, the jury’s still out. But, alas, I respect it.

For the first time in a long while, we see Iron Man does have a heart, and the sacrifice he makes was a fatal one. Iron Man coming back time and again to risk a pummelling by Thanos takes a certain level of moxie. Being a human in very penetrable armour under his fists can do that to you. The Hulk may have snapped everyone back into the world of the living after the team retrieved the stones from the past, but it is Iron Man’s second snap that rids the world of Thanos and his army. I know somewhere in the world and in the MCU that Brie Larson and Captain Marvel are respectively fuming at not being the final straw that broke Thanos’ back.

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Although Marvel made sure to constantly size up the two captains, where Captain Marvel’s full might versus Thanos’ one hand warranted the Titan to go the extra mile to secure the win with a headbutt. Which did not even rustle Danvers’ hair. Very cool and collected. Compared to the similar power-struggling scenario betwixt Captain America constipation face and Thanos in Infinity War.

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This was the final stand of the Iron Man. Having that said, wouldn’t a surreal cutscene like the one Thanos got in Infinity War be ideal? How different would such a scene look for a reformed merchant of death?

I personally would rather Tony Stark broken and humbled than dead and revered, but that’s just my bias. Love you 3000, in any case.

Post-Credits?

For what must be the first time in Marvel Cinematic Universe history, the post-credit scene for Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame are non-existent. And whilst this left me and a bunch of film goers oddly shuffling out the theatre like we got caught with our pants down after waiting for a release that never happened, we got to see the plethora of Marvel characters and their actor counterparts being checklisted off the screen. It was, however, when the original six began being listed, the send-off of many of the now dead/retired/eunuched original characters drove home how much of a change the MCU would be undergoing. Stunningly silhouetted, poised Avengers were flanked by the respective actors’ first and names. Finally, kissed with their individual signatures atop. It was nicely done.

The Set-Up

With the fourteen million, six hundred and five times that Doctor Strange peered through the veil of time to see a future where the Avengers would win against Thanos, only one outcome seemed favourable. This one choice would also serve a double purpose suitable for the current MCU’s changing of the guard. Despite the film being entitle Endgame, we are beginning to see the seedlings of change being planted. The embryonic hints at what the future MCU will look like for the next decade (hopefully).

After Thanos is vanquished, likely from all dimensions and timelines, Captain America is charged with returning the stones to their rightful places in history. The one man time machine sends Rogers back in time but it doesn’t bring him back. At least not as it was intended. Captain America did a little revisionist history himself (typical American) and remained in the past, living a full life; fell in love with the old lady he fancied back in the day when America was ‘great’. We personally would like to think that Roger went back in time and killed his past-self doppelganger with the Mjolnir, scream I am the one like Jet Li and proceed to go AWOL. Or did he let the past-Steve Rogers live to suffer through the life of the ice-frozen hero. And did the present-Steve Rogers end up living his best life? See? Messy time-travel. Messy.

However, on his return to the present as an old man, Steve Rogers hands his shield over to Sam Wilson, The Falcon. MCU, meet the new Captain America. Think the ‘fans’ are ready for this ‘change’?

And we also get a look at the possible line up for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 possibly adding Thor to the mix. And with the past-Gamora making it to the present timeline (hence no longer dead, but also untainted by Star-Lord’s charm), part of the mission may be locating her new whereabouts. James Gunn will have fun with that. And a dancing Groot. Surely. Not terribly looking forward to it.

And with Thor gone, there may be validity to the rumour that Jane Foster will take the helm as the new Goddess of Thunder. Should we ignore the fact Hela held the Mjolnir first? Natalie Portman played Jane Foster in those abysmal first Thor films, so she may be in the gallows to return to play the critically-ill character. Her transformation into Thor makes her a highly-formidable force, but also kills her a little every time. Like in the comics. This, however, is not a win for me, as a current disgraced, unworthy Thor would have been more of an effective sell in the passing of the mantle.

As for Iron-Man, he got a worthy send-off. How touching that the entire world and galaxy stood by to watch the viking-esque send-off of the richest man on earth. Can we say that camera pan stayed hella long on Hawkeye and his kids but swept over Captain Marvel pretty swiftly to end up on Shield’s Fury? 🤷

As for Iron-Man’s ‘replacement’ – Riri Williams aka Ironheart?

Then you have the likes of Shang-Chi making his way to the MCU as well.

From here, the new MCU members look to be POC and/or female. I’ll have so much love and vitriol to respond to if this is the case.

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Avengers: Endgame was an ambitious, adequate send-off to the monumental body of work Marvel has amalgamated over the past decade. And whilst this feat alone should be celebrated, does the film in and of itself stand as a cohesive narrative. Short answer, no. Of course not. If not for the long interweaved narratives of former movies and the constant hearkening back to the 10-year canon, Avengers: Endgame in itself may seem all wind and little substance. “It’s revenge for that thing that happened”.

And when someone uses the phrase “whatever it takes”, one would assume you are willing to abandon all your preconceived notions of morality for the win. This ‘compromise’ or a dilemma presented by choice was absent in the film save for Black Widow and Iron-Man. Arguably the weakest and most human members of the Avengers. This troubles me for reasons I can not quite yet process.

There are moments that did shine, however, and for that, I did feel like I was witnessing something historic. Albeit, the all-out war scene was not the greatest if we are going to rank the MCU fight scenes. I remember feeling more amped seeing the Avengers take on Thanos on his home planet in Infinity War. Civil War even gave me a slight chill at that Alex Ross-esque scene.

Maybe it was because the Thanos the team was facing was from the past. Past Thanos wasn’t allowed the natural momentum into power in collecting the stones one-by-one. And the past-Thanos is not really the one that turned every one to dust and cinerary either. Kinda like striking the shadow expecting to hurt the body that’s already been decapitated. Needless to say, it was a tough shadow, but not nearly as satisfying. Time travel. Messy.

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A great send-off nonetheless. Here’s to hoping the next ten years adds a bit more variety and narrative to the now formulaic, tried-and-true Marvel modus operandi.

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Pros
  • Captain America's 'hammertime'
  • Black Widow shows some emotive range
  • Josh Brolin is my Spirit Animal
Cons
  • Time-travel
  • Re-runs
  • Dead people not staying dead
  • The Eunuch Hulk
  • The blatantly obvious 'hero shots'. That includes you too Audi e-tron
  • A Vin Diesel 'Groot' credit will always make me smh
Summary
Similar to fighting Thanos, The Avengers: Endgame is not strong enough to stand alone. Time Travel and mass resurrections cheapen the stakes, re-runs cheapen the story and blatant product placements cheapen just about everything else. But Captain America wielding the Mjolnir damn near makes up for every film-based cardinal sin that was committed.
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