One film, a wide array of characters and endless possibilities. To conceptualize a franchise finale like Avengers: Endgame might easily be the most gargantuan challenge for commercial filmmakers. Because my favourite characters might not be the same for the person next to me in the cinema. While I might be seeking closure for a certain overlooked romantic track in one of the erstwhile films, another person would want an edgy, eccentric character to resurface in style. To balance expectations while also maintaining the topnotch quality of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films is the area where Avengers: Endgame could have developed jitters. But boy, this grand fantasy extravaganza directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (Russo Brothers) is nothing but the perfect closure we have been seeking.
Having stemmed from where Avengers: Infinity War had ended, the film kicks off with a definite air of gloom. We see the contemporary United States, with reduced population and dejection all over. The state has erected memorial stones with names of those who disappeared in Thano’s (Josh Brolin) snap. The superheroes, Iron-Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, War Machine, Rocket Raccoon, Nebula, Hawkeye and The Hulk are shown to be in a state of despair and are joined by the agile Captain Marvel, who had missed all the action. We also get to see how times have changed pleasantly (or otherwise) for some of the heroes. The Hulk is surprisingly affable, is in control of his emotions. Thor lives an unruly life in a corner of Norway called the ‘New Asgard’ where even an enthusiastic Valkyrie seems to have given up on him. Iron-Man has found great domestic bliss with Pepper Potts and his daughter’s favourite line for him is, “I love you 3000!” Things are different but the essential retaliation is pending even as the superheroes get to encounter Thanos in the initial few minutes of Avengers: Endgame.
Enter Scott Lang alias Antman who was stuck in the quantum realm as seen in the climax of Antman and The Wasp. He miraculously escapes the place (unlike the original Wasp, Janet), reaches the Earth and is greeted by the bizarre scenario. Call it his presence of mind or mere lack of PTSD or survivor’s guilt, Scott proposes an idea inspired by his recent sojourn: time travel. The rest of Avengers: Endgame is about how the superheroes device and execute the plan without any leakage and sans destruction or major loss of life.
Mounting-wise, Avengers: Endgame kicks off unlike any film of the franchise thus far. With the background score nearly absent for almost throughout its runtime, the silences are telling in a film that is mourning a severe loss. Cinematography and the pacing are placid in a peaceful sort of way. It does not offer sound and fury for the sake of it and instead, we witness the characters simmering ideas that could have floundered big-time in a lesser film. For starters, going back in time is not exactly an easy deal as several of the superheroes have thrived in and/or became powerful in different eras. In a carefully structured narrative, they do go back to the past, only to collect the infinity stones before Thanos’ narrative could unfold.
Running for more than 180 minutes, the film’s length doesn’t equate to boredom even for passive fans of the Avengers. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely sprinkle the narrative with ample humour which is rich enough to spring a smile on your face but also not frivolous to go anywhere off the larger character psyches. We get to see Thor at his witty best, complete with a beer belly. Steve Rogers’ derriere is deemed “America’s ass” by Scott Lang, in perhaps the cheekiest line in MCU history. The Hulk, if not clicking selfies, is seen handing over pint-sized tacos to a famished Scott. These are the kind of moments that one wouldn’t have expected ideally in a distant, grandiloquent superhero feature but Avengers: Endgame makes sure to come closer to the ordinary mortals viewing it. So much so that you even get to see Thanos plucking a bunch of fruits in a modest laundry sack of sorts. What next? Will Hawkeye become founder to an archery institute? Well, I don’t mind that either.
The film offers fewer sermons and packs in more punches as it goes along. There are punchlines galore that make us want to clap, hoot and remember the characters and their preceding stories. The time travel bit only adds to the enigma, making us crave a few more character revisits. However, Avengers: Endgame chooses only those who deserved a finite closure arc in the original stories. With an assemblage of known superheroes and allies, the film often becomes the victim of the situation where a certain cast member goes invisible for a long period of time. For instance, The Hulk’s disappearance in certain crucial stretches become conspicuous because we, the viewers, have the natural inclination to assume how he would have acted at that point in time. Similarly, certain time travel incidences – designed for closure as well as sheer drama – overstretch to a point that the drama quotient within them appear forced. Case in point being the sequence where Steve Rogers and Tony Stark travel to the year 1970 where the latter’s discrete episode, despite some good acting, does not satisfy in a comprehensive sense.
That said, who doesn’t subscribe to the nostalgia of the right kinds? Be it the one of around Thor’s time in Asgard or the infinitely beautiful last passage involving Rogers, Avengers: Endgame will make you smile and even shed a tear or two. The final battle is more enthralling than anything you’ve ever witnessed thus far in MCU as you see several of our favourite superheroes return. Even Pepper Potts arrives in a slinky metallic suit. Then there’s this wonderful moment of feminine power when Captain Marvel unites all female superheroes in one frame. You see Captain America making a decision which is inclusive and plaudit-worthy for the divisive times that we live in. If there are Clint Barton and Tony Stark’s stories to embolden the purity of the family setup, Natasha Romanoff’s angle with the former is a graceful take on friendship. There are romantic tracks and a sibling rivalry that find handsome conclusions. Friends return, enemies perish. Goodness thrives, the evil gets a taste of their own medicine. What else do you want from a film that proves every bit of the glorious entertainer it wanted to be, besides setting the bar higher for everyone else to match? Well, not a single darn thing more.
Watch Avengers: Endgame on Disney+ Hotstar VIP.