‘I’ ON CULTURE
As you have undoubtedly heard, people have been taking off from work to see Avengers: Endgame. It has made a fortune, going to a billion-dollar world box office in record time. People have been anticipating the film, sequel to Avengers: Infinity War for a year. Was the wait worth it? Oh, yeah. This film is a brilliant, emotional roller-coaster that makes three hours (yes, three hours!) run by really fast.
Unlike the previous film, this one focuses on the original members of the team: Tony Stark/Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). There is a five-year jump after a brief opening scene, and we see our heroes trying to deal with villain Thanos’ “snap” that wiped out half the living beings in the universe, including many of their family and friends. I do not want to give much away in terms of the plot, but suffice it to say, they have all been profoundly changed. A couple barely seem the same.
With the help of a few other survivors, Scott Lang/Antman (Paul Rudd), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Rocket (a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper), they try to reverse the snap. The idea of simply taking back the gauntlet does not work, so things get more complex. Think “quantum realm,” which means time travel. But there are a lot of restrictions on it, several of which are cheerfully shattered along the way. Even the explanations about time travel and balance in the universe are done nicely, avoiding possible boredom of a very complex set of theories.
Things do not go smoothly (if they did, this would be a far shorter film). Many of the plans go haywire. But we have a lot of wonderful scenes that do “fan service” (making the fans really happy) as old plots are revisited. One of the nicest surprises is the number of unheralded cameo appearances by so many performers from the past 21 films. Some of scenes provide great action, and there are a couple of scenes that are deeply moving.
For many fans of the Marvel Universe, one of the best parts of the movies has been the interaction of the different heroes. The dominance battles, the funny putdowns, the great laughs sometimes right in the middle of wild action scenes are what set the franchise apart. Who can forget in the first Avengers movie, when Loki sneers at Hulk, “I am a god, dull creature” and Hulk grabs him, smashes him like a dishrag and mutters, “Puny god?”
One advantage of all of this is that the actors get a chance to really act, to get really dramatic, something that has not always occurred in these films. Sacrifices are made, characters are forced to confront their own decisions (and in a couple of cases to actually deal with themselves at different times in their lives). Johansson, Renner and Gillam were particularly effective in their scenes, and Downey has a wonderful scene that helps deal with a few of his own demons. On the other hand, many of the other actors, particularly some that had large parts in the first movie, have relatively small roles here.
Yes, there is a big battle scene (and a lot of small-scale action scenes as well) that actually won spontaneous applause in the theater at different points. People love the performers in this universe, and it shows. It might be giving a bit away but in the battle scene at one point, the Avengers women from across all the movies gather in one big mob, and the women in the audience were all screaming with delight.
This is the wrap up of 10 years of films, and the Russo brothers, directors of the film, gave a fond farewell to some characters that was wonderfully fitting. Some will return, other will not. Just like life.
The question is not whether you should see the movie. That answer is yes. If you are a Marvel fan, the question probably will be how many times you see it. Bravo to Disney, Marvel and a wonderful group of actors, writers and technicians.