The time has come. Kraig Taylor-Bryant avenges the fallen and writes about Avengers: Endgame (with spoilers - sorry, Thanos - Ed)...
So, here we are, at the Endgame. Well, technically, we were at the Endgame 2 months ago, but the impact of the movie on box office records seems to help it feel like only yesterday that I stepped into the cinema on the opening night, watching the “double bill” of both Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame.
So how did I feel after the first watch? Quite honestly, I felt tired. I felt as if maybe I had outgrown this universe, and that perhaps storytelling can’t progress much further than Infinity War’s clever dialogue and motives, when it comes to the Marvel universe. Then I watched the movie again, with my younger brother, sister, dad and uncle.
When you watch the movie from a sibling’s perspective, it can help you see this movie from a child’s eyes again, being un-used to seeing CGI superhero battles and funny quips. The moments where the action takes place, like when the female heroes team up in an entirely unplanned female fight sequence, were more enjoyable to me when I could see my sister’s enjoyment. I, myself, couldn’t feel any enjoyment during such big moments during the first watch but, during the moments where Avengers 4 looks back on older movies like Avengers Assemble, I could remind myself of when I last watched such a movie in the cinema with my dad, and I think that this movie doesn’t fail in creating nostalgia for its predecessors. I mean, another example would be during the moments when all the heroes who we lose to “the snap” in Infinity War, return to fight the final battle, or when Captain America picks up Thor’s hammer, it was the reaction of my younger brother, that helped me feel excited about these moments, because I got to see his cheerful reaction to such epic moments.
Now that we’ve got some of the positive out of the way, what exactly did I not like about Endgame? Well, I’ve a got a somewhat controversial answer to that question. The movie seemed too predictable. Usually, during the days leading up to a film's release, we see many fan theories appearing, mostly through YouTube. However, normally, when the movie comes to its release date, most of these theories end up being wrong, and we’re pleasantly surprised by it, because witnessing the unexpected is one of the wonders of cinema. I didn’t really feel such wonder with Avengers Endgame. That’s because a lot of the theories in the lead up to this movie proved to be entirely right, with maybe slight differences, but nevertheless, what happened was exactly what was predicted. The ideas of Captain Marvel saving Tony Stark turned out to be true, and the theorised time travel plotline was also true, I just think they could have been a little more creative with the resources that Disney has.
After seeing the jaw dropping ending to Infinity War, I felt as if the stakes for the franchise were finally raised, and I felt as if the long running movie series was finally taking a darker tone, to make it a little more down to Earth, and tense for the now-matured viewers, who were children around the early days of the MCU. Even the trailers for Endgame made us believe that Hawkeye had become a much darker personality following the rumoured loss of his entire family (which turned out to be entirely correct), however, “Ronin” seemed to only really be like this for a short period of time, easily convinced by Black Widow to re-join the team and become a hero. I can kind of understand why they would need to rush this story, though I think if you want to make these characters a little more believable, like they were in Infinity War, maybe they should have stretched this finale across three movies instead of two.
I have to give credit where its due though, when it comes to developing Captain America across the most recent MCU films. Thanks to previous movies, it started to become clear to me that his character develops across his time fighting his friends in Civil War and coming to terms with what it’s like to lose in Avengers 3, to become worthy enough to hold the hammer of a God. I think that during the time of Civil War, Captain America learns from an old Agent Carter saying that “even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree and say no”. It’s quotes like this that help us realise that, even though we never realised it, Captain America has been developing more than any hero and, after the moment where he has to come to terms with loss, he truly does have to have dealt with the kind of things that a king of Asgard would have to deal with; not only loss, but having people doubt you, even when you know yourself to be in the right. And of course, we see a hint of how he is somewhat worthy, because of his heroic mindset as a person, during Avengers Age of Ultron, when he does manage to lift the hammer slightly. But it's during Captain America 3, and Avengers Infinity War, that he builds himself up from there, to become worthy of wielding Thor’s hammer, ending his story arc with finally dancing with his romance from the first film, Agent Carter.
Whilst I do have some issues with the predictability of the plotline, the film did do a good job of having some of the character deaths appear a little more permanent. This instalment ends with Peter Quill trying to turn up any sign of Gamora being alive, to no avail, sort of hinting that she is still gone. We also witness Scarlet Witch having conversations with Hawkeye, talking about those that they have lost, which makes me think Vision almost certainly won’t be making a return. Though the whole-time travel thing, bringing back everyone who was snapped out of existence, seems a little too “on the nose”, as in, it seemed a little too easy when it comes down to good writing. I think a better way of going about it could have been to somehow involve physically going into the quantum realm, after finding out that half of the universe’s souls have somehow been transported there. I think from that point it would be necessary that to keep the quantum realm “stable” there would have to yet again, be sacrifice of sorts, perhaps that’s a little far-fetched, but I just think this would help to add more weight to the losses that the Avengers suffered in Infinity War.
When it came to the humour of Endgame, I think it was somewhat both hit and miss. There were a few moments where the humour did seem fun and somewhat enjoyable, though I think there were others where it also felt either a little too out of place, or almost like the film was trying to break the fourth wall. I think perhaps in some areas the humour felt forced and got to a point where what characters were saying didn’t seem like the kind of thing the characters in that situation would say. I think one of the bigger examples of that would be when Hulk/Bruce is trying the whole time travelling thing, using Scott’s van, and responds to Scott’s constant ageing (one moment being a child again, and the next, being elderly) as an “absolute win”. Now I do think that it eventually made for a good meme to use, as it has been over much of social media, but I don’t think Bruce would behave like this, considering the stakes of their mission. Rather than feeling simple disappointment over the failure to create a working time machine, I think this humour felt more out of character than anything else. But there were times when the humour was better placed.
So, again, after the first watch, I did struggle to enjoy much of the humour in the film, considering how quickly this film switches from being so dark to being so humorous, but when the film did hit the mark, I couldn’t help but laugh. The moment when Thor cuts off Thanos’ head comes to mind, probably because of the fact that, following Infinity War, people wouldn’t stop talking about why Thor didn’t just ‘go for the head’, and the fact that they did turn that into a joke was brilliant in my eyes. Another good example of well-timed humour, I think, is when we revisit the events of Avengers Assemble, when one of the teams who must retrieve the space stone, mind stone and time stone, comes across their younger selves. At that point we got to revisit the old Hulk that we know and love and to experience a moment similar to that of the first fantastic four movie when “the thing” is forced to take the stairs, in the Baxter building. That’s the first thing I thought of after witnessing the Hulk throw a strop over taking the stairs, which somehow helped make it funnier.
So despite the issues that I have with this film, when it comes to some of the humour, and the predictability, it is easy to forget that the superhero universe is originally intended for “family fun”, much more than it is for deep Oscar winning writing, and it certainly does make itself out to be a great event film for a family to enjoy together. And it will definitely be interesting to watch the film again, with some now confirmed added scenes*, on its cinema re-release.
[* Editor's note - Avenger's Endgame was re-released in cinemas on Friday, June 28th, with 7 minutes of extra footage after the original end credits, promising ‘a deleted scene, a little tribute, and a few surprises’ at the end of the film.]
Follow Kraig on Twitter @kraigandhismac
Follow Kraig on Twitter @kraigandhismac
Image - IMDb