Spoiler Warning! This review discusses some things some readers may want to avoid knowing before seeing the film.
Marvel have saved some of the best for last. Infinity War was over-populated, underwhelming, and seemed designed purely to set up the second half of the duology. Endgame had a lot resting on its shouldering and, I’m happy to report, does a tremendous job of lifting its burden.
Marvel have charged the script for Endgame to Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus; the same duo who produced Captain America: Winter Soldier, easily one of Marvel’s best additions to its cinematic universe. Infinity War saw half of the population dusted by Thanos, which left the crop of Avengers nicely thinned out. Without the over-crowded cast of Infinity War, Endgame is able to give the remaining characters real emotional arcs and a cohesive storyline that is satisfying and not completely disorientating. For the most part, the original Avengers are the focus of this film. By and large the film treats their more experienced heroes with respect and love because for many of them, Endgame is their goodbye.
For all the things this film does right (and there is a large list), it also has some flaws. There’s a recurring fat joke – a type of nasty humour I thought Marvel had grown out of, especially given said character’s weight gain is due to a severe case of PTSD. Marvel also promised Endgame would be the film to introduce queer representation into the cinematic universe: a representation that comes in the form of a side character relevant to only one scene, which could be easily cut out for distribution in China. It’s hardly the bare minimum and it shows.
More specifically, I found the final resolution of Black Widow eye-roll inducing. She and Clint Barton, stuck in a self-destructive spiral after the loss of his wife and children, are sent to re-retrieve the Soul Stone. As we know from Thanos and Gamora in Infinity War, a soul must be swapped in order to access the stone. Clint and Natasha argue over who gets to self-sacrifice, but it is ultimately Black Widow who is traded. The suicidal desire to throw herself off a cliff stems from no discernible source, except it would mean that Clint could return to his family and also continue to feel like an angry matyr after the death of his closest friend. While not exactly the trope of an excellent woman sacrificing so a man may better himself, it is close enough for me to be completely bored by it. Although this end shouldn’t be a surprise – the cinematic universe has never known what to do with Black Widow. It is worth mentioning the newly announced Black Widow movie – a prequel that comes ten years after her first appearance and long after the other Avengers received their own individual films. It’s a strange move from Marvel that feels like they were anticipating the backlash from the hero’s death and want to stave off most of the criticism. Given the success of Captain Marvel you could reserve a small allowance of optimism, although Black Widow’s cinematic history is not hopeful.
Something similar could be said of Thor’s storyline in this movie. The Asguardian did much of the heavy lifting emotionally in the previous movie and having failed at his attempt to stop Thanos, it’s as though the writers had no clear idea what to do with his emotional arc from there. However, his story has more saving grace than Natasha’s and it seems as though Marvel will continue to feature the God of Thunder in other films.
That said, Endgame is full of moments of pure joy – there was a scene with a certain shield-wielding captain and a certain unliftable hammer that had the audience in my screening squealing with absolute glee. With more of an emotional centre, the fights in this film are more meaningful and relate to the plot, instead of mindlessly filling run time the way they did in Infinity War. This is also a tear-jerker, particularly if you’re a Marvel die-hard. I won’t say much more, for the sake of spoilers. I had a grand time watching Endgame and I would thoroughly recommend going to see it.
Words by Riana Kinlough
Picture property of Marvel.