‘Avengers: End Game’ is not the best movie I’ve ever seen – it’s not even the best comic book superhero movie
“Avengers: End Game” (Rated T)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Josh Brolin
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
It doesn’t really matter what gets printed here.
If you really want to see “Avengers: End Game”, you won’t care what anyone thinks.
And if you’re not interested, even though this seems determined to end up as the biggest movie in the history of the world – already well past $1.6 billion worldwide in less than a week, smashing the opening weekend records for North America, internationally and worldwide – there’s likely very little anyone could say that could get you to change your mind.
But, at the risk of once again earning the ire of the comic book and superhero fanboys – who most recently unleashed their venom at me following an unflattering review of December’s washed-up “Aquaman” (a film we can only imagine must have been inspired by or possibly even made largely with some of that certain cruise line’s now infamous sewage discharge) – I will bravely share just a few of my humble opinions on “End Game”.
The quick summary: it’s good!
It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not even the best comic book superhero movie I’ve ever seen. But it is decent enough, and better than any movie hitherto branded as an “Avengers” film – as opposed to those very same movies with the very same characters that had for some reason been labeled as part of the “Captain America” or “Iron Man” franchises.
“End Game” is supposed to literally be the “end game” (along with this summer’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home”) – the final outings of the three phases of the groundbreaking Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), wrapping up a decade-long “shared universe” movie serial which began with “Iron Man” back in 2008.
In total, there have been 23 films, several television series and shorts. And its impact is such that now the idea of a “shared universe” for movies is as common as evil twins on soap operas. Even rival DC has its “Extended Universe” these days.
Picking up where last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” left off, we find Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), adrift in space with no food or water, sending a message to his love Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers – Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner/Hulk – must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos, the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.
“End Game” is better than last year’s “Infinity War”, which itself was quite entertaining. The new film flows in a more natural, less-disjointed manner with its storytelling. It’s also much less congested – as “End Game” starts off with most of the seemingly 5,000 Marvel superheroes having been erased.
Supervillain Thanos must be thanked for leaving us with, quite frankly, the most interesting of the characters in the Marvel Universe. Iron Man (Downey), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) have been among the most complex, charismatic and humorous of the heroes we’ve encountered during these past few years. And it’s good that we get to pass the time with them.
And there’s lots of time to pass! “End Game” is a whole three hours (and apparently two minutes) long. Each hour tracks like an act in a stage play. The first quietly takes its time; like a long-lost relative visiting you, determined to tell you all the news you missed, he doesn’t want to leave you any time soon. But the warmth and amusing nature of the actors/characters’ interactions make this hour quite special.
The second hour, a quest to find the infinity stones, is another matter. You could probably take a nap here, and not really miss a beat. (I was dozing off a bit).
By the third hour, it’s time for the epic showdown and denouement. And the final moments tie a nice bow around this massive and influential juggernaut of a film franchise.
Most of your questions are answered. Most! However, there are a couple plot issues that left me with questions. This is not really (but possibly) a spoiler, so if you are paranoid about these things, skip ahead one paragraph.
If your future self, kills your past self, shouldn’t/wouldn’t you cease to exist? Perhaps I missed the answer when I drifted off during the second hour?
Anyway, the most interesting thing about “End Game” has nothing to do with the movie. During its premiere weekend, the world’s other major entertainment obsession, HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, also featured an epic, oversized episode, with a battle to end all battles. And I think the latter’s was actually far more impressive than what I saw on the big screen.
That what we see now on television can rival and in many ways outdo and out-impress what we witness with the biggest film blockbusters says something profound about the future of the movie industry. The premium and even basic cable networks, and particularly streaming services like Netflix, are delivering movie-quality experiences every week or in one sitting.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe having contributed greatly to movies seemingly aiming to be more like television, with nearly every movie ending in a cliff-hanger, asking us to “tune in next year (or the year after, depending on the availability of the cast) for the continuing story of blah blah blah”, what will be the main differentiator between television and films, especially as TV seems to be approaching parity when it comes to special effects and is already attracting the biggest stars?
For now, that’s a problem for another day. Today, we bid farewell to this iteration of Marvel, and say cheers to “Avengers: End Game”, which continues the new tradition of movies emulating television, by giving a fantastic impersonation of a long-running TV series finally going off the air. One with which we’ve spent many long hours and invested quite a bit of money.
It’s been a satisfying journey. And that’s all that really matters.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.