A short one, because this will be completely spoiler free.
Ignoring the fact that I’m going to be 50 next month, I turned up for the first screening of Avengers: Endgame last night/ early this morning. The local cinema had five screens devoted to showing it, and every one of them was absolutely sold out.
I’m not going to make any geek references: it’s a bit tricky to do so when you’re standing amongst them, forgoing sleep you really need, and mentally ticking off in your mind the erroneous facts their spouting between themselves (which you know they’d be doing about whatever comments you’d be making if you weren’t sad enough to be making the trip solo…)
Suffice to say, it was ‘the right’ circumstances to watch the culmination of 11 years of the MCU in: no kids (how dare anyone bring a child to this type of film?), or annoying whispers asking for clarification from some dragged-along civilian. I was probably in the minority not wearing geek apparel (because, I’m like, a serious film spectator…until the moment that Marvel logo comes up…then, it went to shit a bit…)
So, in brief, and spoiler free. What would I say?
The Russo brothers, and all involved, have done a hell of a job in the pre-launch advertising and marketing: both in terms of managing to keep everyone: even the blabbermouths in the cast, from giving pretty much anything away (probably helped, by not giving any of them other than RDJr a full script), and by releasing trailers that in any other movie would be the bulk of the movie, but here almost exclusively happen in the first fifteen minutes or so.
And what a first fifteen minutes: any expectations are pulled out from under our feet from the get-go, and from there, we’re in anything-can-happen mode and off to the races.
The reviews are coming out already – and even those which claim to be spoiler-free are giving stuff away I’d have prefered to have not known before going in – moments which follow comic-lore for those who know or care, and are just outright funny or moving for those who aren’t. All I will say is, the gang’s all here, to varying degrees and screentime and there are throwbacks galore to the 20+ movies in this extended arc many of us have been following since day one when Tony Stark travelled by convoy inviting selfies. Some of the references are subtle tossed-off lines, others are major elements of this final chapter. You can start to see immediately why this is a 3+ hour running time.
Given the ending of Infinity War and the tone and palette of the trailers, there may have been a concern that this was going to be a long, grim slog of misery and recrimination. There are certainly consequences of what has gone before: if anyone thinks that the dusted members of the previous films are not going to play some part in this, then they’re either supremely naive (and haven’t seen the trailers for the upcoming Spider-Man movie or slated sequels for several characters), but dead does mean dead for some: there is weight to actions and consequences of what we’ve seen before, and what happens throughout this one. It’s made very clear that we can’t rely on the old adage that ‘no-one ever really dies in comic books.’ But there is also a lot of humour running throughout: both broad and subtle, throwaways and plot pertinent. A ‘cheap’ joke might mask something much, much deeper going on and the movie doesn’t shy away from it. It might start to sound a little purple prose when no spoilers are in play – but you’ll know it when you see it.
As is quite obvious from all that’s gone before, classifying the MCU movies as ‘Superhero’ genre pieces is reductive: whether it’s the ’70’s political thriller of Winter Soldier, Sci-Fi of Guardians, buddy movie of Ragnarok, and so on, there have been many different styles at play throughout the cinematic universe of the last 11 years and 22 movies. Infinity did a good job of bringing many of those together: the onus on Endgame to do even more in order to wrap up this big ball of story weighs even more heavily, but it does a good job of harmonising many of the elements.
When the dust has settled (no pun intended…okay, there definitely was a pun intended), I’ll write a more detailed review, but in summary?
Some of the movie is confusing in its own logic (one particular issue I really need to see the upcoming Spiderman flick in terms of understanding how it ultimately sits: or it’s a good excuse to go and see the new Spiderman flick: you decide.
The humour works, the action scenes throughout sing: just when you think there’s not a combination of conflict not yet covered, up it pops. The throwbacks, pop references and comic book in-jokes are all there if you want them, not overly burdening the story if you don’t.
There are deaths. Deaths that mean something: be warned if you’re taking kiddies, or, you know…you have a tendency to get affected by these things…(I don’t…it’s just the hay fever kicking in…)
And there is a resolution. A satisfying, massive, battle-scene which surpasses even anything seen in Infinity War; if it’s not always quite as clear as to what exactly is happening on the screen, then that’s by design not by any shoddiness on the film-makers’ behalf. There’s feeling in it: heroes are heroes and act accordingly. There is one uncharacteristically heavy-handed moment, but it is fleeting and in the midst of everything else going on, worth mentioning only because the butt-hurt fanboys are already starting to bring it up. (While the film is garnering incredible reviews so far, the internet boys are already invoking the ‘Last Jedi’ complaints in some quarters: cutting like a pizza slice, with about as much point (I stole that line)).
Walking out, and thinking about it, it struck me that it ended as it should do: as it was right to do in the overall context of the cycle. It wasn’t something that occurred to me before viewing, but with that perfect 20-20 hindsight, it makes sense.
There may be a few people who want to check out this little arthouse flick – if you can find it showing in a theatre near you, you should give it a go. But be quick: I know about these things, and I’m guessing this thing is going to be here and gone before you know it…