“A billion souls have known death at my hand. It is time you joined them!” – Thanos in Marvel Super Heroes (1995)
As those who saw Avengers: Infinity War know, the above quote from the classic arcade game is no exaggeration. If anything, that’s being modest. Yes, we resume things as they left off with half of all living things in the universe wiped from existence by Thanos (Josh Brolin), and correspondingly a much smaller team to deal with the aftermath.
Remaining are Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Rhodey (Don Cheadle), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Nebula (Karen GIllan). But missing from the last film and finally arriving are Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). How will they manage to set things right?
Avengers: Endgame – all right time out, that is a really dumb subtitle. What is it with fourth installments using it (see also Highlander)? Plus it makes no sense in context since the villain’s endgame was already achieved in the previous movie.
Anyway, the latest Avengers has been hyped up to a ludicrous degree as the grand finale of this era of the so-called “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Of course we know that that isn’t really the case and more movies are coming (one of them in just two months), but for what it is it’s a fun time with one or two genuine surprises in store.
Much speculation and theorizing about the plot have gone on in the time between installments, and those turn out to pretty much be what happens here. A few suspicions are upended, but not nearly enough. For better or worse, what you suspect will happen pretty much does. However, it should be said that those unexpected moments do land strong in emotional impact.
Throughout the ensuing events, characters and actors from various past adventures make returns. The appearances of most figures are welcome, but one definitely is not. Not to give away who that is, but as Marvel’s most heinous casting decision, this character was best left forgotten and moved on from. Apparently not.
But the focus here is on the central characters (it’s not really a coincidence that the whole first Avengers line-up is among the initial survivors) and they get to shine brightly. After plots over the past few years have kept them apart, it really is a treat to see them all united once more. On the downside, those expecting the newer team members to have a large presence are going to be disappointed (particularly Carol and Okoye). The standouts of the cast are Gillan, who gets more to do this time, and Rudd, making such a great addition to the group that you wish he was brought in earlier.
The review for Infinity War on this site has its headline saying that the film “goes very very big.” But if you ask me, the problem with that movie and now this one is that they did not go big enough. There are a whole host of other characters who we have gotten to know and see prove themselves as effective heroes that are completely ignored here. Melinda, Daisy, Matt, Jessica, Luke, Danny, Frank, Alex, Nico, Chase, Molly, Gert, Karolina, Tyrone, Tandy, heck I’ll even say Black Bolt and Medusa absolutely deserve to have a place in these movies. There’s also the characters who have played a part in these tales that ought to be here, yet are MIA. Where’s Lady Sif? Nakia? The Nova Corps?
All that said though, the climax is very engaging. Despite the aforementioned predictable developments, the tension runs high and the action is fierce. The denouement is satisfying, giving some characters more great moments. And the teases of future projects are quite enticing, especially for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, a promise that had better be delivered on.
Conclusion, new beginning, bit of both, something else entirely; whatever you want to call this, this could have been a lot better than it was. Still, it provides the audience with a solid journey that doesn’t at all feel as long as it is. Going forward, there’s more interesting places to go and sights to see. I for one can’t wait to get there.