Griffin Sendek & Josiah Martin | The Duquesne Duke
It is near-impossible to think of a film series as expansive and long-lasting as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Nobody could have predicted 11 years ago that the franchise would grow to include 23 films, or that its flagship Avengers arc would conclude with the three-hour, genre-defining epic that is Avengers: Endgame.
It is wild to think that 2008’s Iron Man came out when the Duke’s editorial board was in elementary school. These actors have played these characters in more movies than even the iconic casts of franchises like the Hobbit or Star Wars films. The MCU has defined a generation of filmgoers, and Marvel and the Russo Brothers appear keenly aware of this. Endgame heavily plays the nostalgia card, with references and returns to many of the series’ iconic films. For decade-long fans, it’s an effective and emotionally stirring element.
“Emotionally stirring” is an understatement for every second of this film. The opening minute shows how Thanos’ snap in Infinity War affected Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), who was absent from the previous film. This film explores in detail the effect that half the population’s death had on the people of Earth. As a result, nearly every scene carries a deep emotional weight, as characters deal with what they lost, and fight to keep what they still have. Endgame, though as action-heavy as one could possibly want, found a way to explore the more sentimental and deeper aspects of its plot without dragging on through its long runtime. In fact, the movie’s pacing, a big concern going into it, is near perfect.
There was not a second of Endgame that dragged, every scene felt entirely necessary and effectively contributed to telling an all-encompassing, multifaceted story.
The first act of Endgame takes it slow and gives the story time to breathe. The film is chock-full of intense, high-octane superhero action, but the opening sequences focus primarily on the characters and plot. Making a three-hour movie, not feel excruciatingly long or exhaustingly action-packed, is no easy feat, but the Russos pulled it off beautifully.
The Russo brothers deserve tremendous credit for creating action and fight scenes that do not feel monotonous or redundant. Every fight in the film plays to the diverse strengths and abilities of the heroes involved, flows smoothly and is intensely suspenseful. Many of these scenes, particularly those featuring Hawkeye, are beautifully choreographed. One of Hawkeye’s major fights is reminiscent of a Japanese action film — right down to the setting — and is emotionally heavy-hitting to boot.
After the serious tone of Infinity War, something even darker and more depressing was expected for this film. Surprising though the humor runs throughout, and is some of the best the series has ever seen. Marvel movies have many times been criticized for their implementation of jokes and humor, but an even balance of when to be serious and when it is time to have a few laugh is found in Endgame.
Endgame, first and foremost, is a movie for the fans. The 23rd chapter of this decade-long cinematic endeavour works under the pretense that its audience is knowledgeable of all the previous films. Endgame does not waste any time trying to catch up non-fans. Coming into the series 22 movies late is a recipe for disaster; without an understanding of the earlier films, Endgame would be a confusing mess. For a fan of the series that has stuck through the Marvel cinematic universe since its onset, Endgame is a masterpiece and a fitting conclusion to what has been built up to for so long.