At long last we got this year's season finale to the world's longest and most expensive soap opera.
Avengers: Endgame wraps up what has been twenty-two films and ten years of giving millions of people what they wanted: live-action cartoons. Is Endgame a good film? I figure it is, though despite the fanboy/girl declarations it is not the Greatest Film Ever Made.
Picking up from our last season finale, we get Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) saving Iron-Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) after 'The Snap' our villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) unleashed. The surviving Avengers track down Thanos, who has becomes something of a hermit. He's literally cut off, then we go five years later.
The world, five years later, has not recovered from the shock and horror of seeing half the population evaporate. Some of the surviving Avengers are still trying to keep to their motives of being superheroes. Some have become virtual recluses or worse, homicidal maniacs.
It isn't until Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) suddenly reappears after the events from his episode that a solution to all their problems comes up: time travel.
Essentially, it's a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey jaunt through past Marvel Cinematic Universe films (from my weak knowledge it means hitting The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy) as the various surviving Avengers go hither and yon on this 'Time Heist'.
Some Avengers do not survive, but Thanos, or at least an alternate past version of him, gets wise to this plan. He won't go down without a fight, and it's a fight that brings back the formerly-dead Avengers for a winner-take-all endgame.
In the end, we get some Avengers most sincerely dead, some teaming up and some finding new life in their alternate universe.
Perhaps one reason why Endgame did not have me cry as it did so many is that I cannot summon the strength to care given my experiences with of all things, Doctor Who.
Endgame has much in common with our time traveling Time Lord/Lady. It has similarities with its Twentieth Anniversary Special The Five Doctors in that like in Endgame, The Five Doctors had as many past and present Doctor Who characters as could be fitted in.
As a side note, both The Five Doctors and Endgame even had cameo appearances from people who refused to return for their respective specials inserted into them: Fifth Doctor Tom Baker and Thor's love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
Also like Doctor Who, we have characters who were once dead coming back to life (though this is more for NuWho than the Classic Who) and we had a resolution that involved essentially resetting things or going the alternate universe route. There was even a Doctor Who episode titled 'Time Heist'.
As I think back on Endgame I think it was good but not great. It gave its fans what they want: big battle scenes and chances to cry. Far be it for me to take any of that away from them.
It has its positives. Downey, Jr. gives what I think is the best performance in Endgame, one that kept to Tony Stark's sarcasm with genuine emotion, agony, regret and ultimately sacrifice. He ran through moments of quips and moments of despair, from referring to Doctor Strange as 'that Harley Street Magician' to his almost Hamlet-like pondering on whether to join in turning back time despite having found bliss with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their daughter.
I cannot fault the performances for being what they were, though Downey, Jr. was the standout for me. The actors know their characters well-enough and don't deviate from what they originated. Chris Hemsworth still is working to be some great comic star with his drunk fat Thor. Ruffalo too aimed for elements of comedy with his more tame Hulk/Bruce Banner mix. Rudd is a naturally funny guy, so he handled the more average guy element of Ant-Man quite well.
I would argue that Larson got the short end of the stick only in that she was given so little to do save be the deus ex machina and looking perpetually unhappy about it. Endgame should have done better by her. I would say the same for Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton/Hawkeye, whose devolution into crazed hitman was pretty much forgotten once he needed to join the other Avengers.
The film's three-hour length was unnecessary. I think Anthony & Joe Russo were more interested in giving fan-service through our jaunty time-flips, and other scenes such as Scott trying to get Hulk fans attention were unnecessary. Did one really want so many comments about how Captain America's (Chris Evans) ass looks?
I also found the tone a bit odd. We are meant to have comedy with 'fat Thor', yet given the somber tone of things I wonder whether this should have been reworked. Same with Hawkeye's psycho killer act. I'm also not convinced that both The Avengers and the world would not have 'moved on' half a decade later from 'The Snap'. I simply never believed humanity would have been wallowing in this moroseness all that time.
I get that seeing Yankee Stadium in shambles symbolizes how the world hasn't moved on. However, I think that five years since perhaps Aaron Judge had dissolved, the Yankees would have found new players. I figure it is Yankee Stadium because I'm hard-pressed to think the loss of the New York Mets and Citi Field in ruins would be prove that devastating (no offense to Mets fans).
In the end I cannot fault Avengers: Endgame for delivering on what it did: endless fan service and a chance for its devotees to say goodbye to characters they care deeply about. Was it good? I suppose yes. Was it great?
Truthfully, I have seen better.
Next Marvel Cinematic Universe Film: Spider-Man: Far From Home