Yes, there will be other MCU movies, but here there is a sense of bringing these characters to a place of rest. By its end, we know we won’t see most of them again, and in the manner of storytelling that’s okay. The closing passages allow you to make peace with that. Slow curtain. The End.
The MCU will continue, but here is a definite sense of moving on. That’s rare. Most movie series go out with a whimper rather than a bang. Those that wave goodbye with any measure of success are rare: Return of the Jedi, Back to the Future and Lord of the Rings.
The closing passages of Avengers: Endgame display a surprisingly poignant and beautiful message about letting go, parting ways, and coming to grips with the inevitable. But the movie is not all sorrow and hugs. This is a blockbuster of blockbusters, a movie that intends to reward fans by giving them the biggest, and most full-blooded experience possible. The movie is thrilling, funny, emotional, and in a lot of ways unexpected.
Beyond its blockbuster status, this is a good movie. It’s one of the best screenplays that any commercial film will employ this year. There is a logic to the progression of this story, not just in terms of what has come before but in terms of where it takes the characters who are still reeling from tragedy.
The first hour of the movie is pretty much what you expect given the events set in motion by Infinity War. A wounded world reels from the devastation caused by Thanos and so the opening scenes are imbued with an eerie, quiet stillness that remind you of the aftermath of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Everyone scrambles to find a sense of normalcy in an abnormal situation and the question no one wants to deal with is, “Where do we go from here?”
I expected the movie to open this way (I’ll leave the second and third acts for you to discover), but what I didn’t expect is that the Russo Brothers and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely would give us time to soak it in. Scenes run a little longer than we expect. Characters are considered in a thoughtful way – movies these days are not often patient enough to offer character and atmosphere.
There is a lot of movie here, but it is evenly paced with very unexpected events that crop up every so often that seem to come out of left field. There is a death scene in the movie’s first 10 minutes that caught me completely by surprise, and there are many more moments like that throughout the film. Those surprises kept me interested. Seriously, I never thought that the 22ndmovie in a series could be so unpredictable.
Yet, there is a question that remains with this series – “Where do we go from here?” Avengers: Endgame reveals the best of what commercial Hollywood film making is all about, a decade-long experience of craft and writing and patience and skill culminating in a final chapter that feels almost as surprising as it does inevitable. Here is the endgame, but you are made to wonder if this series can possibly keep up. Will we possibly be able to reach this height again?