The release of a new movie from Marvel Studios brings with it many emotions – anticipation, elation, comfort, even familiarity. Yet the reaction that can best be associated with the brand is one of surprise, courtesy of the imaginative and daring ideas that constantly make their way into its films. Happily, it’s a trend that shows no signs of ceasing.
Having succeeded in his quest to obtain all six Infinity Stones, Thanos (Josh Brolin) has used their combined power to eliminate half of the universe’s population, thereby achieving what he describes as a “Balance” capable of sustaining life. Although Thanos views his actions as righteous, there are few individuals who share his sentiments, least of all Earth’s mightiest heroes, the Avengers, who lost many friends and allies in the process.
One person not lost to Thanos’ decimation is Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), an omnipotent superheroine who possesses the abilities of flight and super-strength. With her assistance, the Avengers are able to rescue Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) from the outer reaches of the Solar System, before embarking on a mission with the aim of finding Thanos, reclaiming the Infinity Stones and returning the universe to its pre-decimated state.
Avengers: Endgame is the twenty-second chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and an unusual one, having been the subject of a coy, clandestine marketing campaign. Initially announced with the title of Infinity War – Part II, the film was soon after referred to as “Untitled Avengers sequel”, and continued to be until the release of a teaser trailer late last year, which saw its subheading made public for the first time. What’s more, in addition to being peculiar, the film’s advertising has been quite deceitful.
Contrary to the synopsis and poster above, Captain Marvel has very little involvement with the affairs in Endgame, making only fleeting appearances in the story; so too Thanos, the principal antagonist of Infinity War, who remains present in this picture, yet occupies the screen far less often. The shortage of screen-time for both characters isn’t a major concern when watching the film, but it is emblematic of a challenge fans must contend with: having to forfeit all expectations.
Even for those who have seen all of the previous instalments in the MCU, predicting where the plot of Endgame is heading proves a nigh-on impossible task. This is evident barely a few minutes into the picture’s three-hour runtime, positioning itself as a straightforward tale of retribution before the title appears, and morphing into a completely different story only moments later. Deception of this kind isn’t restricted to the first act, either – there are plenty of other moments where twists are thrown at the audience.
In most circumstances, such unpredictability would be cause for concern, yet that isn’t the case with Endgame; if anything, the chaotic, capricious nature of the screenplay only makes it more gripping. With every second that passes, the tension heightens, the actions of the protagonists become increasingly drastic, and the viewer’s palms become sweatier. And then there are the many revelations and unexpected appearances that weave their way into the film, all of which make proceedings even more delightful.
Complimenting the gratifying story are the many attributes Endgame shares with the Marvel films that came before it. This includes the acting, with the entire cast being in top-form – particularly Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, both of whom appear for a sizeable amount of screen-time; the fight sequences, which are among the most ambitious ever filmed; the special effects, cutting-edge as always; and the humour, which is more bountiful than ever.
In fact, the humour is so plentiful in Endgame that it borders on silliness. Although comedy has long been a staple of Marvel Studios, it is usually employed to counteract the more serious moments in its films, thus finding a balance between light and dark that pleases the masses. But in this instance, Marvel is keener than ever to incite laughter from audiences, and takes their approach to the extreme, going as far as to characterise the noble Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as an incompetent buffoon – a far cry from his previous portrayals.
It should also be noted that Endgame isn’t an entirely absorbing experience. Although the film never feels three hours in length, there are instances that will test the patience of viewers, particularly during the first and third acts. But, on the whole, the fourth Avengers movie is one that engages and thrills better than most others, leaving audiences – and fans especially –glued to the screen, desperate to see the long-promised final showdown and know the outcomes of their favourite heroes.
Marvel Studios had nothing left to prove after twenty-two films, having already established itself as a creative force unmatched by its contemporaries; yet with Avengers: Endgame, the brand has once again astonished moviegoers via a riveting, unpredictable screenplay that constantly rewards the franchise’s devotees. Rest assured, this is not the end of Earth’s mightiest heroes – there’ll be plenty more of their adventures to come.