Every generation has its own pop culture cinematic legend; an entity so ingrained in the social consciousness of the time it will be remembered and loved for many years to come. I think it’s now safe to say that Marvel can sit proudly in this category, alongside Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will know that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have been releasing films that interweave and reference one another for the best part of 11 years, culminating with its 22nd, Avengers: Endgame. Following directly from the events that unfolded in Avengers: Infinity War, we find the remaining members of the famed team coming together one last time to take down the Mad Titan, Thanos. To tell you any more would simply spoil things for you, (even Marvel kept things very close to the chest, showing virtually nothing in its marketing – testament to the sheer devotion their fans have for the brand and Marvel’s confidence that Endgame will be seen en masse.)
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo return after deftly taking up the gauntlet from Joss Whedon (who did a stellar job setting up the Avengers collaboration), with Infinity War’s screenwriters, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, also returning. Filmed back-to-back, Endgame still stands on its own merits, and where it may not be as bombastic as previous Avengers outings, its heart and soul very much lie with the original core team, the development of the characters and the conclusion of their journeys over the past 11 years. That’s not to say that it’s light on action, just that the focus here is to tie up the strands – of which there are many, hence a 3-hour runtime that seems to fly by thanks to a well-paced script. It was particularly great to see some of the, dare I say, less popular members of the team receive some substance – most notably Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. Again, kudos goes to screenwriters Markus and McFeely for juggling multiple storylines and characters and keeping it coherent.
To go in expecting anything other than fan-service would be naïve. Endgame will make you laugh, gasp, cheer and in all probability, cry, with a final battle littered with moment after moment that will have MCU purists beside themselves. Sure, the cynic in you could pick apart plot holes (some are outright chasms), and naturally, when you’re trying to conclude this many character arcs one ought to expect some heavy exposition. But here, such cynicism is outweighed by the sheer fun that’s to be had with the old gang. After 11 years, this is your investment paying off.
For me this is what a trip to the cinema is all about. If you’ve not been following the MCU or are planning on ‘catching up’ over the weekend, the results will obviously be different to those who have invested 11 years of anticipation. It’s a cinematic phenomenon, an event, an experience akin to the fanatical followers of Star Wars. And, for all the corporate naysayers out there, it is films like Endgame that will keep the multiplexes alive. I’ve seen many hugely popular franchises at the cinema, but none have had quite this effect on the people around me; it reminded me why I fell in love with film in the first place.
Now would be a great opportunity for Marvel to take stock, recalibrate and plot their next masterplan. They have absolutely nothing to prove at the moment and it’s going to be a while before we experience another franchise this big leaving its mark on the universe. With Endgame, the MCU is concluding a triumphant cinematic legacy, bestowing upon us an ending that is fitting and emotionally driven, finishing the Infinity Saga on a high.