Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Screenwriters: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, based on the Marvel comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and comic books by Jim Starlin.
Robert Downey Jr.
Runtime: 181 mins.
Australian release date: 25 April 2019
Previewed at: Hoyts Entertainment Quarter, Sydney, on 23 April 2019.
How do you wrap up an 11-year film cycle comprised of 22 titles which has grossed around 26 billion Australian dollars so far? Do you go out with a bang or a whimper? If you’re talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s fair to assume there wasn’t much whimpering being considered: “Whimpering is for wimps!”, you can almost hear the studio execs saying, “We’re going out with the biggest bang we can possibly think of!” And indeed, they have. It’s quite the finale and a fitting end to the Avengers. Sure, it’s not the end of the MCU but it is a suitable tribute to a big part of it.
Picking up from where Avengers: Infinity War left off, we are treated to not a ‘re-cap’ but more a ‘reminder’ of how that film ended and the remaining Avengers are pretty down in the dumps, you might say. Jump forward five years and, over the dulcet tones of Steve Winwood singing “Do anything, take us out of this gloom” from Traffic’s Dear Mr. Fantasy, who should turn up but Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) with an idea that just might redress Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) catastrophic and deadly doings. Ant-Man kind of missed the last half-decade and how that occurred has given him the germ of an idea, a very crazy idea. Initially, Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is uninterested in the plan, happy with his now simple life, having hung up his iron suit, but events soon change that and he gets on board the ‘Time Heist’ train. All they need now is to get the band back together for one last almighty clash between the forces of Good and an alien Evil. To say more would be to spoil the fun or, perhaps, as one superhero (can’t reveal who) says to another in Endgame, “If I tell you what happens, it won’t happen.” Suffice to say the plot involves multiple forays to retrieve the Infinity Stones.
You’ve got to hand it to Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, who… envisaged is probably too strong a word, let’s say… hoped that all the characters in the worlds of Marvel Comics could be brought together on screen, when he mused about the concept at Comic-Con 13 years ago. It’s quite astounding that he has managed to pull it off, when you consider the number of creatives involved since Iron Man in 2008, the first film in the series. Feige, though, is the one constant, having produced every one of the movies in the MCU. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have been involved with quite a few of them, too, and they’ve done an excellent job of tying up multiple plot strands in Avengers: Endgame; you can only think that they’ve been refining this script ever since the end of Infinity War. It successfully marries high-concept ideas (quantum physics, anyone?), incredible action sequences and snappy, self-aware dialogue. There’s a clever balance of darkness and light on display here - much of their screenplay is very funny, leavening the doom and gloom left at the end of its predecessor and the beginning of this one. They even manage to drop in what, one suspects, is a reference to events in the real world, when one of the characters wishes that they “could return to a time before all this madness started.” Could this be a nod to another villain whose name starts with a ‘T’?
Finally, fans of the MCU will be aware that there was almost always a post-credit sequence in all the movies that hinted at what would happen in the next film in the series. Accordingly, the audience at the preview session waited expectantly while the (long) credits rolled, only to be treated to yet another surprise – nothing! Just darkness! What better way to signal that this really is the end of an era. Bravo.