The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) now extends over 10 years of film history with a total of 22 films. There was fighting, crying, storming, beating, shouting and laughing. After the success of IRON MAN (2008), no one would have believed that this film series would succeed in claiming the title “cinema blockbuster” for itself over a decade. Anyone who questions this should be convinced by a good 18 billion arguments (the entire worldwide box-office takings in US dollars). Even if the franchise has to face criticism with regard to the limitation of the diversity of the cinema programme, it cannot be denied that as a cinema fan you have longed for the meticulously introduced finale with tingling hairs on your neck. Especially after AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR proved to be one of the most unexpected film ends of the last years: As a spectator you have to be prepared for everything with Marvel. On to the finale, the 23rd film in this series, the completion of Phase 3 and certainly the successful rounding off.
Don’t worry, especially when it comes to comic film adaptations you don’t want to surprise any fan – and in AVENGERS: ENDGAME you can be prepared for a few. That’s why we only cut briefly into the beginning, which everyone already knows.
Life on Earth has changed fundamentally: According to the proverb, half the population has disappeared into thin air and only a handful of the Avengers have been left shaken. After the grief over the loss of many beloved friends and family members, there is only one thought left: revenge on Thanos. He has comfortably put his feet up on his veranda on a planet in nowhere and enjoys his successful plan. Here we have arrived at the first minutes of this three-hour epic, and in the first days we would like to cover the remaining content with the cloak of silence. Because every planned twist and every kind of surprise hits the nail on the head of the spectators’ expectations.
Many fans have already had tickets for the first screenings for weeks, have meticulously studied and analyzed the previous films. What else could happen? Is there any way to undo everything? Captain Marvel may have tremendous powers, but can she undo things? Even as an outsider one could clearly notice the tension to the hardened film critics and journalists in the cinema hall of the press presentation. Many a cup of coffee became cold during these eventful 182 minutes.
In order to dissolve this mixture of expectation and tension, the Marvel director dream team Anthony and Joe Russo do exactly the right thing: It brings everyone back to the simple life with the first scene. And that’s what Clint Barton alias Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) stands for. Without a title, without an intro, we are brought into his idyllic family life right at the beginning and have to watch his stroke of fate, which was triggered by snapping our fingers. Bringing Hawkeye forward once again is an important and sensitive decision of the Marvel Creative Forge, because he is one of the few main characters without superpowers or technical upgrades. He even decided that his own family was in front of the Avengers. Maybe not everyone can understand such a decision, but it makes Barton incredibly human. This is important in a story of intergalactic battles, powerful Infinity stones, and creatures throwing moons around. The viewer, in whose head the story first becomes an experience, is just a human being with all his weaknesses and strengths. This also seems to be the red thread that the screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely followed. Because the ENDGAME is quite a show of the most human heroes of this ensemble.
Thanos as opponent
What makes the previous film so pleasantly refreshing for the genre is the character Thanos as a powerful antagonist (Josh Brolin). His plan does not follow a ludicrous greed for power or self-destruction, but a kind of spiritual conviction. Brolin is sluggish in his facial expressions with the powerful figure, but in his eyes he allows enough cleverness to see through to predict things. If INFINITY WAR was the movie in which Thanos could shine, in ENDGAME it is clearly the founders of the Avengers: Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Nevertheless, Thanos remains one of the most impressive villains of the past superhero stories. He not only completes his plan with foresight, but constantly analyzes and renews it. Of course, he remains a thick purple block that relies on his powers, but his almost Buddhist presence still makes him an omnipresent threat.
Due to all this hyperserial construction of the MCU, AVENGERS: ENDGAME is not a film in the conventional sense. Already in INFINITY WAR one had the feeling to watch the greatest hits album of a superhero band. Anyone who doesn’t at least know the most important Marvel films will bubble question marks into the air with an open mouth or perhaps have already fallen asleep – especially with characters like Rocket Raccoon, easily the most handsome Avenger. It remains an action film with fan service tailored to its target audience. Each character is given her action-relevant development, her strong moment, and even Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who in the last films has provided more emotional bonding for the Avengers than power, gets a few strong sentences from the screenwriters. The word originality cannot be used in ENDGAME’s mouth anymore, because it remains the finale of a series that has always worked towards it piece by piece. But that’s fine, Disney knows its audience and delivers what they have ordered including potential for upcoming movies (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 3) and series on the upcoming in-house streaming channel Disney+.
The way of the Avengers to get to the Infinity stones is certainly clear to every science fiction fan before going to the movies and to those who really listened to Dr. Strange in the last part. The solution is convenient, but a popular option to get the tension rolling again. Thus, it is not only fun for well studied Marvel fans, but also for all those who don’t know every movie by heart. This, however, causes the narrative to come to a halt halfway. Again and again you have to adjust to a different place and new familiar figures. The film demands a lot of attention and concentration from its accompanying viewers. Not only to recognize and interpret every little allusion in the MCU, but also an emotional one, to get involved again and again in a different relationship to the character on the screen. Those who keep this tension will be rewarded with a touching ending, but all the others will emotionally run after the end after the action-packed showdown. The final contains one of the best surprises, because the MCU finally breaks with its own laws. It comes across organically and surprisingly well.
But with the whole hero grouping, the complex stories and the effects thunderstorm something of the access to this world gets lost. The concentration on the most human heroes in this story does everything right emotionally, but there is a lack of understandable acoustic as well as visual physics for the viewer to feel into the plot. JURRASIC PARK made it through a vibrating glass of water and a steady monsoon rain. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE through a tightrope act in a skyscraper. Superpowers have quite their authority in a good movie. However, the inflationary use of powerful explosions and laser beams does not go any further. The experience must appeal to all the senses of the spectator, even if it is only in his imagination.
Despite this small flaw, it remains a glorious entertainment spectacle and a successful ending. Fans shouldn’t approach the best movie of the series with the expectation, it simply lacks too much independence, but rather enjoy the path they have taken with these 23 films, take their favorite hero as a role model and carry a piece of it to the outside world of the cinema. It may sound hackneyed, but the true hero is still the one who outgrows his own weaknesses, creates something and meets every day with his head raised.