By Sapna Khajuria
For Marvel fans, the world is divided into two groups–those who love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and well, those who don’t know what they’re missing out on. My boys and I am part of the first category and like millions of fellow fans, had been waiting for Avengers: Endgame from the very second Avengers: Infinity War ended.
At the end of the cliff-hanger that Infinity War left us with, Thanos had decimated half of the entire universe with one snap of his ring-laden fingers, and many beloved superheroes had met a shocking end. Once the collective gasps of shock had subsided and everyone managed to pick their jaws off the floor, began the discussion on if and how Thanos would be defeated; and whether the dead superheroes would ever return. Multiple theories abounded the cyber world (Reddit and fan sites went to town with crazy theories) and meal time conversations at our house were peppered with outlandish theories and debates.
I swear on the many gazillions of dollars that this film is sure to earn, that this review shall contain no spoilers. Without revealing specifics of how the Avengers go about it, know that some ingenious, out of the box thinking had to go into their plan to defeat Thanos. If there ever was a time for the Avengers to assemble, this is it. So do they rely on the trope of magical revival of dead superheroes that’s followed by many movies? The answer’s a bit complex. More than a decade since the roller coaster ride of the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe movies began with Iron Man; Endgame ties up with finesse, various pieces of a puzzle that originated in the 21 movies that preceded.
Here’s what you can expect from this three-hour long slick flick:
It’s been five years since the destruction unleashed by Thanos, and the Avengers are a mess–Iron Man is pissed, Captain America is trying therapy to move on, Hulk is a Zen-like mix of his two personas, Thor has a serious case of beer-induced dad bod, Clint is missing, and Black Widow is struggling to keep the Initiative together–as Iron Man quips, they are more “Pre-vengers than Avengers”. Each is wracked with survivor’s guilt until a much loved superhero returns with the idea of a time heist to defeat Thanos. After a slow build up in the first 15 minutes, the time heist takes us to Vormir, Morag, Asgard and New York for a firecracker of an action sequence. While the pieces of the puzzle are being subtly put together, you’ll find yourself experiencing eureka moments when you connect scenes from previous movies with some crackling scenes from this one.
The action scenes are, as expected, shot brilliantly; and the loudest applause and whistles from the audience today were reserved for Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and Captain Marvel. Towards the climax of the battle with Thanos, the entire auditorium was filled with loud cheers from the adults and children alike. Alan Silvestri’s music is subtle and powerful in turns, and the background score in the New York battle scene is superlative.
It’s not all fun and action though–Anthony and Joe Russo’s film explores themes of lost chances at love, family, friends like family, and deep insecurities that plague the strongest of superheroes. While the core Avengers get ample screen time and enough range of emotions to experience – from survivor’s guilt to a feeling of inadequacy and failure, to friendship and loss; other equally beloved characters appear on the screen far too briefly- but it was only to be expected in such a story of epic proportions and more superheroes than you can keep track of. A strong performance from Josh Brolin sets “I-am-inevitable” Thanos apart as one of the strongest characters in the film. The star / time-zone crossed lovers Captain America and Peggy Carter, sombre talk of despair, and the deaths of some beloved characters make for poignant scenes towards the end. Thor’s trusty Mjolnir plays a crucial role in the battle, as does a fair dose of what my children termed “the Avengers rugby fight sequence.” In Infinity War, Doctor Strange spoke of only one out of a possible 14 million outcomes that would lead to Thanos’ defeat. For a one in a million solution, the story of the film is a worthy culmination of an epic saga. In a nutshell, from a parent’s point of view:
Yay or nay: A resounding yay and 4.5 stars.
Swear-o-meter: Besides the odd “son of a bleep” and, “horse****”, there’s none.
Humour quotient: As expected from the MCU writing folks, many quips and banter find their place. The funniest one-liners are dished out by Iron Man, Rocket Racoon and Ant-man. My favourite is Rocket Racoon telling a dishevelled, potbellied Thor, “You look like melted ice cream.”
Is it too long? At three hours plus, it may sound like a long film, but the story’s twists and turns provide enough thrills to make up for it.
Should you carry tissues? Emotions run strong and my movie watching companions wept through a few scenes, so a pack of tissues will definitely come in handy.
Positives to take away from the film / talk to your kids about: “Be who you are; not who you are supposed to be” is the answer to many of the characters’ dilemmas and is worth a quick chat, linking it to the themes of friendship, family, sacrifice and courage.
Tough questions to expect: If good always wins, why did all the sad stuff and deaths happen?
My pre-teens’ review: The movie was “next level and epic”, and can we please watch it again tomorrow?
Is this the end of the road for these superheroes? Far from it–Spiderman: Far from Home will release in July 2019, and will surely be followed by sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Captain Marvel. Plus there’s talk of a Black Widow film.
Go for it: Use special blinders, unfriend those who love revealing movie plots on social media, ignore spoiler reviews, and please oh please give a thumbs down to those who leak pirated versions (yes, Tamil Hackers, I am referring to you). Buy yourself tickets to this epic story of courage, redemption and friendship, and be sure to stay until the credits end.
(The writer is a lawyer by training, who would rather be a full-time globetrotter, and mom to 12-year-old twin boys who share her love for all things filmy.)