Sunday, April 28, 2019
Based on the Marvel comics series by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Avengers: Endgame is the sequel to 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War in which members of the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and several others band together to battle Thanos following the events of the previous film. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the film follows the troubling aftermath that forces the Avengers and their allies including new ones to make sense of what happened and get revenge towards Thanos. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Brie Larson, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danai Gurira, Tessa Thompson, with the voice of Bradley Cooper, and Josh Brolin as Thanos. Avengers: Endgame is a grand and supremely epic film from Joe and Anthony Russo.
Following a battle against Thanos, remaining members of the Avengers and various allies deal with the troubling aftermath as they vow revenge and to find Thanos yet things become more complicated. It’s a film that does play into the fallacy of revenge but it’s more of a study of loss, failure, action, frustration, and the inability to change anything. Yet, there is also this story of hope and second chances as it relates to not just the six original members of the Avengers but also the allies who have survived. The film’s screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely opens with the whereabouts of Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who had been absent in the Avengers’ conflict with Thanos as he gets a shocking glimpse into what Thanos had done. It would lead to an arc as someone consumed by grief and loss as he would become a rogue assassin until Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) finds him and takes him home. Romanoff would also deal with the fallout of Thanos’ victory as she is trying to keep the peace with members of the Avengers who are still dealing with issues relating to past events as she sees this schism as a family coming apart.
Much of the film’s narrative takes place years after the defeat from Thanos where the members of the Avengers struggle to move on with Barton going rogue and Romanoff feeling lost during its first act. Bruce Banner/the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) eventually finds peace in being both while Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) both living different lives. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meanwhile would become a recluse troubled by his inability to save those he cared for as he is the most reluctant to re-join the Avengers following a re-appearance from Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) who had been stuck in the quantum realm for five hours (quantum realm time) as he believes there is a way for the Avengers to undo what Thanos did. With the help of Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), they would take this one chance to make things right as they would also revisit events from the past in key sequences during the second act. The third act does relate to Thanos and his mission from the previous film as well as why he felt the need to gather all six of these infinity stones as a way to bring balance to the universe by getting rid of half of its population. Due to the aftermath and the Avengers’ desire to undo all of that, Thanos would have a final confrontation with the Avengers realizing how stubborn they are in their refusal to accept defeat.
The direction of Joe and Anthony Russo is definitely gargantuan in the world that it sets though it starts off in a simple presentation with Barton teaching his daughter how to shoot a bow-and-arrow while his sons are playing catch and his wife Laura (Linda Cardellini) is preparing for the family picnic. It’s a moment that sets up the dark reality of what the Avengers are facing as its first act that would also involve Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) who is powerful enough to defeat Thanos by herself yet things become complicated as she along with Okoye (Danai Gurira) would briefly appear in the second act providing the Avengers news about the universe. Shot mainly in the Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, the film is set in a grand universe though much of it is set on Earth in upstate New York at the Avengers compound as well as parts of the universe including a few other planets and the African country of Wakanda.
While it is a film with some heavy themes, the Russo brothers do know where to put moments of humor as it relate to Rocket and Banner traveling to Norway to meet with Thor as they would also meet Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who has managed to survive with some Asgardian refugees. Other moments of humor play into the mission during the film’s second act with some references to past stories but also somber moments as it relates to loss for Thor, Stark, and Rogers. The usage of wide and medium shots doesn’t just play into the locations but also in getting all of the characters in a single shot including the film’s climatic showdown. There are also close-ups that help play into the emotional reaction of the characters and a few funny moments such as an exchange between Rhodes and Nebula during a mission as it relates to a character. The Russos also know how to maintain that need of awareness in ensuring that the audience is aware of what is happening, where, and when as it play into the mission at hand during its second act.
The film’s third act have the Russos take a page from the epic cinema of the past as it relates to the climatic showdown between Thanos and the Avengers. Yet, to call it epic would understate what the Russos have done for this gargantuan battle sequence as it all relate to Thanos’ biggest fear. The stakes are big as it relates to not just the infinity stones but also preventing Thanos from using it all over again where everyone play a part as it would also include a moment of how much all of these people whether they have superpowers, gifts, or other things can matter. The ending is about sacrifice and what some will do to make the universe a better and safer place. They are people, aliens, or beings from different worlds and planets who care more about those who can’t fight or don’t have any kind of power but refuse to bow down to some monster. It would be followed by what is probably one of the most touching and heartfelt endings captured on film that would be fitting to these characters who have done so much to make the universe in what it is no matter how flawed or how stubborn they can be. Overall, the Russos craft a tremendous and exhilarating film about a bunch of superheroes going one more round with some evil supervillain.
Cinematographer Trent Opaloch does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of lights and moods for the look of the film’s climatic battle scene as well as well as the exteriors in some of the planets as well as the interiors for scenes in the day and night. Editors Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt do excellent work with the editing as it help play into some of the film’s humor with some montage-style cuts as well as some rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense, action, and drama. Production designer Charles Wood, with set decorator Leslie Pope and supervising art director Ray Chan, does amazing work with the look of the Avengers compound as well as some of the sets that the Avengers go to in their big mission during its second act. Costume designer Judianna Mokovsky does fantastic work with the costumes in the suits that Avengers and Guardians wear as well as the quantum suits they would wear for the big mission.
Special makeup effects artists Carlton Coleman, Nancy Cummings, Tim J. Hays, Jonah Levy, Gaby Macias, Bart Mixon, Jon Moore, Christopher Allen Nelson, Taylor Schulte, and LuAndra Whitehurst, along with key hair stylist Michelle Diamantides do terrific work with the hairstyles of Romanoff, Danvers, and Thor including in some of the makeup that some of the characters would wear including Nebula. Special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick, along with visual effects supervisors Dan DeLeeuw, Philip Leonhardt, and Kelly Port, do incredible work with the visual effects from the look of Thanos and various characters to the aging of a few key characters from the past along with the look of some of the planets and places in the film. Sound designers David Farmer and Shannon Mills, with co-sound editor Daniel Laurie, do superb work with the sound in some of the sound effects that is created along with the sounds of objects and the atmosphere of certain locations including the array of sounds for the film’s climatic battle.
The film’s music by Alan Silvestri is marvelous for its bombastic orchestral score that is triumphant at times that include themes from previous films but also some low-key and somber themes that play into the drama and the sense of grief while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a wonderful soundtrack that features a different array of music from the Rolling Stones, Traffic, Redbone, the Kinks, and Harry James with Kitty Kallen along with previously used score pieces from Richard Sherman, Michael Giacchino, Pinar Toprak, and Christophe Beck.
The casting by Sarah Finn is great as it feature some notable cameo appearances from Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, Marisa Tomei as May Parker, Jacob Batalon as Ned, Angela Bassett as Queen Mother Ramonda of Wakanda, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, James D’Arcy as Edwin Jarvis, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, John Slattery as Howard Stark, Rene Russo as Frigga, Taika Waititi as Korg, Maximiliano Hernandez as Jasper Sitwell, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Linda Cardellini as Laura Barton, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross, Ross Marquand as Red Skull, Kerry Condon as the voice of F.R.I.D.A.Y., Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Terry Notary as Black Order member Cull Obsidian, Tom Vaughn-Lawlor as Ebony Maw, Michael James Shaw as Corvus Glade, Monique Ganderton as Proxima Midnight, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Other notable small roles include Emma Fuhrmann as the older Cassie Lang, Alexandra Rachael Rabe as a young girl named Morgan, Hiroyuki Sanada as Yakuza boss Barton is tailing after, Ken Jeong as a storage facility guard, Yvette Nicole Brown as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, director Joe Russo as a grieving man at a group meeting, and Stan Lee in one of his final film cameos as a man in the 1970s. The voice of Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff, and Zoe Saldana are terrific in their respective roles as Guardians of the Galaxy members Groot, Drax the Destroyer, Peter Quill/Starlord, Mantis, and Gamora while Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, and Winston Duke are superb in their respective roles as King T’Challa of Wakanda/Black Panther, Princess Shuri of Wakanda, and M’Baku. Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Evangeline Lily, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, and Tom Holland are fantastic in their respective roles as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Hope van Dyne/Wasp, Dr. Steven Strange, Wong, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man as they all play a key role for the film’s climax.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Tessa Thompson are wonderful in their respective roles as Pepper Potts and Valkyrie with the former nursing Stark back to health and the latter watching over the remaining Asgardian refugees in Norway as both of them would play key roles in the final battle. Danai Gurira and Brie Larson are excellent in their respective roles as Okoye and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel with the former as a Wakandan royal guard who is watching over the state of planet Earth and the latter as the powerful warrior who had been fighting in the galaxy as she would help the Avengers find Thanos as they would also take part in the final battle. Don Cheadle, the voice of Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, and Paul Rudd are brilliant in their respective roles as Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Rocket Raccoon, the android Nebula, and Scott Lang/Ant-Man as allies who suffered major losses as they also want to make things right with Lang providing a key idea that could help everyone while Nebula deals with her own relationship with Thanos as well as other troubling aspects that she believes would cause trouble. Josh Brolin is incredible as Thanos as the alien despot whose quest to find the six infinity stones has him believing he’s succeeded only to later realize that his mission to defeat the Avengers is far from finished forcing himself to get back in the fight.
Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner are marvelous in their respective roles as the super-assassins Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Clint Barton/Hawkeye as two gifted mercenaries who both deal with loss as Johansson cope with the aftermath of war as she tries to get everyone together while Renner displays the mad grief and loss that Barton endures as someone who had everything only to lose it in the worst way. Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth are remarkable in their respective roles as Bruce Banner/the Hulk and Thor with the former as the scientist who becomes a monster when he’s angry as he finds a balance between the two as he tries to figure things out while the latter is a fragile Nordic god who believes he’s failed as he is afraid to fail again only for the Avengers to help him regain his confidence. Finally, there’s Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. in great performance in their respective roles as Steve Rogers/Captain America and Tony Stark/Iron Man as the two leaders of the Avengers who both endure an uneasy reunion only to later put aside their issues and fight with the former as a man letting go of his ideals and the latter trying to make peace with his own faults.
Avengers: Endgame is an outstanding film from Joe and Anthony Russo. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visual effects, an engrossing story of loss and redemption, gorgeous visuals, offbeat tones, and a bombastic music score. It’s a film that isn’t just this grand epic superhero film that does everything it needed to do but a true cinematic event that is willing to explore humanistic themes as well as those who are willing to fight for the helpless whether it’s on planet Earth or any other planet in the universe. In the end, Avengers: Endgame is a magnificent film from Joe and Anthony Russo.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Spider-Man: Far from Home
Post-Infinity Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Eternals – Spider-Man: No Way Home – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Thor: Love and Thunder – Werewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Phase Five: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania -Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – The Marvels – (Deadpool 3) - (Captain America: Brave New World)
Phase 6: (Thunderbolts) – (Blade (2024 film)) - (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)
Related: MCU is Cinema: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 – Pt. 4 – (Part 5) – (Part 6) – (Part 7) - The MCU: 10 Reasons Why It Rules the World
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