Review: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Brings It Home with an Emotional Finale
A strong, emotional reaction to a film is a powerful thing and if anything, that’s the goal. We are meant to feel a deep connection to a film and its characters, smiling when they do something meaningful, laughing when they say something funny, and crying when they leave us for good. Movies are emotional gateways and behind the curtains, the filmmakers work tirelessly to project a wide array of feelings onto the audience and deliver a meaningful experience.
(Light spoilers ahead. D’uh.)
Pulling out of the station, Avengers: Endgame opens with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) shooting arrows with his daughter, while his wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini), grills hot dogs and watches the other children. It is a tender, quiet moment — the first of many in the film — but one that is filled with dread. For anyone who has seen Infinity War (and the post-credit sequence from Ant Man and the Wasp) knows where this is going. Staged with a simple elegance, the scene lingers on Clint as his daughter walks off-screen to reclaim her arrow, and when he turns around, she and the rest of his family are gone. And thus begins this emotional rollercoaster. We’re in the Endgame now.
Five years after the events of Infinity War, the surviving members of the team are still trying to cope with their losses, some better than others. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has married Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who he shares a quiet life with at a lake house where they raise their daughter, who in a sweet moment tells her dad she loves him times 3000. In New York, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) leads support groups in order to help others — as well as himself — move past the tragedy and see the positives the world has to offer, such as the sight of whales swimming in the Hudson. Having further exposed himself to gamma radiation, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffulo) has fused his personality with the Hulk’s, and is now a kinder, gentler, smarter Hulk, who takes selfies with his fans and finds smashing things a little gratuitous. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), on the other hand, has taken to drinking and has gained weight. Meanwhile, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) has taken herself off the frontlines, coordinating what is left of the team from Avengers headquarters, where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), having returned from the quantum realm, comes knocking. With Lang’s help, the remaining Avengers are able to formulate a plan to retrieve the infinity stones and use them to bring everyone back.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Avengers: Endgame takes us up, over, and through a spiral with sentimental tributes, poignant reunions, tragic farewells, and the occasional joke for levity’s sake. Admittedly, some of the jokes fall flat, some of them don’t. But every single touching, soul-stirring moment lands, going right for the heart where it most counts, every single time. This journey brings us home with a flourishing, near-perfect final act that hits all the right notes and plays the audience’s laughs, cheers, and tears like a musician conducting an orchestra; a potent example of giving the audience everything they want and then some.
Working in perfect harmony with the characters’ emotions and the audience’s empathy towards them is Alan Silvestri, whose dynamic score amplifies the film’s most powerful moments with high-spirited sentimentalism and big adventure. More so than Infinity War, Silvestri allows his music to soar, taking his exiting themes to new, emotional heights. Highlights from the score include a character’s lengthy, but touching goodbye; a jazzy rendition of “The Avengers Theme”; and a number of suspenseful cues evoking the composer’s usual flair for dire action. But it is the the stoic battlecry of the final battle that gets our blood pumping, our eyes pouring, and our uplifted spirits ready to fight alongside our heroes, a moment that is more than worth the price of admission.
While there are plenty more adventures to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Endgame at its heart feels like a closing chapter. The filmmakers wrap up over a decade’s worth of storytelling — and nearly every loose end —with determination and precision in a way that feels definitive and fulfilling, cathartic even.
What is it about this film that gets the audience so worked up? Why do the lives of fictional superheroes stir our hearts and send tears to our eyes? Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of 11 years, 22 films, and over 40 hours worth of stories. By this point, these characters feel like our friends, you could even call them family. We’ve been through a lot with them, having been with the characters during their worst times and their best times, and likewise, they’ve been with us during ours’. Their fights are our fights, their losses are our losses, and their victories are our victories. And while the hyperbole is in full force, this deep connection is what makes Endgame an unforgettable experience Marvel fans will never forget.
I love Endgame 3000!