Avengers: Endgame marks the end to an unprecedented twenty-two film franchise, the sprawling and varied Marvel Cinematic Universe. An ending to such a wide range of films has to do a lot of things, and Endgame does it well, blending all that we have come to expect from a Marvel film and resulting in an interesting synthesis, shifting tonally from funny to serious, charming to grave, without missing a beat. Perfectly balanced.
Endgame excels at everything that has made the Marvel Cinematic Universe so successful. It is, above all, supremely entertaining. With the enormous cast of characters available to the writers, they make the most of it, playing characters off each other to create fantastic moments of tension and comedy, with every interaction moving the plot forward. There is not a second wasted in this film, not a scene that could have been cut; an impressive feat for a three-hour superhero film. Endgame is by far the longest Marvel film to date, but it never drags. The plot moves along without too many of the dreary, weepy scenes that have featured in previous entries to the franchise.
“There is not a second wasted in this film, not a scene that could have been cut”
Endgame is strongest in how it examines the lives of those who have been left behind after the events of Infinity War. We see sides of characters previously unseen on the screen - we see how the Earth and our eponymous Avengers grieve, both collectively and individually. Although the trope of the broken and dejected superhero is nothing new, Endgame does a fantastic job at genuinely examining the lives of the survivors, with all the guilt and anger that come with it.
However, Endgame falls down in much the same way that many other Marvel films have. Visually the film leaves a lot to be desired; yet again we are subjected to the dark purple/blue/green hue of space, the dimly lit interior of the villain's ships, the oh so obviously added in post orange hue of a sunset. Nothing stands out visually, the costume design for the most part is rather drab and cliché. Endgame is certainly not an unpleasant film to look at, but given the vast number of different locations we visit in the three hours, far more could have been done to differentiate them and give everything a little bit of character and style.
“Endgame has to be all things to all people, and by default this means that it lacks any real distinctive style”
Of course, being possibly the largest summer blockbuster cinemas have seen yet means that in certain respects, Endgame has to be all things to all people, and by default this means that it lacks any real distinctive style. This is a shame, as films such as Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther demonstrated just how innovative and colourful the world-building and visuals in a Marvel film can be. Despite the epic scale of the battles, they lack any real sort of tension or excitement - at a certain point the hoards of grey and brown CGI warriors (most of whom are mowed down by the dozen with seemingly minimal effort) suffers from the law of diminishing returns.
For all this however, it is clear that Endgame is one of the best movies to have come out of Marvel Studios. It will have the die-hard fans laughing, as well as weeping, and it remains above all else an incredibly entertaining film. When all is said and done, Marvel films are slowly becoming their own genre in its own right - they possess their own aesthetic and cinematic language, with an enormous audience who know what to expect, and are very clear about what they want. In a way, with Endgame we might just have the defining film of this genre.
In a nutshell: A fun, entertaining film, with a great cast of characters, which remains somehow a tad forgettable. A Marvel movie, in other words.