Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Few Thoughts on AVENGERS: ENDGAME (Spoilers)

What a week for nerds, huh? "The Long Night" and AVENGERS: ENDGAME in one weekend. It's pretty amazing. I wrote about "The Long Night" already and that was important enough, especially for me, considering how important the novels GAME OF THRONES is based on are to me. Last night I went to see ENDGAME and it was phenomenal. Not perfect, but pretty darn close.

Let me preface what I'm going to say here with this, I didn't particularly care for INFINITY WAR. I know I'm in the minority and I didn't hate it, but I didn't think it was as good as other people thought it was. It was a terrific spectacle, but that was all it was. I mean there were moments, but for the most part it just didn't land the way I hoped that it would. ENDGAME more than made up for it, in the opening scenes alone.

I mean, who didn't want to climb into the screen and hug Hawkeye?

As a guy that loves epic, this was terrifically epic while staying personal on so many levels. Scott Lang wanting to do what was right. Tony Stark reluctant to change because he basically got everything he wanted but realizing that it wasn't going to be that simple. Natasha Romanov becoming the leader she always was. Steve Rogers being Steve Rogers. Bruce Banner coming to peace with the monster. And Thor properly mourning his mother while crumbling under the burden of failure. I thought they spent just the right amount of time with each character and finishing their arc.

There were hiccups, though I thought the seeming disregard of the standard time-travel movie tropes was brilliant. The references to every time travel movies were funny, well-times and completely deconstructed. "So Back To The Future is a buncha bullshit" is such a terrific line and only Paul Rudd could deliver it that well. And actually Rudd is a highlight of the first half of the film. Scott Lang is the heart of the film and Rudd's frenetic, over his head  performance adds a level we haven't seen in these movies. The Avengers are highly trained and/or talented people. Ant-man isn't. In many ways, he's us. And that's why his character works. He's clever enough to figure out how to fix what's going on, but knows he's in over his head. I only hope I'd be wise enough to do what he did.

Banner and Rocket nearly steal the movie, especially in the first half. (Really the two halves are two different movies and work so well.) Professor Hulk is outstanding and Ruffalo really has been and always will be the best Banner. Rocket it Rocket and there's a really weird (and good) chemistry between he and Nebula in the film as they basically become one half of the "galactic Avengers." And I loved the Nebula arc.

I really thought Nebula was betraying the group, but was thrilled to see that it was nothing but network problems. Nebula had a nice arc and Karen Gillian was terrific at playing the two aspects of the character.

The "Time Heist" section of the movie was just brilliant. It was everything that it was supposed to be, from Natasha's sacrifice (I'll get to that in a minute) to how awry things go for each of the characters. Seeing Professor Hulk "smash" was hilarious and the whole "America's ass" bit made me laugh out loud. (It was equally important to Cap's characterization...that's not something he would've said pre-snap.) DadThor was amazing and, as someone said out on the Internet, will be the hot adult male costume of the year. Again, I don't care about how fast and loose they played with the traditional time-travel "rules." There was enough hand-waving for my concerns to go away. (I'll get to that in a minute.)

As usual with the Avenger movies, the handling of female characters was an issue, though seeing Pepper Potts as "Rescue" was bad ass. Captain Marvel was criminally underused and I had wanted her to be a bigger part of the resolution.

The final battle was amazing. Just pitch perfect, frantically kinetic and thrilling from beginning to end, it was thrilling. If you didn't get chills when you heard Sam's voice in Cap's ear, I weep for you. If you didn't feel something when Cap picked up Mjolnir, I have no time for you. Thor's genuine thrill that Cap was "worthy" was moving. Then came the moment we've been waiting for since we first heard of the Avengers Initiative, Cap's announcement of "Avengers...(pregnant pause)Assemble" was climactic.

Running the Gauntlet through the gauntlet was incredible. From T'challa to Spider Man to Captain Marvel and her personal Amazon guard, the sequence killed it. Tony' sacrifice was foretold but it was pulled off perfectly. Steve, seeing the happiness that Tony got with his post-snap life defies it all and stays in the past with Peggy. He got his happy ending. (Knowing that Bucky had Falcon helped.) Really, just a classic that rivals JEDI for the best conclusion ever.

A few random notes:

  • Doesn't it feel like the movie could've been four hours longer? I mean I want to see Nebula and Rocket as the Galactic Avengers and Okoye basically running Africa would be amazing. Rhodey chasing down Clint? A buddy comedy with ThorDad, Korg and Miek as Valkyrie basically runs New Asgard (that'd be a great story...who'd they convince to allow that?). We could do three movies (and I hope that's what they do) of what Captain Marvel's doing. 
  • You can't help but feel like the folks at Marvel wasted Bradley Cooper, though he's amazing as Rocket. 
  • Let's talk a sec about Rocket...what a great character. The loss of his "family" shakes him to the core and he's all business while retaining some of his Rocket ways. Like I said, the chemistry between he and Nebula is great, though he has great rapport with Professor Hulk too. 
  • RDJ is amazing. He's broken in this movie and looks sickly. And I think that's a wise decision. He should be broken. And it's his family that redeems him. The funeral is heartbreaking and is loaded with some of the best callbacks in the movie.
  • They've set up about 20 alternate universes, haven't they. Okay, maybe not that many, but enough: Loki with the Tesseract and Cap's life with Peggy. Can you say X-Men? Miles Morales? Fantastic Four? (Denzel Washington as Reed Richards...please, please, please) Next Phase here we come. Or at least the animated WHAT IF? show (please use the animation style of the STAR WARS shorts!!!)
  • When OldCap gave Sam the shield, I literally squealed. Loud. I can't wait for the Winter Soldier and Falcon television show. It's going to be amazing! 
  • You can't help but wonder if the director of "The Long Night" could've learned something about a battle scene from this movie. 
Marvel has mastered the "shared universe" concept and this was the pinnacle. It's going to be hard for anything to top this movie in that regard. I almost feel bad for the rest of the "Summer blockbusters" at this point.

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