Written by: Fajar binti Benjamin
Warning: (Very) mild spoilers for Avengers Endgame.
Sitting down in the theatre for Avengers Endgame is an experience I’m unable to forget. I savoured every frame on the screen, every word of dialogue, every face pulled or gesture made. I feel like I hardly blinked or breathed through the entire thing. I was completely enraptured, as was everyone around me. It was absolutely magical.
Everyone is going to say the same thing and use the same word, but it was a culmination. It was 21 movies, a million heartbreaks and laughs and disappointments and moments of ecstasy brought to a head. Through the 11 years, friends and boyfriends have come and gone, sitting by my side through these movies before disappearing in a snap, but the promise of joy has always remained.
And so it comes to a close.
Avengers Endgame is a beautiful movie. Full of split-second frames of pure ecstatic energy, the kind of shots that comic fans will gush over for mirroring their favourite runs or will fill film fans with a satisfied glee that comes with seeing the filmmakers hit a home run. The pacing, while slow, gives weight to each character’s journey as they complete their arcs, stringing the audience along as it moves with purpose. It is because of our history with these characters that the filmmakers feel confident enough to take us to intimate places.
It’s messier and heavier and the surface seems rough, especially compared to Infinity War’s glossy but impersonal finish; but it shows us the trust that we crave in its frayed edges. Like seeing a friend’s room messy for the first time.
As usual, the acting is perfect. We have seen this cast pull impossible feats of narration over and over again. At this point, there isn’t an actor in the enormous roster who doesn’t seem to be possessed by the spirit of the characters they are playing. Still, there are standouts. Karen Gillan as Nebula deserves all the praise for how she handled the turns between petulant and angry and at peace. Scarlett Johansson was given more emotion in this movie than ever before and she definitely brought it. Paul Rudd really stood out despite playing the supposedly minor character of Ant-Man. But of course, the star of the show was Robert Downey Jr. If we were to do this Malaysian Prime Minister style, we’d call him “Bapa Kehebatan (Father of Greatness)”.
Without getting into details, the third act battle scene (this can’t be a spoiler, you knew it would have one) has to be one of the best group action sequences to ever be put to film. It manages to keep the insane scale of the battle within perspective while zooming in on each main character’s personal battle, utilising their unique strengths and motivations to create a mosaic of awesome. Full of fanservice to really satisfy the fans after all these years of waiting, it isn’t afraid to give us too much of what we want and the result is an invigorating half hour, that never feels stale or repetitive.
However, the movie, unfortunately, is not beyond criticism. On the surface of it, Avengers Endgame is a miracle, a feat of spectacular heights, a respectful end to a journey that many of us hold sacred. But the movie does not hold up to critical thought – its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. The continuity of it is unparalleled in cinematic history, but because of this long build-up of 20 movies, the movie simply cannot grant every character the ending they deserved. I’d go as far as to say, some of their endings fell into the dreaded convention of “aesthetically pleasing at the expense of character”.
I won’t get into too much detail, but it’s so very cruel of Marvel to make us fall in love with these characters, only for so many of their endings to be flippant, in some cases played for gags and in others downright out of left field, destroying the characterisation that has been built thus far.
The other complaint fans may have is the gaping plot holes this movie allows for as it tries to fix everything without removing the weight of the last movie. It had to be something out of the box of course, but with that left field direction comes a lot of unknown and inexplicable territory. For many people, this won’t matter too much. As my lecturer reminded all of us the morning of its release “it isn’t real” (she was trying to convince us Endgame isn’t worth seeing). She was right. It is far far from reality so the gaps in logic shouldn’t be too disturbing.
Apart from that, the movie was flipping awesome. It has an infinite rewatchability factor with new details jumping out at each screening I’m dragged to (actually please stop I have finals) and it’s on a fast track to making the most money in the box office ever. It’s currently sitting at 2.2 billion US dollars and only has about a half billion to go to beat out Avatar. If you’ve never watched a Marvel movie before, you won’t understand a thing that’s happening, but I’d say it’s worth the ticket just to be a part of history. Maybe see Screen Junkies’ 40-minute recap video beforehand. If you have followed along, even somewhat vaguely, you’re in for the ride of your life.