Sunday, 9 June 2019



Well, it's finally over. The Marvel Cinematic Universe uberproject of twenty-two films over eleven years, knitting together a vast spread of superheroes and villains, timelines and cross-referenced appearances in each others' films, has reached its climax with a whopping three-hour conclusion that more or less resolves everything, bumps off a major character or two, gives most of the cast their big moment in the sun, and throws enough intergalactic CGI gosh-wow whizzbang to satisfy pretty much everyone. It could do with a trim, and sadly it doesn't do what I really wanted it to do, which was to finish completely (rather than the obligatory post-credits teaser it concludes with the trailer for yet another Spiderman film, and there are several more films in the Phase Four pipeline) - but this one is a pretty firm We're Done Here line in the sand.

At the end of the last one (Avengers: Infinity War), Thanos had won: he'd got all the Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers, instantly wiping out half the population including several of the Avengers and Guardians themselves, including Dr Strange and Spiderman. Now it's Five Years Later: Tony Stark has gone off to raise a family, Thor has turned into a fat drunk, while some of the others (Black Widow, Captain America) are still fumbling around trying to fight back. Then Ant-Man suddenly turns up from the Quantum Realm and formulates a strategy to go back in time and get the Infinity Stones before Thanos did. Inevitably this means trying to avoid meeting themselves, interacting with characters who showed up seven films ago: the usual wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff. But Thanos is on the Stones' - and the Avengers' - trail...

Avengers: Endgame is mostly pretty good fun; it's good to see (what's left of) the gang getting back together for one last battle and the all-star ensemble cast give it everything. Maybe I suffered through doing precisely zero revision (hey, there are more than twenty films' worth of backstory to wade through, it's not like whizzing through the Saw movies over a weekend). I also muted all the hashtags on social media in order to avoid spoilers, and this may also be why I have questions about the plot to which the answers are probably obvious: not least of which is [highlight for spoilers] why do the Avengers have to get all six of the Stones? If Thanos wasn't able to wipe out half the universe until he'd got the last Stone in Infinity War, then why couldn't they leave him powerless with only four or five? [end spoiler alert] . Like I say, maybe it's a blatantly obvious point but, as one who isn't a massive MCU enthusiast, I missed it.

In terms of colossal epic series of films, the MCU has been the most interesting and the most fun: the DC ones have tended to glum (though Aquaman was hugely enjoyable because it went the other way into eye-popping spectacle and had more humour and levity than the Nolan and Snyder films put together), Star Wars has been agreeable enough but for me nothing will ever touch the original trilogy, and Peter Jackson's Tolkein films were an increasingly weighty plod. Sure, some of the Avengers movies have been better than others - Thor was the first one I really liked, Age Of Ultron was so-so - but Endgame is definitely up to the overall standard. Perhaps it's justified, but it does take its time to get going and it does take its time to end (though the resolutions of several characters' stories are nowhere near as are-we-there-yet tiresome as Return Of The King's dragged-out finales): I could have done with a bit less, particularly at the start, but there's no denying that the very last closure of a character's arc one is surprisingly sweet, and the perfect note on which to end the film, and the saga.