Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
It’s a testament to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that even with some significant flaws, watching the 22nd film in the current series is still a pretty great experience.
The movie starts where “Avengers: Infinity War” left off, with the universe’s best intentioned villain Thanos having just culled the herd by killing off half the population of every planet in order to save environments and better utilize remaining resources. As a strategy, that may work in wildlife management, but it’s not too appealing when you find yourself to be the wildlife.
Tony Stark is adrift in space with no way home, and just about everybody is grieving the loss of friends, family, fellow Avengers, or all of the above. But all is not lost, of course, as we know that Nick Fury fired off one last message on his vintage but retrofitted pager – a device that no other crisis in the franchise so far had warranted the use of.
Enter Captain Marvel – which isn’t a spoiler unless you haven’t been paying attention – setting up one of the film’s problems: She’s like the super-superhero who, once you know she exists, reduces any sense of imminent tension. If the other Avengers all seem invincible in their own tentpole films, having one who out-powers them all just causes her to become the individualdeus ex machina of the ensemble story – the character who shows up to save the day when all hope seems lost. And in any subsequent film, no problem could possibly be all that bad if she doesn’t conveniently show up like clickable ruby slippers or Tolkienesque eagles.
There’s a moment, not to be specified here, when the filmmakers put on a show of girl power (which would be great in and of itself) with almost all of the female characters running a blocking pattern of sorts for Captain Marvel. Except it comes immediately after a scene in which she marvelously demonstrates that she doesn’t actually need the assist, and so it rings hollow.
But still it’s mostly great fun and wraps up a ton of loose ends as only Dr. Strange, Marvel’s answer to Bran Stark, might have predicted. Although, to be fair, it simultaneously poses almost as many questions as it answers. Some are paradoxical while others are as simple as trying to count sudden road accidents and failed second marriages.
However, in an era when franchises overstretch stories to gain extra installments, “Avengers: Endgame” delivers significant value for money with 181 minutes of bladder busting action. There’s a lull after the first half hour, but by the time you’ve had a chance to regret your beverage choices of the day, the action is so incessant that the person next to you probably won’t notice if you pee your pants.
Having already blasted past a billion dollars in worldwide box office receipts, one has to wonder how many ushers around the planet are wishing they could be snapped out of having to squeeze seat cushions dry.
All in all, Avengers: Endgame is an inherently spoileriffic film, without saying much more than that, it’s great fun for fans of the franchise and a reminder of Marvel’s amazing track record. I’m just hoping the seats will be dry in time for July’s “Spider-Man: Far from Home.”