You know it is the movie event of the year when the Thursday night parking is overflowing out of the lot and into the street, when the theater is filled to capacity, when a group of students mobs us before the event, and when L is so startled by a remark from one of the Marcus concessions employees that he staggers backwards and dumps his complementary popcorn. This is the Endgame, baby.
At three hours, there is certainly a lot going on in this movie, and L&D walked away less disgruntled than how we felt following Infinity War. Yet, our verdict is still lukewarm — not enough violence for the kids, not enough sex for the adults. I was somewhat apologetic after the show because I nodded off for a couple of brief stints, to which L provided a comforting word: “Of course you fell asleep: it was boring.”
So, there it is.
It’s possible that this was a little better than my first impressions, and snooze-it-and-lose it was the cause of my confusion as the film’s final 310 minutes ticked away — I often wasn’t sure whether some unusual plot reveal had been set up while I was napping. I think in most cases it was just a garbling of the narrative, which naturally stems from trying to fit together plots from 20+ movies all over the Marvel Universe (all of which I have seen, I think). But it’s also possible that I missed something. My son also saw this last night, and I was reassured because he didn’t know the answers to the questions I had, either (!).
The principal innovation in this movie is the introduction of blood relatives and the tension between duty to community and duty to immediate family. This is foreshadowed immediately, as the opening scene shows Hawkeye working with his daughter on junior hawking techniques, just as the great villain Thanos executes his purge from the climax of Infinity War. Ouch. The movie then somewhat ironically revisits the Tony Stark – Captain America spat from Civil War before exploring the aftermath of a worldwide genocide (irony might not be the best word choice here, but I’m happy to discuss the choice after you see the film). These two topics are potentially interesting, but are ultimately glossed over and underdone (I have since learned that they are chocked-full of insider jokes, so maybe the film makers were simply being cute). Whatever the reason, the movie had a lot of ground to cover, so the real movie begins when the gang hops into its Audi and heads out to what appears to be northern Wisconsin, where evidently Tony and Pepper are living dream. And away we go.
This is an epic undertaking and I think Marvel did a reasonable job getting all of the monkeys back in the barrel by the end. There is some very good humor in spots — look for Thor teaming up with the Guardians in a future blockbuster — and some surprises as we move through the plot, but ultimately we’ve seen this Thanos show before and so the whole villain element is just not that engaging. I found the action mostly dramaless and often tedious, in accordance with L’s adage, “If anything can happen, there is no suspense.” This doesn’t quite hold in an endgame situation, because some of these story arcs wrap up in their entirety, so there’s that. Endgame or no endgame, we counted at least three obvious next steps for this story arc, including some involving some of the loose ends they just didn’t get around to tying off.
L&D saw this in 3-D and I was very happy that it looked good and was not distracting. I forget how much of a premium we paid for the privilege.
Overall, this is the movie event of the year, so we’re happy we saw it. If you follow the MCU, I’m sure you don’t need our recommendation to see this. If you don’t follow the MCU, you might need to read one of those online “How to enjoy Endgame if you are otherwise oblivious to the Marvel Universe” primers. Those guides are also available for those who want to jump into the Game of Thrones final season, as well. I’m sure there is something to be said about that, though I’m not sure quite what. Perhaps you will be treated to one of L’s essays on the matter.
UPDATE: And, congrats to L on his good news. If you see him, give him a punch in the arm and a hug.