SPOILER ALERT! There is no need to review Avengers: Endgame because it is the crescendo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is one of those movies that could fall under the category of ‘epic’, like its predecessor, Infinity War. If you follow the MCU, chances are you pre-booked your tickets for Endgame last week. And if you aren’t interested in superhero movies, no article is going to change your mind.
But a movie is not just what the filmmakers want you to see. The cinematic pleasure heightens (or reduces) depending on various external factors that the film industry has little control of, like the crowd and its reaction, the crunch of the popcorn, that ridiculously tall person sitting in front of you… Well, in my three years in Chennai I have been loyal to Sathyam Cinemas for these reasons. Not only is the viewing experience great but their caramel popcorn is heavenly!
However, I was forced to abandon this loyalty for Endgame. Loyalty, schmoyalty, I want to know how half the universe that vanished with Thanos’ Snap comes back, I thought as I hurriedly booked my ticket in a Rohini Silver Screens, 11 km from home. The MCU had me trapped with the first Avengers movie but it didn’t help that the trailers and teasers of Endgame seemed to skimp on details, further sucking me into the hype. I’d advise you to revisit the trailers after watching the movie; it gives away more than you think but you didn’t know it at the time. Ah, the beauty of it!
7.30 am. The auto driver is mighty impressed that I’m going to Rohini theatre alone and wishes me best of luck. Bemused, I thank him, and turn around and go ‘ah.’ Men, all I can see are men, crowded outside the theatre doors that are yet to open. The words ‘sausage fest’ flash across my mind in big red letters. If you’ve ever watched a movie in Tamil Nadu with men in the theatre, you know it’s going to be a boisterous affair to put it mildly. You aren’t just experiencing the movie, the emotions in the plotline as a silent spectator; you are experiencing the crowd and their collective reactions.
And there will always be a group that laughs or hoots at the most inappropriate times — like when Tony Stark aka Iron Man dies after saving the universe by using the Infinity Stones, and a grief-stricken Captain America watches. Normally this would have annoyed me but I was somewhat grateful for the ‘disturbance’ this time. We all saw it coming, a gut feeling from years ago. Then a trailer showed a scene that said ‘Proof that Tony Stark had a heart.’ We all knew this movie was going to be the end to some/all of the original Avengers. Peter Parker aka Spider-Man crying over the body of his mentor works your tear glands but it became comical after that. I wonder how I’d feel about it had the theatre silently devoured the loss…
MCU has it down when it comes to extracting its laughs from the audience and Endgame was no different. Aside from ill-timed laughter, people chuckled over the running gag about the size of Captain America’s rear end and other such moments. The sense of nostalgia never left the film, which added to the beauty.
The movie hall was probably silent for less than half the movie and nostalgia is one of the reasons for that. It was nostalgia that made the crowd (including me) shout for every character, down to Howard Stark. The young crowd, pumped about the movie even before it began, whistled and shouted even as it was herded into the packed halls. Captain Marvel, who made guest appearances, got the loudest shouts (after Iron Man of course). But she remained just that — an interstellar guest who decimated everything at the last moment but wasn’t really a vital character. Well, other than saving Tony in the beginning, which sets everything in motion.
Yes, Endgame was awesome, but it doesn’t compare to the magnificence that was Infinity War. In fact, it’s a rat that saved the universe! A coincidence. Not fate, not destiny, not willpower, or inspiring speeches from a white man. It’s 2023, five years after Thanos made half the universe vanish using the Infinity Stones, and the rat accidentally flicks a switch that pulls Ant-Man out of the Quantum Realm where he was stuck. Ant-Man suggests the idea of a ‘time heist’ to Black Widow and Captain America, and there it begins, a predictable (yet exciting) story, tailored perfectly for an exuberant audience.
Time travel references were made (Back to the Future basically lied to you, folks), a domesticated Tony refused to help them change the past (does that sound believable?), and Dr Hulk comes in. Yes, Professor Hulk. Bruce Banner manages to come to terms with his angrier side and now the two are one. The way directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo have treated Thor, the usually muscular, confident and handsome god of thunder, is something to watch out for. All in all, Endgame was a fitting way to say good-bye to some, and wait for the future of others.
The lack of women in the audience made all the difference — the male gaze was more pronounced. But that’s part of the viewing process, isn’t it? The movie is never just your experience.