By Subhash K. Jha
Film: Avengers Endgame; Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannsen, Jeremy Rainer, Don Cheadle, Josh Brolin; Director: Anthony & Joe Russo; Rating: ***(3 stars)
Entering the cosmic universe of the Marvel super-heroes as they all assemble in a swaggering spectacle of strength and temerity, Ais like a child being put in a middle of the largest toystore in the world and told he canA buy any and everything he wishes.
The child is so confused by the big treat he forgets why he was there in the haven for escape in the first place.
TheA extravagance of this epic-designed non-epic is meant to salute one last hurrah of the great superheroes who all have their individual mass followers. A Imagine what happens when they all come together under the same roofaYeah, just imagine!
Firstly the scriptwriters must be credited for their audacity, if not their ingenuity. To write something that accommodates more than a dozen super-heroes without toppling over into the abyss is no mean achievement.
Avengers Endgames doesn’t topple over. But just about. It manages to keep its head above the water as the propulsive but not compelling storytelling ambles through what looks a gallery of emphatic episodes that spotlight the ‘cool’ proportion of the characters Awithout making any genuine effort to understand why these superheroesA find themselves becoming irrelevant in comparison with theA super-villain.
The harder the superheroes try look relevant theA less we are impressed.
Thanos (played with majestic gravity by Josh Brolin) the villain is the reason why we have all gathered here today (all, on screen and down below clapping and cheering). Thanos is a villain by default. He believes the world needs more than a slew of super-heroesA to make it relevant. And he is right.
AndA there lies the problem in this posh but pale sendoff to the beloved Marvel super-heroes. ItsA lineup of heroes(which includes many cameo appearances by beloved heroes, male and female, whom we may have forgotten) seems like a bunch of over-the-hill do-gooders who could do with a long break from saving the world.
And they are getting, it seems.
These super-heroes areA no match to the magnificent rhetorical heft and tonal supremacy of Thanos. And they know it. The narrative therefore revels in their underwhelming presence enjoying their post-prime existence. They throw barbs jokes and taunts at oneA another.
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is shown to be potbellied beer-guzzling former idol, now idle. Hemsworth as well as the other hugely popular super-heroines seem to enjoy themselves but are held back from letting go by a hafisted unbearably selfimportant script which knows the audience is with the characters Aand allows itself to take the audienc for granted.
AEverybody is shown taking him or herself dead seriously. The writing clearly reveres the outdated heroes too much to question their relevance. Hence many scenes seem like guests that have long overstayed welcome. In one early sequence when the plot is trying to build itself up into a universally likable construct, a half-eaten sandwich plays an important part. The super-heroes are constantly shown searching for their relevance in a world that has all but abandoned them.
By the time the great war between the super-heroes and Thanos’s malevolent kingdom breaks outa”and this is clearly what we’ve all been waiting for– the writing is clearly on a downswing.
The poorly constructed Aplot Aderives its primary energy from the various eras that the superheroes visit via a time machine whose presence suggests an infantile silliness rather than a homage to HG Wells.
I am pretty sure these characters have never heard of Wells. Nor do they seem to care if their worldview of global destruction never goes beyond the comicbook spirit. For a film so high on testosterone it seems ironical that we come away with so little that’s like a toystore-unlimited. ‘Avengers Endgame’ is a surge of temporal spectacle that begs to be supported by something more than mere idol-worship. What we get is not so much the end of an era as a marathon farewell episode to a saga that is clearly in the mood for a re-invention.
(Subhash K Jha can be contacted at [email protected])