Avengers: Endgame — How Far We’ve Come (short spoiler-free first thoughts)

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Recently, I watched YouTuber Ralphthemoviemaker’s video series on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which I would highly recommend. But he doesn’t start with 2008’s Iron Man. In the first video of the series, Ralph starts all the way back in 1986 with Howard the Duck. He then discusses everything from then to Iron Man, including the decent but campy Blade trilogy, the ridiculous Daredevil and Elektra, and Ang Lee’s laughable Hulk. It made me consider how far superhero movies have come in just two decades. Sure, we still see misfires all the time, as with any genre. But from my vantage point, the increase in quantity since the early 2000s has led to an overall rise in effort. 

Recall, if you will, the unbridled insanity of Nick Nolte’s rant at the end of Hulk. Why did anyone, let alone Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, think that was something audiences wanted to see? Or how about the infamous basketball sequence from Catwoman? Mute Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, anyone? Yeah, I thought not. 

Fast-forward a decade to Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of a behemoth undertaking which cares deeply about its characters, has genuinely laugh-out-loud humor, and whose action, while loud and bombastic, is rooted in actual stakes — goals achieved and true triumphs sought.  

If you’re not a big MCU fan, I totally get it. But this is a big, big deal for me. I love comic books. They fascinated and inspired me as a kid and into my teens, and even now I’ll kick back and peruse new issues. The fact that Disney allowed this little spark of an idea that began a decade ago to blossom organically and refine its voice after they purchased the intellectual property is nothing short of a minor miracle. This kind of thing will never happen again. Not to this degree or this level of artistic success.

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I think Endgame is most notable as a signpost of how far we’ve come. Gone are the cheesy cinematography and attempts to appeal to the ‘youths’. Added are the stakes, pacing, pathos, and character development best exemplified in the genre by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The best films in the genre have built upon each other, just as the best MCU films add new and interesting tones and shades to this universe. The Russo Brothers have really pushed the boundaries of what is possible in movies. Their knack for balancing all of these characters and all of these flavors is just astounding, and I have never seen anything quite like it. This movie loves its audience and rewards us for taking this journey. It gives and gives and gives, and yet remains perfectly balanced, as all things should be. 

-George Napper

Cinefalcon articles about Endgame will return

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