Last night I finally got around to giving my 4K disc of Avengers Endgame a spin. Regular readers will remember my mixed feelings/downright disappointment with the film when I first saw it during its cinema release. The film proved to be a major success with most people though, and seemed to attract a huge repeat crowd and became the biggest box-office film of all time (inflation notwithstanding, I suppose). Can’t say I’d really seen that coming.
The numbers are frankly astonishing- the film cost over $350 million to make but earned $2.8 billion at the Box Office.
Watching it again though, and so soon after seeing Rise of Skywalker, the differences between the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes are boldly apparent. Avengers Endgame is everything that Disney and Lucasfilm felt that Rise of Skywalker should be, a huge climactic cinematic event that seized (for better or worse) the cultural zeitgeist and became the biggest movie of all time. Rise seems to have actually arrived with a frustrated whimper, awkward and uneven, hampered by being part of a dysfunctional trio, dividing its core fanbase or reinforcing present divisions, whereas Endgame seemed to have pleased most everybody in the core fanbase as well as the mainstream.
I still have my issues with Endgame. It seems unnecessarily convoluted, getting lost in myriad time travel paradoxes and finally succumbing to all the worst excesses of CGI bombast spectacle that I personally find boring. But on the whole it works, and serves as a summation of all the Marvel films before it, closing out the arcs of some fan-favourite characters/actors at the same time as handing off to a new generation. If it takes itself too seriously, well you can almost forgive it that considering its, what, the 22nd film in that franchise? Imagine a film being the 22nd in the Star Wars franchise- only a matter of time I suppose.
But watching it this second time I began to realise that perhaps it gets right more than it gets wrong. Or maybe compared to Rise, maybe its successes become all the more impressive. Then again, compared to Rise, most everything any Marvel film does appears pretty impressive. I don’t think Disney should go the Marvel route with Star Wars, although it does appear to be heading in that direction with some of the staff changes going on behind the scenes, but it is clear that the Marvel films have a fairly clear control on the mythology of all those decades of comics. Some of it is counter-intuitive and contradictory, and I don’t think they ever really nailed its most popular character (Spider-Man) in any of its screen incarnations, so its certainly not a successful slam-dunk. I shudder at some of the stuff in Marvel films just as I do watching Star Wars, but the good/bad ratio seems to fall for the better.