“Avengers: Endgame”, to my surprise, lived up to the hype swirling around it, and not for the reasons I would have thought, such as marathon battle scenes, breathtaking action shots, ingenious special effects – although there were those elements. No, the most striking artistry in this movie, that sets it apart from most comic book cinema, is its epic character development. Watching the film is like reading a great classic. The scenes are not distilled or edited into quick bursts to move the story forward. The camera stays on the players’ faces to see their reactions to each other and to the developing ramifications. This is done so well, there is not a sense of time slowing down – rather a feeling of empathy with the characters that we know as superheroes, who then enter the realm of our friends, that of “real” people.
The Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe, seem to be the perfect fit to helm the Marvel stories and have now directed four together. They did not have a long resume prior to their first directing gig with Marvel. Their only box office success was You, Me and Dupree in 2006 (an outstanding film.) They did bring to the table a boyhood love of comic books. The brothers were selected to helm Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014, and “the rest is history.”
The film’s story speculates on the nature of time, how the past feeds the future and how our gift of life is one to be passed on through generations. It touches on the impact of memories, the weight of our existence, on grief and the will to carry on to make the world a better place. The superheroes show their human side, their flaws, especially Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. The Russo’s trusted great actors such as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd to bring their own essence to each role. This movie has a “cast of thousands” – of A List actors, more than I’ve ever witnessed together in one movie, all bringing to life heroes we already know. The transitions hinted at in final moments point towards a shifting of superhero incarnations to reflect a more modern cross-section of society.
Naturally, there is creator Stan Lee in an unassuming role, laughing with glee, as always. Lee was born to immigrant Romanian Jewish parents in 1922. He co-created a library of colorful superheroes for Marvel Comics and led the expansion of that small publishing house division into a multimedia corporation. Lee passed away last November at 95, yet you will continue to see his cameos as he had completed many for inclusion in future films.
When we used to read comic books decades ago, before the advent of constant TV streaming and video games, we would use our imagination to endow eccentric characters sketched on paper with vivid, complex and layered personalities and backstories. With that in mind, “Avengers: Endgame” brings us full circle to the original experience of reading a comic. The inhabitants of this movie “jump off the page” and become your intimate friends.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. [email protected]