After the creative (and financial) success of Infinity War, Marvel faced a dual challenge with Endgame. Namely, how would it top the previous effort, and resolve the myriad questions it set up (how will half the heroes, who turned to dust return? Is there any beating a being with the power of a god?)?
After viewing the film, it is clear that all events on screen are the result of meticulous planning.
While Insights will not delve into spoiler territory (Thanos demands our silence), it is not giving away too much to suggest that this film has two different competing concepts of sacrifice at its core. During Infinity War, Thanos responded to the ecological challenge posed by overpopulation by requiring others to pay the ultimate sacrifice. In Endgame, The Avengers struggle with what will be required of them and what they will need to sacrifice themselves in order to save the rest of humanity. These include family and life itself. For Christians, these themes of what we must give up in the wider service of others remains poignant. The film has its share of Christological motifs, although exploring these in too much detail would, again, mean entering spoiler territory.
Endgame deftly play off every Avengers film to date. This is no mean feat, with 22 other films. To the Russos’ credit, nothing comes across as shoehorned, and the film’s setup is less obvious than the many fan theories would suggest.
While Endgame marks the end of the current phase of Marvel films, it won’t be the last. The film has already pushed past the billion dollar mark, breaking virtually all opening box office records. The film also provides a few potential avenues for where the cinematic universe may go from here, and has decades of potential material to mine in the comics.
And yet, Endgame feels like the end of an era, the final part of a puzzle that Marvel has worked on, piece by piece, over the past decade.
This is realised all the more by the fact that it is the last film to feature a cameo from Marvel figurehead Stan Lee. Watching it is a bittersweet experience that lingers long after the film is over, inviting you back for multiple viewings.
Although Endgame does not have an end credit scene, there is something at the very end worth listening for (and speculating over).
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor