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Was ‘Avengers: Endgame’ The MCU Conclusion We Wanted Or The One We Needed…

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‘Avengers: Endgame,’ has moments where I had to pinch and remind myself that this is a film about comic book superhero characters. There were times, however, when I was punching the air in sheer delight, moved to the edge of the sofa through wracked nerves and sobbed uncontrollably when it all got a bit too much, and all this in a film that I have seen 3 or 4 times now.

I mentioned in my recent review of Infinity War that I was a relatively late convert to the MCU. I always thought they were entertaining enough but ultimately a little silly and just full of smug cos-playing wisecrackers. Infinity War changed all of that, after watching it with Marvel devotees in a packed cinema, I suddenly understood that these films mean a hell of a lot to people and I was being drawn into it all, so much so that I started buying the blu-rays and rewatching them all and I finally understood the devotion. 

Watching Endgame for the first time at a packed screening with my son, (who never had any doubt about the MCU) it was once again a piece of event cinema, things that truly are rare. It was a special day.

Yes, the film is long, but not really that you would notice. I remember thinking that the first meeting with Hulk was at the start of the movie, but it’s actually 35 mins in, the film keeps up a cracking pace. Besides, there are a lot of loose ends to tie up here. I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but as if this is the last hurrah for many of the characters, the original 6 Avengers (Iron Man, Cap, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye) are put front and centre in this one, it is their film. The exception is Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man who was absent from Infinity War but here offers the majority of the comic relief.

The beauty of this film is that by and large, it is a conclusion, unlike some franchises that have ambiguous endings that allow for further development, here the story for the majority is satisfyingly ended. The loose ends are neatly tied, and the potential for other characters is firmly in place. 

I’m not bothered too much about the science, it’s not why I watch these films. I am here for the spectacle and there is absolutely bucket loads here. From a storming revisit to 2012 New York, too a heartbreaking trip to Vormir. There is so much going on but it is brilliantly put together and is excellent storytelling that is immensely engaging.

The MCU films, especially those of the last 5 years or so have demonstrated social awareness, whether that be ‘Black Panther,’ or ‘Captain Marvel’  breaking down barriers for diverse casting and superheroes, with Endgame being no different. The depiction of mental health issues that Thor goes through, is played partly for laughs granted, but are also an interesting change of direction for the most other-worldly Marvel character. Hemsworth himself seems to enjoy the challenge of showing a completely different side to the God of Thunder.

There is also the brief girl-power moment of the final battle that has received some criticism of it clumsy handling, but better to have a brief moment like that than not at all, and once again shows that the female characters of the MCU are equal to all their male counterparts.

Now onto the final battle. If I’m honest it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the Battle of Wakanda from Infinity War but it is still enthralling and contains one of the greatest punch the air moments of quite frankly, any film. 

The Portals scene warrants a new paragraph, it is simply majestic and for me, it is right up there with “I’m Spartacus”, George punching Biff and Lando flying the Falcon out of the 2nd Death Star, whilst engulfed in flames at the end of Return of the Jedi. Perfectly accompanied by Alan Silvestri’s rousing score, it is a moment that feels the MCU was building too. Even more touching that Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther is first out, especially when you consider that he led the charge alongside Cap in the Battle of Wakanda.

At this point the Cinema was literally bouncing, don’t think I’ve experienced anything like that in a UK cinema before. It was simply stunning. 

I won’t say any more about the battle, most people have seen it now and know the outcomes but I will leave it there. The final 30 minutes of the film is like one long epilogue, but it’s beautifully done and like I said at the start ties up many of the loose ends.

If I am nitpicking there are a couple of moments that didn’t land. I’m never a fan of jokes that in time will age a film. Of course, it is always great to see Korg but the Fortnite gag won’t mean much in 10 years, likewise Hulk doing the dab with his young fans, but these are minor quibbles.

This is Cinema at it’s most communal, at it’s most epic. It is packed full of perfectly choreographed action, a plot that isn’t too full of itself. There are moments of unexpected humour, emotional deaths of favourite characters (some you may have expected beforehand, one definitely not) and all in all it’s a film that makes you feel good. It does also make me feel quite emotional, as the end credit roll call (which is a bit like a theatrical curtain call) is one final reminder of the effort that has been put in over the years simply to thrill and entertain, but also a reminder that this will be the last time this phenomenal cast will all be together in one place.

What started as a Cinematic experiment concludes with flying colours. The MCU will continue after Endgame for that there is no doubt, if it can just reach half the level of thrills and excitement then there is lots to look forward to.

FILM RATING

My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4 year old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.

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Comic Book Movies

The Batman | Official Theme By Michael Giacchino Is Here

In his second year of fighting crime, Batman uncovers corruption in Gotham City that connects to his own family while facing a serial killer known as the Riddler.

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Genre:

Action, Crime, Drama

Release Date:

March 4, 2022

Director:

Matt Reeves

Cast:

Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard, John Turturro, Jeffrey Wright

Plot Summary:

The Batman is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. The film is being produced by DC Films and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and is a reboot of the Batman film franchise. The film is directed by Matt Reeves, who wrote the screenplay with Mattson Tomlin.

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Disney +

Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight | Official Trailer | Disney +

A former U.S. marine, struggling with dissociative identity disorder, is granted the powers of an Egyptian moon god. But he soon finds out that these newfound powers can be both a blessing and a curse to his troubled life.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

March 30, 2022 (Disney +)

Creator:

Doug Moench

Cast:

Starring Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, Gaspard Ulliel

Plot Summary:

A former U.S. marine, struggling with dissociative identity disorder, is granted the powers of an Egyptian moon god. But he soon finds out that these newfound powers can be both a blessing and a curse to his troubled life.

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MCU

Opinion | No Way Home Can’t Actually Be Nominated For Best Picture, Can It?

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Yes, I realize that my previous opinion column was also all about superhero movies, but given that we are heading into awards season, the idea of a Best Picture push for Spider-Man: No Way Home seems asinine. I cannot be the only one that feels this way, but after seeing tweets in support of Sony’s For Your Consideration campaign, it sure feels like it.

Let me preface by saying that I loved No Way Home. Not the 1996 Tim Roth movie, which was filmed in my neighborhood in Staten Island, but the latest MCU flick. I should also say that it has felt as if Marvel has tried to lose me as a consumer; Black Widow was horrendous, Shang-Chi fumbled the ball in the third act, and Eternals was hot trash trying to disguise as something it wasn’t: artistic. Had my sister not gone with me to see it, I would have walked out. And the MCU shows have yet to grasp me, I saw WandaVision and was on board until the last episode, got about 10 minutes into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, saw the first episode of Loki, and skipped any of the other shows that came and went.

But who doesn’t love Spider-Man? I even gave No Way Home a B+ in my review, which is higher than I expected going in. Was it the nostalgia? Probably; I can’t act like No Way Home had the smartest plot or anything like that, but it brought back a child-like joy that has been missing in other MCU movies. At the end of the day, there’s a reason Sony can reboot the character every five years, and that’s because Peter Parker is a universally-relatable character. Tom Holland’s iteration has been good, but I’ve always been critical of the young actor outside of his MCU work. I’m sorry, but Cherry is anything but sweet and I don’t even want to try and guess what Chaos Walking was. The Devil All The Time was a promising start to his post-MCU career, but projects like the aforementioned Cherry and Chaos Walking leave such a bad taste in your mouth but I digress. Maybe Uncharted can be his franchise outside of the MCU, but that is yet to be seen.

What Holland was missing in his Spider-Man movies was some growth. The “Iron Boy” conversation has been talked about ad nauseam, but the criticism was fair. What happened to the “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” that stuck to street-level crime? Thankfully, No Way Home seemingly opens the door for that to come to fruition in the inevitable next trilogy. To his credit, Holland showed his ability to actually act emotionally for the first time outside of The Devil All The Time in No Way Home. Not that Holland’s acting in a scene with a major loss and the subsequent scene should get him Oscar gold, but it was a great step in the right direction. This is where the conversation about No Way Home and Oscars gets messy. Yes, Holland was great in the scene, but are those two scenes really good enough to bump Andrew Garfield, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch, or Nicolas Cage (who should be nominated for Pig) out of the Best Actor race? I guess the campaign isn’t pushing Holland too heavily, but it felt needed to touch on.

But with all of that being said, does No Way Home even belong in the Best Picture conversation? Look, it was probably one of the best movie-going experiences of my life, even the press screening was eating it up, but favorite films and the best films need to have some separation. No Way Home is great, but it shouldn’t take away the shine from films that feel on the brink like tick, tick… BOOM!, CODA, or Drive My Car for goodness’ sake. All three of those pack just as, if not more emotion than No Way Home did with its one major death.

And on the subject of the emotional beats of No Way Home, do you really care if that character dies if you haven’t seen the previous two movies? Let alone all of the nostalgic gimmicks the film pulls out of its web. Do we really expect that Oscar voters are going to sit through the Raimi trilogy and the two Amazing Spider-Man movies just so they can understand why Alfred Molina is hilariously de-aged in No Way Home? Or why (seemingly) every other joke is a wink directly at the camera? That’s a laughable proposition.

Alfred Molina as Doc Ock in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

We can all agree that Holland is great in No Way Home, but the whole movie is full of good performances. Marisa Tomei and Willem Dafoe are both great, especially the latter, but why can’t we just nominate Dafoe for the right movies such as The Lighthouse or Nightmare Alley? It’s the Pacino situation all over again, and it would be even worse given that Dafoe never gives an “I’m too fucking old” monologue as Pacino did in his Oscar-winning performance in Scent of a Woman. Jokes aside, Dafoe deserves an Oscar sooner than later, but No Way Home feels like the wrong movie at the right time.

“But what about the box office?” Well, it feels like a no-brainer that No Way Home did gangbusters at the box office. Is the ascent to the top six all-time domestically and top ten worldwide impressive given its time in theaters? Absolutely. That accomplishment cannot be taken away from it. But are we just going to act like Far From Home didn’t gross a billion dollars? Add in the leaks and levels of speculation going into No Way Home. Yes, the likely journey to the top five in terms of highest-grossing movies worldwide is impressive, but this isn’t the “little indie that could.”

I’m not an Oscar voter, but at the end of the day, there are more than ten films that feel more worthy of one of the ten Best Picture slots. Oscar-darlings like Belfast and King Richard may be divisive among critics, but it could be argued that both films told important stories that outweigh that of No Way Home. The Power of the Dog may seem like a “pretentious critic” movie, with the pacing of a snail, but it’s another film that handles heavy themes like toxic masculinity in a poetic way. If I had a ballot, as of now, the ten films that would fill my Best Picture category would be (in alphabetical order): Belfast, Bergman Island, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Drive My Car, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, The Power of the Dog, and The Worst Person in the World.

THE POWER OF THE DOG BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as PHIL BURBANK in THE POWER OF THE DOG. Cr. KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021

None of this is to take away from No Way Home‘s accomplishments or what it has done for theaters. When I was at Scream last night people were still flooding into the IMAX theater to see No Way Home. It’s a wonderful thing, but I also think that we are getting ahead of ourselves to think it should be worthy of Best Picture contention because, at the end of the day, it’s taking away attention from smaller, intimate movies that tell stories with equal emotion and are not contingent on knowledge of eight other movies. Don’t these tentpole movies already take enough attention away from the mid-to-small budget movies at theaters?

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