Actors Help Avengers End Game to Shine

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Actors Help Avengers End Game to Shine

"Avengers: End Game" showcases the talent of its star-studded cast. (Courtesy of Facebook )

"Avengers: End Game" showcases the talent of its star-studded cast. (Courtesy of Facebook )

"Avengers: End Game" showcases the talent of its star-studded cast. (Courtesy of Facebook )

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By Greg Mysogland

Eleven years since the release of “Iron Man,” Marvel Studios has completed the first long chapter in the overall story of its sprawling cinematic universe. “Avengers: Endgame,” which provides the epic resolution to the conflict begun in last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” lives up to its name.

The film concludes some of the franchise’s longest-running storylines and retires some of its longest-standing heroes. It is a profoundly moving film that has to be seen to be believed — a truly unique spectacle in cinematic history that touches on a wide array of emotions.

With half the universe’s population erased from existence by Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) use of the Infinity Stones, only a few of our heroes remain (though enough to still make up a large ensemble), all of them scattered and broken.

The original six Avengers and James Rhodes/War Machine are joined by Rocket Raccoon, Nebula, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and Scott Lang/Ant Man for a desperate attempt to avenge the fallen and undo the calamity.

But one of the things “Endgame” does better than most of its Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) predecessors is generate genuine uncertainty as to the success of its heroes. To describe how or why would risk spoiling some of the film’s many surprises. I can say, however, that the loss of hope from several characters that the galactic wrongs can be corrected allows the film to address themes of grief and trauma, giving it the emotional charge of a great character drama.

This is thanks in large part to the graceful work done by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who have scripted several of the MCU’s strongest installments) and the all-star cast.

Showcasing this cast before several of its members leave the MCU at the film’s conclusion is obviously one of the main goals of “Endgame,” and arguably its biggest success. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Mark Ruffalo (Hulk) continue to show why they are perfect for their roles, the former earning some of the biggest laughs and one or two standout character beats. However, the dramatic changes made to Thor and Banner may not please all viewers.

Karen Gillan provides another understated, effective turn. Nebula, her character, experiences abuse as Thanos’ his adopted daughter which serves as an important reminder of his cruelty.

Thanks to one of the script’s clever surprises, Gillan is able to display the character’s trauma in several distinct manners, which is truly impressive to watch. Jeremy Renner is, for good reason, the most thoroughly broken by Thanos’ genocide.

This allows for an intense and haunting performance that shows why Renner, who has been underrepresented in past installments, is one of the most versatile performers in the franchise.

But this last outing belongs, rightfully to Robert Downey Jr., Evans, and Scarlet Johannsson, given their fundamental importance to the entire Marvel franchise. There are not enough words to fully express the range of emotions these three figures guide the viewer through.

Evans gets to display rare vulnerability thanks to the universal tragedy, while also delivering some of the film’s most cathartic moments with his trademark charisma. The script recognizes that Natasha is very much the heart of the Avengers, and this allows Johannsson to shine brightly as a hero whose love for her adopted family is so strong that she never loses faith.

And Downey Jr. simply is Tony Stark. The unbreakable link between the actor and his character make his emotions feel genuine on a level few screen performances ever reach. Tony Stark’s journey in the film has a profound emotional gravity as a result.

Of course, there is plenty going on behind the scenes that needs to be addressed. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo deserve immense praise for all their efforts, especially their ability to create some of boldest, most well-shot blockbuster action sequences ever filmed.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feigealso deserves recognition for guiding the entire massive franchise to this historic moment and beyond. I could go on and on. But it suffices to say that, while it features some problematic and likely controversial choices, “Endgame” succeeds spectacularly as both a deeply heartfelt ending and an exciting new beginning.