Sunday, May 05, 2019


When Samuel Beckett wrote his follow up to Waiting for Godot, a one-act play for four characters called Endgame, he wrote that this play needs to be performed in an empty room with two small windows. Marvel Studios has now given us their Endgame: a three hours plus film that takes place in many crowded rooms all around the universe, and windows to dozens of other referential works of cinema, including the Marvel Universe movies themselves. Any garden variety fanboy will wallow in the post-modernist recognition game, the rest of us will need a score card in case you want to keep track, which if you are just a casual observer of this cinematic phenomenon called Marvel you might not care at all.

But for those with a minor allegiance, or zero allegiance to the series, all you have to know is that the movie is a 2019 reworking of The Seven Samurai where the surviving Avengers try to recruit whoever is left in order to set the universe right again; or maybe it's about killing Thanos again, or maybe the real plot is about recovering magic rocks. It's mostly about all these with a little help from H.G. Wells's The Time Machine. In all likely-hood if you give the film more than just a cursory viewing its about how to bring to a conclusion one of the most profitable cinematic franchises in the history of cinema.

And try not to tell anyone who hasn't braved the crowds about the movie. These days, if you divulge anything that happens (fanboys consider every frame sacred) it is considered a spoiler, and people will consider you an outcast, and they will walk away from you when they see you heading to the water cooler during the morning coffee break. But then again, famboys will surely have beaten you to this film. I know one person who has already seen it three times.

I'm now going to make a confession. I enjoyed watching this film. I liked the way the narrative is presented. I enjoyed the performances, many of them, especially that of Robert Downey, Jr., who has spent more than a decade perfecting his Tony Stark. I doubt the film needed to be 181 minutes; there are sections that drag with dialogue that often misses the point. The humor is sophomoric. Scarlett Johansson complains that she is getting email from a racoon, and Thor has let himself go and now looks and acts more like "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski. But not to worry, before you know it, everything comes back to normal, (ooops, sorry about that, was that a spoiler?) and the film ends with...

Well, let me not get exiled from the water cooler at work.  Just go to see it. Half of this planet has already done so thus far to the tune of two billion dollars. Whatever you think of the film, Avengers: Endgame has become a cultural landmark for our times.