Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Directed by: The Russo Brothers
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Brie Larson, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd
Avengers: Endgame is the biggest movie of all time. They beat Avatar by any means necessary. It’s a historic achievement and it should be celebrated with the release of a comprehensive Blu-ray that focusses on history of Marvel, the MCU and the experience of making these extraordinary movies. While this release may not provide everything a die-hard Marvel fan might hope for, there is a lot to enjoy.
The featurettes on Avengers: Endgame cover a lot of ground. There are short documentaries on the Russo brothers, Bro Thor, Women of the MCU and much more. Unfortunately, they are short. Almost all of them come in at six minutes or less and often feel like trailers for the movie and not like celebrations of all that Avengers: Endgame and the MCU have accomplished. Even the deleted scenes feel like scraps. The only significant omission from the film was the scene where the Avengers kneel for Tony Stark, but that was released online weeks ago to spark interest for the Blu-ray release. The commentary track is solid and grants a lot of insight to how the Russo brothers and their team thought and felt about constructing the story and composing their scenes. Fans and future filmmakers should give it a listen.
Endgame will always be intertwined with the passing of Stan Lee and the documentary they composed as tribute was the highlight of the entire package. I remember watching an interview Kevin Smith had with Stan back in the early 2000s. Stan was almost starstruck by Kevin because he was a great filmmaker. He even said during the interview that he wished he had taken his ideas to MGM Studios instead of Marvel so that his stories could receive a cinematic treatment. Perhaps that’s why it’s so cathartic to watch the documentary about his cameos in the MCU. To get to see him work with the most talented filmmakers and the most celebrated movie stars in the world is so satisfying. All the people involved in the MCU treated him with the respect and reverence that he deserved. Stan transcended his medium. In that way, he was like Walt Disney or Alfred Hitchcock. He was a personality, an ambassador and a star. Comic books will only ever have one Stan Lee and it is fitting, almost poetic that the he got to witness and experience the MCU in his last ten years on earth.
The next best featurette would be the longest (over twelve minutes) and most engrossing of them, centering on Captain America. Chris Evans is often underrated for his portrayal of Cap. When people consider the perfect comic book casting choices they usually focus on Heath Ledger as Joker, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine or Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool to name a few. It’s almost heresy to imagine anyone but Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man but not enough credit gets paid to how different and integral Captain America is to the MCU. It’s a very difficult role to play. He goes through the most dramatic journey of any Avenger, literally through time (not counting all the time travel in Endgame) and always stays true to his morals, soldier-ethics and even to his one and only girl (also featured in a five-minute doc that made me misty-eyed). He’s capable but not cocky. He’s decisive and has the courage of his convictions. Almost everything great about the Captain America character has had the chance to shine over the last ten years and if this is the end, (the Russo brothers have left the door to a future Cap project ajar) then this documentary is a fitting goodbye.
The rest of the documentaries are fun, but they don’t go nearly as deep as I’d like them to. They do a serviceable job celebrating the MCU, but feel a bit shortsighted, especially in a year when we’re supposed to be celebrating the 80 years of Marvel history. Once again, I’m reminded of a tremendous documentary on The Lord of the Rings special features. They followed the cast and crew on parades and international tributes to the film. They showed hours of the filmmakers both hard at work and being mobbed by fans who were obsessed with the films they created. The MCU has had a similar impact on the world and I would have liked to have seen something where it was put into context. We live in a world obsessed with the Marvel movies. Every announcement, tidbit or spoiler trends worldwide. When I watch the Avengers: Endgame Blu-ray twenty years from now, and superhero movies have likely gone the way of Westerns, I would have liked something to remind me of how incredible it is to be a Marvel fan right now. While I wish there was more, this Blu-ray is a no brainer. Avengers: Endgame belongs in every fan’s collection.
Avengers: Endgame is released on Blu-ray August 13 and is currently available on Digital.