Repeat Avengers: Endgame viewings reveals why the film works so well
If I could see every movie multiple times before I had to review it, I definitely would. Sadly, time and schedules don’t work that way. For that reason, I treat my reviews as an exercise in “first impressions". That said, I thought that Avengers: Endgame hit me on a number of levels on the first viewing, just given my deep knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as a whole. But now that I’ve had the chance to see it twice more, there are a few things that jump out at me.
First, a note about formats, having seen this in RPX, IMAX, and Dolby Cinema, I think the overall best experience was in the Dolby theater at the AMC Neshaminy 24. This was my first time seeing a spectacle film in Dolby, and it was a wonderful experience. The screen was incredibly bright and the sound was extremely immersive. I loved feeling every step Giant-Man was taking, even when he was just in the background, and I loved feeling every ship take-off or come in for a landing. When the standard theater experience has gotten worse and worse, with dim bulbs in order to maximize their lifespan and improperly masked aspect ratios, Dolby Cinema feels like a vision of what the future of cinema can and should be.
What I find most remarkable about repeated viewings of Avengers: Endgame is that the emotional moments of the film resonate even deeper on further viewings. The first time through I was so excited by the final battle against Thanos and trying to take it all in; by the third time, I was getting teary-eyed not only by Captain America (Chris Evans) wielding Mjolnir, but even much smaller moments like Scott/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) being reunited with Hope/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly). Talking to friends confirms this anecdotally, and I think it speaks to how we process media in our brains and our hearts. It isn’t knowing what happens so much as how and why that resonates with our feelings.
And that is something worth acclaiming about the Russo brothers’ film. Critics of the MCU films often dismiss them as forgettable or episodic. And that is likely true for them, but Avengers: Endgame feels like a refutation of that sentiment. Art can be used to accomplish many things, and for someone who spends so much time in his own head, cinema is a way to access emotions and feel things in a safe way. And a film that moves me on an emotional level never feels ephemeral to me.
There are many reasons why I love Avengers: Endgame, and while on the first viewing I was equally impressed by the spectacle as well as the emotional core of the story, that emotional component has only grown upon repeat viewings. And these are the things that create a sense of timelessness. A good friend on Twitter was lamenting that the Battle of Helm’s Deep from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers no longer looked impressive to him on a visual level. And while I disagree with that assessment, there is more harmony with talking about how it feels when Gandalf comes over the ridge at the pivotal moment.
So for those of you who have seen Avengers: Endgame in the theater, I urge you to find three or four hours out of your day and see it again. Sink into the bond between characters we’ve spent a decade with and relish in one last ride. We all deserve it.