The Reelist is a column featuring Kristen Page-Kirby’s musings on movies. For Washington Post film critic Michael O’Sullivan’s review of “Avengers: Endgame,” click here.
One day I will win the lottery and I will buy a movie theater. In this Kristenplex, there will be certain rules. If you check your phone at the door, you will get a $5 concession credit. If you elect to bring your phone into the show — let’s say you’re waiting on a kidney transplant — and you take it out at any point instead of running to the lobby, your seat will deliver a mild electric shock. Loud chewers are banned for life. You are allowed three whispered comments to the friend next to you; after the third you must remain silent or you will be ejected from the theater. Ideally via a fighter jet-style ejection seat, though I admit that would be yet another distraction for the other patrons. In my theater, silence and concentration will be the rule, and that rule will be enforced with the iron fist of a crazed dictator.
I would make an exception for “Avengers: Endgame.”
This is the MCU movie that concludes the current arc, “The Infinity Saga,” which began with “Iron Man” in 2008. That’s why some fans suspect that a few beloved characters may not be around for whatever comes next. Here is all I’ll say about the plot: Fifty percent of the universe got Thanos-ed at the end of last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” Now the Avengers who remain — many of whom have kicky new hairdos — are trying to fix that.
“Endgame” is captivating on an emotional level — after all, we’ve been with some of these characters for over a decade. We’ve watched an Asgardian prince come into the power he was never quite sure should be his, an inter-terrestrial team of weirdos form a family that includes a talking tree, and a scrappy kid from Brooklyn give his life for the country, only to be brought back to do it again and again and again without complaint. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (who, as they showed with “Infinity War” and their other Marvel movies, are extremely talented when it comes to balancing a zillion storylines) ably bring the audience into a complex story built on complicated feelings.
“Endgame” also succeeds in getting its viewers whipped up. Throughout the film I heard gasps, sniffles, laughs, applause and a couple of well-timed “YEAH!”s. I usually wish for a level of silence bordering on monastic, but I was fine with all this. In fact, I loved it. In fact, I was gasping and sniffling and laughing and applauding right along. This is a movie that demands that sort of release. The Avengers are our buddies. They’re our heroes. They’re our team — and you can’t be silent when your team is battling it out on the field.
Every movie requires some sort of investment from its audience. Some movies make that connection through cheap tricks in the script or the score. Some reach out quietly, drawing viewers in. When a film genuinely connects with its audience, it rewards them with an emotional experience — sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly. “Endgame” is a movie that encourages and rewards vocal enthusiasm; it would be no fun in a silent theater.
For the three-hour “Endgame,” you still need to leave your phone in your pocket and avoid conversing with your neighbor (you will also need to pass on the Coke unless you are wearing Depends). But I give you permission to cheer on the team we’ve come to love. In fact, I demand that you do.