Updated: Mar 14, 2020
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
(1) The Quantum Tunnel makes all the difference. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) uses his nanotech suit to form a new gauntlet to hold the stones and victoriously declares, "And I...am...Iron Man." (2) The tables are turned on Thanos (Josh Brolin). (3) Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) comforts her heroic husband.
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2019; PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some language; streaming via Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), iTunes, Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: Commentary with the Russo brothers and the co-writers
RIGHT FROM the get-go of this discerning commentary, co-director Joe Russo mentions how his teenage daughter Ava is the first person you see on screen, flexing a bow as Lila Barton, daughter to Clint (Jeremy Renner), a.k.a. Hawkeye. The scene was originally planned for the end of “Infinity War” right after Thanos snaps his fingers. The Russos inserted it into one of their edits but, ultimately, they felt it was “too disorienting.” The film-school conversation with the Russo brothers (Joe and Anthony) also includes co-screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus. The four are in complete agreement that the Barton family scene is a perfect opener for “Endgame,” which restated the finality of “Infinity War,” while quickly bringing the audience back emotionally.
“Avengers: Endgame” is the climactic movie of the 22-movie Cinematic Universe helmed by the Russo brothers, who also directed three other MCU films: “Captain America: The Winter Solider,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” Most of the cast and crew spent nearly seven years creating the Avengers. “They’ve been like family to us. We’re going to miss everyone,” says Joe, during one of the half-dozen featurettes, included on a separated Blu-ray in the 3-disc set and with the digital copy.
Majority of the production was filmed near Atlanta, on sound stages with enormous green backdrops, to give the VFX artisans a clean canvas for the superb computer-generated effects that dominate most of the scenes. They give a big shout-out to the team for making Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) look as if he’s at “death’s door” while on-board the Benatar, as he and Nebula have depleted their food and oxygen until Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) becomes their lifeline back to Earth.
They also spend some time talking about the character arc of Stark from his beginnings in “Iron Man” (2008) to the “Endgame” finale. “What’s most compelling for all of us as storytellers, I think, is making characters travel the greatest distance,” says Joe.
“Tony starts as an egotistical self-involved character; by the end of this film, he is selfless. This movie is a large part of his journey and complicates and brings to the forefront the essential conflict of who he is as a hero.” – Co-director Joe Russo
Collectively, they were fascinated with “Endgame” and how it examines the superheroes as they dealt with loss, pain and as flawed humans, says Tony. They also admit that the scenes with Captain Marvel were filmed before production started with Larson’s own film, which must be an interesting premise for the actress and how she plays Carol Danvers and Captain.
There’s a delightful 7-minute salute to Marvel creator Stan Lee, who passed away last November, and all of his cameos. His first MCU cameo was during “Ironman,” and he considered each one a treat. Another brief featurette highlights the women characters and how moviegoers embraced and begged for strong female superheroes, says Scarlett Johansson, who plays Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.
Preparing for the Time Heist
(1) Barton volunteers for the first true test of the Quantum Tunnel and the Advanced Tech Suit to briefly visit his family. (2) Thor talks about former girlfriend Jane Foster. (3) The quest for the six Infinity stones. (4) The Avengers will split up into three groups covering three different years and four locations.
Six minutes of deleted scenes are included, the most revealing of which is when the Avengers take a knee for a fallen comrade, during the final battle sequence. The digital platforms provide an exclusive “Avengers Script Security” featurette, with which Marvel Studios applied counterintelligence tactics against possible script leaks. “We needed to protect the content … to allow our audience to really be surprised,” said executive producer Trinh Tran. Their first precaution was keeping the whole script away from cast and crew. A color code system was implemented to signify between the real script and fakes. A bogus script was sent with the color BLUE – which included its own mythology and was radically different from the truth – coded RED. They purposely wanted to preserve the death of key superheroes. The screenwriters created alternate versions for the Blue script, which were “not good and made no sense,” says Marvel president Kevin Feige. The scenes were never shot since the real script was already overloaded with a storyline pushing the three-hour mark.
Recap of the video/audio from the first-installment review of the “Avengers: Endgame.”
Right out of the gate, this Marvel Studio 4K disc and 4K streaming – except iTunes, which has been locked out on all 4K movies from Disney for more than a year – the picture quality is impressive. The Russos rejoin cinematographer Trent Opaloch, who visually helmed “Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Winter Soldier.” He used 6.5K digital cameras (2.39:1 aspect ratio) to capture a wide spectrum of colors and bold contrast levels. Sadly, much of that added resolution was lost when the Russos were forced to render endless FX shots in 2K to save time and money. The rest of the film was also mastered in 2K.
For this presentation, the 2K master was upconverted to 4K. It uses the latest HDR technology to expand the colors and contrast levels. A quick comparison between the 4K and the HD reveal a nice uptick in overall sharpness, evident in the opening sequence as Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) teaches his daughter Lila a few archery techniques. The extra clarity is most apparent on screens 75-inches or larger. Facial details are clear and more defined, while the HDR10 (disc) and Dolby Vision (streaming) toning are crisper giving the scene’s afternoon clouds more definition, with Clint and Lila silhouetted against the rural landscape and sky.
The color palette is either cool or warm depending on the scene. Greens and blues dominate as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) records a final message to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) from on-board the Benatar, as he and Nebula deplete the last of their oxygen and food. As the camera focuses on Tony’s face, a warm glow appears, quickly transforming into blinding intensity – especially with Dolby Vision – as Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) rescues the pair, transporting the ship back to the Avengers’ new headquarters on Earth.
Retrieving the Infinity Stones
(1) Via the Quantum Tunnel - the team of Banner, Lang, Rogers, and Stark land in New York City (2012) to regain the Time, Space and Mind Infinity stones. Banner encounters the Ancient One (Tida Swinton), who's the keeper of the Time stone. (2) Nebula and War Machine arrive on Morag (2014). (3) Thanos aboard the Sanctuary II (2014). (4) Steve Rogers/Captain America fights against himself inside the Stark Tower to capture the Tesseract (2012). (5) Ancient One hands over the Time Stone. (6) Nebula takes the Power stone inside the Temple Vault on Morag. (7) Barton and Romanoff land on Vormir (2014) for the Soul stone.
Surprisingly, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is quite powerful this go ’round. It may be the best of the Marvel films on 4K. Most Disney and Marvel films struggle with lower volumes and overall flatness. This time it’s a different story. Thunder cracks around the room from all of the speakers over the Marvel logo opening, leading into Traffic’s soulful 1967 hit, “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” to the team’s final triumph. Composer Alan Silvestri (“Forrest Gump”, “Back to the Future”) is at his best in his Marvel canon of films, creating dramatic moments using drums to strings and brass.
Also, joining “Avengers: Endgame” this week on 4K Ultra HD: “Iron Man” (2008), “Iron Man 2” (2010), “Iron Man 3” (2013), “Thor” (2011) and “Thor: The Dark World” (2013). The rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be released on 4K later this year.
— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer
The Final Battle
(1) Clint Barton/Hawkeye returns home to his wife Laura and three kids (Lila, Cooper and Nathaniel). (2) T'Challa/Black Panther - the King of Wakanda, with his mother Ramonda and his sister Princess Shuri. (3) Scott Lang/Ant-Man with his girlfriend Hope Van Dyne/Wasp and daughter Cassie.
Tony Stark gave it all.