We’re finally in the endgame now, and I couldn’t be happier.
The culmination of a shared universe that gave birth to a new age of superhero films, Avengers: Endgame picks up with our heroes – and the entire world – mourning the death of half of the living beings in the universe thanks to Infinity War’s big bad, Thanos (Josh Brolin), snapping everyone into oblivion after collecting all six Infinity Stones. With their numbers reduced to almost nothing and nearly all hope gone, the remaining Avengers quickly come up with a plan to try and bring back all those lives lost, as well as defeat Thanos once and for all, thereby restoring balance to a universe that is reeling from defeat. Now, with faces both new and old joining the fray, our heroes must finally play into what their namesake implies or suffer the reality that they’ve failed at protecting those who needed them most.
I’m gonna do my best to be super vague about everything in this film for fear of spoiling anything, so here it goes:
Wow! What a ride that was, wasn’t it? The concluding film in what is now dubbed “The Infinity Saga” had a lot to prove with all eyes watching to see if returning directors Anthony and Joe Russo could pull off an ensemble film that’s basically Lord of the Rings for the superhero genre. Lucky for them and lucky for us, there’s enough action, laughs, loss, emotional character moments and exciting story beats to satisfy nearly anyone seeing this film, with payoffs and callbacks to practically every MCU film to date, a mindboggling feat of its own that never really could have been executed by the hands of any other pair of filmmakers. Many adaptations usually fail when the filmmakers just don’t understand the voices and feel of the characters and worlds they’re telling stories about, but it’s clear by the time the credits roll that these guys simply get this universe and the characters that inhabit it, which in and of itself is a reason to see how the Russo’s end what could effectively be their swan song in the MCU.
Endgame, more than anything, is a love letter to everything that has come before, as well as a greatest hits of the past 11 years boiled down to a storyline ripped right out of a fanboy’s imagination. The first hour, while somewhat grim and dark, is highly effective at setting the tone and feel of a post-snap world, with the middle section taking a turn onto Nostalgia Street as the plan concocted by our heroes to save the day becomes something that needs to be seen to be believed, and an ending that ramps up the action to an epilogue that’s both emotionally satisfying and “bow on the top” great. Cameos are abundant, characters are given their rightful due and at the end of it all, the final battle astounds with cheer worthy moments and more fan service than you can shake an Infinity Gauntlet at, and for a film like this, that’s all that matters.
But being a movie that focuses more so on the original six Avengers and a few outsiders that we’ve come to know and love, Endgame, by default, doesn’t feel as “big” as Infinity War did and for good reason. By whittling down the cast, the action takes a backseat to character work and the fallout of what it means to live in a world where half the population is gone and our heroes have failed. This film is a sendoff for many, a swan song for others, and a new beginning for most. It’s a film that delves into what it means to be a hero, why they do what they do, and at the end, how they have affected people both inside the cinematic universe and outside of the theater. The spectacle is there, sure, but it’s not the point of the movie, and after seeing the film twice opening weekend, I can safely say that the filmmakers stuck the landing, despite a few nitpicks that I can’t seem to get over.
Without giving away any spoilers (obviously), the entire middle section of the film, while fun and entertaining, feels a bit too easy and rushed for its own good, despite the runtime clocking in at just over three hours. It’s not that big a deal, but unlike other franchises that have split the finale (Twilight, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) with terrible to middling results, Endgame almost seems like it needed to be split up over another film, bringing a trilogy to what Infinity War started. I could write an entire blog about why I feel that way (and maybe I will!), but as it stands, I was just hoping for a bit more stretch to certain scenes, story beats and middle of the movie character relationships. One thing that we definitely got a bit too much of was Marvel’s usual over reliance on low hanging and constant comedy that overstays its welcome at times, going even so far as to step on a few great character moments and emotional beats just to get another chuckle out of the audience, a habit that I’m assuming we just have to deal with at this point. Either way, these nitpicks can be overlooked mostly, but still annoy if you think about it too hard.
With Avengers: Endgame, Marvel has finally accomplished what many people thought impossible by bringing 11 years, 22 movies and dozens of character arcs to an exciting, deserved and emotional end. And while I do prefer Infinity War ever so slightly to this one, once the dust settles and our heroes step from the shadows of a job well done, no one can argue that this series didn’t accomplish what it set out to do. Some characters will be missed, some will continue to grow and some are yet to step into their own, but regardless of how everything turned out, all will be remembered. Here’s to the next decade of the MCU and all the surprises that will hopefully come with it!