Did you do it? Yes. What did it cost? Everything.
Avengers: Endgame is directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and is the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It features an ensemble cast, many of which are returning to reprise their long-running roles in the MCU: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, and Josh Brolin.
The months of overwhelming hype and the early (and also overwhelming) box office results of Avengers: Endgame has shaped up this 22nd installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be a historic landmark in cinematic history. In the days of Christopher Reeves' Superman and Tim Burton's Batman, I don't think anyone could have imagined that superheroes would one day become box office titans with worldwide popularity and the capability of drawing the kind of crowds that no film honored with the most prestigious of Academy Awards could ever dream of. As of the date of this review, Avengers: Endgame has already crossed the billion dollar mark at the box office, and is looking like it has a real good chance at dethroning James Cameron's Avatar for highest grossing film of all time. This has been a moment that Marvel has spent more than ten years building up to, and while 2018's Infinity War delivered the excitement of finally seeing all of our beloved Marvel superheroes coming together to fight a common enemy, Endgame, by its very title, promises that this is something of a final chapter in the MCU's original run. No, it's not the end of the MCU, period. Why in the hell would Disney and Marvel shut down what has been one of the most profitable media franchises in history? What I'm saying is that Endgame marks the final time that we will get to see the Marvel superhero team we've been so familiar with: the Avengers team that a lot of younger fans have grown up with over the past ten, eleven years.
Giving away spoilers for Endgame is like breaking one of the Ten Commandments: thou shall not spoil Endgame or else thou will suffer the wrath of the Superhero God. Typically, demanding people to not give away spoilers is a dead giveaway that someone of significance is going to die, and/or that the movie has some wild plot twists. I myself will respect the wishes of Marvel and those closest to the movie to not give away crucial spoilers, but I've always made it something of an unofficial rule on this blog of mine to never ever give away major spoilers, because wouldn't that defeat much of the purpose of watching a good film in the first place? I suppose I find myself in the minority in saying that I was not blown away by Endgame, not because I found the movie to be bad: this movie is very very far from being bad. The main reason I was not blown away by Endgame was because, at the end of the day, it felt like another fully functional Marvel movie: one with plenty of colorful action, humor, and entertainment value. That formula has been working wonderfully for the MCU for more than a decade now, but for this movie, it needed to be something more than that. There needed to be that special perk, that special, stand-out quality that would make Endgame transcend into something more than just a superhero movie that happens to be three hours long. Yes, there is a lot more emotional weight than many of the MCU's previous installments. The problem is that extra emotional weight was to be expected, so you go through the whole movie worrying in the back of your mind who is going to make it out okay.
Only half of the universe made it out okay following the end of Infinity War: Thanos succeeded in acquiring all six Infinity Stones and used them to snap his fingers and wipe out half of all living creatures. The remaining Avengers- Tony Stark, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Rocket, and Nebula- are in shambles: all their friends and family are gone and they have no idea where Thanos is. Three weeks following Thanos' snap, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel finds Tony Stark and Nebula drifting through space, taking their ship back to Earth where Stark reunites with the other Avengers and Danvers formally introduces herself. Danvers helps the Avengers locate Thanos, but they discover that the Infinity Stones have been destroyed, and thus, there is no way to reverse the damage done.
Five years go by, but the Avengers are still struggling with their grief. However, hope arrives in the form of Scott Lang: Lang escapes from the quantum realm (see the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp) and goes to the Avengers' headquarters to discuss how they might be able to use the quantum realm to travel through time. With the help of Tony Stark's super-sized intelligence, the Avengers are able to formulate a plan to undo Thanos' actions: travel back in time and collect the Infinity Stones, then bring them to the present where they can be used to bring everyone back.
The post-credits scene of Infinity War teased the arrival of Captain Marvel, and, after all the hateful trolls of social media and the Internet declared that Captain Marvel would be a flop (it wasn't), the same hateful trolls went on to declare that Endgame would also be a disappointment (it wasn't) because of Captain Marvel's presence. For all those people worrying that Endgame would come down to a fight between Thanos and Captain Marvel, they will be genuinely surprised to find out that Captain Marvel is hardly in the movie at all. I think the Russo brothers have always intended Endgame to be the ultimate love letter to the MCU fanbase, and that's why the vast majority of the movie is dedicated to seeing all the original Avengers in action together: a swan song before this team-up of superheroes, that has been entertaining us for years, permanently separates. Captain Marvel is still very raw to the MCU, and the Russo's understand that it wouldn't feel right to have her be the ultimate savior against the enemy that brought all the MCU's other superheroes together.
- Endgame truly soars during its quieter, dialogue-driven scenes where the surviving Avengers contemplate what their lives are like now and how different things would be if all their friends and family were still around. The end of Infinity War put the Avengers at their lowest: a moment of crushing defeat that shook them to their core and seemingly deprived them of a life purpose. It's not too often that a Marvel movie dedicates this much time towards exploring the vulnerable, human side of at least one of its superheroes, and the great thing to see here is the similarities of what each Avenger has been fighting for: the safety and well-being of a family and/or loved one. Watching the Avengers go through their emotional crisis is a long, drawn-out process that makes the end of Infinity War feel all the more effective, and not like a temporary setback that can be resolved in a matter of minutes. Of course the action picks up considerably in the second half of the movie, but the Russos take their time in getting to the action, and every minute spent beforehand is well worth it.
- Time travel is one of the most fragile premises for a movie: one or two wrong decisions, and the entire movie stops making sense. Luckily, Endgame's story remains relatively stable throughout, despite all the time hopping that the characters do throughout the film. The movie is careful to not play the, "make bad decisions in the past that will have dire consequences in the present" angle too much, although a few plot holes of this nature do still exist by the end of the movie. Regardless, the movie is very self-aware of how the time travelling part of the story is very similar to that of Back to the Future II, so it's not all "serious business" even when the time travel and the action start to heat up. Considering how many characters and periods of time are involved, Endgame impressively handles everything.
- For a Marvel movie that is a farewell tribute to the original Avengers and a changing of the guard for the MCU as a whole, it is frustrating that Endgame is content with doing more of the same as many other MCU films, mostly when it comes to its action and humor. Again, my biggest frustration with many of Marvel's early MCU films was the style of humor they employed: the characters would pause the movie altogether so that they could tell jokes and other one-liners. Endgame has that same brand of humor, although not to as bad of an extent as say Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. As for the action, well, the Russos throw everything they can at the screen when it comes time for the final showdown, but there just isn't the same level of emotional weight as there was in the early parts of the film. In other words, the Avengers lack the same type of vulnerability they showed before, and because of this, the battle feels relatively one-sided, without any moments that, even for all of a few seconds, make you think that Thanos will succeed again. The action is well-choreographed and perfectly coherent. The issue is that it all feels a tad hollow.
Putting it all together, Avengers: Endgame is at its best during its first part, when the survivors are an emotional wreck and spend time contemplating what sort of direction their lives have now. The second part though, sees the movie morph back into a more typical, formulaic MCU film that only feels different from other MCU films because of the way it ends. I am positive that Endgame is a dream come true for the most die-hard Marvel fans: an epic spectacle of entertainment and emotion that serves as a bittersweet goodbye to Marvel's run with the original Avengers. I do not consider myself a die-hard Marvel fan though, and I am sure it's incredibly unpopular for me to say that I like Infinity War more. Infinity War got so much mileage out of the sense of hopelessness that it instilled into its action and its overall story, that it really felt like something we had never seen before in the MCU. Endgame does a fabulous job of following up on the way Infinity War ends, but at the end of the day, Endgame is another MCU film that spends a lot of time in familiar territory, and thus, does not have the widespread grandeur to completely justify its three hour run time and the emotional weight of its ending.
There are now all sorts of questions of where the MCU goes from here, and honestly, I wonder if the MCU will ever be able to reach the level of success they are having with Endgame ever again. Will the Marvel superheroes continue to dominate the box office with each and every new release? Will the MCU ever again reach the kind of stakes that Infinity War and Endgame have? Should Disney and Marvel ever start to worry about superhero fatigue? I don't think 2019 will give us answers to any of these questions, but, long-term, I am curious to see what the state of the MCU will be. For now though, Marvel should be proud of what they've created with the MCU, and how their superheroes, who were at one point in time a borderline laughingstock, have now become a cultural phenomenon. The 21st century Superhero Renaissance truly took off with the release of the first Iron Man back in 2008, and now with Endgame in 2019, nothing will ever feel the same ever again for Marvel and the world of superheroes. All good things must come to an end, and while the MCU as a whole isn't ending anytime soon, there's no denying how tough it is to say farewell to the group of superheroes that many Marvel fans have spent a good portion of their lives growing up with.
Recommend? Yes. Be sure to have watched Infinity War first.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: