The culmination of 11 years, and 21 movies, has all lead to this moment. To Avengers: Endgame. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) began in 2008 with Iron Man, I don’t think anyone thought it would become the global phenomena that it did, but here we are, a decade later, and the MCU is so ingrained in our pop culture that it’s weirder to find someone not a fan of these films than the other way around. With Avengers: Endgame, the MCU excellently brings closure to a decade of storytelling in this three-hour film packed with hearty laughs, thrilling action, and tear-jerking moments.
Warning: massive spoilers ahead. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Endgame yet, do yourself a favor and go see it, then come back to see if you agree with my review.
Avengers: Endgame succeeds thanks to its heart. The film goes beyond blockbuster spectacle to provide us with intimate character moments, and the personal struggles each character has to go through following Avengers: Infinity War, in which half of all living things across the universe were eradicated by the literal snap of Thanos’ fingers. Endgame picks up directly after Infinity War to give us the remaining Avengers having to accept the fact that they lost the fight against Thanos, that he succeeded, and they failed. Avengers: Endgame is a film about moving on from failure, and how the relationships between friends are tested and strained by the insecurities of said failure. The blockbuster spectacle is there in all its glory, but it’s the intimate moments punctuated throughout that carry the film, heightening the spectacle as a result.
The film opens on Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, enjoying an afternoon with his family when they fall victim to the snap and turn to dust, leaving Clint as his family’s only survivor. In case you forgot how tragic the end of Infinity War was, Endgame reminds you in full force as it drops you right back in the devastation. The remaining Avengers, along with new recruit Captain Marvel, track down Thanos, who has basically gone into retirement on a distant planet after his victory, to avenge the fallen. In a bold move by the filmmakers, the Avengers find and kill Thanos in the first act, liberating his head from his body at only about 10 minutes into the film, before fading to a black screen. It happens so quickly that it took me a second to process, but looking back now, I think it was a great twist of viewer expectations.
The film then cuts to 5 years into the future. The Avengers have all but scattered into the wind, and none of them feel any sort of closure. They’re still grappling with the loss of half the entire population. Tony Stark, Clint Barton, and Thor have been particularly affected by the loss. Tony’s still mourning Peter Parker’s untimely demise, Clint is traveling the world murdering criminals under the name Ronin, and Thor is still traumatized by the loss of his home, Asgard, and the loss of half of his people, the Asgardians. Thor’s trauma, unfortunately, is played for laughs. Thor had gained a considerable amount of weight due to his trauma, but he is only met with near-constant jokes about his weight by the other characters.
When Antman returns and comes to the Avengers with a plan that can potentially undo what Thanos did, the original Avengers, with the addition of Antman, Rocket Racoon, and Nebula, embark on what I like to call, “Steve & Tony’s Excellent Adventure”. The Avengers travel through time to the events of the first Avengers movie, the first Thor movie, the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and a US Army base in 1970 to retrieve the infinity stones of the past and undo Thanos’ actions. This act of the movie is loads of fun and filled with cameos of minor characters from the MCU. This act also has surprisingly tender moments, especially between Tony and his father in 1970. After a few mishaps, The Avengers succeed and bring back the half of the universe that Thanos snapped out of existence.
The third act final battle is easily the best final battle of any Marvel movie so far. Not only is it on a massive scale, but just about everyone gets a chance to shine, including the Avengers that have returned. The battle seemed like it was made by fans for fans, packed with amazing action sequences and stunning cinematic shots. Watching Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor faced off against Thanos brought chills. This battle, and the rest of the film, is so full of fanservice that it’s sure delight and thrill even the most casual fan. The Avengers succeed in the end, but not without cost. There are deaths among the Avengers that are tear-jerking, especially after all the years we as the audience have spent watching them and their journey. We’re also treated to an emotional passing of the torch, or shield in this case, as the groundwork is laid for the next phase of the MCU.
Avengers: Endgame is a love letter to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is both a celebration of its 11-year history, and a farewell to it. Endgame tells an epic story that spans time and space, culminating in a grand battle featuring all the best superheroes of the past decade, but it also tells an intimate story, beginning and ending with quiet character moments. You’ll laugh, you’ll cheer, and you’ll cry. Avengers: Endgame is a stunning and poetic conclusion to 11 years of storytelling, and the start of a new chapter, one that will hopefully last another decade.
(Photos: Marvel Entertainment)